by e-mail, 15th december 2003 | Interview by B.

What have you been up to? Are you working on a next album? Are you
still playing together? Or do you have other projects?...

At the moment, I am sorry to report that Fugazi is not a working
entity....the last thing we did together was a tour of the UK at the tail end of 2002. We had a band meeting not long after that where our drummer Brendan informed us he wanted to take a break from the group because he was about to have a third son with his wife and he wanted to be able to spend more time with his family.
Whether or not Fugazi will ever tour or record again is still an open
question - it may happen, it may not - even personally, I don't have any
great deal of insight into how things might turn out. Still, the four of us are all involved in various other projects....for my part I have been mostly producing other bands like Blonde Redhead and the Casual Dots though I did do one gig as a member of a improvisational group called International Silence at a festival in Austria. Ian has been managing Dischord Records as well as working with his new group the Evens. Brendan has worked with a group called Garland of Hours and continued his work making soundtrack music. Joe has recently recorded with a band called Decahedron and is now living in Los Angeles. And, of course, we all remain friends so that work together in the future is certainly not an impossibility.

What are you listening to at the moment? Any contemporary artist that
you find interesting?

Lately, I have been listening to alot of Derek Bailey, an improvisational
guitarist from the UK. I also have really enjoyed the recent Television
re-issues that have come out - like Sonic Youth, they remain a band that
will always seem fresh to me.

Do you think there is still an underground community in Washington,DC? What about underground communities in the US? Do you think they were more powerful in the 1990s?

You cannot really compare the present and the past - too many things have
changed, sociologically, technologically and politically. I do believe
there will always be an "underground" of some sort because I think there will
always be groups of people whose ideas and creativity run against the
current of the dominant culture and they will always, by necessity, create
a space for themselves to be heard but certainly the contexts that these
communities operate in change over time. To get hung up on
what/when/who/where is more or less "powerful" is more a matter for people
with a historicist bent - I prefer to just try to concentrate on what good
is happening now and concentrate my energy there.

What influence do you think Fugazi had and has? (at any level: music, politics...)

This is something I actually don't really think about that much. When
Fugazi was working steadily, I just concentrated on the work we had in front of us. It is definitely cool that people have seemed to be into our music and that we have been able to make connections with other groups and movements but trying to define one's own impact or influence is kind of a murky business. Often people are more influenced by what they think you are doing or saying, then what you are actually doing or saying. In such cases, where does the influence really come from?
That said, I am always happy when we are referred to as a touchstone for people because I can certainly point to many groups that have shaped my life in a positive way as well, from the Bad Brains to the Beatles. Music is a constantly reciprocating
process so in that sense I am just happy to be part of the conversation - how major a part is for others to decide.

Do you find it important that people read and understand your lyrics? especially the lyrics about political subjects? There are some very angry songs (like "Bulldog Front") that don't seem to have any real target except for "Dear Justice Letter" where the name of the judge is mentioned. Why?

Long ago I realized it is impossible to hold people's hands while they
interact with your music. It is not really that important to me that people enjoy or understand the music in a way that I might have imagined or predicted. The fact that people interact with it at all is sufficient and I feel like by making the music and writing the lyric, that is all the direction or framework I really desire to put on it anyway. Every song I've written has a "target" or at least a sourcepoint. It may not always be self evident but there is always a "reason" for the song as far as I'm concerned. But again, the listener may have new "targets" or "reasons" in mind for the song - that is fine with me -- as long as some kind of utility is there, some kind of interest found, that is good
enough for me.

Do you think the creation and success of Dischord made other artists
create their own label? Do you think being on an independent record label still means something nowadays?

I definitely think that Dischord Records has served as a model and a
template for many labels - even within our own band, both Joe Lally and I
have, at points in time, released records on our own labels (Tolotta
Records and Peterbilt Records) which were both certainly inspired by the Dischord
example. The most important lesson I think Dischord has taught is a very simple one: that there could be other models for enterprise that could be focussed on things like documentation and creativity and not strictly based on maximizing profits. That to me is the fundemental difference between truly independent labels and mainstream media - the idea that the music involved has a value beyond its designation as a strictly mercenary saleable commodity.
Is it harder to remain autonomous from the mass media and entertainment
industries in the US?
Its never hard to remain autonomous - all you have to do is learn the power
of saying no.

When will you tour again? Are you still playing benefits in Washington DC?

Every show we've played in Washington DC since 1988 has been either a
benefit or a protest. We have worked with so many organizations it would be
impossible to list them all but examples would include local free health
clinics, AIDS support organizations, Prisoner's rights organizations,
protests in front of the White House and Supreme Court, homelessness
advocacy groups among others. But again - we sadly have no plans at all to tour or play any shows for the
time being.

Any comments?

I miss playing in France very much - we were always really blown away by
our audience in France and would like to thank everyone for the support we
enjoyed there for so many years. Hopefully, we will be back at some point. To
stay posted on the future of the group and other information people can
sign on to the mailing list at www.dischord.com.