Possibly the most musically and ideologically influential hardcore punk band of all time, Minor Threat is a beloved bastion of santiy, creativity, sincerity, and the punk rock ethic. The core of Minor Threat originated in the Summer of 1979 with the Washington,DC punk scene already in progress from bands like URBAN VERBS (the 1st local faves to sign to a mjor - Warner), RAZZ (future producer Ted Niceley), ENZYMES (future Rollins guitarist Chris Haskett) and the legendary BAD BRAINS creating excitement with their explosive hyperspeed punk sound... 17yr old bassist Ian Thomas Garner MacKaye and 17yr old drummer Jeff Nelson formed THE SLINKEES. With Ian writing the majority of lyrics for the fledgling goup, the band broke up after their one n' only show when the singer (Mark Sullivan) left to attend Colgate University. The remainder of The Slinkees - Ian, Jeff, and Geordie Grindle (guitarist) - got a new singer within a month (Nathan Strejcek) and formed THE TEEN IDLES in September 1979. Most of DC's age-restricted clubs slammed the door in their young faces but the Bad Brains would often find places for their gigs & by posting their own show fliers, the Teen Idles were soon drawing 150-200 kids anywhere in the city. At this point, Ian and Jeff helped form Dischord Records, and in September 1980, the band recorded their first release, an EP entitled "Minor Disturbance" in Inner Ear studios (the band being a fuzzy memory by the time of the single's release). Dischord later released a sampler entitled "Flex Your Head", on which The Teen Idles had 3 songs. Their friend Skip Groff of Limp Records had provided them with a know-how ethic of diy resulting in $600 saved in the band account despite an average $20-30 payment per show. They also managed to get banned from 1 San Francisco club, 9 DC clubs, the LA Greyhound station, and, yes, even Disneyland(!) It had been just 1 year since Jeff had seen his 1st punk show - The Clash.
Meanwhile Washington's hardcore scene was growing rapidly: the Teen Idles' 5th member & roadie Henry Garfield started singing for short lived n'long remembered STATE OF ALERT in October 1980. He later changed his last name to 'Rollins' and in the spring of 1981 joins BLACK FLAG taking that group into their most popular & memorable period. In November 1980, the Teen Idles broke up when Geordie became disinterested in hardcore, and Nathan joined Youth Brigade (not the Southern Californian Stern bros.) by rounding up ex-members of recently disbanded UNTOUCHABLES (featuring Ian's brother Alec later of IGNITION). Ian and Jeff stuck together for their 3rd band, with Ian moved over to the mic. With new additions Lyle Preslar (formerly of the EXTORTS) on guitar & Brian Baker (formerly of CROSSBOW) on bass, MINOR THREAT was born. In response to the ridicule the Teen Idles received for their unapologetic anti-drug stance, Ian had originally suggested their new band be called "Straight" but the guys decided against the name with Ian still writing a song about it anyway - inadvertently coining the term 'straight edge' which spearheaded an ideology of abstinence from intoxication and loose sex as a vehicle of sober and intelligent rebellion against the countless social norms that struck them as idiotic. In April of 1981, Minor Threat recorded their ground breaking 8-song EP, "Minor Threat" and released it on Dischord. Their musical style was fast yes melodic, raw yet tight, furious yet controlled, complex yet never complicated - a host of paradoxes that scores of bands have spent decades in vain trying to imitate. During the summer, the band toured for the 1st time with fellow locals Youth Brigade in comical fashion: the 2 groups and 12 of their friends piled into the parental family rec van of Youth Brigade's drummer Tom Clinton, Ian's 1970 Plymouth Duster & Brian's mother's Volvo Wagon. Tommy's mother called him on the road threatening to pull his college funding unless he returned home. He gave in & neither band reached the west coast.
By August 1981, Minor Threat recorded their 2n EP on Dischord released in December: "In My Eyes", augmenting their legacy of penetrating, sober personal & social commentary and raw, angry, emotional, excellent music. But in September, Lyle left DC to attend college in Chicago and the band split up. Shortly after, Brian left to join GOVERNMENT ISSUE, while Ian and Jeff again stick together, forming a band called SKEWBALD/GRAND UNION with John Falls of Youth Brigade & IRON CROSS on bass, and Eddie Machete of The Untouchables and NOTHING SACRED on guitar. This band never played a show, but they did record 2 songs, which were released a decade later as the 50th Dischord record. On Halloween, L.A. hardcore band Fear plays on Saturday Night Live in NYC. Booked at the insistence of fan John Belushi's request, Ian n' Jeff & several DC cohorts (Henry Rollins contrary to popular belief was not at the taping) are bussed-in showing up for the disruptive melee. The ruckus that ensues is notoriously chaotic & NBC pulls the plug on Fear with punk bands being banned for the next decade. (As a deal with Belushi, Black Flag would've been the 2nd hardcore group to appear on SNL). By Christmas, Lyle was home for holiday vacation & admitted to his former bandmates his hatred of school. That winter when Black Flag toured England for their 1st time, Ian joins them. Minor Threat reformed in April 1982 with the return of both Lyle & Brian. In September, a short addition saw bassist Steve Hansgen joining the band as a brief 5some with Brian moving over to guitar and with this impeccable lineup, the band recorded what is easily one of the greatest, hardcore punk albums the genre has ever put out: "Out Of Step", an LP released on Dischord in January of 1983. On their next tour of extensive cross-country dates, Minor Threat pulled into San Diego for a show with experimental keyboard act Men of Clay, local legends Battalion of Saints & a band many of Minor Threat's peers were calling "the Minneapolis Bad Brains" - Husker Du (whom they first saw in Chicago in 1981). Ian in later years would recall with a sense of humor that the 1st thing singer Bob Mould ever said to him when both bands met again in 1983 was "fuck straight edge". By May, the band returned to it's original line-up as Steve moved on to play in SECOND WIND (with roadie Rich Moore). John Loder of Southern Records approaches the band about doing their next record in NYC but feels Brian is too rock n' rolly & AC/DC-ish looking but a productive working relationship with Southern and Dischord would be established.
On September 23rd, the band plays their final show & disbands for good perhaps to avoid turning into 'rockstars' as the band was gaining such a huge popularity. More likely, it was in a feeling of dismay at the macho-ness of the scene that had evolved around their sound particularly from the violence of skinheads ruining shows, drunkpunks & newbies dragging the scene downhill. In December 1983, they put out their final swan song release, a Dischord EP entitled "Salad Days", which was mostly a commentary on their own decision to breakup. Much of Washington's hardcore scene having spawned FAITH, VOID, ARTIFICIAL PEACE and SCREAM could relate to the song's lyrics: 'Look at us today / we've gotten soft and fat / waiting for the moment / it's just not coming back"... Washington,DC's scene yearbook 'Banned in DC' subtly proves the point by making 1984 its shortest chapter. Ian's frustration with the DC punk state of disarray convenes a meeting of friends and other early-80's scene participants to rebuild a scene that challeneges musical, lyrical & ethical considerations. The image overhaul plan was named 'Good Food October' to promote an end-of-the-month deadline but little materializes except for RITES OF SPRING (featuring Guy Picciotto & Brendan Canty - ex-INSRRECTION both of whom later join Ian with Joe Lally to for FUGAZI). In 1985, Ian joined 3 ex-Faith members to form EMBRACE & with further scene bands BEEFEATER, KINGFACE, LUNCHMEAT, MARGINAL MAN, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and GRAY MATTER, Good Food October is now reconfigured as 'Revolution Summer' as a means of people taking back their music & re-inforcing positive vibe. Lyle Preslar and Brain Baker both went on to a band called The 400 with members of Negative Approach. Brian also went on to form Dag Nasty having played in Junkyard, Doggy Style and The Meatmen and at present resides in Bad Religion. Lyle played with Glenn Danzing (of the Misfits) on Samhain's 1st album. After retiring from performing, he ran Caroline Records (signing Ben Folds, Chemical Brothers & Fat Boy Slim), was later a marketing executive for Elektra Records and Sire Records, married a VH1 executive, won a prestigious writing prize in 2007 for an article about satellite radio & is currently a law graduate practicing in NY. Jeff Nelson continued running Dischord Records along with Ian, and the pair did another band together (their 4th), called Egghunt. He went on to play in a variety of other bands such as Three, Senator Flux, Feedbag, Wonderama and High-Back Chairs. He continues to play in the band Fast Piece of Furniture, founded Adult Swim Records in 1989 & is an aficionado n' collector of Jeep Wagoneers and Victorian architecture. Ian having done the Pailhead side project of industrial band Ministry and perfoming with his lady Amy Farina as duo The Evens, he continues to be an influence & inspiration counting label co-founder/co-owner, recording engineer/co-producer, enthusiastic promoter of independent-minded aesthetic, underground media performer, anti-war n' civil rights protester/activist, book-forward contributor and frequent documentary film subject to his highly impressive resume.