Ben Gibbard Turned Minor Threat's 'Filler' Into A Biting Piano Ballad

May 10, 2019
Originally published on May 10, 2019 10:27 am

How many times has Washington, D.C. endured a Fugazi cover from a touring band? Specifically, how many times has Washington, D.C. endured a cover of "Waiting Room"? Too many times. It's okay, we get it: "Waiting Room" is a jam.

So credit's due to Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard, who — performing solo at the Sixth & I Synagogue in Washington, D.C. in 2012 — pulled out an Ian MacKaye cut of a different stripe, which he's now released a studio version of.

"I might have been pissed about things in a song like 'Filler,' in the sense of this is wrong," MacKaye told Tablet Mag in 2011, "but what I really was doing was I was taking advantage of the speed of the music and the energy of the room to completely express, to go off, to make it real, to make it visceral."

Gibbard takes that speed and slows the raging "Filler" to a plaintive piano ballad, particularly leaning into "You call it religion / You're full of s***" with spitting pleasure.

Michael Azerrad, author of Our Band Could Be Your Life, shared some fascinating insight into MacKaye's songwriting process, writing in a tweet: "What Ben didn't know is that Ian MacKaye composed many Minor Threat songs on piano. Ian played a couple for me — on the same piano — when I interviewed him for Our Band Could Be Your Life."

Well, there's the next Minor Threat archive to unearth, if it exists.

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