Minor Threat Biography

One of the most influential US punk bands of the 80s, Minor Threat’s highly idealistic message, similar to that of Crass and the anarcho-punk bands of the UK, proved inspirational to a young audience disaffected with its political choices. Based in Washington, DC, the band was formed in 1980 from the ashes of local band, Teen Idles. The main spokesman Ian MacKaye (16 April 1962, Washington, DC, USA; vocals) and drummer Jeff Nelson left that band to join Lyle Preslar (guitar) and Brian Baker (bass; ex-Government Issue) in Minor Threat. By this time Minor Threat had already recorded their anthem ‘Minor Threat’ and ‘Straight Edge’, the song that gave punk rock a new energy. Railing against the impotent whining of would-be rebels who spent all their energy on drink, drugs, abusive sex and shallow relationships, ‘straight edge’ stood for a code of abstinence which swept the US punk scene (no drugs, tobacco, alcohol or meat).

By 1982 Steve Hansen had taken over on bass, and Baker switched to second guitar. The new line-up completed Out Of Step. This revealed a fastidiously executed, densely structured assault that sounded like nothing which had preceded it. Sadly, the enormous pressure the band was now under resulted in their demise. MacKaye, in particular, was struggling with the sort of deification that had been his last intention when he formed the band.

MacKaye and Nelson continued to work together for Dischord Records, one of America’s foremost underground labels. MacKaye went on to record with Egg Hunt (again with Nelson), Embrace (with members of his brother, Alec MacKaye’s former band, Faith), Pailhead (with Al Jourgensen of Ministry) and finally Fugazi - the most permanent and important of those liaisons. Nelson worked with Three, Skewbald and Senator Flux, before concentrating full-time on Dischord’s growth. Baker went on to stints in Meatmen, Dag Nasty and Junkyard. Preslar also worked with the Meatmen, while Hansen has recorded with Government Issue, Modest Proposal, Weatherhead and others.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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