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Entry date: 8-10-2022 - Fugazi was a pretty decent band - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

Yesterday’s rant got me thinking about Fugazi. If you aren’t familiar with them, you should probably stop right here and google them. It wouldn’t kill you and you might even like their music. They were a great band from Washington, D.C., and they were part of the Dischord Records world.

We had been hip to them for a little bit when Paul mentioned they were coming to Phoenix and would Religious Skid like to be on the bill. Paul had taken a liking to us and recorded us for a project he was working while graduating from South Mountain High School. They had an audio recording class and studio there at the time and it was a blast to do a song there.

That was a humbling day, too, because I had zero confidence in my own singing and decided to sing like John Lydon that day. I wasn’t very good at it and somewhere, I have a cassette recording of the song. It was one of Religious Skid’s random lineups, of which there were many, and probably not the best representation of what that band was capable of when at it’s best.

I like to think we had some moments where we could have been a half decent band.

Anyway, getting to open for Fugazi was huge. I remember seeing Ian and Guy watching us from right in front of the stage and decided to serve it up for them. I don’t know where that came from because I had never had that piece of overdrive (i.e., balls) in my arsenal before that. I think we had played a few parties, at best, before that show came about, although we might have played a show at Time Out of Mind already. Those days are kind of a blur.

We ended up hanging out with Fugazi, though, after we played, and they were super cool. The best dudes, really. I had talked to a few of the bands I liked at shows prior to that but being out there in the back of the club just yacking it up with these dudes gave me that sense of belonging I had always hoped for when it came to being in a band and being part of a scene.

How cool, right, to have that group of guys open that door?

Their brand of post-punk, jazz inspired, hardcore with a melody and a brain inspired me to no end. I’ve wanted all of my bands to have an element of Fugazi buried in there. With The Father Figures, it is not buried. I have given direct nods to them in songs I have written and would love to make more music in the same vein.

I played that first EP so many times. When I got the CD, too, Thirteen Songs, which had EP 1 and 2 (Margin Walker) combined on it, I played the hell out of it, too, even though I continued to buy Fugazi records on vinyl for a while. I remember being so bummed when they came back, and we weren’t doing the band anymore. I wanted to always get to play with them but soon realized that was not how it works.

The second show of theirs that I saw was a Plumber’s (I think) Union Hall on 24th Street. That was an interesting one, for sure, and I thought Big Drill Car played with them, but maybe not. I think I am misremembering here and Big Drill Car played at the same venue. That band was one that I never really got into and I’m okay with that. You can’t like every band you hear, right? It was fun, though, to see Fugazi in a place I skated passed literally hundreds of times in my life. Probably over a thousand, really, since it was so close to Easy Street.

The In On The Kill Taker record was not my favorite when it came out but the record has grown on me over the years. Don’t get me wrong… I really liked it, but I think I was hoping for another one more like Thirteen Songs and Repeater (1990). They played Phoenix five or six times over the years, and I was at every one of the shows. I never had any other moments of chatting the guys up, but that’s okay. They were always great.

The Silver Dollar show was epic, even though there was a bunch of idiots there. If I remember correctly, Ian and Guy had to reprimand the crowd a lot and Ian eventually fell through the stage. I thought, for sure, it might be the last time they would ever come to Phoenix, but I was wrong.

The following year they were back at Party Gardens for a show with Unwound. What an epic show that was. I wish I had paid more attention to Unwound that night, but they were new to me. Great band, too, and they are going on tour next year, but the cost of a ticket is muy stupido. I remember we had to park down by the porn hotel that used to be on 48th or so and Van Buren. I don’t remember the name.

I loved Red Medicine, though, when it came out and all the subsequent records were amazing. During the band’s last show in Phoenix, which was in 2001, I was standing right in front of Tom Green. Yes, that Tom Green. He was apparently a big fan of Fugazi but just couldn’t help himself and ended up getting booted out for being obnoxious.

He kept snapping his fingers in my ears and then stopping, only to whisper, “Dig the snapping.” That went on for a couple minutes before I gave him a look that clearly said, “Keep it up and I’m going to fuck you up.” I can’t say I was bummed to see him get dragged out. Oh well. In another universe, we sang every lyric arm in arm, and we’re buds now. Ha!

More than anything, though, Fugazi showed me how it could be done. I’ll never write a record that comes anywhere near to what they did, but they showed me it could be done and done well and with a conviction and vision that was not only admirable, but right.

Fugazi are the band that every band should hold to the highest regard, even if you don’t dig the music. They put the fans first. Their songs still matter and still speak up against injustice with the best of them. And not lastly or in any order of importance, they just ruled. Great songs, great lyrics, memorable, and magical.

Listen to Fugazi.

See you tomorrow.

This is my record. There are others like it, but this one is mine.

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Stopping their shows mid-set must have been a thing back then. When I saw them at a Sunday matinee in the summer of 1990 in Kalamazoo (RIP, Club Soda), some kid lost his shoe (or maybe it was his glasses), Ian stopped the show and told the crowd to give the shoe back to the kid. You could hear a pin drop. Also ... one of the hottest, most jam-packed shows I've ever been to.

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Quite a guy. Those shows were amazing. I hope the kids today have something similar.

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