Minutemen was an American rock band formed in San Pedro, California in 1980. Composed of guitarist/vocalist D. Boon, bassist/vocalist Mike Watt, and drummer George Hurley, Minutemen recorded four albums and eight EPs. They were noted in the California punk community for a philosophy of “jamming econo” — a sense of thriftiness reflected in their touring and presentation—while their eclectic and experimental attitude was instrumental in pioneering alternative rock.
Greg Ginn of Black Flag and SST Records produced Minutemen’s first 7″ EP, Paranoid Time, which solidified their eclectic style. Like most punk bands at the time, the band sold the EP at their shows and at a few local record stores. It became a minor hit with the hardcore scene.
By their first LP, 1981’s The Punch Line, they had found their voice and began touring nonstop around the country. They released their third EP and fourth overall release entitled Bean-Spill. By this time they were becoming one of the more popular bands in the underground scene around the country.
Early on, the band avoided commercial affectations such as guitar solos, choruses, and fade-outs. By the time of their second LP What Makes a Man Start Fires?, which gained considerable attention from the alternative and underground press, they were a part of the band’s sound, despite maintaining their experimental and punk roots. They continued their hectic touring schedule, which included their longest tour yet, a double bill with Black Flag in Europe. The long tour strengthened their place as one of most well-known acts in the hardcore scene. In 1983 they released their third LP, Buzz or Howl Under the Influence of Heat.
Minutemen’s anti-rockist eclecticism was perhaps the best exemplified on 1984’s double album Double Nickels on the Dime. Though still somewhat obscure to mainstream audiences, Double Nickels has been cited as one of the more innovative and enduring albums of the 1980s American rock underground. On Double Nickels, they co-wrote some songs with other musicians, notably Henry Rollins, Chuck Dukowski, and Joe Baiza. In 1985 they released their most commercial-sounding recording, Project: Mersh. Though the album sounded more mainstream, it sold poorly compared to Double Nickels due largely to the negative reaction to such a commercial album from within the underground community. They continued touring, and by the time of their final album, 3-Way Tie (For Last), they decided to take a small break. They played their last tour with another emerging band, R.E.M. Their final concert was in Charlotte, North Carolina on December 13, 1985.