“The Believer” Music Issue: Can We Please Ask Ian MacKaye Some New Questions Already?

mackaye.jpgI’ve read two Q&A’s in The Believer‘s 2008 Music Issue (there are three). One was illuminating, one less so. One of the issue’s two Andy Beta pieces is a ripping Q&A with Sun City Girl/Sublime Frequencies co-founder Alan Bishop (there’s more on Beta’s blog as well). While I’m not fond of the “schema” format in which Beta jokingly lays out his unsuccessful attempts to find Molam music in Laos, the Bishop interview crackles: lots of clearheaded talk about the motivations behind Sublime Frequencies: Bishop is punk as fuck, right, whatever, but he’s also someone who thinks through ethical questions even if you disagree with his answers. If only the other Q&A I read had the same kind of thrust.

You have to work hard not to get a decent interview from Ian McKaye, but the one in this issue is surprisingly and disappointingly one-note: all about Dischord’s ethics, just like every other Q&A with Ian McKaye you’ll likely read this year and decade and century. I don’t blame Alex V. Cook for asking the questions he did, but I wish there had been more dimension–maybe some of that got cut out from the manuscript. Still, will someone interview this guy about music, please? Songwriting? All that fallback shit you trot out when the new album sucks but you need a few hundred words to fill the space? I bet he’s got a huge record collection. I bet he knows shit about doo-wop that would blow your mind. I bet he can name all of Miles Davis’s bands from the ’50s to the ’70s. I bet he’s read more about rock history than most of us have. I bet he’s a pretty interesting thinker about subjects you wouldn’t expect. Somebody should really find out–and if someone has, please link it in the comments.

The Believer: July/August 2008 [The Believer]

  • highlifer

    I saw Ian Mackaye at Coachella a few years ago and he did a Q & A. Some teenager in the audience asked him who he listened to. He replied that he only listened to obscure local music, and then proceeded to name obscure DC bands that I, a nearby resident had never heard of either (not that I’m a genius.) It came across as so elitist and tooly. Maybe what he was trying to say was “down with corporate rock, go see young local talent” but it sounded to me like “I’m cooler than you kid, now go play next door with the White Striples.” I mean, wouldn’t this have been a great opportunity to turn a teen on to some music he could actually find? Blah.

  • Michaelangelo Matos

    That’s interesting. I didn’t mean my examples to be completely literal–I have no real idea what he listens to. It’d be interesting to hear him discuss it in a relaxed setting, though–not that MacKaye comes off as an especially relaxed guy, but still.

  • Michaelangelo Matos

    @highlifer: That’s interesting. I should note that I have no idea what MacKaye does or doesn’t listen to; I just figured he probably has something to say about it, whatever it is.

  • sparkletone

    There are only two things I would say to Ian MacKaye:

    1) I love your work, it’s really meant a lot to me.

    2) New Fugazi or GTFO.

  • RaptorAvatar

    @highlifer: My brother met him a few months ago and said he was really awesome. However, presuming that it was an elitist tool move, MacKaye has the right to make that move more than anyone else.

  • NickEddy

    One thing I would say to Ian MacKaye:



  • Silverfuture

    @Michaelangelo Matos: Yeah, that guy really needs to do a few bong hits and chill…

  • mike a

    I swear, if Ian MacKaye were any better known, someone would have to do a Farley-interviewing-Macca routine. “Remember when you were in Minor Threat? And you had that song that went ‘I’ve got the straight edge?’ Uh…is that true?”

  • Hamm Beerger

    @highlifer: Or maybe he recommended those bands because that’s really all that he likes.

  • bcapirigi

    I’d like to know what he thinks about Eon McKai.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve heard he thought the Eon McKai thing was funny, if kind of creepy. And I’ve heard his record collection IS insane (and about as far from elitist obscure local band stuff as you can get – the guy LOVES Ted Nugent; seriously). And you’d need to ask Jeff Nelson to re-boot the Egg Hunt t-shirt machine… I can assure you that was all him!

  • Cam/ron

    @Michaelangelo Matos: I’ve read interviews where Ian proclaimed his love for 60′s psych rock (he was addicted to the Woodstock soundtrack), dub, late 70′s punk, and of course, 80′s post-hardcore bands like the Minutemen. But yeah, too many interviewers recycle the usual questions about Dischord’s business practices, the Incredible Amazing Five-Dollar Fugazi Tickets, what punks means to him nowadays, etc. The better interviews covered his take on the digital music business and the infamous Nike ripoff of the “Minor Threat” record cover.

  • betablog

    “While I’m not fond of the “schema” format in which Beta jokingly lays out his unsuccessful attempts to find Molam music in Laos”

    That schema would be Lonely Planet.