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Hard-core punk legends D.O.A will play in Fredericton for the first time in about 15 years, front man Joe “Shithead” Keithley estimates, and it could be the last.
How concrete that is depends on how Keithley’s bid for BC NDP nominee for Coquitlam-Burke Mountain riding goes. Their current tour wraps up in Sydney, Nova Scotia, later this month.
“We’re calling it the final tour, because I’m going to be in office. I’m confident in it… But if it doesn’t work out, I’ll always have my guitar. I’ll always make music.”
His political ideals are based on fairness and equality, focusing on issues such as affordable housing, and senior care. For Keithley, politics and music isn’t too far of a stretch.
Keithley has always used his music as a political platform, both lyrically, with track titles such as “F***ed Up Ronnie,” “World War III,” and “General Strike,” as well as through playing concerts for causes such as nuclear disarmament, and playing at a few Occupy tent-villages last year.
“I think that music should have a message… Punk kind of came from folk roots, and these songs are usually written for the working class, and to get people thinking and working together.”
Being president of his own record label, Sudden Death Records, has helped him to release albums and tour independently, keeping with the do it yourself (DIY) ethic of hardcore music.
D.O.A has widely been considered from music critics as the founding fathers of hard-core punk, influencing bands such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Green Day. In their humble beginnings, DOA and other formative hardcore bands of the late 70s and early 80s created a DIY network of underground record labels, punk venues, and floors for bands to crash on.
“In ’79, ’82, everyone had been brought to believe that we had to get a big record deal to be able to make it in the music business, and we decided that wasn’t for us. Bands like ourselves, Black Flag, Bad Brains- we went and did it on our own. We’d get in an old van, set up our own shows….Back then we would actually be writing letters or sending out singles to people [looking for places to play],” said Keithley.
When asked whether he saw D.O.A. as still being part of the underground scene, Keithley replied, “We can play anywhere we want really, and we’re well known around the world, so in a way we’re not really.”
D.O.A is touring to promote their new album, We Come In Peace, which features a Clash-like diversity, with ska influenced tracks such as “We Occupy”, the reggae/dub rhythms of “Walk Through this World”, and Celtic punk a la Dropkick Murphys on “Dirty Bastard”.
“We’d done things with ska and reggae before,” said Keithley. “The more mid-tempo stuff gives us a chance to open it up and add some variety, and makes the hard, fast stuff stand out more.”
The album also features guest vocalists Jello Biafra of Dead Kennedys fame, and fellow Canuck Ben Kowalewicz of Billy Talent.
“It wasn’t completely planned [to be more diverse], but it wasn’t unconscious either,” said Keithley.