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The band started in the summer of 1985, made up of ex-members of Minor Threat and Bloody Mannequin Orchestra. Through the years, they cycled through 3 different singers, 2 bass players, and 3 drummers in their four year active existence (1985-1988). The band itself had a huge impact on the world of underground music, due to the fact that Dag Nasty practically introduced melodic hardcore in the mid-'80s. But although the group was more accessible and melodic than Minor Threat or similar bands, they never lost their bracing, blistering edge. The concept of the band came about from former-Minor Threat and Meatmen guitarist Brian Baker. After vocalist Shawn Brown departed the group, ex-DYS frontman Dave Smalley completed Brian Baker's vision of what the band should be.
Dag Nasty recorded their first album, "Can I Say" (1986), with D.C.-punk guru Ian MacKaye assisting on the production. The following year, Smalley left the group; he was replaced by Peter Cortner, who added more pop elements to the band's sound with the album "Wig Out at Denko's". Dag Nasty moved from MacKaye's Dischord label to Giant in 1988 and released their last album (at the time), "Field Day". This album was even more of a departure from the original sound.
After the break up of the band, the members of the band went their seperate ways and were involved in various projects of their own. Along with former-Big Boy Chris Gates, Baker formed the metal band Junkyard in 1989, which released two records on Geffen before fading away.
Dag Nasty came back together in 1992 with Dave Smalley back on vocals. They released "Four on the Floor" for the growing underground punk scene that was only a few short years from breaking into the mainstream. The response was enthusiastic, but the band stepped away from the business again. Ten years later, they reunited once again with "Minority of One" which was released on Revelation Records. But from that point on, the band members have each been focusing on their full-time bands...or jobs...whichever the case may be.
There was a blip on the Dag Nasty radar though, back in 2012, when the band reunited for a one-off show in DC in support of the "Salad Days" documentary, this time with original vocalist Shawn Brown on vocals. Then, in 2016, that same line-up announced the release of a brand new 7-inch and a full-blown tour, again with Shawn Brown behind the mic. Whether this is just another temporary reunion, or something a bit more permanent, remains to be seen.