Joe ‘Shithead’ Keithley, founding member of Canadian punk forefathers DOA, took time out ahead of their Aussie tour next month to talk about everything from Canada and punk politics to Vegemite and Willie Nelson.
What was the Canadian punk scene like in the early ’80s?
It was very vibrant and political with bands like DOA, The Subhumans, Pointed Sticks and The Modernettes.
You’re often referred to as the “founders of hardcore punk” – does that make you feel old?
Old like the founding fathers or Jesus??? Ha ha LOL – I came up with a great term that DOA pushed into the common vernacular thus the album Hardcore 81 and the subsequent tour.
You founded Sudden Death – is that all part of the punk DIY attitude? Which came first, the band or the label?
We recorded the 4 song 7″ record Disco Sucks and we did not have any way to distribute it , so I came up with the idea of starting a label. We now have 100 releases on the label which people can check out at www.suddendeath.com.
Apparently there was a “DOA Day” in Vancouver in 2003? How was that celebrated?
The city’s leading councilor presented the band with a scroll that detailed some of DOA’s achievements over the years, with the city’s seal on the scroll as well We now celebrate that day every year by knocking back Canadian beers every December 21st.
You’re known for being open about your political opinions – is that just a part of punk as a genre?
Well I always believed you had to be at least a little bit political to be punk, maybe not as much as myself or Jello Biafra, but at least get out there and try and make some sort of positive impact on your society.
You tried your hand at actual politics in 2012, was it? Would that have spelt the end of DOA?
Yes actually it was 2013, it would have put DOA on the shelf for a bit for sure. But I wasn’t elected, so here we are doing what we do best, playing DOA shows. I likely will give it another try in 2017.
Tell me about the “Talk – Action = Zero” slogan?
It’s self explanatory, get out there and be active:
– Think for yourself
– Be your own boss
– Effect some positive change in your neighborhood
TALK – ACTION = 0
You’ve released a lot of studio albums, are any of them particularly reflective of you as a band (moreso than others)?
Well I will pretty well like every album. but like most bands, the early stuff are the songs that stick with people. Maybe War on 45 is my fave.
You worked with Bob Rock (Simple Plan, Aerosmith, Metallica, Michael Buble, Bryan Adams), who is quite mainstream. Is there anyone else you would like to work with?
Yeah Bob is great, he’s an old friend of mine from the really early days. I’d actually like to do some collaborations. Top of my list would be Willie Nelson and Neil Young
What are you most looking forward to on this trip Down Under?
Well it’s not Vegemite! That’s for sure!!! Looking forward to having fun, which is what DOA shows almost always end up being…
You can catch DOA in Australia here:
- Thursday 24 April @ The Evelyn, Fitzroy
- Friday 25 April @ The Basement, Canberra
- Saturday 26 April @ Hermann’s Bar, Sydney
- Sunday 27 April @ Prince of Wales, Brisbane
For more info and tickets visit The Drunk Promoter.