Henry Rollins: Harmony at Dischord
[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here on West Coast Sound every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Sunday KCRW broadcast.]
See also: Henry Rollins: Thinking For Myself
I am writing to you from one of my favorite spots anywhere. I am at Dischord House in Virginia, home of the mighty Dischord Records, one of the ground-floor record labels in America.
Dischord is owned and operated by Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat and Fugazi fame. His current band, the Evens, just wrapped up several SoCal shows. I have been visiting this place since Ian and some other Dischordions moved in here almost 32 years ago.
Ian is a few feet away from me, in his small office wallpapered with album covers, photos, letters -- some of these have been tacked up since the early '80s.
In the doorway that joins the dining room to the kitchen, there is an adjustable chin-up bar. This was mine from when I still lived in D.C. It is bent from the time the members of Rites of Spring collectively hung from it in 1984.
There is a great sense of permanence about Dischord House that I very much enjoy. My life is, for the most part, a sleep-deprived, omni-directional, grab-ass blur. Dischord House is a rock, a true referential reset.
Over the decades, Dischord has released hundreds of records and bravely sailed the seas of consequence through musical trends and the ebb/flow of economic convulsions. Perhaps one of the reasons Dischord remains thriving while many other labels, hard-working and honest, have sadly closed up shop is that Dischord keeps things spare and simple.
Dischord initially started as a vehicle to release the EP Minor Disturbance from Ian's band, The Teen Idles. Dischord quickly turned into a small label, dedicated to releasing the music of bands from the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area. In fact, my band's EP was Dischord No. 2, Minor Threat's first release was No. 3. Prices are kept low and the mail-order service is prompt. Dischord distributes other local labels, expanding the access of people all over the world to amazing music. It is a sturdy and vigorous machine, Dischord.
Meanwhile, the production company I've been working with has been kind enough to give me the use of a rental car, which allows me to have a life in the scant hours we're not working, and to check out some of my old neighborhood streets.
I'm not staying near where I used to live. I'm stationed in a part of Virginia where almost every street seems all too quickly to turn into a highway, sending unfamiliar me off to an airport, a Civil War battlefield or Pittsburgh. A short drive turns into an almost hourlong, multihighway bushwhack back to where I started.