Volume 92, Issue 24

Friday, October 16, 1998

arresting developments


ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
 

Anarchy and atheism come Dead on Arrival


Gazette file photo
YEAH, I'M LOOKIN' AT YOU PUNK! Punk-rockin' legends D.O.A. are on arrival – they'll be scaring the kids tonight at Call the Office.

By Mark Lewandowski

Gazette Staff

Joey Kiethley is the consummate shit disturber, a trait which has earned the man a fitting nickname – Shithead. This name has followed Kiethley until the present and his band, D.O.A., is touring Canada to celebrate.

There is also the fact that the Vancouver band has turned 20 and started its own record label.

"We did a 20th anniversary alumni show in Vancouver," Kiethley relates. "It was a blast because we went through various line-ups with whoever could make it or was still alive. We played our songs chronologically and wound up with what I call Mega-D.O.A. – three drummers, four bass, five guitars and others just standing around making a scene." A mega-idea that D.O.A. will be repeating with the Dog Eat Dogma on this tour.

There are two types of people in this world. Those who don't know D.O.A. and those that have at some point been frightened by them. But what can be expected from a band that has given so much for so long?

"Our music is basically punk rock laced with a bit of reggae and a few other change-ups, but sometimes we just play straight ahead rock," Kiethley muses. "We actually popularized the term hardcore [from the band's debut album, Hardcore] but that phrase has changed a lot these days."

This hardcore attitude has led Kiethley into some strange situations. "We had just played a show in San Francisco and the next night was the Dead Kennedys' show. I had smuggled in beer and the bouncer nicely asked me to take it back out, so I shook it up and sprayed him in the face. I got strong-armed and thrown out of the club but [lead singer Jello] Biafra stopped the show and said 'No No, let him back, he's gotta see the show' – so we became pals ever since," Kiethly reminisces.

The friendship led to years of touring up and down the West Coast circuit with fellow punk-rockers Black Flag, The Avengers, Eels and others – the forerunners of a punk scene which thrives to this day.

"We pushed into the continent like punk rock pioneers and nobody knew us," Kiethley summarizes. "But the next night there were four or five opening bands ready to play." These are the type of stories that even his friends will be telling their grandkids.

But not everyone believed in Kiethley's punk idealism – like the guys who organized a benefit for Expo Evictees at Stanley Park in Vancouver. "It was like D.O.A. unplugged because they figured our fans would trample the flowers and shrubbery at the park while our music would frighten animals at the zoo," Kiethley laughs. Not everybody's a punk at heart.

But Kiethley sure is, as he describes the D.O.A. philosophy.

"People should try to take control of their own lives and think for themselves, that's just basic anarchism," he explains. "But it's a hard one to do because not everybody can work for themselves. Everyone has periods where they have to work for someone they just can't stand just to get by. People have to nurture something they really want to do. It's a long road but if you have the determination you'll end up a lot happier."

This is a philosophy which has led to D.O.A.'s own Sudden Death record label and over 20 years of bucking the system.


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Copyright The Gazette 1998