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Teen Idles

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Despite only being extant for roughly 14 months, the Teen Idles were a crucial band in Washington, D.C., punk rock history. The quartet, which featured Dischord Records founders Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson, released that label's first record and established many of the physical and philosophical beachheads (including those of the greatly misunderstood straight-edge movement) that set the stage for one of American hardcore's greatest bands, Minor Threat. Formed in the summer of 1979 out of the ashes of high school band the Slinkees, the Teen Idles consisted of singer Nathan Strejcek and guitarist Geordie Grindle, with Nelson on guitar and MacKaye (who wrote many of the group's lyrics) on bass. The group's roadie and "fifth Teen Idle" was Henry Garfield, who later became better-known as Henry Rollins. Initially inspired by British punk D.C. weirdos White Boy and later by California hardcore, the teenage group's real guiding light came from seminal punks Bad Brains, with whom they often shared the stage at legendary D.C. punk dive Madam's Organ. The Idles played short and speedy songs, with titles like "Get Up and Go," "I Drink Milk," and "Too Young to Rock," that attempted to roar and speed like the Bad Brains. Their anthem, "Teen Idles," declared that they were "bored to tears/A waste of 20 years." The band made a trip to California in the summer of 1980 that was a financial disaster, but provided an invaluable lesson in West Coast hardcore, the band bringing back the ferocity of California's legendary Huntington Beach punks and the idea for all ages shows that they witnessed firsthand at the seminal San Francisco club Mabuhay Gardens. Upon returning to D.C., the group recorded their eight-song 7", but splintered when Grindle became disenchanted soon after, although MacKaye had already begun planning Minor Threat. The Teen Idles' Minor Disturbance EP is available in its entirety on Dischord 1981: the Year in Seven Inches. ~ Patrick Foster


1979 in Washington DC

Years Active: