The Making of OUT OF STEP by Minor Threat – featuring Ian MacKaye

In celebration of the recently unearthed Out of Step Outtakes, we take a detailed look at the making of the original record. After Minor Threat formed in Washington D.C. in 1980, they began to find an audience in the American punk scene. Their first two seven-inch records contained songs written by Ian MacKaye, such as “Straight Edge” and “Out of Step,” which kickstarted the straight edge movement within punk. By 1982, guitarist Lyle Preslar had left for college and Minor Threat temporarily broke up. After speaking with H.R. of the Bad Brains, MacKaye was convinced of the impact the band was having and considered reforming. At that point, Preslar agreed to quit college and rejoin the band. Despite accusations of the band selling out by reforming, Minor Threat began playing shows in their hometown and embarked on a cross-country tour. Brian Baker decided to switch from bass to second guitar so they asked Steve Hansgen to join as the new bassist. In early 1983, they returned to Don Zientara’s Inner Ear Studio to begin recording as a five-piece. Out of Step was eventually released in the spring of 1983.

In this episode, Ian MacKaye describes this pivotal moment in the band’s history when they decided to reunite and change their sound by adding a fifth member. Though they faced backlash about reuniting from their hometown crowd, this fueled the next batch of songs they would write as a band. MacKaye discusses how most of his lyrics on this record reflect the gossip and backstabbing that was prevalent in their scene at the time. In addition, tension within the band was rising over MacKaye’s lyrics and their overall musical direction. The new version of the title track reflected their differences as Jeff Nelson convinced MacKaye to include a spoken word interlude that explained how the straight edge lyrics were personal to MacKaye and didn’t represent the band’s views. From Minor Threat’s first 12-inch to a joke song about selling out to recording vocals live for the first time to the benefits of an expensive strobe tuner to hearing the call of punk to self-define, we’ll hear the stories of how the record came together.