A Nike-sponsored skateboarding tour the company’s dubbed “Major Threat” has Minor Threat’s Ian MacKaye ticked.
The man at the front of both Minor Threat and Fugazi, two of Washington, D.C.’s most influential acts, is none too happy about what he deems Nike’s co-optation of the Minor Threat logo, as well as the iconic imagery from the band’s eight-song 1981 self-titled EP, for the three-date skateboarding event.
The tour’s posters depict a bald man sitting on a stoop, head resting on his bended knees, sporting Nike’s SB sneakers. The words “Major Threat” run down the poster’s right side. Aside from a few aesthetic changes, the poster’s a clone of the EP’s artwork — which also served as the cover of the group’s Complete Discography, released in 1988.
According to MacKaye, the world’s biggest producer of athletic footwear never sought his or his label Dischord’s permission to reinterpret one of hardcore’s most venerated album covers. But then again, it wouldn’t have mattered much if it did, because MacKaye never would have given Nike his blessing.
“What the hell were they thinking?” MacKaye, on tour with his current band the Evens, wrote in an e-mail to MTV News. “To set the record straight — Nike never contacted Dischord, nor Minor Threat, to obtain permission to use this imagery, nor was any permission granted. Simply put, Nike stole it and we’re not happy about it. We are not yet sure what actions, if any, we can take to stop this campaign.”
It’s expected, though, that once MacKaye returns from touring later this week, there will be a meeting between MacKaye and the rest of Minor Threat — Lyle Preslar, Brian Baker, Steve Hansgen and Jeff Nelson — to explore what available legal options they could collectively pursue. According to a Dischord spokesperson, “they’re all pissed off and offended.”
“To longtime fans and supporters of Minor Threat and Dischord, this must seem like just another familiar example of mainstream corporations attempting to assimilate underground culture to turn a buck,” reads MacKaye’s statement. “However, it is more disheartening to us to think that Nike may be successful in using this imagery to fool kids, just beginning to become familiar with skate culture, underground music and D.I.Y. ideals, into thinking that the general ethos of this label, and Minor Threat in particular, can somehow be linked to Nike’s mission.”
Minor Threat were the definitive Washington, D.C., hardcore punk band and the godfathers of the straight-edge punk movement of the early 1980s, and MacKaye’s Dischord Records has served as a bastion of, and model for, independent music and labels.
The last stop on Nike’s Major Threat Tour, sponsored by the company’s SB (that’s skateboarding) division, hits the Sayreville Skatepark in Sayreville, New Jersey, on Thursday, and will feature demonstrations from skaters Brian Anderson, Omar Salazar and Danny Supa.
By press time, a Nike spokesperson did not return calls seeking comment for this story.