DOA frontman Joey Shithead Keithley’s record label Sudden Death is re-releasing the seminal collection of kick-ass punk today. I’ll be picking one up for sure though i’ve owed the vinyl and CD before but both are MIA – lent to some friends, somewhere – rock on, enjoyed i hope.
Along with The Clash and The Ramones, DOA showed that you could write good songs, which rocked and had something to say.
I was 13-ish when i first heard them as a frustrated kid in the suburbs and over the next several years saw them many times. Often taking the bus to way out venues and street-hiking long distances after the last bus to the burbs had rolled.
When they played Bumper’s, an all-ages venue in Surrey – i got to chat with them and they treated me like one of them, not some fan kid in specs and a mac jacket.
In those days, i collected their vinyl like holy artifacts – from the toe-tagged 7″ to the General Strike John Peel Sessions 12″ EP (the best ever). Even the uhh… not so good albums as they sorted through a few line changes – but there was always something that mattered on every disc. Gregg, Goble (Sunnyboy Roy), Dimwit, Biscuits, many more … all through the revolving door.
Years later, i hung out with Joe on the set of a music video he was making with Randy Bachman – some goofy thing with scaffolding and searchlights and safety vest and hardhats. I saw him then as a sharp-as-a-tack professional who remembered everything and worked efficiently so he could get on to other things – “there’s shit to get done man.”
He bantered with me about some rock and roll reminicenses – dingy clubs he’d played in Germany where i been tagging along with the Bad Yodellers on a tour and saw Gwar amongst jack-booted, German acid-heads and he wondered what new bands i was listening to.
Photo by Bev Davies
Again, years later in Olympia, Joe got me up on stage at the 4th ave Tav to sing Taking Care of Business in my Canucks jersey – yup i rocked it too. The band and crew came to watch the game on the replay tv (Canucks lost to Avs in Game one of playoffs on a controversial offsides non-call by Chris Drury IIRC).
In the Hockey Lounge, we drank kegged beer and then moved to Kokanee or Canadian cans while gravelly voice Randy Rampage drank Scotch from the bottle and told rock n’ roll stories from Japan and Joe broke down the hockey game with focused concern.
They made lovely houseguests (maybe i should keep this a secret) … they even folded their towels and tidied up before leaving (thanks). BTW, As i talked about on a Clubside Breakfast Time episode, i ended up meeting the roadie’s brother in Granada, Spain and having a good laugh about the coincidence as i crashed at his place.
Sure they can play their instruments decent but the passion and vigor is more important to their stew. Virtuosity is often overrated when the songs are good enough to carry the day – tough as East Hastings concrete but with a (shock) melody and a structure under the noise.
But as much as the rock rocks, the social messages are what gives their music soul … Not overt but strongly worded, no subtley here but not preachy either ~~ global trade, environment, voting, nuclear proliferation, music theory (disco sucks) ~~ all sacred cows are all up for hitting with the bulldozer.
If the message don’t open yer mind, the fuzz will lever it open like a greasy tire iron prying off a hubcap. What i think he’s saying is … whatever decision you come up with is probably OK as long as you aren’t harming anyone innocent, you got a reason to do it and you actually do something about it.
The lyrical breadth (big words for punk rock but deal with it) is recently more evident as i’ve mined the DOA catalog for snippets to use on podcasts and most any controversial topic is dissected and set to loud guitar.
My old t-shirt spells out the root of the DOA mantra: Talk-Action=Zero.
This past year has been a busy one for Joe and the gang, films, tours, a more tasty reflective seasoning sprinkled from this era of Vancouver hardcore – read Suddendeath for current chronicles and don’t forget that the legendary Bev Davies has a photo calendar too. Punk History Canada is a trove of documentation – if you got any olden punk stuff, scan it, send it, no excuses ya hear.