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Old 12.20.2006, 06:19 AM   #1
21stCenturyDigitalJeff
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I interviewed Guy (of Fugazi, Rites of Spring, Dischord he just produced the new Blood Brothers album) for Forest Fire magazine - www.forestfiremag.com

Check it out:

Forest Fire: You've probably been almost everywhere with your bands over the years, but what's your favorite destination?

Guy: Fugazi did manage to do a lot of traveling and we covered some huge chunks of the globe. In terms of favorite spots, I would give top rank status to Brazil, Italy, Australia and France. When I succumb to any kind of existential panic, I immediately fantasize about jumping a plane to one of those four.

I don't have a lot of regrets concerning Fugazi but one of them is that we never were able to play in Russia, Africa or Mexico. Those were all countries we had our sights set on but we pulled the plug before we could get to them.

FF: "Young Machetes" seems like it has more space in it than previous Blood Brothers albums, yet it doesn't seem to sacrifice any of the fast or noisy elements that have defined the Blood Brothers. How do you balance these kinds of factors when creating a record?

G: I can't take any credit for the songwriting on the last Blood Brothers record because that stuff was all born from their collective brain. I just lent advice here and there in terms of arrangements and stuff but the direction of the songs was well in place before I got involved. I think at this point the Blood Brothers have the ability and the desire to do all kinds of things. They all have really broad interests and tastes and they aren't shy about exploring their full range. They can still shred the fuck out of a song but they also can drop into really open spaces like at the end of "Streetwars" and the contrast is cool to me.

More generally speaking, I think that with any record its not a matter necessarily of balancing "elements" but of finding out what you want to do and then executing it without compromise. Space and dynamics aren't in themselves a value - its what you use them for or what you ignore them for that matters. When you make a record all you should be thinking about is "Is this what I want to do?" and "Is it good? If you get close to "yes" on both those questions, you are in good shape.

FF: There also seems to be much more singing on "Young Machetes." Was this a decision that you were apart of or was it something that the band had already started steering towards? And with that, was expanding the audience or possibly getting radio play ever a goal during the production of this album?

G: The band just wrote the songs they wanted to write. During the making of the record, there wasn't any deliberation about "singing versus screaming" percentages, melody quotas or commercial "sweetening" to placate anyone.

FF: How has working with the Blood Brothers compared to other bands that you've worked with recently (Blonde Redhead, The Gossip, etc.)?

G: I've been really fortunate to have always worked with bands that I hugely like as people and also as musicians. I have yet to do a record where I had to grit my teeth, bite my tongue or hold my nose.

Just like with Blonde Redhead and The Gossip, The Blood Brothers session was a blast from the first time I went to their practice space to check out the songs to the last day of mixing. I like how hard they work and how acid they are. They are a very funny bunch of guys. My only complaintis that they could have let me win a few dice games here and there but I guess they have too much integrity to condescend to me in that way.

FF: What is your favorite album that you've ever been a part of creating?

G: I guess I would have to say the Rites of Spring album from 1985 just because we were so young and unhinged and we didn't know enough to stress about it. We did it in 2 days, one day recording, one day mixing. It was just a matter of plugging in and going for it. It was a really raw session and the feeling of the group-mind was very strong between us at that point. As you get older and get more experience, it can be hard to maintain that same kind of openness. I also really enjoyed making the Fugazi album RED MEDICINE I think we started to get more loose at that point.

FF: I've read in interviews where you say that good interaction between band members is what makes the best music. This is something that is certainly evident with Fugazi; is it something that you try to bring in working with other bands as well?

G: I really believe that great groups have a camaraderie that distinguishes them. I don't mean that they all have to love each other necessarily but more that there is some product of their combined energies and creativity that is a much greater thing - the whole "sum of parts is greater than the whole" rap. The band itself might not see it but its evident from outside - the indispensability of each piece.

When I work with groups, I do try to make sure that everyone in the band gets their two cents in - that no one is left with something in the attic of their brain that they wanted to take a shot at and weren't able to. I think its important not to succumb to hierarchies in bands because there is something so much cooler about everyone firing together.

FF: In the video of Fugazi playing live in '91 in opposition to Operation Desert Storm, there's a sign behind you guys that reads "There will be two wars." Was this an early prediction of our current war in Iraq or did it mean something else?

G: That "two wars" sign certainly does seem to be awfully prescient now given the latest bullshit we've got going on in Iraq but I don't think that is what they sign was necessarily pointing to at the time. I could be wrong, but I don't think we came up with that banner - I believe that the group of people that put on the show did - but my memory was that it was supposed to suggest that there would be a war at home to counter the war abroad.

Certainly, war breeds more war and it should be no surprise that we continue to revisit the same mistakes, the same hubris and the same stupid ass strategies over and over again.

FF: Do you think that using music as a way to shape public opinion is a good thing? When (if at all) do you think that it could be harmful?

G: Music is just a reflection of human beings - as is politics. People get hung up on "don't inject politics into art" when politics just concerns how people relate to each other in the world. It would be impossible for music not to inform people's politics, just as it would be impossible for music not to be shaped by politics. I actually find the whole "debate" a bit irrelevant....people are going to write songs about everything and anything - those songs will be more or less subjectively good, bad, influential, mundane, engaged, escapist etc. It's a big world.

All that said - if there was a song that could be absolutely guaranteed to subject George Bush to trial by an International War Crimes Court I would be writing that song as fast as I possibly could.

FF: I recently heard that the character Guy in the Super Nintendo video game "Final Fight" is actually based on you. If this really is true, was it exciting to see yourself in Nintendo-form?

G: There is no way on God's green earth this can be true. If it is, someone should send me a Super Nintendo right quick so I can check it out.

FF: Some people say that your band Rites of Spring helped pioneer "Emo" music. Has this term ever had any meaning for you? Would you consider Rites of Spring to be one of the first "Emo" bands?

G: The term "emo" certainly wasn't in circulation when Rites of Spring was a band so I don't know how the whole correlation came about. We just thought of ourselves as DC punk band. "Emo" is something I started hearing long after we'd broken up, it was intended as a putdown and for as dumb as it sounds I am shocked at the legs the term has. I am stunned that it is now a commonplace generic - it just blows my mind. To be honest, I still have no idea what it means , what my relationship to it is or what to say about it.

My only hope is that it doesn't figure too prominently in my obituary.

FF: Who have you been listening to lately? Are there any bands that you would like to work with in the future?

G: I've been on a big Tim Hardin jag for a couple of years. I also love Vic Chesnutt who I got to hang out with recently in Montreal....I also hope to work with the Gossip again soon ok- fingers crossed.

FF: What do you think the early Punk and Hardcore scenes would've been like if everyone had access to the internet?

G: It wouldn't have had as much regional flavor as it did. Back then information about bands, finding records, learning about other scenes; it was all very hard to come by. So much stuff was left to the imagination and to rumor - it forced you to really have to work to find out information on things that interested you. It also allowed you more freedom for conceptualizing things yourself and because of that it gave every town its own distinct look and sound.

The internet is obviously a great technology for making connections but it also satisfies curiousities too quickly. The ease of finding everything has kind of jaded people a bit.

FF: What are your plans for the future? Is there any chance of more Fugazi shows or material at any point?

G: I never really have plans, things usually just fall into place one way or another, for better or worse. The last few years I've been doing a lot more record production stuff but I'm also still writing songs and playing music - its just more under the radar for now. Maybe that will change, maybe not I don't really know right now. As for the chances of Fugazi working again my basic feeling is that it is very, very unlikely but you never know.

FF: And just as an ongoing poll of ours, what's your favorite kind of party? (Birthday, Pizza, Democratic, for example)

G: I will go with pity party....world's smallest violin etc.


Forest Fire Magazine 2006
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Old 12.20.2006, 06:25 AM   #2
sonicl
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Was this a face to face interview or telephone or by e-mail? It reads ike it was something pretty enjoyable to do whichever is the case. Nice one. And welcome to the board.
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Old 12.20.2006, 11:52 AM   #3
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Nice man. I've been wondering what Guy has been up to, the other guys from Fugazi seem really vocal and everything in comparison.
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Old 12.20.2006, 12:17 PM   #4
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Cool interview. Here's another
http://markprindle.com/picciotto-i.htm
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Old 12.21.2006, 12:55 AM   #5
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Thanks for posting.....God I hope they play again.
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Old 12.21.2006, 12:58 AM   #6
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Yeah I prefer doing interviews in person but he hasn't really been touring. I was thinking about doing it over the phone but I couldn't figure out a way to record it, email gives him time to come up with good answers too so I think it worked out.

Thanks for the feedback, I hope they start touring soon too! check out the website for more interviews and such www.forestfiremag.com
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Old 12.21.2006, 03:44 AM   #7
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really good question and answer about emo
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