Fredericton Locals’ Brandon Hachey Chats with D.O.A’s Joey Shithead

D.O.A’s Joey Shithead took the time last week to talk to first time Fredericton Locals contributor Brandon Hachey.  Here is their conversation. It’s a little long, BUT well worth the read! Enjoy!

By: Brandon Hachey

Fredlocals: This tour marks 35 years of D.O.A.

Joey: Yeah, it’s close to it.

Fredlocals: And the second farewell tour you have done as well,

Joey: Well the only one we did before was in 1989, end of ’89, into ’90, yeah ’90 I guess. We went down the west coast to California and back, and that was the only farewell we did, then the band broke up for like 2 years.

Fredlocals: so is this finally the end of it for you guys do you think?

Joey: it’s really based on my running for politics in British Columbia, I’m running for the NDP right, so if I win the election D.O.A is out of the running for 4 years, if I win 2 terms, 8 years, 3 terms, 12 years. If I get defeated we will probably play again. So I mean, I’m not gonna stop playing music but if I was elected I would surely have to pay a lot of attention and time to it

Fredlocals: definitely so, you can’t just go on tour and leave for a month, 2 months.

Joey: it’s not fair to your constituents and you should be kicked out of office if that’s what you did. That is the number 1 thing people hate, 2 things with politicians, they don’t connect with them, they don’t listen to them, and they don’t work their ass off to do be job for them.

Fredlocals: which, I mean, is why you’re there in the first place

Joey: exactly

Fredlocals: 14 studio albums, a live release, a slew of 7″s, singles, splits, a solo record from yourself, countless shows, is there anything throughout the years that really stands out to you, in terms of tours, maybe a recording session anything of the sort?

Joey: yeah like tons of things, it’s really hard to pick 1 right, you know, but I think probably one of the best records we made was, the first 3 records people always remember like Something Better Change, Hardcore ’81, War on 45, and that happens pretty well with every band, people always remember the first 2, 3 albums as the best albums. Like for me, I love Iggy Pop, so what are the best albums? The 3 albums with The Stooges. I mean, he’s done lots of great songs since then, but it’s the same thing. And the one we did with Jello Biafra is called Last Scream of the Missing Neighbours, that was a great record. I think some of the best shows would probably be in Europe. I would say either the U.K., Germany, and especially we had some really great ones in Italy.

Fredlocals: Italy, really?

Joey: Italy has been one of our best spots over the years.

Fredlocals: Thats not one of the spots I’ve heard really for punk rock.

Joey: yeah well it’s because the people are either into punk or they’re leftist or political or anarchist or whatever right, would be attracted to D.O.A. And we’ve just had this really strong reputation on this front, the political front. So we’d get way bigger crowds there than anywhere else. At times you get like 3000 people show up. I Germany you get like 500 or 1000, but you go to Italy and its fucking great.

Fredlocals: and they’re getting the message too

Joey: yeah even though 20 years ago it was really hard to find anyone down there that spoke English, it’s way easier now. They got the idea, they understood the songs like General Strike, The Prisoner, Race Riot, stuff like that, sort of hallmark D.O.A. songs right. So yeah, a few shows over there I would have to say would be the highlights.

Fredlocals: So you have been active in politics for many years like you were saying, is this something you would have ever imagined when you started D.O.A.? That you would be running for office.

Joey: You know I really considered it when I was 18, 19, 20, I was always really into politics. I’d say I became an activist when I was about 16, like leaving high school and went to protest these nuclear bomb testings by the Americans near British Columbia. So I was really heavily into following politics in Canada and the U.S., around the world. In school I thought I was going to be a hockey player, play for the Boston Bruins, but I was nowhere near good enough for that. But the other thing I had was a real love for music and a love for history and politics, right, so now it just seems like a natural step for me, because I wanted to do this years ago but we put out a single called Disco Sucks and it took off and we just started traveling the world, and it’s like, 34 years later, hence now I’m a middle aged man and I’ve had a great time playing punk rock, I’m going to leave it for a while I think which is ok too, right. It seems like an extension of D.O.A. to me. Some people would have a hard time fathoming that, they think, “oh, ok, punk rock guy running for politics”, but it’s like, ok, you’ve had an actor that was president of the U.S., a playwrite was the president of the Czech Republic and so on, there’s lots of examples where people from the artistic community, whatever their take on politics is, right or left or centre, can get involved.

Fredlocals: so you’ve made a shift from the Green Party to NDP actually.

Joey: that’s right, I ran for the Green Party twice, in ’96 and ’01, in B.C., in Burnaby, where I grew up. After I lost the ’01 election I just let my Green Party membership lapse, and I didn’t really belong to a party. But I did find at the Green Party has some great environmental ideas, but I found their overall plan and their policies were either non-existent or some social conservatives had moved into the party. Like it was with (Elizabeth) May for example, who says she doesn’t believe in a woman’s right have an abortion. I thought this was just really unacceptable in this day and age. So albeit I still have lots of friends in the Green Party, I don’t think that they have a cohesive policy and some of the people in it don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about. Which can be said of any party of course, right? But Specifically I felt that they had become a little bit, it’s just a little bit loosey-goosey to me and I thought the NDP had a much better overall strategy. I was in the NDP back when I was 18, 19, 20, before I got really into music, I was a door knocker, sign maker, all that kind of stuff right, so I’ve got a history with them.

Fredlocals: You were voted one of B.C.s most influential people of all time by the Vancouver Sun, this was in 2008 I believe, for your music and activism, and Chris Hannah of Propagandhi was voted one of Canada’s worst citizens for his actions.


Fredlocals: what’s your take on this?

Joey: I think that’s totally wrong, I think Propagandhi is one of the best bands to come out of the country. I don’t agree. Those guys are great, why is he a bad citizen?

Fredlocals: for speaking up against the injustices.

Joey: well that makes him… that’s just part of democracy. Every time some idiot, take the conservatives for example, they don’t like anyone to say anything against what they’re doing. You know what, grab a brain, that’s part of democracy. People are not going to agree with you. If you’re part of activism, like I consider Propagandhi a really good activist band, great songs, great view point, they’ve got the right to say anything they want. That’s why it’s called democracy, so whoever said he’s the worst citizen has obviously got their head up their ass.

Fredlocals: After the music’s done, or not done, but once you pursuit into politics are you going to continue on with Sudden Death Records?

Joey: yeah the label will go, you know what, I’m hoping my youngest son Clayton, he’s 16, he’s an aspiring film maker, he’s a guitar player, and I’m hoping to train him the the pursuit of it. I can set him up, help manage his band, or his film career, stuff like that. Not with using political influence, but through show business people that I know. The entertainment business is big in Vancouver. The label wouldn’t be as active, and I think I’d like to try some different stuff, like a funny country record, a jazz album. It wouldn’t be D.O.A.

 Fredlocals: What are some bands on the label to keep an eye out for?

Joey: Well one really good one we did a studio album for, 8 Percent, is the name of the album, is The Jolts, from Vancouver, really great rock/punk band, they rip it up, and it looks like we’re reproducing a live album from them as well. I’ve got my eye on a few other bands out west. We don’t have tons of new bands at the moment. For a few years we got into reissuing some of the original Vancouver bands like The Modernettes, Young Canadians, Pointed Sticks, this is the original Vancouver scene, circa 78-82, back when we were all 20 years old, 200 years ago you know.

Fredlocals: You’re considered to be one of the pioneers of Canadian punk rock, and being from the beginning how have you seen the scene change?

Joey: I think it’s good, punk rock is a great genre, because its just this whole question authority, express your outrage against authoritarianism. That’s really why I got into it as a young activist, is because I thought, wow, this is actually the spirit of original rock and roll. It’s wild, it’s rebellious, and out of control. That was just kind of the dangerous exciting thing about it that really made it an interesting genre. It’s been close to 40 years of punk rock, it obviously doesn’t have the same kind of danger or threat. In the old days people used to get beat up for looking like a punk. People were afraid of us, or they thought it was really funny, or they were disgusted. It’s produced lots of great bands over be years, and will continue to do so, but now it’s a genre of music the same was blues is, or country is, or hip hop. The big scenes that made a dent over the years in North American consciousness would be the jazz of the 50′s, was a statement. The early rock, late 50′s. psychedelia of the late 60′s, early 70′s. Punk rock from about 77-83 maybe, and hip hop from 85-90. These were the really big things. And grunge of the 90′s too.

Fredlocals: Songs such as Race Riot and America The Beautiful, do you find them to be as relevant today as when you wrote them?

Joey: Race Riot absolutely. America The Beautiful, absolutely too. America The Beautiful maybe even more so. I love the U.S., I think they’re our best friends and I’ve spent 5 years of my life down there just traveling on tour, probably done a thousand shows down there, and have got hundreds of friends all over the place. It’s just dismay and the split they have in politics. It used to be a lot more open minded.

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