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Ian MacKaye, 2008.

Ian MacKaye

Born Ian Thomas Garner MacKaye on April 16, 1962. He is an American singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer. He has been part of the bands Teen Idles (1979-1980), Minor Threat (1980-1983) and Embrace (1985-1986) and is currently part of Fugazi (since 1987) and The Evens (since 2001).

As a teenager, he founded the independent record label Dischord Records, together with Jeff Nelson. They initially intended to simply release a single for their band Teen Idles, but the label has gone on to release music from more than 60 bands.

He wrote the Minor Threat's song Straight Edge, which coined the term "straight edge" and became the inspiration of the straight edge movement. People who consider themselves "straight edge" don't use alcohol, tobacco or other recreational drugs. Some also include not using caffeine or prescription drugs, not engaging in promiscuous sex or following a vegetarian or vegan diet. Ian has said that he never anticipated "straight edge" to turn into a movement. For him it is simply about living cleanly and deliberately, nothing more, nothing less. He is part of the movie Edge perspectives on drug free culture.

Quotes by Ian MacKaye:

"I wrote a song, called Straight Edge and it was about an individualís right to live his or her life the way they wanted to."
"I believe that if you are a true revolutionary, somebody who really wants to rebelóyou donít sully yourself. Clearly human bodies become addicted to poison. I donít know anybody who could debate that. So why would it be revolutionary to put poison into your body?"
"I didnít form a movement. I believe in evolution: you change and you grow. And then every time you get somewhere, you stop, take inventory, and either fix it or grow on top of it."
A very small minority of people who identify themselves as "straight edge" engage in violent behavior. About this he said:
"I don't want people to ever use my words, ever, to injure anybody. Ever! That is the antithesis of my desire in life. I think it's unfortunate that this minority of people who have engaged in fundamental and violent behaviors have gotten so much attention. And have put such a stigma on it."
"Generally, I donít engage in discussions about my diet in interviews because then it starts becoming lifestyle. Itís a real conundrum: the idea of doing an interview about why Iím a vegan supports the notion that itís a lifestyle thing that I would promote. In some ways I do, but by example."
"It is a reflection of the perversity of this culture that it would be conventional to think that not putting toxins into your body would somehow be a lifestyle, when in fact, thatís life."
"Using my diet or something like that to identify myself, or even straight edge as a form of identity, suggests that Iím not just a normal human beingóbut I am."
"When people ask me about my diet, ĎWhy donít you eat meat?í the response is always, ĎWhy not? Why should I?í I can think of a hundred reasons why I donít."
"The reason people equate fanaticism with veganism or vegetarianism is because there have been a handful of fanatics whoíve practiced it. But those peopleís issues usually are not connected to diet but to their own violence or unhappiness."
"In my life, in general I am anti-option. Options can be enormous time wasters for those of us who are easily distracted. I donít generally talk about my diet, but I have been a vegan for like 25 years. One of the reasons is because when I go to a restaurant there is usually only one thing on the menu that I can eat and that is what I order. When I go to a vegan restaurant, some times I become frozen because there are so many options."
"I donít think my work is to spread veganism. My work, I hope, is to spread thoughtfulness. Thatís what I think of music and art and all these sorts of creations, what they require, hopefully, is thinking."

Quotes are from his 2006 interview with Satya, his 2010 clip Edge the movie and his 2009 interview with Rock Proper.

Image of Ian MacKaye: by David Shankbone: Creative Commons License.
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