Category Archives: music

Fugazi to reform, release best-of, and tour with new line-up

Money-grabbing Ian MacKaye

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.

BEST OF

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.

LABEL CHANGE

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.”

NEW LOGO

Fugazi's new logo

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.”

NEW LINEUP

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.

THE FUTURE

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.

Links

Actual Dischord News

Download entire live shows from Fugazi’s heyday at Fugazi Live Series

Buy Fugazi’s Instrument DVD at Dischord

Image of Ian MacKaye by Tim Roache, used with permission.

This is why I’m deaf and blind


CONTAINS STROBING

I don’t know what you did at Christmas this year and you could argue – quite rightly – that it’s none of my business. But here’s what I did: I cut together a load of video footage I’d shot of great bands throughout 2007.

What I did next was completely fail to publish it on this website. Never mind though – I’ve done it now. So pull up a chair, sit on it, and endure 15 minutes of pure actual video.

Bands featured include: Operation Wolf, Lardpony, Yeborobo, BARR, Shimmy Rivers And And Canal, Les Savy Fav, Hundreds, Tens & Units, The Chap, Hands on Heads, Tea With The Queen, cLOUDDEAD, Mika Miko, Dananananaykroyd, DJ Scotch egg, Liars, Everybody Is Going To Die, Heseltine and Gay Against You. I hope you find something to your liking.

All peformances were in London, apart from cLOUDDEAD and Les Savy Fav at All Tomorrow’s Parties.

Single Frame interview

Single Frame

Hey! Have you heard? Single Frame have gone digital!

If that means nothing to you, then you’ve pointed your browser at the right website. Let me explain: Single Frame are a very good band from Austin, Texas who at the time of writing have been active for around eight years. Their diverse creative palette merges energetic, synth-riddled indie rock with less lazily definable sonic experimentations. Saying they’re a bit like Xiu Xiu channeling post-hardcore probably won’t be much help, but if those words don’t render you completely bewildered, they might at least point you in the right direction.

Sadly it’s fair to say Single Frame haven’t reached the level of recognition here in the UK that they deserve. This could have a lot to do with the general unavailability of their records in our highstreet entertainment chains, but now, thanks to this new thing scientists are calling ‘the internet’, distribution shouldn’t be such a problem.

SFepIn what’s becoming an increasingly familiar story, Single Frame have parted ways with their label to return to their (not inconsiderable) DIY roots, self-releasing the new and imaginatively titled SFep as an iTunes Plus download – along with, at 50 units, a very small run of limited edition CDs.

iTunes Plus is of course Apple’s vaguely insulting new iTunes Store ‘innovation’, the ‘plus’ being that the MP3s are encoded at a higher quality than the regular store and provided DRM-free – surely as it should have been in the first place. But this does mean reasonable pricing and international availability, and now wherever we are, we can all enjoy a little bit of the Single Frame musical action-pie.

So I bought that EP from iTunes, and I loved it. Then I thought “I really don’t know anything much about this band”, and then I thought “maybe I’ll ask them some questions” and then I did and they responded and now I invite you to listen to the EP and read what I asked and see what they said.

Continue reading

What we all want: a new Gang of Four album?

Gang of Four's Jon King

Well here it comes: according to bassist Dave Allen, there’s a new all-digital Gang of Four album in the works. If I had to point the finger at just one, I’d say that Gang of Four’s first release Entertainment! is possibly my favourite album ever, and the follow-ups Solid Gold and companion EP Another Day, Another Dollar are also fantastic. Then they lost their rhythm section and everything went a bit wrong until 1995’s Shrinkwrapped.

So I was overjoyed when they reformed with the original lineup a couple of years ago and I actually got to see the band play. They might have aged but hey – it suits them! I’ve seen their dorky performance on the Old Grey Whistle Test. These days Jon King is proper menacing. But I digress.

They reformed just at the right time, at a point where a load of bands who were basically churning out watered-down GoF while being lauded for their ‘innovation’ had shown there’s an audience for this stuff – an audience who deserved to hear it done by the people who influenced generations of musicians (I’m sure the Minutemen would have joined them but… well that clearly can’t happen). What I still don’t understand is why they chose to complement the subsequent wider tour with Return The Gift, compilation of their re-recorded classics. Why? Who does that? Entertainment! is perfect as it is.

At least, I said at the time, they should try recording something new. And now they are. Password is my favourite of the demos. But I’m worried. They’re in a tight spot. Now they’re back with almost the original lineup (sadly missing Hugo on drums), but they’re returning to a saturated post-punk market. In a way the post-punk ‘revival’ has already moved on and evolved just like it did before – except this time, instead of new wave, we got nu rave and a whole lot more.

Will they be able to remain important, edgy, and exciting? Will da yoof be able to distinguish them from 57,000 other angular-guitar-and-funky-bass outfits? I sincerely hope so. But I’m not sure that looking to the past it the way to do it: although a lot of people don’t even seem to know of its existence, Shrinkwrapped worked for me because it did at least feel relevant – a reflection of the band’s new home country and the seedier sides of American consumer society.

I hope they can do something like that again, even if it doesn’t recreate the original, urgent asthetic I loved so much, because surely that belonged to 1979 – and now they’ve got to prove themselves again. Good luck, lads. I’ll be listening.

Photo courtesy of Mediaeater/Creative Commons

Gay Against You at The Good Ship

Gay Against You

Gay Against You at The Good Ship on Vimeo

As you can see from the video, Glasgow-based electronic two-piece Gay Against You know how to make an impression. Granted, their music sometimes makes me feel a bit queasy, but that’s all part of the experience. Probably.

My band, Hundreds, Tens & Units, had the privilege of supporting them at The Good Ship in Kilburn last night (first gig!) and we had a great time. If you found the above video intriguing as opposed to terrifying, you should download G.A.Y.’s first album – for free – on Last.fm. And if you liked the look of the animation in the background, apparently you can buy it on DVD at their shows. See their MySpace for tour details.