SCENE SETTER: DOA Punk Pioneers in Town This Month

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“When I’m at the (Burnaby) council table, I get my hair done and I wear a suit, which some people don’t like, but the spirit is the same,” frontman Joey Keithley says ahead of 15 June. show at Queens

Many people know that feeling of sinking comes whenever an album you vividly remember buying the day it was released hits a major anniversary.

Personally, I’m not a fan of this feeling. But at the very least, it’s a reminder to play it back and forth and play it loud.

Playing their historic album Hardcore ’81 in full, along with some greatest hits, Canadian punk legends DOA hit The Queens Nightclub on June 15th.

With a career spanning over 40 years, DOA has released 18 studio albums, sold over one million copies and performed over 4,500 shows on five different continents. Led by ‘Godfather of Punk’ Joe Keithley, better known as ‘Joey Shithead’, DOA continues to play hard and call for change. He is also a municipal councilor in Burnaby, British Columbia.

Me being a high school student wouldn’t believe it, but me being a current age I had the opportunity to ask Joe a few questions about the band, album, politics and more, but here goes…

RV: What is the DOA mark?

JK: The DOA brand has always been “Talk Minus Action Equals Zero”. We try to live by it. If you want something to change, take action. I can’t tell you what that action is, but do it.

I think DOA’s legacy is to be the pioneers of punk rock. We were the first band to go behind the Iron Curtain and play in Poland in 1984. How we got there started with a guy in Poland writing us a letter asking us to come and play. Another major stop on the tour
took us to China in 2009.

You must be adventurous. Go play!

RV: Forty years later, have there been some good changes that you’ve experienced and some that aren’t so good?

JK: When I started, we were fighting against racism, sexism, warmongers and greed. Forty-three years later, we are still struggling with the same things. That doesn’t sound like much progress. When DOA started, we thought we might be entering a grace period.

The Vietnam War ended a few years earlier, people were talking about gun control, Pierre Trudeau opened the doors to talk with China, but now we are here.

Nothing stands out like a big improvement. The return of vinyl is cool it’s the best way to listen to music.

RV: Are there similarities in your approach to being a musician and being a politician?

JK: Yeah, basically I take the same approach to politics that I do with DOA. Stick to your guns and fight for what you believe in. When I’m at the council table, I have my hair done and I wear a suit, which some people don’t like, but the spirit is the same.

Some people called me a cultural politician and now I have become a real politician.

Regardless of what I do, there are three things I wanted to do with my life: 1. Change the world. 2. Play loud and obnoxious punk rock. 3. Have a lot of fun doing it.

Originally, I had planned to be a civil rights lawyer. I spent a semester at Simon Fraser University, then I joined a punk band.

The civil rights movements of the 60s and 70s were very inspiring and I wanted to keep that feeling with me and put it into the music. Thirty years after my debut, I realized that the music my sister played all the time like Bob Dylan, The Weavers and Pete Seeger it’s the spirit of their music that struck me. Especially Seeger.

VR: Released in 1981, Hardcore ’81 was a landmark album for many reasons, but why do you think it hit so hard and ultimately won the CBC Polaris Prize for “one of the greatest Canadian albums of all time”?

JK: We wrote this record at the right time. It was funny, obnoxious and honest all the things we wanted to be. A friend of mine said that I used the term “hardcore” in an interview earlier and our manager suggested that we look into the term and use it as an album title.

This pushed the term into the popular vernacular and gave bands a new space to be creative. The success of the album led us to organize the first hardcore festival in Vancouver with Black Flag.

RV: You get credit for coining the term “hardcore” as a genre. What are the criteria to be considered hardcore?

JK: For me, it’s the no-compromise attitude. It’s simple. Hardcore is about saying, “this is what we believe in and this is what we’re going to do to bring about change.”

Now the term has taken on a life of its own and means something different to everyone.

RV: Why is it important to play or listen Hardcore ’81 front to back?

JK: I think it’s the energy in it. The humor and spontaneity are real. When it was remastered, I would listen to it and always think, “Hey, that’s pretty good.”

Sometimes you get tired of listening to the same tracks during the recording process and it can be hard to go back and listen to them. But not with Hardcore ’81. It’s a peak, that’s for sure.

RV: What other albums do you consider to be cutting edge albums?

JK: This whole era up to ’84 was so much fun, before things got too polished or too produced. It was raw, spontaneous and fun. A few albums that really capture that spirit are group sex by Circle Jerks, The first four years by Black Flag and The Clash’s
first album.

RV: Not to jinx it, but DOA is the band that never seems to stop touring. Do you still experience new things on the road?

JK: Yeah. We were coming back from Las Vegas and our GPS took us through a national park on a dirt road and had a very Donner family feel about it. We joked that our fate would be the same as theirs if our van broke down.

The most important thing with DOA is that we want to get out where you are, play and blow people’s minds.

RV: Is there anything in particular that would make you stop touring?

JK: Probably not. Eventually, I won’t be able to physically go out and tour anymore, but I think that’s another 10 good years away…I hope. If it’s fun, I will. I’ll know it’s over when I walk into a room and no one is there.

At that point, I’ll probably say “well, I had a good run” and that’ll be it.

DOA plays at Queens Nightclub, located in downtown Barrie at 94 Dunlop St. E., on Wednesday, June 15 at 7 p.m. They are supported by Toronto punk band Pkew Pkew Pkew and Overcrook from Barrie. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.

ARE YOU READY FOR MORE?

June is packed with musical offerings from across Canada making a stop in our city. Here is a sample…

Renowned violinist, pianist and step dancer Ashley MacIsaac will perform at Donaleigh’s Temple Lounge on June 16th.

Pushing traditional styles of Celtic music to new frontiers, MacIsaac’s style has been heard around the world, including at the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies, The Conan O’Brien Show, Today’s show and The Late Show with David Letterman.

Have you ever seen someone absolutely shred on the fiddle? Nope? So come and discover the best there is. Don’t miss one of Canada’s greatest performing artists. Click here to buy your tickets.

Hailing from Vancouver, SVNEATR are bringing their signature brand of booming progressive black metal to The Queens Hotel on June 21 as part of their cross-Canada tour. Describing their music as “the sound of nature screaming at you”, SVNEATER received rave reviews from around the world for their latest album, Chinook.

SVNEATER co-stars with Dead Beyond Fear (Barrie) and It Cometh (Newmarket). For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

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