Saturday, January 9, 2010

Minor Threat

Background information
Washington, D.C.
United States
Hardcore punk
Years active

Minor Threat was an American hardcore punk band formed in Washington, D.C. in 1980 and disbanded in 1983. Despite the band's short lifespan, it had a strong influence on the hardcore punk music scene. Minor Threat's song "Straight Edge" became the eventual basis of the straight edge movement, while the band often professed their own "straight edge" ideals. 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, Minor Threat set the standard for many hardcore punk bands in the 1980s and 1990s. They produced short, often astonishingly fast songs, eventually with high production quality, which at the time was lacking in most punk rock. All of Minor Threat's records were released on Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson's own label, Dischord Records.

While at Wilson High School, Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson were in the Washington, D.C., punk band The Slinkees, which was soon renamed The Teen Idles. After that band broke up, MacKaye decided to switch from bass guitar to vocals, and organized Minor Threat with drummer Nelson, bassist Brian Baker, and guitarist Lyle Preslar. Minor Threat's first performance was in December 1980, opening on a bill with Bad Brains, Phfat Raskals, and S.O.A. The band's first 7" EPs, Minor Threat and In My Eyes, were released in 1981. The group became popular regionally, and toured the United States east coast and midwest.

"Straight Edge", a song on the first EP, helped to inspire the straight edge movement. The song seemed to be a call for abstinence from alcohol and other drugs— a new thing in rock music, which initially found a small but dedicated following. Other prominent groups that subsequently advocated the straight edge stance included SS Decontrol and 7 Seconds.

Another Minor Threat song from the second EP, "Out of Step", further demonstrates the 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 only implied (mainly because it did not quite fit the rhythm of the song), and some in Minor Threat—Jeff Nelson in particular—took exception to what they saw as MacKaye's imperious attitude on the song.

Minor Threat's song "Guilty of Being White" led to some accusations of racism, but MacKaye has strongly denied such intentions and said that some listeners misinterpreted his words. The song was inspired by his experiences at Wilson High School, whose student population was 70 percent black. There, MacKaye and his friends were routinely picked on by black students. 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 has 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 antiracist 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 for college – during his 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 that period, Brian Baker also briefly played guitar for Government Issue and appeared on the Make An Effort EP. In March 1981, at the urging of Bad Brains' H.R., Preslar left college to re-form Minor Threat. Shortly afterwards, the cuts Minor Threat and In My Eyes were rereleased as First two 7"s on a 12". 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. Minor Threat, however, did not promote such overt behavior.

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 E.P. 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 last show on September 23, 1983, with go-go band Trouble Funk and the Big Boys, ending with "Last Song", which was the original title of "Salad Days".

more, visit: wikipedia, myspace profile and external links

Free Translation