In on the Kill Taker

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In on the Kill Taker
Studio album by Fugazi
Released June 30, 1993
Recorded November–December 1992 at Inner Ear Studios, Arlington, Virginia
Genre Post-hardcore, noise rock, indie rock, art punk
Length 42:13
Label Dischord
Producer Ted Niceley, Fugazi
Fugazi chronology
Steady Diet of Nothing
(1991)
In on the Kill Taker
(1993)
Red Medicine
(1995)

In on the Kill Taker is the third full-length studio album by the American post-hardcore band Fugazi. It was released on June 30, 1993 through Dischord Records and was recorded at Inner Ear Studios and produced by Ted Niceley and Don Zientara. In on the Kill Taker captured the aggressiveness of the band's earlier releases while displaying a more diverse range of influences.

Due in part to the popularity of alternative rock in the early 1990s, In on the Kill Taker became the group's first album to debut on the Billboard charts and subsequently became the band's breakthrough album.[1]

Recording[edit]

The band had originally recorded songs in Chicago with producer Steve Albini at Chicago Recording Company studios, with the intention of releasing a two or three song EP. However, the group ended up recording a whole album's worth of material, but were ultimately unhappy with their performances and re-recorded the entire album in Washington D.C. at Inner Ear Studios with Don Zientara and Ted Niceley handling production duties. The original recordings from the Chicago sessions have since been bootlegged onto filesharing networks.[2]

Despite the sessions in Chicago not entirely working out, it allowed the band to be well-prepared for what would become the album's proper recording sessions. According to singer/guitarist Guy Picciotto, “I think we really worked much harder on getting the songs together. We did a lot more pre-session demos, not just with Albini, but also using an 8-track reel-to-reel that we had bought to record our practices. It really changed the way we were able to work out the songs. It also helped us school ourselves a bit on how to engineer a basic recording.”[3]

Music and Lyrics[edit]

The material on In on the Kill Taker retained the band's aggressive and rhythmic style, but displayed more diversity as well. This is evident in songs like "Smallpox Champion" which features surf-style guitar parts, combined with heavy syncopated riffs. "23 Beats Off" features a noise rock coda and the instrumental "Sweet and Low" showcases subdued guitar lines, melodic bass and jazz-influenced drumming.[3]

Fugazi downplayed any conscious efforts to make Kill Taker more experimental or diverse. According to Picciotto “I don’t really think of any of the records as being any more experimental than any of the others, because to us they were all experiments,” he said. “We were just trying to figure stuff out and push ourselves further each time. So to my ear every record sounds like a step forward, or sideways, or at least somewhere else from the one before it.”[3]

The album's lyrics frequently reference films, in particular the song "Cassavetes" which is a tribute to actor/filmmaker John Cassavetes, as well as a critique of Hollywood culture. The song "Walken's Syndrome" references Woody Allen's film Annie Hall, where Christopher Walken's character feels an urge to crash into oncoming traffic at night.[4]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[4]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars[5]

In on the Kill Taker was released to both critical and commercial success. The album sold over 180,000 copies in its first week of release and has gone on to sell over 1,000,000 copies.[6] The record also garnered rave reviews from many publications including Spin, TIME magazine and Rolling Stone, with Rolling Stone writer Matt Diehl giving the album 5 out of 5 stars and claiming that Fugazi is "the only band that matters."[1]

Packaging[edit]

Filmmaker Jem Cohen, a long-time friend and collaborator of the band, was responsible for the album's art design and packaging. Found pieces of text and photographs were used to make up the overall layout. The cover image, showing a burned-out gold Polaroid of the Washington Monument, was found by Cohen in the street. The inner sleeve was a piece a friend of the band found tacked to a light post in Chicago. The text on the cover side margin and back cover were also found on the ground in New York City by Cohen and contained the phrase "...so I could have tried to put a stop to the hater, the adversary workers, iniquity evildoers. This is big because people in high places are in on the kill taker".[3]

Tour[edit]

By the time the In on the Kill Taker tour was underway, the group began to sell-out large auditoriums and arenas, as well as receive more lucrative major label offers. During the band's sold-out 3-night stint at New York City's Roseland Ballroom in September 1993, music mogul and Atlantic Records president Ahmet Ertegün met with the band backstage in an attempt to sign them. Ertegün offered the band "anything you want," their own subsidiary label and more than $10 million just to sign with Atlantic. Fugazi declined the offer.[7] The organizers of Lollapalooza also attempted to recruit the band for a headlining slot on its 1993 tour, which the band considered but ultimately turned down.[8]

Track listing[edit]

All songs by Guy Picciotto, Ian MacKaye, Joe Lally, and Brendan Canty (Lead vocals in parentheses)

  1. "Facet Squared" – 2:42 (MacKaye)
  2. "Public Witness Program" – 2:04 (Picciotto)
  3. "Returning the Screw" – 3:13 (MacKaye)
  4. "Smallpox Champion" – 4:01 (Picciotto)
  5. "Rend It" – 3:48 (Picciotto)
  6. "23 Beats Off" – 6:41 (MacKaye)
  7. "Sweet and Low" – 3:36
  8. "Cassavetes" – 2:30 (Picciotto)
  9. "Great Cop" – 1:52 (MacKaye)
  10. "Walken's Syndrome" – 3:18 (Picciotto)
  11. "Instrument" – 3:43 (MacKaye)
  12. "Last Chance for a Slow Dance" – 4:38 (Picciotto)

Personnel[edit]

Chart positions[edit]

Album[edit]

Year Chart Position
1993 The Billboard 200 153[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Perlah, Jeff. "The Independent". Guitar World. March 2002.
  2. ^ Brace, Eric. "Nightwatch". The Washington Post. August 20th, 1999. Retrieved on January 27, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d Gentry, Brendan. "Secret History: Fugazi's In on the Kill Taker". www.dcist.com. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  4. ^ a b Kellman, Andy. "In on the Kill Taker". Allmusic. Retrieved March 17, 2010. 
  5. ^ Brackett 2004, p. 315
  6. ^ ^ a b c d Perlah, Jeff. "The Independent". Guitar World. March 2002.
  7. ^ Freidman 2007, p. 52
  8. ^ Norman 1993
  9. ^ "In on the Kill Taker - Fugazi". Billboard. Retrieved 12 May 2011. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Brackett, Nathan (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. New York: Rolling Stone Press/Random House. ISBN 978-0-7432-0169-8. 
  • Freidman, Glen E. (2007). Keep Your Eyes Open. New York: Burning Flags Press. ISBN 0-9641916-8-7. 
  • Norman, Tony (1993). "The band that won't sell out: Fugazi still plays by its own rules". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.