In the summer of 2002 I got to do an email Q&A with Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye for my punk zine. I was so stoked when I wrote him, he wrote back and was more than happy to answer my questions… I totally nerded out! Over the years since, we’ve corresponded and I’ve chatted with him in-depth for my forth coming book, Conversations With Punx: A Spiritual Dialogue; the interview is one of my all-time favourite interviews from my (24!) years of chatting with creatives.
You do so much, you play music, run your label Dischord; how do you balance it all? What motivates you to keep doing it?
IAN MACKAYE: I don’t know how or if I balance all of these things, but I do manage to continue working and creating when the opportunity arises. I don’t know what motivates me, it’s just what I do.
What’s something you wish someone would have told you when you started out that would have made your life easier?
IM: Life doesn’t make sense, and that it’s ok.
What was your first introduction to punk?
IM: Arguing with my high school friends in 1978 about whether Ted Nugent rocked harder than the Ramones. I was in the Nugent corner, they were right. One of them gave me a stack of records to study – Sex Pistols, The Clash, the Buzzcocks, The Jam – and once I got my mind around the sound I never looked back.
What’s something that attracted you to the punk scene and once you became involved what’s something you found unattractive?
IM: I imagine the nihilistic appearance of punk caught my eye early on, but as proactive of an image as it may have been, I think that it may have inadvertently given the media a solid perpetual device to dismiss legitimate work.
What’s the single most important lesson you’ve learnt form punk and hardcore?
IM: Definition is ours.
Is there a particular moment in your life that helped define who you are today?
IM: I can’t say that there is a particular moment in the past that defines who I am today, but I suppose that the moment that is passing at this very second would do. It is the present moment that I am interested in. The past offers guidance and reassurance, the future offers me hope and concern, but it is the present that drives me.
People see Ian MacKaye the musician, the record label guy etc.; who is the real Ian MacKaye?
IM: Ian MacKaye the fella.
You’ve done a lot of interviews over the years; what’s a question you’d like someone to ask? And what’s your answer?
IM: Question: Do you want to know the answers? Answer: Yes.
Thanks for the interview Bianca, very good and tough questions. I think it would have been better to be able to sit down and do this conversation-style. Here’s hoping that will come to pass someday. Take care. Ian/Fugazi.