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Joey Shithead In Conversation With Musos' Guide

“It was fun back then, but 1977 was 1977”

Joe Keithley, AKA Joey Shithead, is frontman of original hardcore punk band, D.O.A. It’s said that D.O.A even originated the term ‘hardcore’ with their Hardcore’ 81 album.  

Keithley is happy to talk about the early years of punk; “The best guy I ever wrote songs with was Chuck Biscuits. He is a great drummer of course. Later I started songwriting with Wimpy, my old buddy who just passed away recently. He wrote on 3 albums; Murder, 13 Flavours Of Doom, and Black Spot. That was a powerful combo with him in the band.” But he’d rather look forward than back.

D.O.A. are getting ready to release their 15th album, “It's called Hard Rain Falling. We'll have copies when we get to Dublin. It just shipped off last week. The CDs will be ready by then but the vinyl won't be ready til August. It came out good, we’re really happy with it.”  

“There are 12 songs. Some political songs, songs about racism, street gangs, a song called 'Warmonger'. One called 'The Cops Shot A Kid' about stuff in Ferguson, Maryland and New York City. There's a cover of 'Johnny Too Bad' by The Slickers, from The Harder They Come soundtrack.”

In July the band will play their first show in Dublin after nearly 40 years on the road. “The one time we tried to play Dublin was in 1994 and the guy booked it on Easter weekend. It scheduled on the Good Friday so we got there and the gig was cancelled. We drove by the Guinness brewery to at least get a pint of Guinness while were there but of course the pubs were closed. So we drove up to Belfast and had an extra night there. The only places we played in '94 were Cork and Belfast.”

The Irish shows may have something to do with a new member of D.O.A. “Our new drummer is an Irish guy from Derry. He grew up in Canada but still goes back there a lot. His name is Paddy Duddy so he got some abuse over his name, as everyone does in school. He's been with the band for 2 years now.”

Joe spoke to Musos’ Guide in advance of the new tour.

Musos’ Guide: You're almost 60 now, I'm shocked.

Joe Keithley: So am I! I just had my 59th birthday a couple of weeks ago. Time moves on. I feel pretty good. I can still get up there and kick ass. I take Pete Seeger as a role model. He was still playing gigs til he was 93 so that’s the way I'm looking at it.

We all change as time goes on. Back when D.O.A. started I was an angry young man, I may not be that young but I'm still angry. I'm not going to pretend that I'm thirty cos I'm not. My ideals, I don't know that they have changed, I'm still very political. I love music and playing music. Those things are still the same.

You have to change and to adapt. I think that's why D.O.A. is still going and still popular. We have a perspective of being progressive, writing new songs that talk about what's going on at that time. That way D.O.A. doesn't become a punk rock nostalgia band. There's nothing wrong with talking about the old days. It was fun back then, but 1977 was 1977. That was a hell of a long time ago. The world has changed an awful lot since then and you have to adapt and change with the times or you won't survive.

MG: D.O.A. are almost the archetypal punk band, but you haven't put out the same album twice.

Joe: It's really important. You can be more popular if you hit a formula and you stick to it. I never thought that that was artistically satisfying. It's better to come up with new sounds or take someone else's take on the style and adapt that for yourself. I think that's more interesting. Of course someone might hear it and say this doesn't sound like the sound on my favourite album but time’s gonna march on, bands have to too. If they don't they can really get stuck in a period sound. I think bands have a rough time escaping that and can get stuck in a sound.

MG: Will you be back in the political arena again?

Joe: I tried to run in 2013 for formal politician. I’ve considered myself an informal politician for the last 30-35 years. I tried to run three times but I didn't make it. We have another provincial election for British Colombia on here in 2 years so I have a really good chance to be a candidate then.

This current one is a by-election. My friend is an old time punk rocker and he's running for the Green Party. I think he's got a pretty decent chance. The Greens are catching on quite a bit. Their direction is quite different to the European Greens. I don't know what it's like in Ireland but in Germany a lot of people can't stand the Green Party. The Green Party is pretty new here and unsullied by corruption and such, basically just trying to help people.

The biggest priority is trying to change the world from fossil fuels and get to renewable energy. There's a really big debate going on in Canada. There was oil found in Alberta from bitumen; oil, silt and sand and it has to be separated. The oil companies want to build four separate pipelines; one going east, one going south to the gulf of Mexico and two going through British Columbia, one of the last unspoiled forest and mountain areas in the world. So we want to put our foot down and stop that.

MG: You gave free solo acoustic performances in support of the Occupy protests. How did the D.O.A. material translate acoustically?

Joe: Well, you slow it down a bit. It's hard to play the really fast stuff. A lot of D.O.A. stuff would have a backbeat like the old rock n roll style. We took that in the '70s and speeded it up quite a bit. It's hard to make that work without the drums so take it down to about two thirds the speed with just the guitar. You can hear the vocal a bit better. You don't need earplugs.

You get the general intent across. You can take any song and rearrange it. You can make it acoustic, make it punk rock, make it ska, even hip hop. There's a lot you can do in how you approach the song, if it's a good song.

MG: I could picture you like Woody Guthrie, touring the world with your guitar on your back. Would you consider doing a solo acoustic tour like Bob Mould?

Joe: Yes and no. I'll be doing an acoustic gig this Friday for the Green Party. A friend of mine is running so we're doing a benefit for him. I find it hugely more fun to tour with the band. Bob’s an old friend of mine. He’s written some great songs. Bob can pull it off. He’s a good draw, people would go see him wherever he was.

MG: You still have the love of playing music?

Joe: My son and I, we jam together. He plays guitar, I play drums. We play 'Alternative Ulster'. Fantastic song!

Hard Rain Falling is available from amazon & iTunes and you can catch D.O.A. live in the UK & Ireland on the following dates:- 


June 25th

London, GBR

The Pipeline



June 26th

Norwich, GBR

The Owl Sanctuary



June 27th

York, GBR




June 28th

Glasgow, GBR

Nice N Sleazy



June 29th

Gateshead, GBR

Black Bull



June 30th

Manchester, GBR

Star and Garter



July 1st

Derry, IRL

Sandino's Cafe Bar



July 2nd

Belfast, IRL




July 3rd

Dublin, IRL




July 5th

Bristol, GBR

The Fleece

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