Guy Picciotto of Fugazi - Interview.05.12.99
SH: Fugazi have played in Wolverhampton a couple of
times now, what are your impressions of the place?
GP: I can't really say that I have any ultra-nuanced impressions of the
Town mainly because everytime we're there we basically only get very
Intimately acquainted with the venue we're playing and whatever happens to be in
The immediate vicinity. at our last show in Wolverhampton I do remember
Walking to dinner and enjoying the stroll - we ate at Tony's Balti House (I
Think ?), and the management there kindly parted with an old rug that we
desperately needed for our second drum set. Our shows there are always
pretty good - I like that Wulfren Hall - it’s got a good old dancehall
feeling and both shows we've done there have felt solid.
SH: Do you have any messages to your fans who saw you
play earlier this year?
GP: Hello! - I wish I could say we would be back soon but I'm afraid that's
not really the case. Our drummer Brendan is having a kid in march of 2000
so we will be in tour hibernation for awhile. We will be working on another
album in the interim so we will still be keeping our noses somewhat to the
SH: Ian speaks a couple of times about the publics' opinion about him and Fugazi
band as being pre-meditated, was “instrument” an attempt to set the record straight?
GP: The film wasn't made expressly to set the record straight really,
rather the film was just an attempt by its director jem cohen to offer a
perspective on the band and the way it works. Its like a collage impression so it
doesn't cover all aspects of what we are or what we do but it offers some
pieces, some splinters to chew. That there are a lot of misconceptions about our
band is not a great surprise to us because after all, we don't really engage
the media very much - we don't do tons of interviews, TV shows or videos so
people have to rely on what they can glean from the concerts and the
records. To me, that's perfectly acceptable because after all that is
what the band actually is - the music. people tend to build up a lot of stuff
around it, but in the end its just four human beings making sound. That
said – I am happy that people who have seen "instrument" have said they were
surprised by how much of it was funny - if it only serves to puncture the myth
that we are eternally cheerless and grumpy than it will have been worth it.
SH: One of the things that strike me about “instrument”
is how the band members appear to be very self-
conscious in front of the camera. Was it hard at times
to appear naturally when being recorded?
GP: It depended really - we were never that comfortable being directly
interviewed but a lot of the time when the camera was just in the background, like in the
when we were practicing or playing then we just
forgot it was there and it didn't mess us up. part of the problem for us was
that we were very conscious that we were producing the film and we didn't
want it to feel like an advertisement - here's us talking about how great we
are, how vital our music is. So we really shied away from that approach and
preferred to just let Jem lurk around on the periphery and capture
stuff at random.
SH: There are times when you appear to be experiencing
a loss of self when you play live, can you explain how
you feel during such moments?
GP: Playing live for me has always been a pretty overpowering experience -
It’s a lot like being erased, but not in an unpleasant way. Its just like a
chance to disappear from yourself and fall into the making of the music. For
me the best shows are the ones I can barely remember, when the whole thing
Just drops into a trance - when all the intercommunication between the
members of the band and the crowd just feel effortless. It doesn't always play
out that way but its something to aspire to.
SH: You have an incredible, distinctive guitar style.
which guitar players/musicians have influenced you?
GP: I am actually a very limited guitarist technically speaking, but I don't
think you necessarily have to be that adept at any instrument in order
to harness it and be creative. Though I love a lot of guitarists, I don't
think that I am actually that influenced by their styles because I usually
can't figure out what they're doing anyway but a short list would include:
Tom Verlaine of television, dr. know from the bad brains, Billy Karren from
bikini kill, George Harrison from the beatles, Roger Mcguinn from the
Byrds, Andy Gill from gang of four, and Keith Levene from PIL.
SH: When you’re on tour, what music do you listen to on the tour bus?
GP: We listen to all kinds of stuff: Fela Kuti, the B52's, Smog, Rare
Essence, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Lungfish, 13th Floor Elevators, the Small Faces,
Spirit Caravan etc. etc.
SH: Your band has a close association with the skateboard
scene, is this important to you?
GP: The only person in the band who was ever that much of a real skater was
Ian. He was on a skate team in DC in the late 70's and he still goes out
pretty often skating with people from here. Through the band we have met a lot
of people from the skater and BMX worlds and that has been great. There is
a lot of really intensely focussed, really radical people involved with that
stuff and meeting them has been great.
SH: What advice can you give to those people who wish
to find a sense of self-fulfilment away from the industrial machine,
but find themselves being pushed in that direction?
GP: It sounds trite but I’d say follow your heart - you only go around once
so why waste it on some bullshit that doesn't move you.
Written By: Steven H.