Q&A: Joe Lally On Moving To Rome, Wanting To Be In The Melvins And How Being In Fugazi Destroyed His Hearing

Q&A: Joe Lally On Moving To Rome, Wanting To Be In The Melvins And How Being In Fugazi Destroyed His Hearing
Antonia Tricarico

Mass hysteria took over the music web-o-sphere when Pitchfork blew its wad on the "breaking news" that Ian MacKaye revealed Fugazi might emerge from their self-imposed exile and "reunite one day." That's not to imply the members of D.C.'s most storied art-punk crew have been dormant musically since it went on "indefinite hiatus" back in 2003. MacKaye and partner Amy Farina have finally revived The Evens and new songs are on the way—their first batch since 2006.

Then there's bassist Joe Lally, the most active member (three albums in five years) and the dude responsible (in tandem with drummer Brendan Canty) for so coolly directing Fugazi's rhythmically jagged groove-ism genius while MacKaye and singer/guitarist Guy Picciotto went ballistic and for what might be post-punk's most killer bass line.

Similar to Fugazi, Lally's solo material builds from the bass up, his heavy low end throbbing with dub, funk and reggae swagger and his voice subdued and mellow—the polar opposite of MacKaye and Picciotto's gnashing pipes. Lally's newest LP, Why Should I Get Used To It, is a more aggressive and musically diverse effort than the stark bass-drums-voice minimalism of 2006's There to Here and 2007's Nothing is Underrated. On his current tour, don't expect Lally and his band (classi-punk cellist Helen Money and Many Arms drummer Ricardo Lagomasino) to get too loud—years of playing in Fugazi inflicted major damage to Lally's hearing (more on that later).

Sound of the City caught up with Lally at home in Rome to talk Fugazi, living in Italy and at Dischord House, and his dreams of being the Melvins' bass player.

How long have you lived in Rome?

It's been four years.

What prompted you to move there?

My wife is Italian and she lived in the States for almost ten years. She never felt that human place [in the States] in some ways, I guess. I don't know if I can really explain it that easily but she was just ready to try to come back [to Italy]. We weren't really sure whether we should be doing that. It turned out—and it was totally by accident—but we sold our house in D.C. just before it was worth a lot less [laughing]. By total accident—not because I'm a genius, that's for sure.

Living in another country, how detached do you feel from your former home base in D.C. and at Dischord Records?

Even when I lived in D.C. towards the end, we had moved away for a couple of years then moved back. Since we had our daughter, I stopped going to shows as much. I like to get up early in the morning so it wasn't against my nature but I did stop going out at night. Here, things happen really late at night so I don't see that much and I'm not really on the pulse of what's going on here musically, that's for sure. Somehow it's led to my ability to focus on what I want to do—like I don't care what's going on [laughing]. I'm not distracted. It's weird, not that I would necessarily be distracted, but I'm not self-conscious because I don't know what the fuck's going on.

So there was more pressure living in D.C. than in Rome?

When I lived with Ian [MacKaye], man, we'd go to shows fuckin' I don't know how many nights a week. We would just see all kinds of shit that was going on and just being right there-living with Ian for so many years—I was in the next room from his office where he would be in contact with the world. Everyone lets him know about everything one way or another. They send him everything and he's on the phone to everyone. In a way, you get this picture of all this stuff going on and this feeling there's nothing you can really do that's any different because it's all being done by somebody—it's a good way to stand still.

Is it rare for bands that you want to see come through and play Rome?

Things do come through but even though Rome is considered the center of the country, it's considered pretty far south. Italy is kinda like Florida: you have to go down into it so people really just start through the top. They hit Milano, Turino, Bologna maybe, just what's in the north. It's really kind of a drag. One of my favorite musicians and old friend Scott Weinrich comes through with things. but I don't think he's ever made it to Rome.

If a show came through to another city, you couldn't take a long drive to see it?

It would be a good four hours; it would be like going from D.C. to New York. It's not the biggest deal in the world but we'd have to leave my daughter with my mother-in-law or something like that. It really wouldn't be fair for me to just go, like, "I'm going to see a show! Fuck all of you!" [Laughs].

You can give a couple of weeks notice.

My playing is enough. I try to spread things out but I got as much as I could this fall [with touring] It all came together: I went to Japan, Brazil and now I am coming to the States. The States trip is much longer because I have to practice with some people there first. Then I'm going to stay a little bit and visit my mother. Usually it's only two weeks but it's turning into a three-week trip.

Getting back to living in D.C., how long did you live with Ian?

We lived together for like nine years—1988 or '89 to 1998.

That's fairly recent.

It was really great because we worked so much, doing all the things we did during that time. It was mind-blowing for me because I came from fuckin' Rockville [Maryland] in the suburbs. It was like a miracle that Ian asked me to play with him in the first place. [The Dischord band] Beefeater took me on tour with them in 1986 and the singer lived at Dischord House. When I returned from tour with nowhere to stay, he was like "Stay here tonight." We spent the night there and Ian took us to lunch in the morning to talk about the tour—that was the most time I ever really spent with Ian, having lunch that day.

A week later, Ian called and was like "Do you want to play bass with me because I'm trying to do a new project?" He never saw me play bass, so it was kinda amazing. But I know now why that was: it was because we talked about the [Beefeater] tour and he really understood how totally dedicated...generally, you can't really be a roadie for a band unless you're really dedicated to the whole concept. And I really was. At that time, it really, really helped change my life. I was working for a government contractor and I just did not give a fuck about what I was doing.


Before you met Ian in '86, were you already into Dischord stuff?

It was weird because I had gotten into what was new music to me at the time and I discovered a lot just before high school. I took a summer art school class at a high school I'd been going to and somebody there turned me on to all this different music. By '79, I saw the B-52's and Devo. Both of those shows were so intense, I don't know if I can tell you how incredible and heavy that was to see how much energy they put into what they were doing.

I just looked up on the Internet Devo Live in Paris in 1978 and they were hot as shit! They were incredible—so tight. Looking back, I can see why that blew my mind so much—because it was fucking insane. Devo were like people from another planet. Their music was so wack and so physical that they were really physically responding to what they were playing and the music was so different and orchestrated so well. It was two guitarists kinda finishing each other's lines, it was superfast and electronic in a way, but it wasn't.

In the next year I saw The Cramps and I actually saw Ian's band, The Teen Idles, but I didn't really pay attention to them because I thought it was old news, or something [laughs]. I thought I was watching what seemed like younger guys who were a little over the knee, younger guys playing '77 kind of punk to me. I was listening to such a wide variety of stuff that it hadn't hit me yet and I didn't really understand what was going on locally, yet. I was in the suburbs and I missed half of these great early shows because of that.

By the time I had hooked up with Ian, I had started following this local band, The Obsessed, and that was where Scott Weinrich came in. I had went to that art class with his drummer from The Obsessed and went and saw them finally in 1980 open for The Dead Boys. The Dead Boys actually followed them back to their house in Maryland, mainly because I think Stiv Bators thought they were great and he loved Vance [Bockis], their singer. In the Lords of the New Church, [Stiv Bators] really looks like what Vance looked like in The Obsessed at that time, with the bandanas tied around his knees, ankles, whatever the hell and cut-off leathers and stuff.

I was sorta a punk rocker to the local indie rock scene, which was kind of metal but was really 70's kind of rock. The Obsessed were doing a much slower thing than what Slayer was doing and considered metal at the time—The Obsessed were much slower than that. Then there were other little brother kind of bands sprouting up who loved The Obsessed and to those guys I was like this punk rocker. When I went to punk shows, my hair was short then it was long again. By the time I met Ian and maybe to those people, I appeared to be a metal guy.

Dischord has always stayed consistent—releasing records by exclusively D.C. bands (one exception being Lungfish). Now that you're based in Rome, did this pose an issue even being a longtime member of Fugazi?

That's the thing: I do feel by not living in D.C. that when you do interviews and you travel around and you're a Dischord band that's kind of a way you should be able to talk about that stuff going on, I think it's what people expect and should expect because that's what the label about. Until when this last record came up, I really felt like I don't live there and it's been so long since I felt a part of knowing what was going on there. I felt it wasn't really fair. I talked to Ian about it a lot and he said "Why don't we just do it half-Tolotta Records" which was the label I did for a while to sort of make it work on a "technicality," I guess.

It would have been heartbreaking for me to find some other label. But I tried to do that—talk to people about it but it just seemed so terrible. At this point, especially, as a label, Dischord is the label for me to be aligned with. I don't even understand what labels do anymore—new labels. They don't even have the same role as they used to. There's established labels that have been around for a while and change along with everything but it's a kind of a different thing now.

Yeah, if Joe Lally of Fugazi released on album on a label that wasn't Dischord or associated with Dischord, I would think that would cause a minor uproar on the music blogs and sites.

[Laughs] Probably but it would also lead to terrible questions in interviews, which would be a drag.

Your first two records came out on Dischord proper. Were those released before you moved to Rome?

Yeah, I finished the second one [2007's Nothing is Underrated] literally before I caught the flight when we moved. It hadn't even been mixed and I left it to Ian to figure out because I was trying to get it finished before we left. It had more to do with the fact that I was moving and there was upheaval in my life than actually that I wanted to come out on Dischord [laughing].

When did the idea hit that you wanted to do a solo thing?

I think as soon as [Fugazi] decided to go on a break. We weren't ready to continue doing what we were doing—people were having kids. I just had a kid a year before that we had taken some time off for and then Brendan [Canty] ended up having four kids. It was just something that was causing the band to [say], "Why stretch it thin and then we'll snap out of not being able to do things exactly the way we wanted." We found that we really didn't want to do things halfway, and neither did I. I either wanted to take a short break [if I had a kid] so I could kind of deal with that and then get back to it [Fugazi] that the way we had been. I didn't want there to be a quarter, or half, of what we used to do. So we talked about that a lot and I agreed with that. I really felt like it was better to take a break then get back to it when we could do things exactly way we want it to.

When and if we do get back to it, we'll find a different way of going about it because so much has changed since it's been years we worked at that level. At the time, it was very hard to suddenly do it differently than we had been doing it. That was easy to say at the time but then as soon as I kinda went back into my life I was like "What the hell have I done!?"[Laughs]. It really fucked me up. I think I probably went through a few years of being in a middle of a nervous breakdown without realizing it or something [Laughs]. It was terrible but what I found was I really needed to do music still. I needed to go out amongst people and play my music. I kinda forced myself to figure out what that was.


With you and your family firmly rooted in Rome, how could Fugazi play again, knowing the amount of effort and dedication you guys put into it to get it done?

Well, that took like three years before I ended up moving [to Rome]. But it was easier to [move] because [Fugazi] weren't doing anything. I dunno—if I could have gotten a job at Dischord [laughs], I wouldn't have moved—probably [laughs].

Yeah, you could have moved your wife and kid into Dischord House.

We did that before we left when I was recording the record—all three of us were living in a room in Dischord House for a couple of weeks before we moved.

When you played in Fugazi, you always seemed to plant yourself in the back by Brendan. How difficult was it to take center stage for your solo gigs?

What was harder was just my ability to sing over what was happening. I really couldn't project very well, which is something I've gotten better at. It's taken me about five or six years but I'm getting better at it. The music is getting much more "rock," although I try to keep the stage volume down, partially because this is all based on the fact that I am losing my hearing, to some degree. And it's painful. The other part of it is that I can't sing over somebody just blasting guitar. So I'm really trying to keep the stage volume down and it's working a lot better by doing that.

Generally, I am playing with two Italian musicians [guitarist Elisa Abela and drummer Emanuele Tomasi] except for this American tour. My guitar player Elisa is aggressive and she fuckin' totally rocks. But I do have to sort of keep her in line. But when we do everything in place on stage, I do better and we play better but it's not an easy thing to control. A lot of times you get on stage and because of a previous band like at a festival, everything will be loud as hell and I have to deal with that [because of my hearing]. I think we can still play that way; we could still rock [laughs] without having to be really loud.

What about when you played live and practiced with Fugazi? The volume levels must have been through the roof.

Later in Fugazi, I was trying to get everyone to practice quieter so I could get more involved in the writing. We worked very sonically as a band. What was just going on in the room we took to the stage so everyone played pretty loud. I spent the time with my head next to the [bass] cabinet going like, "Is this in tune with what they're doing?" I had no fuckin' idea. Sometimes, we'd go to record and Ian would be like "What are you playing there? Shouldn't you do this? That doesn't sound right." Literally, we'd be recording a record and even though we had played the song a bunch live, for the first time I'd be hearing what Ian was playing because onstage I just heard what Guy [Picciotto] was playing.

In other words, standing back next to Brendan wasn't the best idea.

Standing back there, I was in the process of losing more of my hearing [Laughs]. I think my right ear is really most destroyed probably because of the snare and the hi-hat—standing right next to it. Actually, I continue to do that to this day. We set up now on stage in a row and I stand right next to the drummer because it just works better and it keeps the guitar farther away from me but I'm impeding my ability to hear what the three of us are doing. When Fugazi played, I didn't have a monitor of my own at all and what was in Guy's monitor was mostly just his voice. Then I had his guitar right there on my left and Brendan there on my right and maybe something from Brendan's monitor I was hearing a lot of—which could have also been my bass and then somebody's guitar. Ian's vocal was coming probably from his monitor on the other side of Brendan. But everything was just so loud [Laughs]! It was just crazy but it's what worked.

In your current live setting, and if Fugazi ever plays again, how do you expect to get loud again without completely losing your hearing?

I know that we do [get loud], though. There's a song that really allows Elisa to go off and she doesn't hold back. Most of the time, I'm trying to get her to watch her volume so it doesn't take over the stage because I don't think we're that kind of band; we're supposed to be kind of a heavy rhythm section and it's supposed to be fairly even between the three of us. But Elisa tears that shit up sometimes.

Why Should I Get Used To It is decidedly more upbeat than the first two LPs. There's funky stuff and jazzy things going on.

I was able to kind of indulge. This record comes out of my own head more than the other ones because the other ones were finished in the studio. I had visions of other stuff. I did have a keyboard player for [Nothing is Underrated] and people playing horns that never got on that I thought were gonna come into the studio but never did. It actually ended up with less guitar on them and being more bass and drums than they would have been.

For the third record, I found myself at a point where I was ready to get on with what these songs were going to be. There was nobody playing guitar with me—or playing anything with me—steadily. I had a guitar and started playing it myself, which I don't normally do. I kind of bought this guitar for my wife. I found myself writing guitar parts but I don't really know how to play chords so they were all based on like two string chords [Laughs], fake chords and little parts. That never really happened before. Elisa came along at that point but I was still pushing her into guitar; she was kind of a drummer who didn't play guitar live that much but was a great, great guitar player. She can pick up any instrument and play: flute, sax, tabla, sitar, keyboards, drums. She can just fuckin' play. I just started sticking my pedals in front of Elisa each night, trying to get her to play stuff. We had to get her a guitar that did what she wanted it to do. She's still trying to get her own amp.


How did you and Elisa meet?

I met her in Catania, Sicily where she lived. Elisa is a friend of this band, Uzeda. Giovanna [Cacciola] and Agostino [Tilotta] of Uzeda have a son, Sasha, and he actually does sound for Uzeda and [their other band] Bellini sometimes on tours. He's a great guitar player, piano player and I think he loves playing drums most. I went down to Sicily to play with him and a violinist friend of his—so violin, bass and drums [laughs]. Elisa was showing up at the practices because they share a space. There's a whole gang of people that play music in Catania and they're all pretty good musicians but no one really knows about them because they are way down there in Sicily.

Because Elisa was around and they were saying she was a good drummer, I was like, "Play drums on this song and Sasha can play guitar," which I don't think he was too crazy about. But the kind of drummer I was looking for wasn't quite as important as the kind of guitar player I was looking for at the time. So I was really trying to find someone who would be, you know, a guitar player. I had a drummer I was normally playing with in Rome, who played on the record. When I went [to Siciliy], that's kind of where I was at. I ended up leaving but thinking of Elisa and then trying to get her to come up and hang out in Rome and play. I managed to get her to do it but she was like "I don't want me to play drums?" And, I was like "No, I want you to play guitar!" [Laughs]. [Sicily is] like ten hours away [from Rome], right? So it's kind of insane but she's the first person who's totally dedicated and she's free enough to kind of go like "Shit, I really want to play music. Let's try and do this with this guy. He can get shows."

You've also played with ZU.

That was a separate thing. I'd been on tour with those guys and they had played behind me and then played their own set. That was a whole different thing; I was still getting my footing then but I really hoped they would have sorta take my music away from me because they're so good.

ZU live in Italy too, right?

They live in Rome. I just never see them because they're so busy. They are like international people. Ever since we played together, I barely see them and it's almost five years.

You and ZU making a record together would definitely be great fit, I would think.

I was trying to at the time. Before I made my second record was when we did our touring but I couldn't get them to do anything with me and that was that. I could accept that [Laughs]. They have other things to do. I don't blame'em.

ZU has collaborated with many jazz musicians and your music has that influence. Do you listen to jazz?

I do listen to it lot and I love it. Definitely when I was laying out my first record, I was really trying to approach the music that way. I felt like I am a composer of music I'm going to sing to and in my mind we are a three-piece band I don't know what the third instrument is going to do [Laughs]. I felt like it was going to be a solo instrument and it would take on that role, there was going to be theme and we'd understand that theme and how to play while I was singing. It was also very difficult for me to sing along with somebody playing what I was playing on bass or playing along with what I was singing. It helped they understood that aspect of music and it was kinda jazzy, in a way. I don't think I really accomplished that with the writing of those first two records. But that's been the beauty of playing with Elisa and Emanuele —we understand that now very well and I've been playing a lot with them over the last year. It's pretty great to be able to change like we can tailor songs to how we're going to play that night. We played some record store show with no PA, playing super quietly and actually the drummer played with pencils. And it worked.

But Elisa isn't playing with you on this tour of the States, right?

I couldn't bring her and frankly this tour is just ending up costing so much to make it all work the way I want it to. I think, next time, I'll just pay for them to come [Laughs]. I thought I was saving money and then I'm like "I'm not saving any money!"

How'd it turn out that way?

It's just flying early to go start off in this festival in Austin and people I'm playing with, we have to practice first. So, it's almost starting a whole week earlier. You can't not be playing shows and keeping a band fed, you know? [Laughs]

So you're touring with Alison Chesley [a.k.a. Helen Money] and a drummer? No guitarist?

Uh-huh. The drummer) is Ricardo Lagomasino, who plays on my second record. I toured with the band he was in, Capillary Action, which is full of different people but the real writer of that band [Jonathan Pfeffer]. Ricardo sounds sated out of that band. He started his own band called John Zorn's label, I just found out. It's really great for Ricardo. He teaches jazz and he's a fucking phenomenal player—who should be playing on John Zorn's label, playing with all John Zorn's musicians. That's the label [Many Arms] belong on and I'm so happy to hear that.

How do you plan on interpreting your songs with cello and no guitar? Are you going to have Alison improvise?

She's not really an improviser. but there is that aspect that she could develop the song any way she wants it to, in a sense. There are certain things that I feel the song works better—just orchestrated with a vision that I wrote it in. Other than that, how she wants to do it is up to her. But I'm hoping we'll have the time to work on that—we'll have like three days together.

How'd you meet Alison?

We had a mutual friend who turned me on to her and I was asked if I was willing to give a quote for her CD that was coming out at the time. I'd never seen or heard her before but I listened to it and thought it was awesome.


Do you have interest in working with electronic musicians? It seems like that would fit with your aesthetic. I played with some people in D.C. that do that even if they play kind of treated guitar and they make more noise. It is totally possible because it's another instrument and actually [electronic music] is what Elisa is totally into and that's what she does when we're not playing—electronic music and making noise.

Is Elisa bummed about not being able to do the tour?

Elisa likes Alison's music so much that she's happy it's her [playing with me]. We had played with Alison because we met up in Switzerland. The last time I was in the States, we went through Canada and Alison was there doing a project and we got two shows together. We've performed together even before that with yet another different guitarist and she got up and played with us in Chicago. I actually would love to make a record with her. I'll keep talking about this because maybe it will help it happen.

You played bass in other projects not your own, in Ataxia and Decahedron. Do you have plans to do other stuff again?

There's just not a lot of time for it. There's some people in Austria who did a band called Fucoustic—they're two guitars and cello and they did Fugazi songs. They're all teachers so they have a hard time having any free to time to go play. I think it's coming to a halt for them at the moment. I met them at Dischord House while I was living there before I moved to Europe. They had just played D.C. and didn't get to see them. But I said I was moving to Italy and maybe we'd hook up in Europe and play together. It happened two years ago and it was awesome, just being able to work that way with different people. I never worked that way with a band other than the three guys in Fugazi. It was awesome because I got to sing to music they were writing. I am encouraging them to send me music to write an album's worth to try to release someday.

It seems like you're really into incorporating cello into your music.

It kinda cropped up with Alison first. She's different—she has a Hendrix sticker on her cello case and loves classic rock. In a way, I know I'm responding to that part of making an album, When you're making an album, you're trying to make it listenable to people. I think of it as LP's that I love and relate to in a certain period in your life when you're young and totally absorbing music into your molecular structure, and that's like when you're 15. That's what those records were that I was ingesting at that time in my life. It doesn't have to be guitar and that really come up with Alison. She thinks the same way and her cello playing is really heavy. It has much more of a Melvins quality to it, than your average cello player.

Are you into the Melvins?

I always dreamed about doing a record with the Melvins but it never happened. We did a little tour together—nine shows or something like that. I played with Coady [Willis] and Dale [Crover], which was just insane because there was a city of equipment around and a city of drum-sets. At that point, my songs were fairly quiet still—just me bass and them. It was weird as hell. That was like 2006, 2007. I always imagined [making a record with Melvins] since I first got into them because they kept changing bass players; I thought. "Maybe it will happen." I'd love to do it. It definitely would be a much more '70s-sounding Melvins record, if it does happen.

Where did the cover art for Why Should I Get Used to It come from?

That's my wife—that's her photo, I should say. It's not really my wife—a friend of my wife's. She was doing a series of "In defense of women and violence against women." [The series of photos] was women with masks and that one was such a strong image. I was like "This one looks like the album cover." And it just went with the title so well because the title was in place and the photo was around and I just began to see it as mine. All my records are my wife's photos. She just took some great photos the other day of the fucking chaos here in Rome, that I don't totally approve of. I talked to those people coming out and just fucking blowing up shit up in the city and setting cars on fire. I don't think that was the most intelligent thing in the world. I tend to feel like masses of people being silent and saying something and kind of stopping the city from functioning is much more creative and says much more. I think when you're being violent, it's almost the same as like sitting at home doing heroin or something. It's just what the authorities would love you to do—they know how to put you in your place: "You're just a violent fucking idiot and we'll just put you in jail." I don't think [violence] really helps, and that's not an easy thing for me to say.

From afar, have you been paying attention with what's going on here with Occupy Wall Street?

Totally. It's much more clear to me living away from America because I totally relate to that and it's all my history. You feel that once you isolate yourself by being somewhere else. I have so much more sympathy for America and I am very concerned about what the fuck is going on. It's funny because a lot of people ask me about this record in interviews like "Explain the title" or "elaborate on the title." I don't think there's anything to be said. What more do you need? What the fuck? It just seems so obvious. What can you say?

Are you stoked about coming to the States while what's going on?

It's not like I can get to do anything more than to get to each city on time to play each show [Laughs].

And you're playing D.C.?

It's nice because, of the wacky things on the Internet, there's a bunch of people who've contacted me and keep up with me who are like "Shit, I'll come out to your show!" I'm like "Great. Someone's coming."

When you tour, are you able to implement any of Fugazi's philosophies, like the five-dollar shows?

It's really hard for me because I don't have much of an audience [Laughs].

When was the last time you were here?

Three years ago. I kinda admitted that when I was there last like "It's gonna be a few years before I make it back." I knew I needed another record because people just don't care that much about what I'm doing necessarily. I think it's hard for people to get out of the house, decide what they want to go see and what to spend their money on. I understand it. The whole music thing changed just so fucking much. There's a ton of stuff going on and the way I discovered music in 1979 when I went out to see Devo—the way that happened for me is way, way different than what happened for somebody now. They have a trillion things to choose from.

Is the cost of living in Rome affordable?

It wasn't the smartest goddamn place to move, that's for sure.

is there any unreleased Fugazi material that will ever see the light of day?

Yeah, we are hoping to figure out what to do with that. We think there is not enough to make a legitimate-like release; print up a vinyl record and so forth. When I'm there in D.C., we'll probably have to meet to talk about that. That's one of the things and the Live Series stuff and hopefully by the time I'm there the site will be up with more than 100 shows up. So, that's part of it and some other things we have and how we make them available to people and maybe that's the way—to just make them available there as another thing you can download, all sort of lumped together in some decent price.

We're trying to figure it out. There are songs that we didn't finish things that we were doing. We did a lot of recording on an 8-track in a practice space but no one ever did the vocals. So we would have earlier version of songs but then there's no vocals on them.

Fugazi did some great instrumentals, though.

It's different though because it's really complete songs; it's just missing vocals whereas, when you're just being jammy, you're writing soundtrack stuff [Laughs].

Dischord seems crazy busy right now, putting out new stuff and re-mastering and reissuing older LPs.

It's great—I'm so glad. As hard as it is for labels to function these days I think Dischord, by sticking to its guns and representing D.C. and just being's still a template for any business [Laughs]. Operate for the people, for Chrissake—that's the template for the government, too.

Joe Lally plays The Knitting Factory on Thursday.

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