Minutemen (band)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Minutemen were an American rock band formed in San Pedro, California in 1980. Comprising guitarist D. Boon, bassist Mike Watt and drummer George Hurley, the Minutemen recorded four albums and eight extended plays before Boon's unexpected death in December 1985. They were noted in the Californian punk rock community for a philosophy of "jamming econo"; a sense of thriftiness reflected in their touring and presentation.


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

In 2000, Watt, as administrator of the band's publishing, allowed the auto maker Volvo to use the Boon instrumental "Love Dance" (from Double Nickels...) in a car ad. Watt's motivation for licensing the song was generosity rather than greed: Boon's royalties were being paid to his father, who was suffering from emphysema. Watt simply refers to the decision as a way for Boon to help his father from beyond the grave.

Since 2001, Watt and Hurley have done occasional gigs, mainly in the L.A. area except for two December 2004 shows in England, playing Minutemen songs as a duo with no guitarist. At some of these gigs, Watt would set up one of Boon's old guitars and amps on the side of the stage where Boon used to stand. Rather than cheapen or "vampire" the Minutemen name, these performances, at Watt's insistence, are to be billed strictly as "George Hurley and Mike Watt". They are also now involved in an improvisational music group, Unknown Instructors, with members of Saccharine Trust and Pere Ubu.

The group's career is chronicled in the book Our Band Could Be Your Life, a study of 13 important American underground rock groups by veteran music journalist Michael Azerrad. The title is taken from the lyrics to the Double Nickels track "History Lesson - Part II."

The documentary film We Jam Econo 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. The film premiered at the Warner Grand Theatre in the Minutemen's hometown of San Pedro in February 2005. The film was released on DVD in June 2006. In the spring of 2007, the documentary went into a heavy rotation cycle on various Sundance cable television channels.

In 2003, Watt released his own book on the Minutemen, Spiels of a Minuteman, which contains all of Watt's song lyrics from the Minutemen era as well as the tour journal he wrote during the Minutemen's only European tour with Black Flag, essays by former SST co-owner Joe Carducci, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, Blue Öyster Cult lyricist and longtime Watt hero Richard Meltzer, and illustrations by Raymond Pettibon that had been used in all of the Minutemen's album artwork. The book, released by Quebec-based publisher L'Oie de Cravan, is published in English and French.

Also in 2003, Boon was selected as number 89 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Also in 2003, "Double Nickels on the Dime" was selected as number 411 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.

Covers and tributes

Watt has dedicated all of fIREHOSE's releases and his solo albums to the memory of Boon. "Disciples of the 3-Way" on fIREHOSE's final studio album Mr. Machinery Operator is about the Minutemen, and "The Boilerman" from Watt's second solo album Contemplating The Engine Room (which parallels the stories of the Minutemen, Watt's father, and the novel The Sand Pebbles) is about Boon; Watt had guitarist Nels Cline play one of Boon's old Fender Telecaster guitars on the track.

Sublime (whose lead singer Bradley Nowell also died prematurely) sampled Boon saying "Punk rock changed our lives" on "History Lesson Part II" from Double Nickels as part of their song "Waiting For My Ruca" from 1992's 40 Oz. to Freedom. On the final track from the same album titled "Thanx", all three Minutemen are mentioned. Watt repaid this salute by appearing in Sublime's video for "Wrong Way" in 1996. Sublime also sampled George Hurley's drum intro from "It's Expected I'm Gone" for their "Get Out! (remix)" on their posthumous release "Second Hand Smoke." On their eponymous debut LP, San Diego-based indie rockers Pinback also used the same drum loop from "It's Expected I'm Gone"; in his honor, the band named the track "Hurley." Also, during a cover of the Sublime song "Get Out!" done by Bargain Music, Josh Fischell sings "Damn I was surprised when I heard 'Punk Rock Changed Our Lives', these kids dug the Minutemen too".

The Unknown Instructors track "Punk Is Whatever We Make It To Be" from their first album The Way Things Work contains interpolations by vocalist Dan McGuire of several lyrics from Double Nickels on the Dime.

In 1994, Little Brother Records released the Minutemen tribute CD and LP Our Band Could Be Your Life. The CD version included 33 tracks by artists covering Minutemen songs, plus a track with a Boon interview and a live version of the Minutemen song Badges. The LP version had 23 tracks, including the interview and Minutemen items.

Post-rock band Karate covered "The Only Minority," "Bob Dylan Wrote Propaganda Songs," "This Ain't No Picnic," and "Colors" on their 2005 album, In the Fishtank 12.

New Jersey pop punk band The Ergs! wrote and recorded a Minutemen tribute song entitled "Under The Influence of Minutemen (Dork Rock Changed Our Lives)."

Josh Fischel's group Bargain Music covers "#1 Hit Song' at the end of their track "Long Beach Millennium" on their album 77 003.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Minutemen (band)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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