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|
|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.
Hardcore punk is a punk rock music genre and subculture that originated in the late 1970s. It is generally faster, harder, and more aggressive than other forms of punk rock. Its roots can be traced to earlier punk scenes in San Francisco and Southern California which arose as a reaction against the still predominant hippie cultural climate of the time. It was also inspired by New York punk rock and early proto-punk. New York punk had a harder-edged sound than its San Francisco counterpart, featuring anti-art expressions of masculine anger, energy, and subversive humor. Hardcore punk generally disavows commercialism, the established music industry and "anything similar to the characteristics of mainstream rock" and often addresses social and political topics with "confrontational, politically-charged lyrics."
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, the first president of the United States and a Founding Father. As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital. The city is also one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million tourists annually.
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.
The band was relatively short-lived, having disbanded 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."
"Do it yourself" ("DIY") is the method of building, modifying, or repairing things without the direct aid of experts or professionals. Academic research describes DIY as behaviors where "individuals engage raw and semi-raw materials and parts to produce, transform, or reconstruct material possessions, including those drawn from the natural environment ". DIY behavior can be triggered by various motivations previously categorized as marketplace motivations, and identity enhancement.
"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 the name of the punk subculture straight edge.
Straight edge is a subculture originated from hardcore punk whose adherents refrain from using alcohol, tobacco and other recreational drugs, in reaction to the excesses of punk subculture. For some, this extends to refraining from engaging in promiscuous sex, following a vegetarian or vegan diet or not using caffeine or prescription drugs. The term straight edge was adopted from the 1981 song "Straight Edge" by the hardcore punk band Minor Threat.
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.
Washington, D.C. hardcore, commonly referred to as DC hardcore, sometimes referred to in writing as harDCore, is the hardcore punk scene of Washington, D.C. Emerging in late 1979, it is considered one of the first and most influential punk scenes in the United States.
Bad Brains are an American punk rock band formed in Washington, D.C. in 1977. They are widely regarded as among the pioneers of hardcore punk, though the band's members have objected to this term to describe their music. They are also an adept reggae band, while later recordings featured elements of other genres like funk, heavy metal, hip hop and soul. Bad Brains are followers of the Rastafari movement.
Black Flag is an American punk rock band formed in 1976 in Hermosa Beach, California. Initially called Panic, the band was established by Greg Ginn, the guitarist, primary songwriter, and sole continuous member through multiple personnel changes in the band. They are widely considered to be one of the first hardcore punk bands as well as one of the pioneers of post-hardcore. After breaking up in 1986, Black Flag reunited in 2003 and again in 2013. The second reunion lasted well over a year, during which they released their first studio album in over two decades, What The… (2013). The band announced their third reunion in January 2019. Brandon Pertzborn was replaced by Isaias Gil on drums for the rest of the tour.
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.
Jeff Nelson is an American drummer and graphic designer. He is best known as the drummer for the Washington, D.C. hardcore punk band Minor Threat. Nelson and friend Ian MacKaye formed their first band, The Slinkees, in 1979. Their next band was The Teen Idles. He also co-founded the independent record label Dischord Records along with MacKaye in 1980, whose first record was the Teen Idles. They continue to run Dischord together. The duo also comprised the projects Skewbald/Grand Union and Egg Hunt; both bands recorded only one single. Nelson has also played in the bands Feedbag, Three, Wonderama, Senator Flux, High Back Chairs, and Fast Piece of Furniture. He founded Pedestrian Press in 1988 and Adult Swim Records in 1989. An aficionado and collector of Jeep Wagoneers and Victorian architecture, Nelson currently lives in the historic "Old West End" of Toledo, Ohio. In 2008 he formed a community organization called Save Our Scott, which led the fight to save Toledo's oldest high school, built in 1912..
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, the Idles 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.
Woodrow Wilson High School is a secondary school in Washington, D.C. It serves grades 9 through 12, as part of the District of Columbia Public Schools. The school is located in the Tenleytown neighborhood, at the intersection of Chesapeake Street and Nebraska Avenue NW. It primarily serves students in Washington's Ward 3, although nearly 30% of the student body live outside the school’s boundaries.
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.
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.
A basement show is a musical performance, often of the punk rock or hardcore punk variety, that is held in the basement of a residential home, rather than at a traditional venue. These are also sometimes referred to as "house shows" as they can happen anywhere in a residential house, not just in the basement. Basement shows are normally held for a variety of reasons, including:
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 it's 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.
When "Out of Step" was rerecorded for the LP Out of Step, MacKaye inserted a spoken section explaining, "This is not a set of rules..." An ideological door had already been opened, however, and by 1982, 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 practice 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 the go-go band Trouble Funk, and the Austin, Texas punk funk act the Big Boys. In a meaningful way, Minor Threat ended their final set with "Last Song", which was the original title of their 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 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.
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.
Steve Hansgen is an American musician from Washington, D.C. He is best known as a member of the hardcore punk band Minor Threat. He also played briefly in the D.C. hardcore band Government Issue, and joined Youth Brigade for their short reunion in 2012.
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.
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 possible 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.
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.
The single play record "Me and You", also known as Egg Hunt, and 2 Songs, is the first and only stand-alone release by the American experimental post-hardcore duo Egg Hunt.