Minor Threat performing at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. in 1981
|Origin||Washington, D.C., U.S.|
|Associated acts||The Teen Idles, Skewbald/Grand Union, Egg Hunt, Government Issue, The Meatmen, Dag Nasty|
|Past members|| Ian MacKaye |
Minor Threat was an American hardcore punk band, formed in 1980 in Washington, D.C. by vocalist Ian MacKaye and drummer Jeff Nelson. MacKaye and Nelson had played in several other bands together, and recruited bassist Brian Baker and guitarist Lyle Preslar to form Minor Threat. They added a fifth member, Steve Hansgen, in 1982, playing bass, while Baker switched to second guitar.
The band was relatively short-lived, disbanding after only four years together, but had a strong influence on the punk scene, both stylistically and in establishing a "do it yourself" ethic for music distribution and concert promotion. Minor Threat's song "Straight Edge" became the eventual basis of the straight edge movement, which emphasized a lifestyle without alcohol or other drugs, or promiscuous sex.AllMusic described Minor Threat's music as "iconic" and noted that their groundbreaking music "has held up better than [that of] most of their contemporaries."
Along with the fellow Washington, D.C. hardcore band Bad Brains and California band Black Flag, Minor Threat set the standard for many hardcore punk bands in the 1980s and 1990s. All of Minor Threat's recordings were released on MacKaye's and Nelson's own label, Dischord Records. The Minor Threat EP and their only full-length studio album Out of Step have received a number of accolades and are cited as landmarks of the hardcore punk genre.
Prior to forming Minor Threat in 1980, vocalist Ian MacKaye and drummer Jeff Nelson had played bass and drums respectively in the Teen Idles while attending Wilson High School. During their two-year career within the flourishing Washington D.C. hardcore punk scene, the Teen Idles had gained a following of around one hundred fans (a sizable amount at the time), and were seen as only second within the scene to the contemporary Bad Brains.MacKaye and Nelson were strong believers in the DIY mentality and an independent, underground music scene. After the breakup of the Teen Idles, they used the money earned through the band to create Dischord Records, an independent record label that would host the releases of the Teen Idles, Minor Threat, and numerous other D.C. punk bands.
Eager to start a new band after the Teen Idles, MacKaye and Nelson recruited guitarist Lyle Preslar and bassist Brian Baker. They played their first performance in December 1980 to fifty people in a basement, opening for Bad Brains, The Untouchables, Black Market Baby and S.O.A., all D.C. bands.
The band's first 7" EPs, Minor Threat and In My Eyes , were released in 1981. The group became popular regionally and toured the east coast and Midwest.
"Straight Edge," a song from the band's first EP, helped to inspire the straight edge movement. The lyrics of the song relay MacKaye's first-person perspective of his personal choice of abstinence from alcohol and other drugs, a novel ideology for rock musicians which initially found a small but dedicated following. Other prominent groups that subsequently advocated the straight edge stance include SS Decontrol and 7 Seconds. Although the original song was not written as a manifesto or a "set of rules," many later bands inspired by this idea used it as such, and over the years since its release, the song and the term "straight edge" became the zeitgeist for an entire subculture, and indeed the basis for a paradigm shift that has persisted and grown consistently throughout the world. The term comes as the point of the story -- he doesn't want to do drugs or drink, so therefore the writer has an edge over those who do -- a straight edge.
"Out of Step", A Minor Threat song from their second EP, further demonstrates the said belief: "Don't smoke/Don't drink/Don't fuck/At least I can fucking think/I can't keep up/I'm out of step with the world." The "I" in the lyrics was usually only implied, mainly because it did not quite fit the rhythm of the song. Some of the other members of Minor Threat, Jeff Nelson in particular, took exception to what they saw as MacKaye's imperious attitude on the song.The song was later re-recorded, and the updated version of the song on the 1983 album Out of Step , which is slower so the first-person use of "I" would be clearer, included a bridge where MacKaye explains his personal beliefs, explaining that his ideals, which at the time were not yet known as what became a collective philosophy, or in fact, known as "straight edge," "is not a set of rules; I'm not telling you what to do. All I'm saying is there are three things, that are like so important to the whole world that I don't happen to find much importance in, whether it's fucking, or whether it's playing golf, because of that, I feel... I can't keep up... (full chorus)".
Minor Threat's song "Guilty of Being White" led to some accusations of racism [ by whom? ], but MacKaye has strongly denied such intentions and said that some listeners misinterpreted his words. He claims that his experiences attending Wilson High School, whose student population was 70 percent black, inspired the song. There, many students bullied MacKaye and his friends. Thrash metal band Slayer later covered the song, with the last iteration of the lyric "guilty of being white" changed to "guilty of being right." In an interview, MacKaye stated that he was offended that some perceived racist overtones in the lyrics, saying, "To me, at the time and now, it seemed clear it's an anti-racist song. Of course, it didn't occur to me at the time I wrote it that anybody outside of my twenty or thirty friends who I was singing to would ever have to actually ponder the lyrics or even consider them."
In the time between the release of the band's second seven-inch EP and the Out of Step record, the band briefly split when guitarist Lyle Preslar moved to Illinois to attend college for a semester at Northwestern University. Preslar was a member of Big Black for a few tempestuous rehearsals. During that period, MacKaye and Nelson put together a studio-only project called Skewbald/Grand Union; in a reflection of the slowly increasing disagreements between the two musicians, they were unable to decide on one name. The group recorded three untitled songs, which would be released posthumously as Dischord's 50th release. During Minor Threat's inactive period, Brian Baker also briefly played guitar for Government Issue and appeared on the Make an Effort EP.
In March 1982, at the urging of Bad Brains' H.R., Preslar left college to reform Minor Threat. The reunited band featured an expanded lineup: Steve Hansgen joined as the band's bassist and Baker switched to second guitar.
Some in Minor Threat, particularly drummer Jeff Nelson, took exception to what they saw as MacKaye's imperious attitude on the song "Out of Step." When the song was re-recorded for the LP Out of Step, MacKaye clearly sang "I don't drink/smoke/fuck" (as was the intent of his words all along). The band also inserted an overdubbed spoken section into the instrumental break before the last chorus with MacKaye stating, "This is not a set of rules, I'm not telling you what to do..." Recording engineer Don Zientara had inadvertently recorded an argument between drummer Nelson and lyricist/singer MacKaye that captured the message perfectly, so this was used. According to Mark Andersen and Mark Jenkins' Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital, this argument was over exactly what would be said in the message that Nelson wanted MacKaye to record, stating essentially what he said without knowing it was being recorded. An ideological door had already been opened, however, and by 1983, some straight-edge punks, such as followers of the band SS Decontrol, were swatting beers out of people's hands at clubs.[ citation needed ]
Minor Threat broke up in 1983. A contributing factor was disagreement over musical direction. MacKaye was allegedly skipping rehearsal sessions towards the end of the band's career, and he wrote the lyrics to the songs on the Salad Days EP in the studio. That was quite a contrast with the earlier recordings, as he had written and co-written the music for much of the band's early material. Minor Threat, which had returned to being a four-piece group with the departure of Hansgen, played its final show on September 23, 1983, at the Lansburgh Cultural Center in Washington, D.C.,sharing the bill with go-go band Trouble Funk, and Austin, Texas punk funk act the Big Boys. In a meaningful way, Minor Threat ended their final set with "Last Song", a tune whose name was also the original title of the band's song "Salad Days".
Following the breakup, MacKaye stated that he did not "check out" on hardcore, but in fact hardcore "checked out." Explaining this, he stated that at a 1984 Minutemen show, a fan struck MacKaye's younger brother Alec in the face, and he punched the fan back, then realizing that the violence was "stupid," and that he saw his role in the stupidity. MacKaye claimed that immediately after this he decided to leave the hardcore scene.
In March 1984, six months after the band broke up, the EPs Minor Threat and In My Eyes were compiled together and re-released as the Minor Threat album.
MacKaye went on to found Embrace with former members of the Faith, Egg Hunt with Jeff Nelson, and later Fugazi and the Evens, as well as collaborating on Pailhead.
Baker went on to play in Junkyard, the Meatmen, Dag Nasty and Government Issue. He currently[ when? ] plays in Bad Religion.
Preslar was briefly a member of Glenn Danzig's Samhain, and his playing appears on a few songs on the band's first record. He joined The Meatmen in 1984, along with fellow Minor Threat member Brian Baker. He later ran Caroline Records, signing and working with (among others) Peter Gabriel, Ben Folds, Chemical Brothers, and Idaho, and ran marketing for Sire Records. He graduated from Rutgers University School of Law and lives in New Jersey.
Nelson played less-frantic alternative rock with Three and The High-Back Chairs before retiring from live performance. He runs his own label, Adult Swim Records, distributed by Dischord, and is a graphic artist and a political activist in Toledo, Ohio. The band's own Dischord Records released material by many bands from the Washington, D.C., area, such as Government Issue, Void, Scream, Fugazi, Artificial Peace, Rites of Spring, Gray Matter, and Dag Nasty, and has become a respected independent record label.
Hansgen formed Second Wind with Rich Moore, a former Minor Threat roadie and drummer for the Untouchables. He also worked with Tool in 1992 on the production of their first EP, Opiate .
In 2005, a mock-up of the cover of Minor Threat's first EP (also used on the Minor Threat LP and Complete Discography CD) was copied by athletic footwear manufacturer Nike for use on a promotional poster for a skateboarding tour called "Major Threat". Nike also altered Minor Threat's logo (designed by Jeff Nelson) for the same campaign, as well as featuring Nike shoes in the new picture, rather than the combat boots worn by Ian MacKaye's younger brother Alec on the original.
MacKaye issued a press statement condemning Nike's actions and said that he would discuss legal options with the other members of the band. Meanwhile, fans, at the encouragement of Dischord, organized a letter-writing campaign protesting Nike's infringement. On June 27, 2005, Nike issued a statement apologizing to Minor Threat, Dischord Records, and their fans for the "Major Threat" campaign and said that all promotional artwork (print and digital) that they could acquire were destroyed.
On October 29, 2005, Fox played the first few seconds of Minor Threat's "Salad Days" during an NFL broadcast. Use of the song was not cleared by Dischord Records or any of the members of Minor Threat. Fox claimed that the clip was too short to have violated any copyrights.
In 2007, Brooklyn-based company Wheelhouse Pickles marketed a pepper sauce named "Minor Threat Sauce".Requesting only that the original label design (which was based on the "Bottled Violence" artwork) be amended, Ian MacKaye gave the product his endorsement. A small mention of this was made in music magazine Revolver , where MacKaye commented "I don't really like hot sauce but I like the Minor Threat stuff".
In 2013, Minor Threat shirts began appearing in Urban Outfitters stores. Ian MacKaye confirmed that the shirts were officially licensed. Having spent what he described as "a complete waste of time" trying to track down bootlegged Minor Threat merchandise, MacKaye and Dischord made arrangements with a merchandise company in California to manage licensing of the band's shirts, as well as working to ensure that bootleg manufacturers of the shirts were curtailed. In comments that appeared in Rolling Stone , MacKaye called it "absurd" for the shirts to be sold for $28 but concluded that "my time is better spent doing other things" than dealing with shirts.Dischord had previously taken action against Forever 21 in 2009 for marketing unlicensed Minor Threat shirts.
Ian Thomas Garner MacKaye is an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, musician, record label owner and producer. Active since 1979, MacKaye is best known as the co-founder and owner of Dischord Records, a Washington, D.C.-based independent record label and the frontman of the influential hardcore punk band Minor Threat and the post-hardcore band Fugazi. MacKaye was also the frontman for the short-lived bands The Teen Idles, Embrace and Pailhead, a collaboration with the band Ministry. MacKaye is a member of The Evens, a two-piece indie rock group he formed with his wife Amy Farina in 2001 and in 2018 formed the band Coriky with Farina and his Fugazi band mate Joe Lally.
Minor Threat is a compilation album by the American hardcore punk band Minor Threat. It was released in March 1984 through Dischord Records. The compilation consisted of the group's first and second extended plays, Minor Threat and In My Eyes. The 1984 Minor Threat LP featured the same cover as the 1981 Minor Threat EP, depicting vocalist Ian MacKaye's younger brother Alec. The image has been imitated by punk bands such as Rancid on their album ...And Out Come the Wolves and in the Major Threat ad campaign by Nike.
Out of Step is the sole studio album by American hardcore punk band Minor Threat. It was released on 45 RPM vinyl in April 1983 through Dischord Records. Although Out of Step has only been released on CD in limited quantities, it has been repressed on vinyl as recently as 2010, and all tracks from the album are available on Minor Threat's 1989 compilation album Complete Discography.
Rites of Spring was an American post-hardcore band from Washington, D.C., in the mid-1980s, known for their energetic live performances. Along with Embrace, and Beefeater, they were one of the mainstay acts of the 1985 Revolution Summer movement which took place within the Washington, D.C. hardcore punk scene. Musically, Rites of Spring increased the frenetic violence and visceral passion of hardcore while simultaneously experimenting with its compositional rules. Lyrically, they also shifted hardcore into intensely personal realms and, in doing so, are often considered the first emo band but Rites of Spring itself rejected any association between themselves and emo genres.
Lyle Preslar is an American musician best known for being the guitar player and songwriter for the hardcore punk band Minor Threat. Before that, he was the vocalist for The Extorts, who later became State of Alert after he quit. Despite not performing on any State of Alert recordings, Preslar received co-writing credit for the songs "Draw Blank" from the No Policy EP and "I Hate the Kids" from the Dischord Records compilation Flex Your Head.
Brian Baker is an American punk rock musician. He is best known as one of the founding members of the hardcore punk band Minor Threat, and as a guitarist in Bad Religion since 1994. In Minor Threat, he originally played bass guitar before switching to guitar in 1982 when Steve Hansgen joined the band, and then moved back to bass after Hansgen's departure. He also founded Dag Nasty in 1985, was part of the original line-up of Samhain, and has had stints in Doggy Style, The Meatmen, Government Issue, and Junkyard.
The Teen Idles were an American hardcore punk band formed in Washington, D.C. in September 1979. Consisting of teenagers Nathan Strejcek, Geordie Grindle, Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson, they recorded two demo sessions and the 1980 Minor Disturbance EP before breaking up in November 1980. The influential independent record label Dischord Records was originally created with the sole purpose of releasing The Teen Idles Minor Disturbance 7" record. They were an early landmark in the D.C. hardcore movement, and MacKaye and Nelson would later form the seminal punk rock outfit Minor Threat.
State of Alert was an American hardcore punk group formed in Washington, D.C. in October 1980, and disbanded in July 1981. S.O.A. was fronted by Henry Rollins, then using his original surname Garfield.
Pailhead was a short-lived side project of Al Jourgensen of Ministry that featured Dischord Records founder and former Minor Threat frontman Ian MacKaye on vocals. The band's sound was a combination of industrial beats and hardcore punk, presaging what Ministry would later do with Jello Biafra in another side project, Lard.
Government Issue was an American hardcore punk band from Washington, D.C. active from 1980 to 1989. The band experienced many changes in membership during its nine-year existence, with singer John Stabb as the only consistent member in an ever-fluctuating lineup that at various times included notable musicians Brian Baker, Mike Fellows, Steve Hansgen, J. Robbins, and Peter Moffett. Government Issue originated from the Washington, D.C. hardcore scene but added elements of heavy metal, new wave, and psychedelic rock on later records. Though this has caused the band to be sometimes overlooked in relation to other Washington, D.C. hardcore acts, their stylistic diversity made them influential to later punk rock groups. Government Issue performed occasional reunion shows in the 2000s and 2010s with various lineups, until Stabb's death from stomach cancer in 2016.
Skewbald/Grand Union, also known as 2 Songs, is the eponymous archival EP featuring the only studio recordings by American hardcore punk band Skewbald/Grand Union.
Complete Discography is a 1989 compilation album released by the American hardcore punk band Minor Threat on the band's own Dischord Records. As the name implies, it contains the band's entire discography at the time, including their three EPs, the Out of Step album and Flex Your Head compilation tracks. Some tracks were unreleased at the time and didn't appear on this compilation, but were later released. This includes the songs "Understand" and "Asshole Dub" from 20 Years of Dischord.
Egg Hunt was a one-off band/project of long time friends and musicians Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson, former singer and drummer of the hardcore punk band Minor Threat, respectively. During a 1986 trip to England's Southern Studios to discuss European distribution of Dischord releases with owner John Loder, the three decided to make a record together, and the project was dubbed "Egg Hunt" for festive reasons. John took a seat in the producer's chair, while Ian and Jeff handled all the instruments.
Salad Days is the final EP by the American hardcore punk band Minor Threat. It was released in July 1985, two years after the band's breakup, through Dischord Records with the catalog number DIS 015. The EP differs somewhat from the band's previous material. All songs are slower, making a slight departure from the group's hardcore punk style. Tracks "Good Guys" and "Salad Days" both feature an acoustic guitar, and "Salad Days" also has chimes. Like many of Minor Threat's recordings, Salad Days has never been released on CD, but all the songs are available on their 1989 compilation album Complete Discography.
Flex Your Head is a sampler album featuring early hardcore punk bands from the Washington, D.C. area. It was originally released in January 1982 on Dischord Records, with a pressing of 4,000 copies on vinyl record that sold out within one week; an additional 3,000 copies were released shortly after. In 1982, a third pressing of 2,000 copies was released under license in the United Kingdom by Alternative Tentacles. Each of the first three pressings featured a different front cover.
"Straight Edge" is a track from Minor Threat's 1981 eponymous debut 7" EP, later reissued both as part of the 1984 collection Minor Threat, then as part of 1989's Complete Discography. The song was the inspiration for an anti-hippie movement in a punk subculture known as straight edge.
The Faith was an early American hardcore punk band, from Washington D.C., with strong connections to the scene centered on the Dischord label. Along with Minor Threat, The Faith were key players in the early development of hardcore, with a (later) melodic approach that would influence not just associated acts like Rites of Spring, Embrace and Fugazi, but also a subsequent generation of bands such as Nirvana, whose Kurt Cobain was a vocal fan.
Minor Disturbance is the debut EP by the American hardcore punk band the Teen Idles, released in December 1980. It was the first release by Dischord Records. Comprising eight songs, Minor Disturbance referenced a number of issues pertinent to the band, from being turned away at local concerts due to their age to what they felt was the increasing complacency of many first wave punk bands. Upon its release, Minor Disturbance received positive reviews from local fanzines and gained airplay on local radio stations.
First Demo Tape is an archival release of recordings by the American hardcore punk band Minor Threat. It was released on CD and 7-inch vinyl in 2003 through Dischord Records. The album comprises previously unreleased demo versions of material which appears on the band's subsequent recordings.
Youth Brigade was an American hardcore punk band from Washington, D.C., formed in late 1980 and disbanded in 1981. They released the Possible EP and appeared on the Flex Your Head compilation, both on Dischord Records. Although active for less than a year, they were nevertheless contributors to the development of D.C. hardcore punk and have influenced many other bands. Several members briefly reunited for performances in 2012 and 2013.