With At The Drive-In and even Refused recently announcing reunion performances, it was enough to ignite hope of a reunion in the hearts of long-suffering Fugazi fans. But now the band is finally coming off ‘indefinite hiatus’, I’m not sure it’s what I wanted:
At a small gathering held earlier today at Dischord House in Washington DC, Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto confirmed that, more than a decade since the release of The Argument, the band are reforming to play at a string of major international festivals in 2012, including Download Festival in the UK and the Vans Warped Tour.
“A lot of kids out there listening to ‘punk’ have never heard of Fugazi even though our influence is clear in the music they listen to. So this is the perfect time for us to return” said Picciotto.
Not only that, but they’re coming back with a brand new album! Initially a Starbucks exclusive, but later to be released more widely, Waiting Room + 12 is a 13-track best-of that will encapsulate the band’s recording career for a fresh audience, and, for the old fans, include an incredible second disc of Waiting Room remixes by some of today’s most exciting contemporary artists including Maximo Park, Editors, The Futureheads and, of course – the Wu-Tang Clan.
In a radical commercial decision that may come as surprise to some fans, the album will not be released on Dischord. Instead Interscope Records will be the new home of the entire Fugazi catalogue. Carefully setting down his third or fourth glass of celebratory champagne, Ian MacKaye said, “For us, this was a massive change to make. But we want our music to be heard by as many people as possible. We’ve done the independent thing for seven albums, and it was fine. We got by. But now it’s time to get real, and get heard. The folks at Interscope have been really into what we want to do, and we’ve had complete control through the whole process. It wouldn’t have worked any other way.”
This change includes the band’s new logo. The new logo was presented in a theatrical flourish by Piccotto, lifting his cape to reveal the new tattoo across his back. It will also feature on the cover of Waiting Room + 12 and be retrospectively applied to their back-catalogue, new website, and ethically sourced merchandise. MacKaye emphasised how the band recognised that in the digital market, a clear and consistent brand identity is becoming ever more important. “The music can no longer speak for itself. We’ve learned this the hard way and now we’re taking our brand to the next level.”
The members of Fugazi are in different places to when the band started back in 1987 – sometimes literally. So the reunion tour will see a refreshed lineup for the first time since the band formed. With drummer Brendan Canty fully committed to family life and his soundtrack recording and film production work, Erik ‘Smelly’ Sandin will be taking to the throne for live commitments – and possible future recording. Picciotto said, “When the label suggested it, I’ll admit we weren’t sure. But Erik’s been drumming with NOFX since before Fugazi got together – he knows his punk rock and he’s no stranger to touring. Plus he doesn’t drink – so you could say Sandin is the perfect stand-in!!!”. Canty will still be an important part of band management decisions.
And with bass player Joe Lally now settled in Italy, Ian and Guy have turned to friend of Interscope, Rick Burch of Jimmy Eat World, to fill in for the time being. “We’re all big fans of Jimmy Eat World, so it makes perfect sense” said MacKaye, his golden tracksuit glinting in the morning sun.
Fugazi’s change of heart is going to open a lot of doors for the band in 2012, so expect to see more of them than ever before. With deals in place for their music to be featured in three different extreme sports videogames this year alone, and a rumoured licensing negotiation for ‘Birthday Pony’ with the advertisers for a major greetings card manufacturer, this could be the beginning of an incredibly lucrative new era for one of the world’s most commercially underestimated bands.
Image of Ian MacKaye by Tim Roache, used with permission.