St. Edwards University: Austin, TX
November 14th, 2008
My wife and I planned to check out a coffee shop on Friday night but that quickly changed when I saw Ian MacKaye was speaking. It's ironic that for five years I lived within a mile or so of the Dischord House and it was only when I moved to Texas that I finally got to hear Ian speak. Well, I guess that's not totally true. I was fortunate enough to see Fugazi a few times. I've also seen The Evens play but I've never talked with Ian or heard him in a Q&A setting. He has an unfair reputation of being a bit puritanical (the whole DIY and Straight Edge stuff). Sure, he has strong beliefs on certain issues but he's certainly not an uptight guy. I found him incredibly funny, intelligent, thoughtful, and even inspiring. The one word my wife used when describing him was "real".
We didn't have tickets so we waited in line and hoped there was extra room. Fortunately, the three of us got in (our 6 month old daughter was with us). Ian casually walked into the packed ballroom wearing his cargo shorts, sweatshirt, and muggers hat. After a brief introduction Ian explained the ground rules for the event: no video please (damn internets), you ask, I'll answer.
Over the next 90 minutes (it lasted two hours but we had to scoot early) Ian described the support he received from his family. He told a touching story about the kindness his Mom showed to the people who visited her Beecher St. home thinking it was Dischord House. His stories of growing up with Henry Rollins were especially funny. It's fascinating how life has taken them in different directions yet they remain best friends to this day.
Other subjects he touched upon were the effect of the internet on regional music, his stances on DRM (he's against any restrictions) and file sharing (he's for it). His views on file sharing were particularly interesting considering he owns a record label. His general advice is to be a patron of the arts - go to a show, buy a record album, let a band crash at your place. Just do something to support those making music. And when you do discover good music share it with your friends. He says music is meant to be free and all record companies sell is plastic.
After a while it was getting close to my daughters bedtime so we scooted out the side door. As I left with my daughter in my arms, Ian gave us a little wave as if to say "good night - thanks for coming". No problem Ian. The pleasure was all ours. Now get to work on that next Fugazi album...
Wednesday, November 19, 2008