Monday, January 25, 2021

'Something Better Change': New DOA, Keithley documentary in the works

Joey "Shithead" Keithley in Seattle. (All Cat Rose photos)

By TSHIT staff

We've seen Joey "Shithead" Keithley do it all.

From playing a toilet-seat guitar, to swinging a chainsaw on stage, to banging out tunes on an acoustic six-stringer in a bookstore.

In London, we saw the mighty DOA share the stage with Rudimentary Peni in 1993. In Los Angeles, there were gigs with Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Bad Brains and more in '81 and '82. In Seattle, they paired up with the Fastbacks for a rousing gig in '13. Those are just a handful of our DOA live experiences and we hope to add some more notches to our Shithead belt in the future.

You're always guaranteed a rollicking good time with DOA as they belt out the classics, like "Fucked Up Baby," "The Prisoner," "Smash the State," "General Strike," "Slumlord" and countless others, along with later songs, like "Marijuana Motherfucker" and "Just Say No to the WTO."

When Keithley cocks his head, hand-points, snarls and does a kick-spin with his old-reliable Gibson SG in hand, it's a blast. 

Thankfully, the Burnaby, BC, Canada, man and his band will now be the subject of a documentary, "Something Better Change," which is in the hands of lauded filmmaker Scott Crawford ("Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, DC” and “CREEM: America’s Only Rock’n’Roll Magazine). Crawford will direct and team up with producer Paul Rachman (director of “American Hardcore” and co-founder of Slamdance Film Festival).

"Punk is actually a really progressive, like a really great force that could help change the world," Keithley said in the doc's trailer. 

The 64-year-old added that people laughed at DOA when the Vancouver punks began kicking up a racket in 1978. Well, fuck the naysayers: DOA has always let its music and voices be heard while standing strong in its fight against racism, greed, war and sexism.

Keithley took DOA's slogan of "Talk-Action=0" into the political realm and narrowly won a seat on the Burnaby City Council in '18. The Burnaby Green Party member emerged victorious -- by just 215 votes -- along with seven other councillors who were all members of the Burnaby Citizens Association. Once again, Keithley stood out from the crowd in true punk fashion.

He ran for council because he believes in grassroots democracy where people have a say and input into what's going on, Keithley said in the trailer. The filmmakers tagged along with Keithley as he served on council, and they, of course, picked his brain about his DOA journey.  

On Jan. 21, they launched a Kickstarter campaign at:

Below are some excerpts from our interview with Keithley in '13, who at the time was continuing his campaign for a spot with the BC New Democrats. He was running to be a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), which is similar to a U.S. state congressman. He lost that nomination, but kept rolling with both DOA and his political aspirations. After an unsuccessful run for provincial office as part of the BC Green Party in the Burnaby-Lougheed riding in '17, he still kept plugging away.

You clearly can't keep a good man down, and Keithley finally bulldozed through the council doors three years ago.

-- How has being in a band all these years prepared you to jump into the political realm. Was it a good learning experience, a natural progression type thing?

Well, it made sense. People in Canada, and I think people in North America and in Europe somewhat know DOA for a political stance-- I'd really call it being a social activist. You know, kind of fighting for people power, that's kind of what I call it. So with people in BC, I'm really well known here, so it isn't like a big leap to do that, so it kind of fits because I've been kind of working on helping people with stuff, trying to help the regular person all my life. I guess another thing, too, is when I was 18, I went to university to become a civil-rights lawyer. Then DOA started, and obviously I never got my law degree (laughs) ... that goes without saying, right?

-- So is that when you first started getting interested in politics? When did it strike a chord with you?

It was actually when I was 16, Greenpeace organized this protest against testing of nuclear weapons by the U.S. military, and what was happening in the Amchitka islands, which are part of the Aleutian Islands chain of Alaska ... underground testing of nuclear bombs. So, Greenpeace urged all these kids in high school here, in different areas, to leave their school and march downtown Vancouver where the American consulate was and march around and protest. We did, we left the school, the principal tried to stop us with his arms across, trying to physically block us. That didn't work, obviously, and about a thousand of us marched downtown. An interesting thing about that was Dimwit -- rest his soul, my old drummer, who drummed in The Subhumans, The Pointed Sticks and The Four Horsemen -- he brought a bass drum that day, so he was at the head of the parade with his bass drum, beating as the students moved along toward the consulate.

-- If you could look into a crystal ball, how do you envision your future?

Ahhhh... (laughs) ... I wish I could look into a crystal ball. You just gotta keep trying to do what you think is right in life and carry on the best way you can, that's really the only philosophy I've really got is that you've got to believe in yourself and be positive.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

10 years of interviews: From DOA to Girlschool and beyond

Joey Shithead of DOA (Cat Rose photo)

Kim McAuliffe of Girlschool. (Cat Rose photo)

By Andy

Interviews are always a journey. You step into the conversations armed with your usual knowledge and questions, but you still never know where things will twist and turn along the path. You just settle in for the ride and listen, but also guide the discussions to a spot where you'll hopefully be offered some key insight. When that occurs, it's a victory for you and the readers. Maybe the interviewees will delve into something that they didn't expect to touch upon and come away from the experience enlightened as well.

Here's some quotes from our interviews from 2011-2020:



Suzi Quatro on advice for up-and-coming musicians:

First of all, this is not a business for the faint-hearted, it's a hard business. You have to be so focused. It's not sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll -- it's being a professional. If you can't be that, then don't get in the business. Go join a hippie commune or go get stoned somewhere, but don't litter the tracks. And if you're gonna play an instrument, make sure you play it, learn it. You should learn properly at least one instrument. I know two that I read and write and play, which is percussion and piano. I play classical piano, taught myself bass, but once you've learned piano you can learn anything -- it's kind of like your orchestra. If you're on the stage, leave your ego there, 'cause that's where it belongs.



Brendan Canty on drumming in the Messthetics:

Yeah, well most of it is just about communicating, right? If you're in a moment, if there's non-verbal musical communication, and so Wayne is great at it, Bob Mould's great at it. And Anthony is fucking great at it, so is Joe. So being able to do stuff on the fly, very fluidly. In Messthetics, we've been able to come up with things very quickly (snaps his fingers) and that's a real key -- not just the writing, but you can improvise together. Everybody's excited about it equally, everybody (has) a different but equal job to do in that band. And that makes it really balanced and lovely. So yeah, it's been nice. I really cherish this group for that reason.



Andy Cairns of Therapy? on writing lyrics:

I've got a certain way of writing and what I do is I write constantly. I've got two or three notebooks and I've got notes on my phone that I write. For example, we finished the album, as I mentioned, just last week, it's all done. So I've started writing other things again. For example, when we go in to do the next record, I'll have maybe, say, a year's worth of little notes, material, songs, song titles and things. And then we decide what the theme of the record's gonna be, so I'll look through all my notes and lyrics and find out what's relevant, and put the rest to one side. And then once we record them, I take every single piece of note that's in my phone, and I delete it and then I get all the booklets and the books and the notebooks and papers that I've written over the last year on one of the new albums and then I throw that in the trashcan. And that's the most cathartic moment, 'cause I know that I can move on to something else. That's done, it's almost symbolic.



John Haggerty of Pegboy on his guitaristry:

To this day, I try to practice every day and there's really no substitute for it. Some people have more aptitude towards it, but I think in the end, how good you are is directly proportional to how much you practice. I hope that I'm a better guitar player every day -- I try to be. There's always something new to learn. It's really a wonderful instrument in that you can play it all your life and still not know everything. It's always a challenge and it's always fun.



Brian Baker on playing with Dag Nasty:

Simple is best. That's the thing, the whole excitement for me is being in a hardcore band and doing things (that way). I'm incredibly nostalgic for what I remember as everything being a great time, which of course back then was not true. But now I'm old, so I think, 'Oh it was just this fantastic (thing), everything was so cool. It's so effortless.' So we're trying to just do all the good stuff.



Kim McAuliffe on playing with Girlschool:

You don't really think about it, you just do it. It's fun -- and what else would we do? Funny enough, when I was having to write for the new album, yeah, I'd be sitting out in the garden going through stuff. We didn't get anything (inspiration) from the trees or anything. I'm not that hippy-ish.



Carrie Akre of Hammerbox/Goodness on developing her voice:

(Mrs. Woolridge) had us do training. She had you really think about what can you do with that voice of yours? 'Here's what we can get out of it' or 'here's how you sing this song.' A lot of choir parts can be really difficult: it's breath, it's tone, it's projecting, it's how do you make those notes and how do you come up and high and down and all over the place?



Joey Shithead on DOA's longevity:

DOA is really held together all these years by many rolls of gaffe tape (laughter). It's really a political philosophy, I guess. One of the big things about DOA, there always had to be a sense of camaraderie, being friends with the other people in the band. My philosophy really is just to get up there and try and enact change. One that I really take as my example is one of my heroes would be Pete Seeger. That guy has been going at for a good 70 years doing great things for people from being an activist, to being a great songwriter, to teaching people music, reviving folk music at various times. Just doing a lot of really, really cool stuff with his voice and his banjo and his ability. So if I can end up doing a quarter of what he did, I think I'd be doing really, really well.



Ian MacKaye on his career:

I don't think, 'Wow, I've really accomplished so much' or, 'Wow, I've really affected culture' (laughs). I just can't think like that, because my work is always in front of me. I think at the time, all we were doing was putting out those singles, because that's what was in front of us. And now I'm trying to finish this record with Amy and work on the archives stuff. It's what's in front of me. I just do the work, that's all I've ever done.



Franz Stahl on the dynamic when rocking out with his brother Pete in Scream:

I don't think about it too much, it seems like it's always there. It can be really heady sometimes with my brother. Our relationship is a lot different than with the other guys. The other guys are your wives -- your brother is your brother.