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The Minutemen (band)

From Academic Kids

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Mmen83b.jpg
The Minutemen, 1983: D. Boon, George Hurley (behind drum kit), and Mike Watt.

The Minutemen were a punk rock band from San Pedro, California comprising singer/guitarist D. Boon, bassist Mike Watt and drummer George Hurley. They recorded in the late 1970s and early 1980s, ending when Boon died in a car accident in December 1985. They were influenced heavily by bands such as Wire, The Pop Group, and The Urinals, and nearly all of their early songs were less than a minute long — even later when The Minutemen became slightly more conventional, their songs rarely passed the three-minute mark.

Boon and Watt split songwriting fairly evenly, though Watt rarely sang. Boon's songs were typically more direct and progressively political in nature, while Watt's were often abstract, self-referential "spiels".

The Minutemen were fans of Captain Beefheart, and echoes of his distinctive music can be heard in the Minutemen's songs, especially their early output. Through most of their career they ignored standard verse-chorus-verse song structures, in favor of experimenting with musical dynamics, rhythm and noise. Later in their career they blended in more traditional song elements they had initially avoided. They also played covers of classic rock songs by bands such as Creedence Clearwater Revival, Steely Dan and Blue Öyster Cult. Their covers were done out of appreciation for those bands' work rather than to be ironic, thereby diverging dramatically from hardcore punk orthodoxy of the 1980s.

They originally called themselves The Reactionaries. Boon changed the name to The Minutemen partly because of the fabled minutemen militia, and partly because the name had been used by a right-wing reactionary group of the 1960s.

Greg Ginn of Black Flag and SST Records produced The Minutemen's first 7" EP, Paranoid Time, which solidified their eclectic style. At first, they completely avoided guitar solos, choruses, and fade-outs. Later, they were known for hybridizing punk rock with forms of jazz, funk, acid rock, and R&B in novel ways, perhaps best exemplified on 1984's double-album, Double Nickels on the Dime. This paved the way for later bands such as The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

On Double Nickels, they co-wrote some songs with other musicians, notably Henry Rollins, Chuck Dukowski and Joe Baiza. Surviving members Watt and George Hurley (drums) later played in fIREHOSE and have done solo projects since The Minutemen disbanded.

From 1999 until the show's cancellation, an instrumental version of The Minutemen's song Corona (off Double Nickels) was the theme song of the MTV television show Jackass.

The group's career is chronicled in the book Our Band Could Be Your Life, a study of several important American underground rock groups; and the film We Jam Econo — The Story of the Minutemen, which charts the band's history through interviews with Watt, Hurley, Henry Rollins, Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and other California punk rock contemporaries (Billboard Review (http://www.billboard.com/bb/daily/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000806364)). The film premiered in the Minutemen's hometown of San Pedro in February 2005.

Discography

(all on SST Records except where noted)

LPs

45s/EPs

Music videos

  • "This Ain't No Picnic" (from Double Nickels on the Dime, 1984)
  • "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" (from Double Nickels on the Dime, 1984)
  • "King Of The Hill" (from Project: Mersh, 1985)
  • "Ack Ack Ack" (from 3-Way Tie For Last, 1985)

Further Reading

  • Joe Carducci, Rock and the Pop Narcotic (Los Angeles: 2.13.61, 1993).
  • Michael Azerrad, Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes From the American Indie Underground 1981-1991 (USA: Little Brown, 2001).

External Link


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