As far as influence that one particular music scene has had on future generations goes, few compare to the impact of Washington DC’s hardcore-punk scene of the 1980’s. Writer & Director Scott Crawford’s new documentary, Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, DC (1980-90), showcases the blood, sweat, and tears many of DC’s youths put into making a strong and viable creative community. Along with Director of Photography Jim Saah’s extraordinary photos of the time, the film features interviews from many of the individuals who lived through it including Ian MacKaye and Henry Rollins.
Congratulations on having sold-out screenings in major American cities. What’s the make-up of the audiences looking like?
The audience response has been overwhelming. I’m seeing a real cross-section of people—from middle-aged familes with kids to younger tattooed types and everything in between. Every screening leaves me smiling. I feel like the 12 year old fanzine kid that you see of me in the movie.
I have yet to see the film, but is it safe to say that younger viewers who may only be familiar with a more well-known band like Minor Threat are in for a bit of a history lesson?
I think there’s something for just about anybody that’s interested in subcultures of any kind. Obviously the music is what propelled the scene along in the 80s, but it was a community of hard working kids that wanted to make a change in their world. The film examines their success.
The decade in focus here is 1980-1990, but please tell me that you touch upon the Bad Brains? I only ask because they did relocate to New York at some point, correct?
We discuss the Bad Brains and their huge impact on the DC scene around the beginning of the 80s. They left very early on, but their roots were in DC and the mark they left on anyone that saw them at that point was undeniable. They raised the bar for every up and coming musician in the city.
How much of a role did different cities own punk scenes play in shaping what DC’s ended up becoming? Detroit, for instance, which had a strong hardcore scene going on simultaneously.
I think the DC scene’s evolution throughout the eighties is what helped set them apart from other scenes at that time. While other cities may have explored the fringes of metal with bands like COC or DRI, many of the musicians here were listening to bands like the Church, The Chameleons UK, Felt, etc. That comes through in the music of bands like Rites of Spring, Embrace, One Last Wish, etc where you can hear the jangly chord progressions and pop elements underneath this punk played with real urgency.
Salad Days is showing 11.03. & 15.03 um 20.30
Kottbusser Damm 22 – Berlin-Kreuzberg
Photo Credit – Jim Saah