In January 1982 we released our first 12" album, a compilation called Flex Your Head which featured 32 songs by 11 D.C. area bands. By this time there were so many new bands coming onto the scene we were unable to keep up with them. By mid-1983 we had managed to do records with the Faith, Void, Scream, and Marginal Man, as well as release the Minor Threat Out of Step 12" e.p., but we were having serious difficulties with our cash flow. I was working three jobs on top of doing the label and singing in the band, and still we were broke. The problem had to do with getting distributors to pay their bills in some sort of a timely fashion, as well as our inability to get credit at the pressing plants. We always had to pay for our records C.O.D., but the distributors had 90 days (which usually turned into 5 to 6 months) to pay us. We were having a hard time deciding whether to use what little money we had to repress one of the earlier records, or to release something new. It was at this time that we first heard from John Loder.
His company, Southern Studios in London, had released the Crass records. Crass were a hugely important British punk band, so we were flattered by his interest in releasing the Minor Threat "Out of Step" 12" in Europe. Because he was able to press records on credit (instead of C.O.D.), and because it was so much cheaper to do so in Europe, we asked him if he thought he could help distribute the record in the U.S. as well. The demand for the record was much higher than we had anticipated, and we didn't have enough money to keep it in print. He agreed to give it a try. This was the beginning of a partnership with Southern that lasts to this day.
On top of the financial problems caused by the distribution situation, almost all of the original bands had either broken up or left the label by 1984. We experienced a lull in creative activity as well as a sense of estrangement from the D.C. scene which, in its growth, seemed increasingly more violent and disjointed.
Perhaps in response to this situation, the Dischord community became more of a scene within a scene. We were incapable of documenting everything that was going on in Washington, but still felt that there were things happening that were important, at least to us. By 1985 a new wave of bands began forming: Rites of Spring, Lunchmeat (who would later change their name to Soulside), Gray Matter, Kingface, Beefeater, Mission Impossible, Fire Party, Dag Nasty and my band, Embrace. A political activist group called Positive Force DC formed and began to organize benefits and protests. This was at a time when many of the people in the bands were already involved with protests and political actions, and it led to a series of collaborations that continue today. Many of these bands were featured on "The State of the Union," a benefit compilation put together by Positive Force.
The late '80s saw the formation of many more bands, including Shudder to Think, Three, Jawbox, One Last Wish, Lungfish, Nation of Ulysses, Holy Rollers, Fidelity Jones, Ignition, The High Back Chairs, Severin and Fugazi. This time was the busiest the label had ever seen, and it forced us to finally move some of the operation out of Dischord House. We started another company, Dischord Direct, to distribute D.C. area bands and labels along with our own releases to stores and other distributors.