Saturday, November 21, 2020

"We started and continue to exist on the fringe"

Happy (almost) milestone birthday to Dischord. As is clear from this Guardian article recounting its history, for the last four decades, the label has been a model for how to operate with ethics and principles in an industry in which such things are in desperately short supply - and for what can be achieved with passion, determination and sheer bloodymindedness, even if that involves holding multiple other jobs and salvaging scrap cardboard from bins to refashion into record sleeves.

It was something of a coup that the article's author Daniel Dylan Wray was able to secure contributions from the usually reluctant Ian MacKaye - but without them, the piece would be much the poorer. After all, Dischord's history is inextricably intertwined with MacKaye's musical career - the label was set up to release music by his first band Teen Idles, and subsequently put out records by Minor Threat, Fugazi, The Evens and most recently Coriky. Pride doesn't come easily to a famously humble musician, but he has every right to allow himself some satisfaction at Dischord's longevity and legacy: "If you strike a bell and 40 years later people can still hear the ring, then that's something."

A footnote: I didn't know Pussy Galore had a song called 'Fuck You, Ian MacKaye', apparently a critical commentary on the perceived cliqueyness and humourless puritanism of the hardcore/post-hardcore scene around Dischord. The fact that Pussy Galore's Julie Cafritz ended up forming Free Kitten with Kim Gordon in 1992 at almost exactly the same time that MacKaye contributed guitar to 'Youth Against Fascism' on Dirty makes Sonic Youth seem even more like the alt-rock bridge builders that they undoubtedly were...

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