(Note: my Straight interview with Joey "Shithead" Keithley about his retiring DOA can be read here).
DOA by Cindy Metherel, not to be reused without permissionFor a guy who has listened to DOA for thirty of their thirty-five years, I really haven't seen the band that often. The classic lineup - with Joe, Rampage, Biscuits, and Dave Gregg - had already disbanded by the time I first heard of them, in 1982, at age 14, but I had innumerable chances to see them in the years after that, starting out roughly when Dimwit (RIP) and Brian Goble were the rhythm section. There were all sorts of obstacles: as a teenager in Maple Ridge, there were few transportation options in the 1980's, and no buses that ran so late as to allow me to get home after gigs. I could see arena rock shows, which started and ended earlier, and were big enough to motivate Pacific Coach Lines, then the main transit provider, to add extra buses, but punk gigs typically ran late, and generally were held in bars, which I couldn't get into anyhow. There were probably a few all ages DOA shows back then, but I never went to one: the only time I saw Joey Shithead on stage in the 1980's was when he was serving as support for the Dead Kennedys, at the York Theatre, in 1984.
Excuses aside, I guess I can admit now that the main reason that I never took advantage of my chances to see DOA back then was that they scared me. I took their slogans at face value. I remember, as a teenager, turning over my LP of Bloodied But Unbowed and contemplating the eyes of the cheetah pictured there and the legend, "We want a world so free that we can run wild." This was around the same time as the Right To Be Wild "Free the Five" benefit single, with DOA singing songs like "Burn It Down," and the idea of DOA running wild was kind of an intimidating one. In my mind, I imagined a band who might leap off the stage and start assaulting people with chainsaws or hockey sticks or guitars or something. Did I REALLY want DOA to run wild in my world? I had their gig posters on my walls, listened to their albums - up until about 1987, when True (North) Strong and Free came out, but had no Canadian pressing, which irritated me, I had every 7", EP, and LP they'd released. Still, I never once went to see'em play.
I've caught them six times as an adult. I'm pretty sure no two lineups were ever the same. It was fun seeing them grace the same stage as Noam Chomsky and Jack Layton at an anti-Iraq war protest, circa 2004 - and I snapped a few photos, as Joe led the band (also featuring Dan Yaremko and the Great Baldini) through a memorable cover of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" - that's a link to the studio version, but wait til the band kicks in; it's pretty exciting.
DOA 2004, by Allan MacInnis
However, the two most memorable shows were the Vancouver Complication gig, when Dan Yaremko graciously ceded the bass to Randy Rampage, and Rampage - a man who has serious rockstar charisma - played several DOA classics with the band, then led a giant ensemble band in a highly memorable version of the Stooges "No Fun." The Dishrags may have stolen the show, but Rampage was clearly in great form that night. Shortly after that gig - and after my first conversation with Joe, for Discorder magazine - I caught the band (circa 2007?) at Richards on Richards with The Rebel Spell and, I think, The Furies - my first time seeing either band.
And my God: DOA was amazing that night. The lineup was Shithead-Rampage-the Great Baldini, and Joe and Rampage leapt about with an astonishing amount of energy: the dynamic between them was absolutely electric, two old school punk pros in top form. A few months later, I caught the two (and maybe a different drummer) when DOA opened for Jello Biafra and the Melvins at, I think, the Croatian Cultural Centre. It seemed nowhere as inspired a gig; maybe I wasn't in the right mood, or maybe the relationship between Joe and Rampage was wearing thin (Yaremko replaced Rampage for good in 2008), but whatever the cause, it had nothing on the sheer juice of that Richards on Richards gig.
I've seen DOA a couple of times since then, though not often, since, with my relocation to Maple Ridge in 2009, gigs are once again somewhat challenging for me to see; I'm a non-driver, and there is still no late night bus running between Vancouver and Maple Ridge. I'm excited to be going to see the band on a big night, on Friday, and very curious what guests Joe might drag up onto the stage. (I have a secret fantasy that Jello might come to town for this show and we'll get a rousing performance of "Full Metal Jackoff," but if any such things have been discussed, Joe wasn't letting any secrets slip when I spoke to him for The Straight. Certainly I don't expect to see Dave Gregg or Chuck Biscuits). And almost as much as I'm looking forward to seeing DOA, I'm looking forward to seeing what Rampage's band does on Friday; I hope we can look forward to a version of "Livin' on Borrowed Time," off his old solo EP - the one with the awesome, endless Benny Doro solo! You can stream an MP3 of it here, on his official site, if you don't know it - if you like rock music of ANY form, you'll get a charge out of it (Rampage told me at the Richards show that he wrote the song in something like fifteen minutes).
Anyhow, since I had a photographer with me for that Richards on Richards show, Cindy Metherel, I thought I'd post some photos of that night, including a few I've never used before. Whatta night that was - tho' here's hoping Friday and Saturday's gigs at the Rickshaw kick its ass (which is probably humanly impossible, but who knows...).
All photos below by Cindy Metherel, not to be reused without permission:
Photos by Cindy Metherel, not to be reused without permission!