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The 10 best DC hardcore songs, as chosen by Fake Names

Fake Names press shot
(Image credit: Epitaph)

Comprising ex-members of Minor Threat, Dag Nasty, Embrace and Girls Against Boys among others, new Epitaph signees Fake Names weren't just a part of DC's influential hardcore scene – they invented it all together. 

Friends since elementary school, Brian Baker, Michael Hampton, and Johnny Temple forged a bond thanks to their interest in "loud, angry, visceral music" – but it took them until 2016 to turn that into a project of their own. Eventually recruiting Refused singer Dennis Lyxzén on vocals, Fake Names was born.

US hardcore devotees will be hard-pushed to find a more enticing line-up in 2020. But those expecting a continuation of their DC days need to leave those expectations at the door: their new, self-titled album is full-blown power-punk, with harmonies and pop hooks galore.

To celebrate the release of their new album, the band's DC cohorts join us to talk us through the sounds that defined the movement.

"Brian Baker, Michael Hampton, and Johnny Temple of Fake Names all grew up in Washington, DC," the band say. 

"Here’s a list of 10 songs from local bands that held undue influence over our young brains from 1980–1990."

Bad Brains - Pay To Cum (1980)

Michael Hampton: "An extraordinarily well-recorded, well-played burst of energy from the best band ever. There would be no DC hardcore without this record. (If you can find the original 7”, that’s the best version of Pay To Cum)."

Minor Threat - Think Again (1983)

MH: "Game-changing full-length from the most original hardcore band to hail from DC. Incredible musicianship, songwriting, and one of the best drummers in punk made Out Of Step an extremely important slice of wax that stands the test of time. Listen to Think Again."

Black Market Baby - World At War (1983)

Brian Baker: "Everyone should know about Black Market Baby. They ran a different program than the early DC hardcore bands but played lots of the same shows. My fave song is World At War, from their 1983 album Senseless Offerings."

Scream - Came Without Warning (1983)

Johnny Temple: More frightening to any DC kid than the inner-city streets were the hills and crossroads of Virginia, from whence hailed Scream. Their debut 1983 album Still Screaming is raw as hell and hugely inspired, with a beautifully menacing first track, Came Without Warning.

Grand Mal - Binge Purge (1985)

MH: "Great post-punk rhythms, searing guitar tones, and heartfelt vocals. DC punk's answer to PiL? Check out Binge Purge, the eponymous title track from their 1985 EP."

Embrace - I Wish I (1987)

BB: "The Embrace album is my favourite Dischord release. Best singer and guitarist in town team up and build on everything they did before. Check out I Wish I."

Rites Of Spring - All Through A Life (1987)

BB: "In 1985, Rites Of Spring initiated a whole new style of DC punk. More Truffaut than “Hey, ho, let’s go”, ROS were the blueprint for almost every Dischord band to come for the next decade. Check out All Through A Life from the 1987 EP of the same name."

Trouble Funk - Drop The Bomb (1981)

JT: Trouble Funk served as Go-Go music ambassadors to white kids in DC, including a lot of punks. Their studio recordings never matched the crazy energy of their shows, which is why their best album is live, Straight Up Funk Go Go Style, from 1981, and it includes the pan-DC classic Drop The Bomb."

Fugazi - Blueprint (1990)

JT: "Fugazi is an ultimate synthesis of all that DC music can be, not just the punk but the funk and dub too. There’s not a flat moment in Repeater, one of the very best DC albums from the first note to the last; check out Blueprint."

Tommy Keene - Places That Are Gone (1984)

MH: "Tommy Keene was the guitarist for late-seventies DC power pop band the Razz, which featured Fugazi producer Ted Nicely on bass. As a solo artist, Keene’s jangly, guitar-based, sixties-inflected songs, like Back To Zero Now, were influential to more than a few DC hardcore musicians."

Fake Names' debut album is out on May 8 via Epitaph Records. Check out the video for single Brick below: