ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel


Updated on January 9, 2018

Fugazi formed in 1987 with former Minor Threat singer Ian MacKaye on vocals and guitar, Brendan Canty from Rites Of Spring on drums and the relatively unknown Joe Lally on bass. Guy Picciotto (also ex Rites of Spring) joined shortly afterwards on vocals and guitar.

The word ‘Fugazi’ is a slang term from the Vietnam War, literally meaning ‘fucked up, got ambushed, zipped in’. MacKaye chose the word as it represented “a fucked up situation, which is kind of how I view the world.”

Fugazi had a wider lyrical range than the members’ previous bands, singing about political and social issues such as war, abortion and commercialism, as well as taking on board the personal issues and perspectives of the band members. Unlike the previous bands that Fugazi’s members had been a part of, who were either a local phenomena at the time (Rites of Spring, Embrace), or became legendary after they split up (Minor Threat), Fugazi’s appeal began to stretch outside of Washington D.C., and even outside of America.

Underground Media Reception

With the Dischord label well established and respected by 1987, Fugazi were in a position to spread their message and music far and wide. The fanzines of the underground punk scene were (for the most part) positive about the new sound of the band, which incorporated dub and reggae into the new hardcore sound formulated by Embrace and Rites of Spring.

However, the initially positive reaction was marked by a backlash. The band refused to define themselves in purely political terms, leading some to label them apolitical. Fugazi became a victim of their own success. Some bands resented Fugazi’s low pricing policies for shows and records, as it made other bands look like they were overcharging. This led to unfair stereotypes about the band being published in underground publications, with one fanzine editor suggesting that Fugazi “live like monks” and “live in communal houses. Real people don’t live like that”. Punk ‘purists’ attacked the band for being too commercial, suggesting that they should change their name or play smaller venues a number of times rather than play shows at large clubs.

Fugazi and Grunge

In the early 1990s the ‘grunge’ movement began, leading to a higher profile for many American alternative bands. Nirvana were perhaps the most well known of these bands. Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain was known to be a fan of Fugazi, and had written the bands name on his shoes at one point. Although the D.C. scene had already attracted some mainstream attention, this sparked new interest in the band, which led to Fugazi being approached by the mainstream music press. They refused to be interviewed by Rolling Stone and their ilk, but the magazines printed reviews of their live shows, exposing them to a new audience. Fugazi still prefer to do interviews with independent publications such as fanzines, but have been known to provide interviews with alternative music magazines, such as Kerrang! in the U.K.


Fugazi have now been together for over 20 years (including various forms of hiatus). Any band that survives that long is likely to have some mythology surrounding them.

During this time, Minor Threat have become ‘legendary’. They are often cited as the epitome of hardcore. Gina Arnold states that “Minor Threat’s sound has never been improved on; it is still the Beatles of hardcore, the be-all and end-all of that era”. Evidence suggests that Arnold is not alone in her opinion. The band split in 1983, but continue to outsell most of the bands on Dischord Records.

The sounds created by Embrace and Rites of Spring influenced the ‘emo’ genre. Neither Embrace nor Rites of Spring played shows outside of Washington D.C., yet their influence can be found across America and Europe. Both acts sold more records after they split up than when they were together.

Fugazi are now widely respected in both the underground punk scene and in the wider alternative music scene. In the UK, Kerrang! and New Musical Express herald Fugazi tours as must-see events, enthusing about the band’s integrity and ethics as much as their powerful music. Gina Arnold is particularly enthusiastic, describing Fugazi (in her excellent book "On The Road To Nirvana") as “like the burning bush in the Bible. Everything about them – their music, their philosophy – is so fierce that you can’t help thinking that if you touch them you’ll get burned. But instead, if you have faith, you just catch fire alongside them”.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)