Interview: D.O.A.

by mike calabro


This interview had to be rescheduled many times. I suppose I can take all the blame. The first time Joey called me, I did not have my questions ready, so I had to lie and tell him I had some important matters to attend to and asked if he could call me later that night. He prolly knew I was full of shit but was polite enough not to call me on it. I wrote all the questions that I had steaming in my head for the past week and came up with a few more after some internet research. I received tons of info from Joey’s very own personal website ( I was shocked to see that the man who invented the term Hardcore even had a website. But enough about Joey, lets get back to me. With questions and my tape recorder in hand I was ready to interview one of punk’s greats. Fuck, I forgot the little gizmo that hooks the phone up to the recorder. The phone rings. The excuse I had this time was so bad, I no longer remember it. After 2 more weeks of me being a loser I was finally ready. The phone rings, I hit record and I pick it up. Hello? Hello? Fuck, hang up. This repeats a few times until I toss the phone across the room like a 5 year old that refuses to take his Ritalin. I switch phones, it rings and this doomed interview finally starts. If my editor ever finds out what a slack ass I am, he will never give me another assignment again.

Side Note: Dear Reader, After all of my initial slacking, it took me over a month to turn in the final interview. Please send letters to the editor telling him how great I am in order to save my ass. Thanks, Mike.

It¹s like this interview is doomed to never happen.
Yea, it seems like the odds are working against us.

So, you¹re from Canada, eh?
(Giggles.) Yea. Yea. We are from Canada.

Does that mean you’re a lumberjack?
I have been a lumberjack believe it or not. I know how to use a chainsaw and have cut down lots of trees and stuff like that. I¹ve been a bouncer. I¹ve been a lumberjack, taxi driver, punk rock musician and I currently run a record label. I’ve run for the Green Party 3 times up here. I’ve been an actor. I have been a talk show host on the radio. So I’ve had a checkered career.

What’s the dealio with the musical chainsaws?
There are a couple of albums that have chainsaws on them. There are three songs. One’s called ³Lumberjack City², which is the DOA life story. There is another one called ³Cut Time² and there is a third one called ³Unchained Melody².

I imagine everyone up in Canada just runs around cutting shit up.
Well, one of the songs is about Canada and being a lumberjack and everything that it entails. The other one is about cutting people up with a chainsaw in revenge. ³Cut Time² is about cutting people up in different choice cuts, flank or loin or whatever.

Hopefully I am not invited to dinner at your place.
We take the chainsaw and tune it up to the track. We thought of this long before that band Jackal did. They were some Œ80’s metal band that were using chainsaws. We thought of the idea way before they did.

I think that DOA wear less makeup than they do.
I would hope. (Laughs again) Lumberjacks and real men DON’T NEED MAKEUP.

Can you teach the readers of Modern Fix some Canadian cuss words?
Hey Mike, did you get a copy of ³Win the Battle²?

Well I am gonna send you one because it has a little short course on how to speak Canadian. I will give you a quick example. Instead of saying something is great; you shorten it and say ³scgrate². Or instead of it¹s excellent you say ³sexcellant². If something is cool it¹s ³school². Oh, here is a real famous one. When you go like, ³yes I understand², you go, ³Yeah No². So you just drop the ³I² out.

That’s pretty school.
Yea, scgrate.

I feel gay now. Let’s talk about something manly…say, hockey and punk rock.
We have played hockey all of our lives. There were a few albums made by some of hockey’s greats like Phil Esposito. Marcel Dion of the LA Kings made some hockey rock records which were absolutely terrible beyond belief. This was around 1970 or ’71. The real national anthem of Canada is ³Taking Care of Business². So we did a cover to that song and made a video of it where we were all wearing lumberjack shirts and playing hockey against a gang of evil businessmen. So after that, everywhere we go, people challenge us to a game. They usually have twelve to fifteen guys ready to beat the crap out of us and we just have three or four. There is always a game going on in Canada. You drop a hockey puck and everyone will join in.

Canadians are well known for drinking. Is Canuck booze better than others?
In the way of beer, my favorite would be Newcastle Brown Ale.

You’re not a real Canadian. Aren’t you supposed to only drink Canadian swill?
Well ya know. I suppose the best Canadian beer would be (loooong pause with lots of ums and ahhs). Well there are piles of good micros up here.

I prefer a nice cheap Kokanee. I really like looking for the hidden sasquatch on each bottle.
Ah no. Kokanee is terrible. It’s just marketed widely, but only sasquatches can drink that beer. One of our bands, The Real McKenzies was sponsored by Kokanee and they went to a Kokanee sponsored convention. A newspaper guy overheard one of the McKenzies say “Ah, we can’t drink this fucking piss”. So they got kicked off the sponsorship deal and received no more free beer. Other ones to avoid are LaBatt¹s Blue or Molson Canadian. That shit is ass.

Why do Canadians hate Americans?
It’s good to have a little rivalry. Especially if you go up there with a junior hockey team.

Your label only presses Canadian bands. Many of your songs sound Anti-American such as in ³Death to Multi-Nationals². Do you hate all Americans or just me?
It’s not really American hatred. It’s more of a hatred of people like George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft and hatred of McDonalds and Starbucks. It’s definitely not anti-American it more like anti-Corporate America. There is a big difference. I have tons of friends in the states and have played thousands of shows there. It’s always fun at DOA shows. Lots of really cool people show up. Well, not always, but a lot.

Being a rock star you must get tons of diseases like Monkey Pox and West Nile. Each year it seems that more and more diseases are popping up. Is all this coming from Canadian Rock Stars?
(Laughs) One scientist came up with a theory that holds a lot of water. Like with the Chicken Flu or something like that. About 4 years ago that came from Gwon Dong province in southern China. SARS also came out of Gwon Dong. What this scientist was saying is that since people have newly attained wealth there, they have been importing a lot of animals from the jungles of Cambodia, Vietnam, Burma and places like that. So all of a sudden all these people are exposed to diseases that they have no natural immunity to. Then it all spreads from there. I think that the theory makes sense. Then if you think about AIDS coming from animals in Africa, it all just seems to make sense.

So the Canadian government did not invent all these trendy new diseases? No conspiracy theories?
I don’t think so. I think you can apply conspiracy theories to 911 for sure.

When is your book coming out?
It’s out November the first. (Me being a lazy fuck got this article in a month late) it’s called “I Shithead. A Life in Punk”.

Care to give the book some free advertising?
Yea, you can get it through . The publisher is Arsenal Pulp Press. The book is chock full of activist stories and funny stories and stupid stories. It’s a good read with about 300 pages. I spent the first half of the year writing it. It details the first 13 years of DOA and gives a summary of about the last 10. It just got too long and we were running out of time. It was 50% longer than it should have been so we had to chop it down a bit. It’s pretty detailed and has lots of interesting stuff in it.

Do your kid’s friends call you Mr. Shithead or does Joey suffice?
Everybody calls me MR. up here. Mr. Shithead or Mr. Keithley. It doesn’t matter. If they don’t, they don’t get far.

What is the difference between political punk and hippy music?
It all depends on what kind of hippies you are talking about. Some hippies can be very aimless and get nothing done. The original Œ60’s hippies were some pretty serious people who ended up doing some good stuff. They did a lot of stuff to stop the Vietnam War. They changed people’s attitudes and made North America and western Europe a bit more understanding places to live in than it was in the Œ50’s and early Œ60’s. To be a hippy now really doesn’t bother me. People can be whatever they want. The ultimate crisscross here is when in the early Œ90’s brought the Crusty Movement. It was real popular in Europe, especially in England. You had punks that were kinda like hippies in certain regards.

Kinda like current day trustafarians that dwell in areas like Boulder and Santa Cruz?
Yea you got it. They don’t bathe a lot and have dreadlocks. Instead of having peace signs, they have Crass symbols sewn to their jackets. They have some dogs and stuff like that. The Crusty movement is not as big as it used to be. The movement is the ultimate joining of punks and hippies. Whether that is good or not is up to the individual to decide. I don’t mind them myself.

How many times have you been in jail for your political beliefs?
I only been arrested once. Basically, the cops came down and snagged us at a club in Vancouver called the Smiling Buddha, which is the first punk rock club in Vancouver. They busted the place up for political reasons. They didn’t like us. So I spent one night in the tank.

That is a really weak story. Was there any death, destruction or animal rapes involved?
All right. So, we were watching the Subhumans. Not the English ones, but the Canadian ones. Nine or ten cops came in and tapped me on the shoulder and said “You’re coming with me”. I responded “What for?”. They told me I was drunk and disorderly. Now, I only had two beers. I¹ve been drunk and disorderly enough times to know that this time I wasn’t. I stood up and knocked over two cops so they immediately put me in a choke-hold and kicked me in the nuts. After passing out from the choke-hold I woke up in the back of the police van with about 15 other guys. They took us in and threw us all in the holding tank. We started raising a ruckus and the cops came in and grabbed one of my buddies and beat the crap out of him. A bunch of our friends came down and sat in the waiting room at the police station and tried to do a ³free the punks² type of thing. That’s a bit of a more complete version of the story. If you want to read this story and others in detail, then buy my book. It will be knocking Michael Moore off the New York Times best seller list.

You have any weed on ya?
The other day the Supreme Court of Canada said that the possession of pot is not illegal in Canada although the police say they will still arrest you. In Vancouver they generally don’t arrest you if you have a small amount. They just take it away from you. You can have pot but it is illegal to sell it. British Columbia (BC) is the most lax province. You can probably get away with being caught with an ounce in your pocket. The rest of Canada is more redneck about it. BC is the pot Mecca of North America. We are not as liberal as Amsterdam. Personally I don’t smoke pot. Do you know why?

Because you are scared?
No. I can’t tune my guitar while on pot. Have you ever seen a Grateful Dead concert?

Umm, fuck no.
I saw them once when I was much younger and they spent half the time tuning. So I decided that when you smoke pot you can¹t tune your guitar. This was before everybody had electronic tuners.

I thought all musicians are supposed to have problems with drugs. Do you have any problems?
There was never a problem really. The hard drugs are not recommended for anybody. I lost too many friends from heroin and stuff like that. I think it’s the biggest waste of time. Hard drugs are not a healthy thing. Steer clear kids. My best friend and drummer in DOA died from heroin. He was not a junkie. He just had a hit that was too strong, too pure. Knocked him right off.

Your new record sucks. It doesn’t sound like any of the “cool” bubblegum punk that is on MTV today. How the hell you gonna sell your record if you ain’t on MTV? I suggest you guys get some backup dancers and shit.
(long pause) Ahh, that would be one solution. I don’t think that’s the one for DOA. I don’t give a fuck if it doesn’t sound like anything. We just write songs and come up with what we want to play. If people like it or don’t, that’s their choice. We didn’t think the record should sound like melodic pop punk. It’s just not our style.

Have you heard from Jello (Biafra) lately?
I talk to him every few months to see how he is doing. He is not very happy these days, considering what is going on with the lawsuits with the ex-members. DOA has been on about 10 different record labels and Alternative Tentacles (Jello’s label) has been the fairest of them all.
They paid us on time. They were completely honest. I have nothing but good things to say about Jello. He is a good guy and has done a lot for people. But, I gotta go.