As the music editor of AP, I'm supposed to not only be familiar with but have a deep knowledge of pretty much every band in the punk underground from the '70s to present day. Not only that, I'm also expected to be a champion for the "good guys" — the bands that are function over fashion, talent over teenybopper, integrity over endorsements. Fugazi are all of that and more; they are essentially the greatest American underground punk band of all time.

And up until October 2007, I never even owned one of their albums.

That's not to say I haven't been aware of this pioneering D.C. quartet for over a decade. My older brother got into them in the mid-'90s, as I was spending my time memorizing Green Day and No Use For A Name albums. He always played them for me and told me about how groundbreaking they really were: All shows were $5; the band actively discouraged violence at shows, even stopping mid-set to break up a fight or stop crowd-surfing; and they never, ever, ever sold any merchandise outside of their records (if you've ever seen a Fugazi T-shirt or sticker, it is 100-percent bootlegged). Not only were the band's ethics and beliefs stronger and more informed than seemingly any other band, their music was an incendiary mixture of dancable post-punk, thunderous post-hardcore and bits of dub and reggae thrown in for good measure, with lyrics that resonated from deep inside your soul, simultaneously covering socio-political issues as well as man's struggle with oneself.

And up until October 2007, I never even owned one of their albums.

It's funny how you can just avoid certain bands for years and years, even if you have the utmost respect for who they are and what they've accomplished. I didn't really start listening to Bad Religion until The Process Of Belief came out in 2002, over 20 years after their inception. I'm sure many of you can relate: Think of a band you were just incredibly late to the game on, and that you felt foolish playing catch-up with, and that's how I felt about Fugazi. I knew their importance and their talent, yet somehow their music had previously never grabbed me. It was on a whim that I picked up Steady Diet Of Nothing used last fall since I had some extra pocket money on me, and after a week or so of being locked inside my car stereo, I finally "got" Fugazi. I got what everyone else had been getting for over 20 years.

I'll be even more forthcoming: Out of the 23 bands we chose to feature in this month's cover special, I only own music by nine of them. Nine! Of course, that doesn't mean I'm wholly unfamiliar with the others' legendary music and historical significance; it just means that no matter how many albums I buy and concerts I attend and books I read, there will always be more music to consume. I'll never stop absorbing, and neither should you. Just because you've never heard of, say, Moss Icon or Fuel or Screamers doesn't mean they're any less culturally significant than Sunny Day Real Estate, Operation Ivy or Black Flag. And if you've never heard of any of the 23 bands in our special? Well, it looks like you have some catching up to do. I'll see you in the "H" section of your local record store (I still need to pick up that Heroin discography…).

Before I go, I'll leave you with what's quickly become one of my favorite Fugazi songs. It's called "Bed For The Scraping," and it's taken from their 1995 albumRed Medicine, which, like all of their recorded output, is available throughDischord Records: