Mike Watt - 2003

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Mike Watt was the bassist and co-founder of San Pedro, CA's Minutemen, one fantastic band with a sound all their own. Buy their albums, buy them now! Buy them why? Buy them HOW! Following the tragic death of his friend and Minutemen singer/guitarist D. Boon, Mike began playing in the dual-bass band DOS with Black Flag bassist Kira (whom he subsequently married, and later divorced - but still plays in a band with!). He then formed fIREHOSE, who put out several albums before calling it a day in the early `90s. Since then, he has released a couple of solo albums, played with J Mascis and Perry Farrell (separately of each other) and done all sorts of kooky other things. He's a supernice guy and agreed to a phone interview with me on a fine brisk July afternoon just days before my 30th birthday. Thank you, Watt!!!! (Not Wattie Buchan of The Exploited fame, though I thank him as well for all the great songs). My questions are in bold; his answers are in regular print, preferably Times Roman.



Uhh. hey! This is Mark calling from Citizine?

This is Watt!

Hey! How are you doing?


Okay. Are you alright?

What's that?

Are you alright?

What do you mean?

You sound asleep.

No, I woke up at 4:30 in the - I always get up really early. I've already paddled - on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, I paddle a kayak in the harbor here. On the other days, I pedal a bike. I'm an early morning man. I only stay up late when I have a gig. I don't know how old you are, but I'm at 45 and things change!

I'm about to turn 30!

Well, probably not for all people, but a lot of people, as they get older, start waking up earlier and konking out earlier.

When did you start exercising regularly like that?

When I got a bike. I didn't ride a bike for 22 years. When I was 16, I got a car and thought that stuff was for little kids. I was an asshole! But then a guy moving to Atlanta sold me a bike for five bucks. I live in the harbor here in L.A..- San Pedro, so at 37 years old, I got into riding the bike again. South of LA, I ride along the cliffs, warehouses, everything. I've got great geography out here, so I figured I'd take advantage of it. I wrote the album Contemplating the Engine Room on that bike!

Really? Wow!

Yeah, it was pretty intense for me. But I got a sickness a few years ago, and it might have been from the seat so I got a new seat that puts all the weight on your ass, and started paddling in the kayak, not pedaling as much. Men are weak there - it's fucked up the way a bike has this thing in the middle that all your weight is on. But this new seat is great - you can't go as fast because your ass is holding you up, but it's not killing my fuckin' Johnson and that shit. And in the kayak you just sit there, not using your legs at all. It's all upper arms.

I read about that - that you almost died because of it? Was it that serious?

Oh fuck, it was a hellride. That's what my next record's about. The people saved my life, but they got to it so late, they couldn't tell how it started. They said it was probably a saddle sore. It should've been lanced, but I got misdiagnosed so it got worse. There's a link to a page about all that stuff on my hoot page (http://www.hootpage.com/). It's called "That Illness." You can read about it there. How it happened and everything. This abcess grew inside me and exploded. I had hardly any red blood cells left, because my body was just making white blood cells, trying to fight off this infection. My body had to heal from the inside out.

How did that -

I was in my early 40s; I'm not ready to die. I had 38 days of fever!

Oh my gosh!

I was out of my fucking mind. There was this big hole in me; it exploded and about a gallon of pus came out. The doctor looked at it and said, "Watt, you don't have much time!" So they cut me open, drained me out and cleaned me up. Those guys at L.A. County Hospital, man. A lot of interns right out of med school, some still in med school - they were alot more fired up than these other cats I went to first. My last round of pills was prescribed to me over the phone! Some people are just punching the clock. I see it everywhere. Doctors, writers. Some are fired up and passionate, some people could give a fuck. And not just doctors, people in all endeavors. I think it's a human thing. Some doctors are just like mechanics punching the clock, and some care about what they do. I see a lot of that in music too.

Do you follow a lot of new music still?

I try to. My little brother - he's actually my half-brother, same pop - this cat, our father died 12 years ago of cancer, and I haven't seen this guy since. He was not even two yet. I got an email from him the other day. He's 30 years younger than me - and he's a punk rocker! He read the Michael Azerrad book (Our Band Could Be Your Life) and the Steve Blush book (American Hardcore: A Tribal History). I'm the oldest of all the cousins. I have one who saw me back in the Black Flag, Minutemen days. But none of my other family members were into that stuff, and here my little brother is a punk rocker! And he knows the difference between radio punk and real punk. He's telling me about going to local shows and supporting the scene. I have to admit I don't know a lot of the younger bands. I was in a video for a band called Good Charlotte. I had never heard of `em, but they were nice guys. I played a jury foreman. The whole scene kinda changed in some ways. But there's still some of the old spirit too - young guys who just wanna make bands and put on their own shows. But then there's the other side too, how it became mainstream, which was a big surprise for those bands - Green Day and stuff. It was a big surprise for me too. I thought it'd always be a fringe thing. I never thought real young people would be into it. Even in the 80s, when the young people started getting into the hardcore scene, I still thought it was a fringe thing. When me and D. Boon graduated high school, we could never have imagined that punk would become like a regular phase that teenagers go through. Back then, it was more like the glam and glitter thing.

What year was that? Around what year?

1976. We never went to high school as punk rockers.

There WAS no punk rock, I guess.

Exactly! That's what I mean. So we had a different kind of experience. But I don't want to look down on anybody. A lot of when you encounter things in life is just circumstance - nobody picks when they were born. People like Iggy Pop and Woody Guthrie were doing this stuff long before we found out about it. Someone once told me that the only thing new is you finding out about something. Like nothing's really new, but you reinvent it for yourself and find your inner voice. But saying "Oh, if you're not from a certain period, you're jive," that's fucked up. That's elitist. What's funny is that I never thought of punk as a style of music. We saw the early Hollywood style which was very diverse and wild and crazy, and more a state of mind than a type of music.

Yeah! That's what that - I just finished reading a book over the weekend that was talking about that. We Got The Neutron Bomb? Yeah, that's what everybody was saying.

He ran the Masque, which is where the first gigs were. And also back then in Hollywood, there were different kinds of people involved. A lot were from the art and glam scenes, acting against established rock and roll. Punk was not their first kind of rock and roll. As younger people, they'd already been through a lot of it and were kinda jaded. We were really inspired by seeing those guys in clubs, because we came from arena rock.

You came from Blue Oyster Cult, right?

My first gig was T. Rex in '71. Yeah, Blue Oyster Cult, the Who, Cream, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath. We didn't know about clubs! So this was a big mindblow for us. We were very influenced by early - not just Beefheart and the Stooges, but bands like Wire and the Pop Group had a big effect on us, as well as local guys like Black Flag, the Germs, X, the Bags, the Dils. They had a huge influence on us, because we didn't know there was another way to do music, especially for dorky guys like us! Back then, rock and roll was very far away from where it had begun. It was many years from Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis to Grand Funk or whatever.

Bands who were like "maestros" or, you know, Jimmy Page..

Rock was like a part of television - it was something you could never see you being part of.

Did your audience change into the violent hardcore kids like they were talking about in the book?

Well, the Hollywood scene had burned out by early 80s. They got jaded or whatever, but we weren't done! So these young people from the suburbs were the only ones going to the shows. They were all playing guitar very fast, it was mainly a male thing, and there was no pogo anymore; it became slamming. But we still tried not to be elitist on them. So they were a little later coming - it didn't matter. At least they were coming! But their scene was more social than musical. These were probably their first gigs. They weren't coming from arena rock like us, so it's unfair to try to judge them by that criteria. We were pretty judgmental about ourselves too. We thought we'd spent too much time in arena rock.

Before you started writing your own music?

We didn't know we could write our own music! We were fucking idiots, totally na‹ve. Obviously in 60s, there was a big garage rock thing going on, but we were totally unaware of that! By the time of 70s arena rock, that stuff had not been passed on. Kids are a lot more aware of history now than in those days. We thought Jerry Lee Lewis was your dad's music. It took us much more time to appreciate what people like that were doing.

What was - for you at that time period - the way to find out about all the cool new groups? I mean, without the Internet, without -

The drummer from the Weirdos was from Pedro. I'd read about punk in Creem, but there were no records, so I didn't know what it sounded like. Then we met the drummer from the Weirdos and he told us, "Yeah, we play at this club in Hollywood. You should come down!" I checked it out, and I never looked back. Like most things, it was an accident. I was interested in hearing it after seeing the pictures in Creem, but they made it seem like it was only happening in London and New York. The Damned, the Clash, the Ramones, Sex Pistols. I saw those bands - well, not the Sex Pistols because they wouldn't play in L.A. - but I saw a lot of those bands on their first tour. And I kinda liked `em! Not their second albums - by then, it seemed like they were just playing normal rock and roll - but their first stuff was wild and crazy. Hollywood was pretty wild. And only the Dils had a van! And Greg Ginn had the idea to take this to other towns. He was a big influence on us.

At the time, did it really feel like, "Oh my God, this is something important happening here"? Or was it just your life and you kinda just went to shows and -

It was very important to us!

It's very important to a lot of people who weren't there, believe me. It's important to me and I was -

Yeah, it was really important to us. The difference between the people on the stage and the people in the audience got very small. In arena rock, there was a big difference between the band and the audience. But here, you could be standing next to a guy that was in the next band! It was not like that in arena rock. I remember being at my first gig with D. Boon -

The first show you went to?

Yeah. I remember I turned to him and said, "Man, WE can do this!" I felt empowered right from the first. That's what that scene taught me. Well, one of the things it taught me. The scene taught me a lot of things. That's where I met Raymond Pettibon and learned about art, John Coltrane, Dada, Expressionism. I sure didn't learn any of that in arena rock. For a while, the academia, or. whatever, the people writing in big press, as far as they were concerned, punk was the Sex Pistols and Nirvana, and nothing in between. Hilarious! That's not the way it was. Not for anybody who was in the boat, in the van. But it's interesting that people are now becoming interested in those days, with the Azerrad book and the Blush book. A lot of kids are interested in where punk came from; they come up and ask you questions. But the thing is - I.haven't changed hardly any! I still do things now almost the exact same way I did them then! Don't let a lot of middle people in the way; just get out there and try to do something on your own deal. Try to find out your own way of doing things. All this new wave, alternative - a friend of mine is in the industry sent me a CD of some of the bands she works with. All of the bands sound the same! They all try to sound like Kurt Cobain, with big heavy guitar - it's all the same thing!

Yep. Yeah, it's depressing.

And it's young people doing it.

I wonder if it's because when rock and roll started way way back then, the people playing it had grown up listening to so many different types of things, which is why in the late 60's you had all these bands trying merge classical and jazz and all the stuff they'd been listening to. But these days, this boring, generic rock has been around so long that kids playing now really have - I doubt they've even heard. you know, good music! I just doubt they've heard much outside of their little circle.

I bet the management stuff isn't so much like that though. It's almost like they're playing the same song - they all look like the same guy! They're just playing what they hear on Clear Channel. Imitation is being rewarded. They're learning that f you fit right in the mold, you get rewarded. Musicis no longer a form of expression; it's a means to a lifestyle. MTV pushes, "Look at the house of Korn!" I don't - I don't want to name any bands - but look at their houses! And supposedly it's the establishment they're mad at? Nice values they're pushing. But then there are bands like Sonic Youth, who aren't afraid to use improvisation. Young people are into them; their experimentation is rewarded. But all this cookie cutter rock. We all know about how radio works and who's in charge of what we are. It's the ones putting on the pro-war rallies! So they can get a good deal with the FCC and own every fucking market.

Have you ever been to their web site? Clear Channel's? It has nothing to do with music! Not even entertainment! It's all just marketing and selling advertising. That's all they talk about on the site.

Yep, it's all for these niche providers of lifestyles. You co-op the movement and put the label on fuckin kids' clothes. Artists are not the total victims of this. A lot are totally implicit with this, and not speaking up. A lot of it is because the overhead is so high, like making movies. They hire fuckin focus groups to come up with an ending - well how much are you SPENDING that you can't let the screenwriter pick the ending? And how many tickets do you have to sell when you spend that much? And what about the whole machine? Touring, making a film of the tour - all those people get paid right off the top. And it becomes this whole big creepyass thing that must be serviced before any innovation even gets considered.

Yeah, because the executives are trying to keep earning their good living, so they're not gonna take a chance.

And then there's the whole way of understanding music. Like, what bin do you fit into at the chain store? Actually, some of them are finally going out of business because of downloading. So we're getting the chain stores out of music.

Oh, that's right! Yeah.

I'm trying to give people something new that they can't get from other bands. The idea of coming up with something that's challenging and original. It's as old as art itself. What is art anyway? Trying to prove to each other that we're alive. It has nothing to do with business models and stuff. I was invited to attend this DIY convention, and you know what they talked about the whole time? Business models.

Ugh! Really?

Yeah, DIY.

Oh God.

But then again, a lot of them old English punk bands were on major labels.

I guess there's a difference between someone like the Melvins - they got on a major label and still did whatever they wanted, and they got dropped and it was okay.

Sonic Youth's on a major label too.

That's true! Yeah.

But those bands are few and far between. The way these labels work is like, "If you want a good crop, use a lot of manure." How can an industry that rewards imitation ever be the perfect environment for creativity? It's like the old joke - Thelonius Monk would never have won the Thelonius Monk contest.

I've never heard that! That's good!

Creativity isn't something that a person can be taught. I wish more people would try different approaches though.

It's gotta be within the person to want to do that. I just record stuff on my four- track for 20 people or whatever, but for those 20 people, like you were saying, I want them to hear something that they can't hear from other people. I'm not - and you aren't either - not a machine that needs to go out and play those same nu-metal chords. There's enough bands doing the same thing. What's the point of making music that everybody else has already made?

Well, what's the use of playing the lottery? There's a payoff if you're that one guy.

Ugh. For the money, okay.

That's why nobody's taking chances. Listeners aren't taking chances either. They want to like the stuff that their friends like. You know how powerful peer pressure is at that age. Me and D. Boon were weirdos anyway; we had nothing to lose.

You guys sounded like nobody. Nobody before or since has sounded like the Minutemen. Such an amazing sound.

I saw Jucifer. Not a lot of bands sounding like them! I don't think it's relegated to one time period. It's just like writing; there are only 26 letters but you can still have original novels. It's all creativity. Yeah, there are a limited number of chords on a guitar, and that's limiting but it's also liberating because you can create so many different combinations of sounds that haven't been done before.

That's why I get really irritated because there are so many people who say, "Well, so what that they sound like Nirvana or Soundgarden? Everything has already been done anyway." Because I don't believe everything has been done. There's a lot more people can do.

No no no. Kurt wouldn't want to hear that. He wouldn't want people to try to sound like him. He wanted to be part of Black Flag or the Germs or something. The last time I saw him, he goes "Hey Mike! It's good to see you!" And I said, "You too!" And he looked at me and said, "No, I mean it. It's very good to see you." He didn't mean it the way everybody always says "good to see you" - he actually MEANT it. But everything's clich‚d to fucking death, like we're supposed to know what everybody means because we're all on the same page, but it's not true. We're all weirdos on our separate journeys. And there's no such thing as "the masses" - just small inspired minorities.

I wanna know what you think about our friend Mr. Bush and all his friends up there doing. doing. whatever they wanna do! And getting away with it.

People acquiesce a lot of power to them because there's a lot of fear right now. A lot of things run on fear. Fear drives people to not try original music, to surrender their responsibilities, to support the war machine; fear drives a lot of shit. My first record with the Minutemen was called "Paranoid Time." There was a lot of fear going back then too. ""I try to work and I keep thinking of World War III! I try to talk to girls and I keep thinking of World War III!" Me and D. Boon were just trying to work our machines as hard as we could. We did try to work it into some kind of positive. We were self- absorbed in some ways, but the ultimate goal was to try to get people confident enough to try their hand at the deal and come up with something. That's what we were into, us and the Flag, Husker Du. But with politics, it's always about power. It's not a beauty contest every four years; it's "My neighbor's dog is barking and keeping me up at night. How are you gonna deal with that?" It's power - how are things divided up, how come and what for? Coming from working families, to us it was like, "Whoa, it doesn't seem like we're too involved in some of these decisions. It seems like we're very involved in the WORK that has to get done to keep everything together though!" And God, why were bands even singing about this shit? Because of punk rockers taking up the issues. I think that tradition has kinda died out. I got asked in interviews after the terrorist killings in NYC, "How could anyone ever write a political song again?" I was like "Whoa!" You know what I mean? It's all semantics - they're word games. You can't know anything; you can only believe things. It's all language. Having ideas like this is an attempt to try to get it back in your hands so all the language isn't all owned by the powers that be. Trying to describe problems is 95% of coming up with an answer. The way the information is described determines the way it gets to you. And what about the press? It's now almost like a tool for certain interests.

It's like owned by five corporations.

But media isn't just someone coming on CNN and telling stories. Media is everything -- pictures, poems. The weird thing about art is that it's personal and public at the same time.

Does that affect how you write? Do you think of, "Oh, how -

Well, someone the other day said to me that the best songs are the ones where you can see yourself in the song. Like it's very personal to you even though you're hearing the song from a guy you never met, from a town you've never lived in, and a time you were never in. And it can still be an "I" song. Like I don't think John Fogerty was ever born on the bayou! But it's not about reality, authenticity or "keeping it real." It's about creating something.

But your new album is gonna be pretty completely personal, I guess, based on -

Yeah, this one is. But it's a bizarre thing. I don't understand it really. Shit, young people who never even saw the Minutemen have told me that they've had dreams of D. Boon telling them to pick up a guitar and play.

Really!? Wow! Would you say he was the single biggest influence in your life?

Oh yeah. Big time. I'm not a born entertainer. But he was so intent on trying his best and hardest. And at the same time, he didn't have any of the image of what was acceptable back then. A lot of concerts are like Nuremberg rallies, where everyone on stage are good-looking guys, and everyone in the crowd looks like the same guy, but he totally turned it upside down. He was an artist too - he could paint. A lot of people saw him and thought, "Oh he's just this big guy," but he was a very sensitive man. He got me into reading nonfiction, history and all kinds of things.

And how old was he?

When he died?




I had just turned 28. He was 27.

What is it with that age?

Yeah, I don't know about that age. That's how old Kurt was too. And a bunch of others.

All the old `60s ones.

Yeah, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison. D. Boon died on December 22, 1985. And then 17 years later, Joe Strummer died on same day.

I didn't know it was the same day!

Yeah, that was a trip. Because D. Boon and I really liked that first Clash record. It was real trippy hearing that kind of music for the first time. Before that, we never knew what lyrics were for in songs. I mean, "Smoke on the Water," Blue Oyster Cult - the lyrics were like whatever. But all of a sudden with punk bands it was like, "Whoa, you're supposed to let people know what's on your mind!" And we'd been playing just arena rock cover songs. In a way, the Minutemen were a big collection of people -- three guys from Pedro -- who still felt we had a debt to pay about somehow someway making it unique. No matter what we played, you could tell it was the Minutemen. But we didn't come out of a vacuum -- we were part of this huge movement! Well, huge for us. I guess in reality, it was very small, but it was huge for us. It turned our whole world around.

What do you think you'd be doing in life now without it? Where were you heading before?

We didn't know where we were going before. I had a personal relationship with D. Boon and then we realized, "Whoa! We can do this in front of people!" It's like that "History Lesson Part 1" song I wrote. A lot of the hardcore kids thought we were from jazz or something; they didn't know what we were doing. But we hadn't heard jazz before punk! So I did that song because I wanted them to know, "Hey, in a lot of ways, we're like you." In some ways, we're not. But that's the big dilemma. We're all together in life, but not really. There are all these duplicities.

After your illness, did it really change the way you think? The way you try to live each day? Or were you already living each day to the fullest before that happened?

When D. Boon died, it taught me that every gig might be your last. But me almost dying reinforced it. Life is not a rehearsal - this is it! That's why I wrote that song, even before D. Boon died. You can't take anything for granted. Don't just say, "Hey the wall's there"; you have to push against it. See if it really is there. Also, when you stop trying to learn, you stop living in a way. You gotta be open-minded and take in new stuff. Don't be so - it's weird coming from a small scene and most people think you're fucked up and hate it, but you love it. Because you get thick skin and confidence so you don't get destroyed. You shouldn't be elitist though. You gotta keep a young person's eye.

Did you ever see that kind of thing in yourself? Or just in other people?

I've seen it in myself, sure. I think it's a human thing. It comes from - if you're from a scene and the only reason you're there is because you love it, and there's no reward outside of it, and people go out of their way to yell at you "Fuck you, Devo!" from five blocks away, then you get an attitude like, "Fuck you, I'm gonna like it anyway!" But you can't let that take the human out of you. And become thuggish. You can't write everybody off if you haven't met `em yet. And even if you have met them and didn't like `em, everyone can change. You gotta be humble.

Have you started work on that new album you were talking about? Recording it?

The songs are written and we're practicing them now. We're going in the studio in October, and it should hopefully be out next spring. In March.

Who are you playing shows with right now?

Well, I haven't had a real band since fIREHOSE. I have a new band here called The Secondmen, who are gonna be recording the album with me. That's my bass-organ- drums band. I also still have Dos, my longest-running band. That's an 18-year-old band now. And I'm in a band with Timothy Perkins called Banion. We just did a benefit for a skatepark in Pedro. I try to play bass like a skateboard. I love watching these guys - I love their attitude of "When you fall down, you gotta get back up and try again." What I've tried to do since fIREHOSE is continually put myself in a challenging position.

Like when you played with J Mascis.

Yeah. The same thing when I helped Perry Farrell. Doing that stuff was very intense. I hadn't played with a pick in 18 years! Those were very good experiences. Now I'm playing bass with the Stooges guys - the Asheton brothers and Iggy.

Oh yeah, I heard about that.

We're doing shows in Long Island and Detroit, and it's like me getting to go right to the source. The Stooges, man! I get to skip all the gatekeepers and middlemen and go right to the well and drink from the water. Plus, it's neat to be the youngest guy in the band for a change!

Actually I'm really impressed that you're still able to play in a band with your ex-wife. Was that difficult at first? Or, since you were friends beforehand, it was still natural to play together?

With D. Boon?

No no no, with your ex-wife.



I met her when she was in Black Flag, so I've known her a long time. We both really like Dos a lot. It's very unique and strange, just bass guitars. I read this thing in the Boston Globe where the guy said that bass players are an endangered species. Because the White Stripes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs don't have bass players. Well, neither did the Doors! Or Woody Guthrie! I guess this guy's bored and didn't want to do any research, so he just wrote more gristle for the mill. Bass players had a rough time in the 70s too in some bands. Obviously not The Who, but some of them were relegated to playing pretty simple stuff. But in punk, the bass player could be in the fore again. But I guess - I don't know, for us Dos is victory. We don't have to compete with anyone. It's very challenging and we like it. It's not easy to do! You have to compose this back-and-forth intertwining bass stuff; you're not just playing a role. But it's okay if the bass is going out of fashion. That means we're punk by playing bass. Kira's just very easy to play with. She's got an intense personality; she doesn't put up with any shit. And she likes the idea of doing stuff that hasn't been done before.

What do you think of what Henry Rollins has been up to lately? Do you still follow his career at all?

He can give a good effort into anything he tries. He always gives his full effort, nothing half-assed. I have a lot of respect for that. Again he comes from that scene that I was very inspired by. It's kinda natural for me to be attracted to and see parallels with people like Bob Mould, Greg Ginn, any of these cats. We're all very much individuals - we're not clones at all -- but I do see a lot of common ground and there's a lot of stuff I can find similar about it. You can't put us in the same box except that we rode in the same van together and slept on the same floor together. What I think unites us all is that we're all kinda curious people. We suffer from that disease. Again, I'll use that allegory about the wall -- we don't like to admit that it's there; we wanna push against it to see if it's really there. It was kind of a bizarre movement. There wasn't a lot of bureaucracy or hierarchy. The bands were your closest brothers. We were all connected in weird ways but I don't know exactly how. We just thought the times were kinda bleak in some ways, so we'd make our own world!

How come you guys weren't in "The Decline of Western Civilization"?

We're in one of the crowd scenes, I think, but whatever. All scenes have cliques, and we didn't hang out with Penelope Spheeris. What's interesting is that some of those crowd scenes were from different bands! That was not the most accurate depiction of the scene, but whatever.

Yeah, that's what a lot of people in "We Got the Neutron Bomb" and the Germs book were saying.

I'm glad it came out though because there was some stuff worth seeing. The Germs were definitely not at their best at that performance, but what can we do?

I thought it was really interesting to find out that Darby and that girl didn't even live together and that whole scene was faked.

Well, like they sang, "what we do is secret!" Penelope wanted to massage an image. The second movie she did was more cut out for her - the one about the hair bands. That was more her scene. I mean, she was around for the earlier scene, but a lot of punk was just too personal. She couldn't package the whole deal, so any movie like that was gonna come up short. Knowing her and knowing the scene she came out of, I knew that's what was gonna happen. It was a scene with no rules. God, there were fuckin fascists in our scene. Skinheads! And I wasn't one of them. I'm not particularly disappointed or surprised though, because I knew stuff like that was gonna get in there. But there were a lot of neat things in that hardcore scene too. Whereas with new wave and alternative, nothing lasting was ever gonna come out of that. But all scenes are weird. I go with Raymond to these things - these art openings - what a strange gig THAT is! The gallery owner and people buying the artwork? Oh my god! The music scene is strange, but all art is commodified in strange ways anyway. But what other way is there to do it? I don't know. All I can be in charge of is the stuff I make!

Okay, I've kept you for an hour, so I suppose I can let you get on with your day now. Thank you so much for all the time you've given me!

I hope I helped out. I'm always into doing these shpiels. I think it's great that you took the time to hear me out. Just flow me the URL when it gets online so I can put a link on my hoot thing. The web is kinda like fanzines were to us back then. There's no gatekeeper.

No fear of offending advertisers.

Exactly. And it ain't gotta go through Rolling Stone or Spin!

Reader Comments

okeydoke0@yahoo.com (Barrett Barnard)
in my opinion this is the best interview on the site so far. mike watt is not only a genuis bass player and songwriter hes also a good human being. its nice to hear someone speak so positive and realistic at the same time.thanks mark.

cool interview! first guy picciotto, then greg ginn, now mike watt? awesome! thanks for all the great interviews!

atewaysatan@hotmail.com (Lord Kennedy)
You should have asked Watt about His fling as a member of the "soundtrack" band, The Wylde Rattz. a Stooges cover band featuring Thurston Moore and Mark Arm, among others, of course. For those of you who don't know about them its a real fuckin' tradgedy. They never ended up using any of the tracks The Wylde Rattz recorded for the movie Velvet Goldmine and London records (i believe) are holding the tracks hostage. it's been years now... oh well, i guess all i can really do is dream about what they sound like, that and get moist.

kookadams@hotmail.com (Joshua Adams)
yeah, that could very well be the most informative mike watt iterview I've ever read. watt is truely an inspiration, not only as a musician but as a mentor to up and coming musicians.

I'm so glad to have read this. Watt has been an immeasurable influence on me as a person for the last 20 years. He's one of those guys who you can picture what he's like through his songs, and when you finally meet him you find he really is that way. I had the pleasure of briefly meeting him myself back in '92 at a fIREHOSE show, and I told him about the Minutemen show I'd seen way back when (my first introduction to the Minutemen). Watt signed my t-shirt, looked me in the eye and said, "D. Boon Forever." I agreed. "D.Boon forever" (Though I might have prefaced it with a "Yeah Man"). Then he insisted on giving me back the money I had just paid for the t-shirt. I walked away knowing I'd just met the coolest guy on the planet, and I looked at the back of my t-shirt he had just signed, "D.Boon Forever - Mike Watt," Forgive my little self-indulgent jam session there, but that was one of the most memorable moments of my life. 13 years later, it may sound a little twee and stupid - sounds like another clueless "rockstar worship" story. But at the time,... Man! Thank you, Watt. I'll keep buying your albums. And I still listen to your old ones. "Make the effort, hey it's worth the effort, sure it's worth the effort!"

Hell yeah. "There are no masses--just small inspired minorities." That's one of the best quotes I've heard in a long time. Unfortunately, I've not only got to hunt down a vinyl copy of Double Nickels on the Dime, but a record player to play it on. AT RICE. IN HOUSTON. God help us all. He seems like a cool guy, though, this Watt.

And 27 IS one helluvan age. That's when I'll be getting my masters, about. Hey! That's when Michael Moore lost his virginity! (Stupid White Men, Copyright 2001). And that's how old Paul McCartney was when the Beatles recorded Abbey Road. ALL AT 27. Do I feel young or Watt. What. wot?

jogrady@advanstar.com (Jason)
(re: "Timothy Perkins and Banion")

This should be the band Banyan (with Stephen Perkins-Jane’s Addiction) and Nels Cline.

Great interview and great site! Keep em coming.

Firstly, I want to say that I think Mike Watt is the most talent and creative guy in the music business (maybe only Curt Kirkwood could be at his level).

That's why I can't understand what is he doing with The Stooges?

OK, maybe they are big friends... maybe he needs the money... maybe he want the mainstream recognition (that he deserves)... maybe he losts his memory, as in the movie Memento, and doesn't remember anything from the immediate past... I don't know... But there has to be an explanation...

I've been at an Stooges concert here in Argentina a couple of weeks ago and I just... didn't like it at all. Everybody tells me "you know what you're going to see" and that's true, but it doesn´t mean it wasn't a big fucking shit.

Iggy Pop is too old to jump around and take off his clothes in public and do all these kind of things he usually does. It was funny when he was 20 or 30... even when he was 40. But now, I think he should stop doing this embarrasing things.

And Mike Watt is too great to shear a stage with this pathetic guy... I know Iggy Pop is almost an institution in the US, but...

OK, forget it, it was a great show, this 60-year old man does know how to rock!!! Long life to this old man!!! Gimmie a P, gimmie a O, Gimmie a P.

Gimmie another O to put in the middle...

Well, excuse my english because it sucks, I know.


I was lead to your site from Wilson & Alroy's site which I've been reading for a solid month now.

I just want to say that the interview with Mike Watt is incredibly inspiring. I'm a bass player who loves "Contemplating the Engine Room". The bass playing is so expressive in a pleasurably rambling way that it's a musically intimate experience. It's great to read his openness about so many things so that you can really meet him in a way.

My brother introduced me to the Minutemen so I'm late in realizing this guy is a humble, difference-making, phenomenal BASS man.

Thank you for the meaningful interview with this great musician and person.

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Click here to check out Watt's solo career

I only think about Mark Prindle anymore!!!