At the time of this interview in 1996, Alec MacKaye played with the Warmers, was also a member of such bands as Faith and Ignition, and worked at Dischord Records.
How have you seen punk rock change since you became involved with it?
Alec: Well, it's gotten a lot more popular. It's become less the revolution that it was and more of a mainstream almost. Certainly the core still exists though and in that manner, there still is the underground. There always will be. I don't know what it's called necessarily anymore, but within the punk rock scene, it's still as vital as it was when I first got into it, I think, but the outskirts of it are all over the place now. It's not such the rebellion anymore as far as getting out on the radio and all that. I don't know if that's good or bad since that seems to be what everybody wanted to do in the beginning.
Is it better now or worse than when you got involved?
Alec: The parts that are worse are the parts that I don't really waste my time with, just the same as it was at the time, and the parts that are good are just as good. All the aspects are there. Like I said, there's the core in the middle that I trust and it protects itself from invading whatevers and it's still pure and still great. I think that it's inspirational and people still dig it in the way that I did when I first got into it.
Do you think there's anything wrong with punk?
What's good about punk?
Alec: I guess the challenge to mediocrity. It's important that it inspects itself to make sure that it doesn't become what it hates. There's always possibility, but it's the challenge to mediocrity.
How have you seen the crowds and people at shows change?
Alec: They seem to be on a pretty low ebb these days as far as energy levels and it's hard to know who brings [it] on. Bands and crowds are so responsive to one another that it's hard to really know who leads who which direction. It's hard for bands to go nuts on stage and really let themselves open up when the crowd is standing there or being very mellow, but also the crowd is waiting for the band to really blow their minds and so they're standing there waiting. Eventually, something's going to break. These days, the crowds are much more mellow and the music, more that the players are also kick-back, but it's gone from all extremes. I've seen it when it was totally out of control and people were insane and weren't even listening to the music and didn't even go there to enjoy themselves. They were working off some other shit. I've seen it, every aspect that you can possibly imagine. I don't know. It seems like it goes back and forth, back and forth. I'm sure that it'll change again soon.
Do you see any problems with the way people act at shows?
Alec: No. I think there are some people who don't do anything, some people do too much, some people are just right. You get everything all the time. It's too vague a question.
What can we do to make the scene better?
Alec: Nothing. You can't ever do anything but give people ideas, listen to theirs and see what grows out of it. The scene always makes itself better and worse. I wouldn't try to control anything. It's crazy.