D.O.A.'s Joey Keithley says life and punk will go on

In 1978, when the Sex Pistols and Ramones were revolutionizing music, Joey Keithley was a pissed-off young man in Vancouver, Canada. He decided to start his own punk rock band, D.O.A., which has as its motto the phrase "Talk minus action equals zero." Joey Keithley, center, has led the punk band D.O.A. since 1978.

Over the past 26 years, Keithley and D.O.A. have lived that motto through 3,000 shows, 10 vans, 30 countries and, he claims, 212,000 beers. Known for their brash, political style of punk, D.O.A. has toured with all the greats:

Nirvana, the Dead Kennedys, the Clash and Green Day, among many others.

Keithley, also known as Joey Shithead, has also been a political activist and Green Party candidate in his hometown. In the past year, his band has released a new album, Live Free Or Die, and Keithley has written I, Shithead: A Life In Punk, a hilarious autobiography.

He's taking D.O.A. out on the road again, he says, not out of nostalgia but out of a need to keep active and inspire others. After the election last week, he chatted on the phone with NUVO about the results and his unique life story.

On the book:

It came out of the endless storytelling. Whenever we'd have someone new in the band or a new crew member, or a friend traveling along, I'd be sitting in the van with nothing to do. What else is there to do but tell stories? Then one story would spark another story. My memory is fairly good on most things, so I turned that into a spoken word thing. Then the idea for a book came.

When I signed the book contract it hit me that I actually had to write a book. I want the book to be like you're sitting down with me having a beer.

On the origins of punk:

When I got attracted to punk rock in the first place, I was about 20 and I first heard the Ramones and I thought, wow, this is alive.

These guys have rebellion and anti-authoritarianism. Whether they were saying that overtly, they were saying that. Punk rock embodied the great spirit of the underground jazz of the '40s and '50s, the really good early folk music with Woody Guthrie and the good part of the counterculture from the '60s. It had that same spirit. Everyone who was around at that time was like, wow, that's ALIVE. And people realized that immediately. And there were people on the outside saying how bad this music was, but they didn't realize what was making us feel that way, what was making us feel alive.

I don't care about punk rock. Music that's passionate, and lyrics that say something, that's what counts to me.

On the re-election of George W. Bush:

The big thing that people have to realize is that this is not the end. This is the beginning. Anyone who doesn't agree with the bullshit from the right-wing evangelicals and mainstream society, this is not a sign to give up. This is a sign to redouble your effort.

It's not only at the voting booth, right? People have got to realize that real change starts right in your neighborhood, with your friends and your family and the people in your little town and stuff like that. Unfortunately, that's the evangelicals and the right-wingers and the right to life people. I think they realize that and they got organized. They beat the Democrats on the ground is what I think they did. They went out and got every single vote they could.

People have been asking me about immigration to Canada and stuff like that. But in the long run, you've really got to stay and fight for your place. That's why I never left Vancouver. We thought many times about moving to New York in the '80s. Maybe we would have been more popular if we would have, maybe we wouldn't. But we grew up in Canada. I've tried a lot of things in my life to make Vancouver a more livable place and try and inspire people.

People have got to keep their chins up. It has to be more than politics. There are other ways to change things. Politics is bullshit, right? Voting for the Democrats, I realized you were picking the best of the worst. This sounds stupid, but I think Bush is going to be really fanatical for about a year and a half and then he's gonna run out of steam. Hopefully he doesn't start another war in the meantime.

On what punk rock gives people:

You realize that you can be motivated. Plus, it's a lot of fun, otherwise people never would have listened to it in the first place, right? You get to blow off steam and it's a good way to meet like-minded people. It's entertaining. Some of the newer punk rock has become stock-and-trade, because punk rock has become an industry unto itself. That's gonna happen with any genre of music if it stays around long enough. It's gonna be co-opted, but I think some of the younger bands are waking up, as evidenced by the Rock Against Bush and such.

People forget that one of the reasons punk rock was so vitriolic and good in the '80s was that there was an anti-force against it, and that was Reagan and his Cabinet. It won't change the government, right, but I think you'll see some really good punk rock over the next four years.

Who: D.O.A.

When: Sunday, Nov. 14, 8:30 p.m.

Where: Birdy's, 71st and Keystone; Ticket prices: TBA


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