ECW Press Canada's underground indie heroes of the past decade -- Arcade…
- Posted on Aug 12th 2011 2:30PM by Joe Tacopino
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"They asked me to help out on the documentary 'We Jam Econo,'" Watt tells Spinner about the 2005 film about his first band. "So I was listening to Minutemen again after many years and it kind of made me sad."
The influential group's tenure came to a sudden end when singer/guitarist D. Boon died in a van accident in 1985. The band's signature style was a barrage of short, explosive songs that averaged about one minute and 30 seconds.
"We got a lot of the ideas from Wire," Watt says. "'Pink Flag' was really profound on the Minutemen. That's where we got the idea of the really short thing."
Boon's death looms large over the artist's life, even to this day: "Number one: I wanted to get my guys back home safe," he says about a recent marathon tour. But immediately after the accident in the mid '80s, Watt almost quit music altogether.
"I didn't think people wanted to hear me play bass," he says about the time after Boon's death.
Eventually Watt received some encouragement and support from Thurston Moore. The Sonic Youth frontman found a way to get Watt back in the studio.
"He told me to do it," Watt says. "Thurston was like, 'play your bass, man.' Thurston's helped me a lot over the years with things. Basically, they wanted to get me playing again."
This year, Watt has been busy touring and releasing a pair of albums. The first was 'Hyphenated Man,' the epic, 30-song punk opera partially based on an iconic Hieronymus Bosch painting. The other is an experimental dueling bass album with Black Flag's Kira Roessler called 'Dos y Dos.'
"It's actually one song in 30 parts," Watt says about 'Hyphenated Man.' "It's about myself, a middle-aged punk rocker. I used the painting as a metaphor to talk about this weird stuff -- middle age."
Recorded with his band, the Missingmen, 'Hyphenated Man' is a sprawling rock opera sectioned into 30 short bursts of songs. Each track is named after a character in Bosch's famous triptych 'The Garden of Earthly Delights.' The style is very reminiscent of Watt's early work with Boon.
"The trippy part about composing them is I used D. Boon's telecaster," Watt says. "I ain't much of a guitar player. I only know stuff that D. Boon showed me. So that's what you're hearing. You're hearing an echo of a guy's buddy from 25 years ago."
Oddly enough, one of the enduring aspects of Watt's career has been the surprise appearance of the Minutemen's 'Corona' as the theme song for MTV's 'Jackass.'
"They ask me about the 'Jackass' song," Watt says about fans. "My idea was to have as many people hear D. Boon play guitar as possible, because he ain't here to do
gigs. From that, it's kind of a stepping-stone. They check out more and more."
However, when 'Jackass' co-creator Spike Jonze first came to Watt with the idea, he was curious whether the stunts were real or not.
"You know if they were faking getting Tasered in the balls or being dumped in the portable s----er," Watt says. "But it seemed like it was really going down. They said it really was, actually some of it was pretty painful, so I said, 'OK.'"
Watch Mike Watt's 'Liberty Calls' Video