This past Friday our crew took to the road and headed down to Washington DC for a day of filming. The first stop was the legendary Dischord house and a sit-down with Ian MacKaye. This was one I’d been looking forward to since we first began this odyssey. We were met with gracious hospitality, Ian happily showed us around the house and its history. He offered us tea.
For me, Dischord has always stood paramount as the model for integrity and independence. Which is pretty much the theme of this film. The idea of starting with nothing, building it into something, and still retaining some sense of autonomy while doing it is the reason why we’re all here and involved with this project. It’s the reason we rock the music we’ve been listening to for years, it’s how we live and how we conduct ourselves. It’s a defining passion that has guided us since we discovered music. Seeing the Dischord house, being inside of it is beyond description. To this day I am still a fan of both the music and the label and to step inside a world devoted solely to making music is both humbling and inspiring.
I have no problem admitting that I was kind of star-struck. That goes without saying. I am glad that Tozzi did the interview, I don’t think I could have gotten a question off without stuttering and flop-sweating. Tozzi did an amazing job, he intrepidly plowed through a series of questions that Ian has been asked a thousand times over. Interviewing Ian is no easy task for a variety of reasons. The first being the sheer intensity of the undertaking. It’s like a physical force that is overwhelming, you can hear the intensity and unabashed passion in his voice. He still carries that fire with him.
Interviewing Ian is something you need to be prepared for: at the turn of a phrase he can put a question right back on you. It can be very daunting. He demands a lot out of you with just a look; he is all about participation. Like at any of his shows: it is understood that this is an organic, back-and-forth exchange. A conversation. To be able to stand in with him you must be willing to to go all in and you must be willing to be challenged. Depending on the interviewer, this can be a dream or a nightmare. Ian is frank, bold, and unafraid.
What comes through most is his appreciation and his love for the music. He has a vivid mind and memory when it comes to the music. Not just his own, either. This is a man who has dedicated his entire life to the art; it’s what fuels him.
For me, just sitting on that porch was inspiring. Later on Ian showed me old pictures and the walls covered with all the Dischord records he’s put out over the years. He took us on a walking tour of the hallowed basement where all his bands played at one time or another. It still looks the same as it did in “Another State of Mind.”
A long time ago Ian wrote: “we’re not the first, I hope we’re not the last” and that line kind of sums it up. None of us were first; many have come before us and laid the groundwork. Hopefully we won’t be the last. We hope the generations after us find the unbridled spirit of underground music as exciting and vital as we do and carry on with tradition while forging new paths.