Us guys (Sharon and Colin) had a nice chat with them guys of MINOR THREAT (IAN-vocals and LYLE-guitar) with another guy (Richard Moore) sitting in. The following took place on May 22.
SC: What did you think of the Outside Records show at the 9:30 Club?
I: The problem is that in my situation I can't have an opinion anymore cause everyone goes crazy. I know the way I feel about things but it's not my right to say anything cause certain people listen and make a stink about it.
L: I found the show very interesting. I enjoyed it because I had never seen anybody except for Social Suicide and Hate From Ignorance. I like United Mutations a lot and Media Disease were okay. I was hoping they'd play their famous classic hit "Sit Down Fuck You" but they didn't.
I: I enjoyed all the bands. Nuclear Crayons were pretty interesting but went a little overboard on being different. To me, if they find it important to do that, that's great, but I don't think it's worth going through all the pains just to be different. I think you should be different with your mind. Individuality comes in your mind and not the way you look or how you set the stage up or anything else.
SC: When you can't say your opinions, like you mentioned before, how do yo feel about it?
I: It bothers the fuck out of me!
L: I feel like anything I do is picked up. I mean I recently had a personal problem with somebody and I thought it was just my personal problem and suddenly it was everybody's personal problem and that made me mad. That's the kind of thing you get into which bothers me a lot. Otherwise you gotta turn into a recluse.
SC: Are there any other problems you have now that you're better known?
L: Well certain people are quick to... once you get popular and you start doing things like open for the Damned... (laughter)
SC: You must be so thrilled about that.
L: Well I am and I'm not. The reason why I'm not is that I have a feeling there's going to be problems because whenever a band like that comes to town they've got many problems and many worries. I'm not going to trash them because I've met them and they are nice guys individually but I could see how a confrontation with them could be ugly. And I would hate to come away from the show thinking, "Oh, those assholes - they fucked us up," when they're really one of my favorite bands... It's pretty neat but unfortunately when you start doing that people start saying - oh, you're doing it cause it's a big show and there might be people there that we wouldn't play to normally and we really are eager to do that kind of stuff. That's why we played with PIL.
I: The thing that bugs me is the fact that people are saying well of course they got the show but...
L: Actually there wasn't any "of course" to it.
I: I mean, the number one person who's against us playing is me cause I've found the best way to handle these opportunities is to turn them down. Because to me a lot of times there's too much fucking hassle. See the point is now that it used to be we were all buddies, we could all talk, everyone in the scene or whatever. But it's gotten big - fine, but there's no way I can talk to everyone. There's no way I can make everybody happy and I wish I could make everybody happy but I can't. The lack of communication is like really really twisted and misinterpreted and fucked up as far as our relationship with Washington. We still maintain we're a Washington band. We're proud as shit of being part of Washington. And even though I don't know everyone it's still pretty great these kids are still coming out - and I guess they're all going through the same kind of shit that I went through which is cool. But just the same, being at such a high level...
SC: Don't you mind that people look up to you so much? You have always been against worshipping other people.
I: No one worships me!
SC: You don't think so?
L: Some people across the country I'd say might.
SC: I've talked to people around here who do.
I: Well they don't come to me.
SC: That's because they're scared.
L: One thing that my sister brought up, which is true, is that a lot of people prefer not to deal with Ian because a lot of people take what Ian says so seriously. If he says something in jest or as a passing comment, people get all upset about it, and that's why a lot of people don't want to talk to him...
I: I maintain, though, that there's a difference between worshipping and having idols... I mean, I looked up to H.R. and Boyd. I still do basically. And Jimmy Pursey. I mean I have my fucking heroes just like anyone else.
L: Musically I look up to the Damned quite a bit and I just hope that they don't ruin it for me. That's why I'm going to avoid the backstage and the problems.
I: If people respect me then that to me is a compliment and I'm flattered as shit. All I can say is that even if people do imitate me, at least I'm not a junkie.
SC: When you toured the country did you have a lot of problems? I mean as compared to the first tour.
L: It was very different.
I: Well, it was the second tour and the first one was the first.
SC: That makes sense.
L: No, it was very different because in a space of forty-nine days we played thirty one shows. And before, it was like a week went by between each show.
I: The beginning of the tour we played the South and we played three shows in the first week. We were just like, oh my God, I can't believe this. It was pathetic. We all just felt like entertainment. Nothing sincere.
L: Yeah, cause we'd go into a place with forty people and we'd be going... (Lyle goes wild)
I: "We're just a minor threat." (Laughter)
L: It got to be really ridiculous.
I: Yeah, it felt horrible man. So then we said well fuck. And by the time we got to Texas things were really rolling and by the end of it I just loved playing so mch. The moment we went on I had the greatest time and really started enjoying myself. The more I sang the more I learned about the songs. I'm like someone who knows what they're singing. I think about everything I'm singing all the time. I was worried it would just be like another instrument when I sang. But I think about it even more now than I did in the beginning which is really great.
SC: Do you think a lot more people knew your songs this time around?
I: Yeah, that was one thing that was really good about the tour. We're getting bigger which is great.
L: It has its negative aspects but it's great when you have 700 people who really do know who you are and they're not just there because you're playing with some other band that they like or whatever.
SC: What was the biggest show you did?
I: We headlined inLA and 1,500 people came to see us. It was quite an ego pusher.
SC: Were there any bands you played with that you were impressed by?
I: We played with more than eighty bands.
L: And the majority of them I would not want to see again.
I: Well, I wouldn't mind seeing them in a few months.
L: I can't remember many of their names.
I: Some of them were so good and it wouldn't be fair of us just to name one without naming all of them. There are a lot of great bands out there but I worry because there's a generic music coming out. I'm really against it and it's even coming here.
L: That has a lot of influence on us.
SC: Of trying to change away from that?
L: Yeah, but I don't know... I mean, I prefer to stay away from that idea. Because if you start talking about ho wyou're going to change than it's not real.
I: Any time we're at practice and someone says we should do something different I just say that's the wrong way to go about it.
L: And also you get reviews like when they say well, the first two records were kind of like just thrash. And we go wait a minute, when we did those records there wasn't thrash - this is not fair! (Laughter)
I: I don't care if it's thrash; I don't care what kind of music they're playing, but it's gotta have spirit. A lot of bands even in Washington now... I don't feel it. There's no soul.
L: Yeah, there's no soul.
I: I mean, for me, Minor Threat was such an important thing. I remember thinking I was proud as shit of my band and to be playing.
L: We ran into too many people who just did not care.
I: We ran into a lot of echoes. I mean if you're gonna say what someone else has already said at least say it in your own way. Say it and fucking mean it. I mean you gotta have emotion, it's gotta be there and be real, that's all there is.
SC: It seems like it's just repeating what happened to punk in England.
L: Yeah, it's possible.
I: Well I'm not sure that punk in England was ever that great.
L: Yeah, but I used to... I mean I saw the Danse Society and I thought they were really good. And it wasn't so much that they were good musicians, but that the guy believed in what he was talking about and he was really into the concept of it.
I: Get up and dance! (Laughter)
L: No, they had like these banners that were supposed to represent Jesus and the crown of thorns and all this crazy stuff and it was very interesting. I don't know - I mean I'm not saying they're my new band, but I gravitate toward that regardless of what type of music it is. I mean we've always said what we like and what we play are two different things. Just cause we like a certain kind of music doesn't mean we're going to play it.
SC: Do you think you guys are going to want to tour England?
I: Not England so much as other places in Europe.
SC: Like where?
L: Actually I'd really like to go all over the place. I'd like to go somewhere where people haven't played much, like France or Belgium, as well as Finland, Italy, Germany, and those kind of places.
I: Playing in Eruope would be an interesting experience but I don't think there would be any impact.
L: The thing about it is that I thought about it when I got home from the tour and I said in order to have done that last tour on my own money it would have cost a fortune and been nearly impossible. So it's the same principle with Europe - it would be getting to see Europe without having to pay anything.
I: We definitely want to play Europe...
L: It's just not the end all of doing music.
I: It sure isn't. That's one thing I'm the proudest about. I'm not so proud of the fact that we have huge shows and we're getting bigger and bigger. I'm much fucking prouder about the fact that we've had an impact on people. I mean loved us or hated us, at least they noticed us.
L: Yeah, that's important. I always said - a lot of people may think this is sort of frivolous - that when Rolling Stone writes its history of rock and roll in twenty or thirty years, I'd like to have our name right there in the hardcore section or whatever's devoted to it. That would mean we had an impact and I think that's the important thing.
I: I think we've had a pretty good impact so far.
L: Also, the only other thing about getting bigger is that it does enable you to do what you want to do.
I: Sure does... we can buy equipment now.
L: The problem before was simply - well, I wanna do this but can't because of this, this, and this.
I: I'm daddy.
L: Yeah, now it's like - well if you make enough money than you can do this. That's the plus. And then that means that we can afford to not worry about whatever - we can just do it.
I: The other good thing is having real fucking power, being able to swing our weight at clubs - we can say you're mistaken, this is the way it's gonna be.
L: Yeah, we did it in New York recently. We were headlining there and the people who set up the show wanted an all ages show.
I: It was guarenteed all ages and when we got there they said no.
L: The clubowners said no and the promoters were in a bind cause they had promised us but now they couldn't do it. So we got there and said well, I guess we're just gonna leave.
I: The clubowners said no kids, that's it. And he just had to weigh in his mind the fact that if we didn't play, what would happen. We were not going to leave and sneak out. We were going to go up front and say, won't let kids in, we're not playing. That's all there is to it.
L: And before they would've said so what.
I: But they ended up letting us play.
L: That made us feel good about our power. Cause when you're doing it for a positive... something that everybody appreciates... and you know people were saying things like - oh, don't go home, just forget about those little kids - and you know if we can't get our way with it, then we won't do it.
SC: What sort of things do you want to try and do around here? Get more clubs?
L: There's a lot of promoters.
I: But the thing is that it's such a fragile scene that I don't believe in like warring promoters. Bands and promoters should work together but if a band gets a show with one promoter then the other promoters should just back off. I mean the whole 9:30 thing is really stupid because of course the big thing is money. When Dodi and I first started the hardcore matinees, the idea was not the money, the idea was the stage. That was it. I can remember when Teen Idles and Minor Threat couldn't play anywhere. You play basements or anything. And I can remember the first time I stepped foot on the 9:30 stage and we made $25 and I said fuck, I'm up here and I played. I'm not hung up on the money, you know. Actually I'm hung up on it but it's an anti-money thing. I'm scared shitless of money cause it's just bad news.
SC: Yeah, didn't you want to keep the price of your last record down real low so that you didn't even make enough of a profit to press up more records?
L: Yeah, it's causing problems now because Minor Threat is selling more records than Dischord has anywhere the means to press.
I: Actually we have a lot of money right now. The only thing holding us up now is we're remixing it.
SC: Is that because you're not satisfied with the sound?
L: We're remixing it mainly cause we wanna have something to do, I don't know.
I: I think the main stress on remixing it is that we don't think that it's good enough.
L: Maybe people won't even notice the differences. I think they will.
SC: And you'll be happier.
L: Yeah. I'll feel that I've put my all into it rather than just let it slide.
I: I mean that's a slice of us. That's like our history. We were talking about redoing it and if Steve was still in the band we seriously would've re-recorded everything. But you can't really just re-do it. I don't know... it's part of us.
SC: So what did happen with Steve?
L: It was a four person core.
I: Yeah, we've been together for three years.
L: And it was a four plus one situation and the one didn't work out and it was getting to be that the conflicts with the one was causing conflicts within the four. And rather than dragging the whole thing down we agreed to part company.
SC: Brian said to me that he felt he was better as a bass player and wanted to play bass instead of guitar.
L: Well that was one thing. On tour it certainly became apparent that Brian was more tuned toward the bass and less tuned toward playing guitar. I don't know why. It was a problem of concentration or something. And also I've always thought of myself as being the sort of unofficial musical leader simply because whenever something goes wrong everybody looks at me like I'm supposed to be the one that knows what's going on. And I felt with two guitars it was getting out of control on me and there was no way I could tell anymore what was going on. But it was more of a personal problem which we couldn't seem to resolve to anyone's satisfaction.
I: With the four of us... we've never been the greatest of friends, but this tour has actually been really good and we're now growing together. It's just too late in the game to start with someone new especially for me.
L: I think the pressure was real high on Steve and I think he came to the conclusion that he couldn't deal with the way we get along with each other. Cause we've reached a certain equilibrium with each other. I mean Ian knows that if I'm really mad at him I'll probably come right to him and tell him exactly what I think is wrong and he can do the same with me. But Steve didn't understand the concept and it would've taken so long for him to.
I: See when you go on a tour with Minor Threat you sit in the van of hell. We just had the stupidest fucking arguments. We'd argue about like the color of the stripes on the road. And Jeff Nelson is Mr. Arguer. Red is blue to him no matter what. (Laughter) I mean I can handle it sometimes; I get really frustrated and all of us have our prolems with each other, but just the same the four of us are used to it.
SC: Is "Look Back and Laugh" about you and Jeff?
I: Mmm... none of my songs are really written about one person but I would say it has a lot to do with Jeff, yeah.
(Lyle leaves and Ian continues to talk about his songs)
When I write songs I get like really angry and all my emotions are full. My songs usually come out of pure anger. And so it definitley is about Jeff, okay, cause Jeff and I have been together for a long, long time and it's just really hard for me to deal with. I mean, how long have you known me and how much have I changed since you met me? I don't change that much. I'm pretty much the same fucker. I'm Ian. Even though all this has gone down, I'm like the same person that you first met in the Teen Idles basically. See, it's hard for me to handle change. I'm very content - I'm very self confident. But when I start writing songs about Jeff, by the time I get through the song it's about everybody. That song especially. And "Betray" is too. It's the same thing; it's about Jeff. All my songs are about Jeff. (Laughter)
SC: It seems like the record had this theme running through it.
I: Yeah, that was pretty great.
SC: It's so cynical, like you were disillusioned with everything.
I: Yeah, that's what Michael Salkind said, but I don't think so. That album came out with a sort of friendship thing. It is a tad cynical. I'm a cynical person. "It Follows" - now that's a cynical song. That one is like here I am "punk rock" and I was like so different and we're all like "punk rock" and "what's happening Richard, what's happening Sharon." And we're all so fucking happy to be different from all this crap. And then - pow - I turn right around and the shit we all ran from is right with us the whole fucking time. "Betray" - I guess that's cynical too. "Think Again" - that's pretty cynical. You know what that one's about.
CL: Is it about Clark (ex-vocalist for Hate From Ignorance)?
I: No! It's about everybody. I get so sick of hearing shit; "too much has been said." A lot of people think I talk a lot of shit. Why did you think it was about Clark?
CS: Just stuff like "it's been done" - remember when Hate From Ignorance were trying to be different and you were getting pissed at that?
I: Yeah. That definitely applies. That actually comes in on "a hand to your mouth..." um, fuck, I have to have music to think about it.
R: "A performing yawn..."
I: Yeah, "I guess you know what the fuck is going on." When I came back from the last tour I felt like shit; I felt really hurt by all that crap.
SC: Like about what we said about you? (See issue #1)
I: Yeah, that tore me up.
SC: That all came about due to misunderstanding and lack of communication like you said before. I was so disillusioned. I thought how could Ian be doing all this?
I: I'll beat that. Imagine me coming home and reading your magazine - its like, what!, is this the same girl that used to go-go at our shows? What the fuck!? And Clark - I have so much respect for that kid - he used to talk to us. That was important to me. Then all of a sudden it was like... I mean, god damn, these were my friends from Bethesda. I was always like... B-Town! And it was just a slap in the face. I'm really sensitive about that kind of stuff. I'm really, really, really sensitive. Even today, when I feel any anti-Minor Threat, anti-Dischord...
CS: Do you see Outside Records as that?
I: I take it as that but I could be wrong. But I don't think so. That's one of the meanings of their label - about how Dischord has such a monopoly and is in charge of the scene... One thing we were really trying to do with Dischord was to be an honest label and to be really consistent. Like always put out what is right for us. For us to put out a different type of band is not right. It just weakens the label. The label's really strong and we want people to know that when they buy a record they know what they're getting... basically hardcore, thrash, fast rock and roll, whatever you want to call it. We're not saying we deny other bands cause they're arty or poppy or whatever; we're saying okay, you got your thing, do it for you. We did it for us - we're a hardcore label. And let me tell you something right now - anyone who starts a label now doesn't know what it was like. We chopped the wood in the total virgin forest. It's not that hard. Richard started his own label - R & B Records. (Richard blushes) ...Where did we get the money? Teen Idles played for a year and saved up all the money. I'll tell you something - not one member of Teen Idles or Minor Threat has ever made a cent; we've never made money off the bands. On tour we use our money to live and that's it. But all the money from our record goes to Dischord. Now that Dischord's a business and all this fucking shit, we're in a weird position where it's not right for me and Jeff to be making all this money - actually we're not making that much... I mean I'm honest - it's paying my rent right now and food, but on the other hand it's a job. I eat, sleep, and live Dischord.
SC: Do you ever think it's going to come to the point where you'll quit working at the theatre (Georgetown Theatre)?
I: I probably think I already have. I love the theatre so much but I need to have freedom from that now. I worked every Friday night for the past four years. Now with the band I need that open. One problem I was having last year was that I missed so many shows cause I had to work - especially cause we had all punks working there and that was the worst. Work for me - yeah, right! ...I would still love to work at the theatre watching people come and go, but on the other hand Georgetown is such a bad scene now - it's ugly. There's not that sense of unity or whatever now but I think that people should start remembering to keep it pure or at least close to that. There's no real anger. I see all these kids dancing in a circle and I don't see any reason to run around and smash into each other. We slam danced but it was a totally different thing. Just workin' with each other and groovin' to the band basically.