General Strike: In Conversation with Joe Keithley of D.O.A. and The Green Party

Joe Keithley is known the world over as frontman, songwriter, and driving force behind the legendary Canadian punk band D.O.A. I’m a longtime fan of D.O.A. and the artist formerly known as Joey Shithead. I reached out to Mr. Keithley to discuss his work in activism. Particularly his political campaigns as a Green Party candidate out of Burnaby, British Columbia in Canada. We discussed world politics, activism, the environment, carbon caps, energy policy, impeachment, social media trolls, right-wing populism, and of course rock n’ roll among other things. The conversation below took place by phone on December 6, 2017. It’s been lightly edited for brevity.

JoeBus 300dpi
photo courtesy of Joe Keithley

Michael Lee Nirenberg: I read on online somewhere (perhaps falsely) that when you were at university, you were on track to become a civil rights lawyer. Was politics always a part of your life growing up?

Joe Keithley: I got politicized a little bit by my brother. He worked in Jamaica and when he came back he sort of took up the campaign against what happened in Chile with (Salvador) Allende. There was a community with a giant copper company down there behind the coup called Noranda. There was American and Canadian influence and also the Vietnam War was a big thing on TV when I was a little boy 6 or 8 years old. But the thing that really changed me when I was 16 was Greenpeace, which started in Vancouver. They got these kids from various high schools and law schools to go down and protest against nuclear arms near Alaska in the Aleutian Islands, so people would do this without the permission of the school. The principals would try to stop us from leaving. Then all the high school kids would walk downtown chanting their various slogans of course. I was 16 when that happened probably around 1972. That had a big effect. This is the type of stuff I would see people marching and protesting on TV. Obviously through the late 60s people were protesting the Vietnam War, Nixon and nuclear arms.

MN: It’s interesting that the Chilean coup of Allende had played an early role. It’s before my time, but learning about that was my first impression of Henry Kissinger, and the sort of influence Americans have abroad.

JK: Right.

MN: The setting up of proxy governments will politicize you when you become aware of what that does to local communities abroad.

JK: Right. You think what your country is doing is right, (not just talking about your country), and that it’s actually doing a whole bunch of things wrong.

MN: Especially when it becomes clear that it’s about natural resources. You said it was copper in Chile? It’s always about some natural resource.

JK: Yeah, there’s a lot of money in copper. Noranda in Quebec had one of the biggest copper companies in the world.

MN: You’re in Burnaby, British Columbia. Are you from there?

 

burnaby
Burnaby, B.C. photo stolen from the web

 

JK: Yeah, I grew up here. We used to be known as Canada’s biggest suburb. It’s an interesting place. Not as interesting as Vancouver I don’t think. We’re probably about ten miles from downtown.

MN: I’ve only been to Montreal.

JK: Vancouver is probably ⅔ the size of Montreal so it’s quite big. About 2 million people in the area.

MN: What’s the economy like there. What kinds of jobs do people have?

JK: Everything. High tech is really big. That’s growing. Industry is really big. Service type jobs employ a lot of people. Some manufacturing, shipping would be another big area. We are Canada’s biggest port and the second biggest on the West Coast after San Francisco. All the cars and refrigerators that they wanna send to the rest of Canada arrive here.

MN: That’s interesting, so it’s mostly a port city.

JK: Yeah, it’s a big port town. I mean it’s like a really, really, small New York. It’s got a really dirty underside to it that nobody talks about that much. It’s a postcard type town when you look at it, but if you dig a bit deeper you find other stuff too.

MN: It’s funny you say that. I work in movies and TV and before my time, before they gave the tax credits here, the studios would shoot stuff that takes place here in New York- over there. I guess it looks more like New York than any other place.

 

rumble_bronxmountains
Still from Rumble in the Bronx featuring Vancouver’s mountains lifted from review blog Code Redd Net.

 

JK: The one that is really successful and I’m sure there are other ones is Jackie Chan: Rumble in the Bronx. It’s supposed to be in New York but you can see the mountains in some of the shots. Downtown is really big, it has a lot of skyscrapers, but we have mountains on the other side which you obviously don’t in New York. That’s a pretty funny bit we always talk about.

(laughs)

MN: Many Americans generally think that liberals use climate change as an excuse to introduce a lot of unnecessary regulation (Why? I don’t know.). When I was doing research for this, I noticed that Canada has a Ministry for Environment and Climate Change Strategy. I think it’s great Canada has that. Is it an effective office or is it an ineffective, corrupted bureaucracy like our EPA?

JK: It’s pretty new. Since we got a new prime minister in 2015. Justin Trudeau took over from Stephen Harper who was from the Conservative Party. It’s somewhat effective and somewhat not effective. Part of the reason I’m a member the Green Party is environmental. The current issue is the pipeline faction, Justin Trudeau is trying to say, “Yeah we wanna protect the environment”, but at the same time we want to send all this dirty oil from Alberta through a pipeline- increasing carbon emissions for factories in China and India. It doesn’t make any sense.

On the other hand, we have been working towards a carbon cap system of trade which is a little bit different in every province. We have ten provinces and three territories so you could pay up to like $40 dollars per ton of emissions. If you reduce your emissions you get a credit. Carbon trading is what it’s called.

MN: Cap and trade?

JK: Cap and trade, but there are variations on it. We have one in B.C. We have cap and trade in Quebec. In Alberta, they’re trying to introduce one, but there’s a great resistance to it. And in Saskatchewan. That’s the heart of the oil and gas industry in Canada.

MN: I get the impression that Trudeau wants to do the right thing but he’s under intense pressure to secure energy for a growing economy, is that right?

JK: Yeah, a lot of people give him credit. I don’t. People think he’s a good looking guy, he’s pretty slick, like a modern day Bill Clinton or something like that. Like Bill Clinton he had his good points and his bad points. It’s far better than having someone like Trump. You can compare Clinton to George Bush Sr. I would call Clinton a far better president. Trudeau has done all sorts of things wrong, but he’s doing something- put it that way.

MN: That’s certainly how he’s perceived in the American media, as sort of the Canadian answer to Obama. That’s the perception.

JK: That’s accurate in a sense.

MN: There’s a lot to unpack inside of that- regarding carbon caps. Do you think that’s an effective idea?

JK: Yeah, of course it’s a good idea to limit the amount of carbon footprint. If you can get credits for it then why not? That’s something we are talking about here with the Greens is to build a stable economy through green technology, and the offshoots from that like energy and applications of that: wind, solar, turbine, geothermal, because obviously, energy is an issue. Canada is a cold place. The only other place this cold is Russia. To keep Canadians warm we use an awful lot of energy to do that. Whatever form that comes from; electricity, coal, actually coal’s not really that big up here like the United States.

MN: That’s interesting. The political rhetoric as you know would imply that we have a bigger coal economy than we do. Are there politicians pandering to out of work coal miners there?

JK: No, our equivalent is the tar sands in Alberta. We don’t have a coal mining industry. We have other tragic things like asbestos mining, which still goes on today. Then they sell it all to India. Which should be criminal. Asbestos is a really, really, dangerous substance. Anyways, no we don’t have out-of-work coal miners.

I know a little bit about my family and we come from Yorkshire in England, we did coal mining, my grandfather did it here when we first got to Canada. Not the same thing as in Kentucky and in Appalachia where there’s lots of coal mining going on. It’s actually a tiny part of the energy economy in the States. I think Trump thinks it looks good to build up his base by beating his chest about it. The Chinese are trying to phase it out. They are going for solar panels, they are going for renewable energy.

MN: The writing’s on the wall.

JK: I mean in 20 years from now the United States will wake up and say, ‘Wow, China does own the world economy’. They will probably have an idea of why because they were asleep at the wheel.

MN: Absolutely. Trump is giving China a lot of leverage in becoming the world leader in climate policy which you would not have predicted last year or two years ago.

JK: No. It’s sad where it’s going but what can you do? Hopefully, he gets impeached. A lot of big things happened this week regarding the Russian ties. Hopefully, that sticks to Donald Trump. I guess no president has ever been impeached. Nixon was forced to resign from office. I think there was one case from way back when I can’t remember the president’s name.

MN: That was Andrew Johnson who was Lincoln’s vice president. He was a racist democrat back when they were called ‘dixiecrats’. Neither him nor Bill Clinton had ever been removed from office.

JK: I think it’s difficult. The president has too much power.

MN: In this country, you need two thirds of Congress to sign off, which we don’t currently have the spine for. You seem really up on American politics. I’m sure you particularly are into this, but does Canada have a media that follows the soap opera nonstop like we have here?

JK: Yeah, not quite. There’s the whole pack of news outlets and the 24-hour news stations like you guys have. Obviously, talk radio and all the stuff on the internet. They don’t follow it that closely, but any major stories they do and of course with cable, I will have CNN on for a bit. I don’t watch FOX as you could have guessed.

MN: Sure, who has the stomach for it?

JK: Yeah, It’s just hard to believe that when we are on tour and we can’t find anything to listen to on the radio, we put on Rush Limbaugh. Thinking it would be interesting. After twenty minutes it’s like, ‘Holy fuck this is unbelievable.’ We don’t even have that equivalent of that talk radio in Canada. We have some guys who kind of pretend to be like that. Nothing like the vitriol you get from Rush Limbaugh and the other conservative radio hosts.

MN: I’m guessing it’s very unique to this country. Where free speech and hate speech share a thin line.

JK: Unfortunately it’s getting more… it used to be that if you said something bad about somebody they would meet you out on the street corner to have it out with you. Now… I don’t know. It’s pretty sad what’s going on.

MN: Yeah, that’s a whole other road we could go down about how you could be tried without a trial on Twitter.

JK: Yeah, they just don’t have the guts to stand up and be named and say, “I’m the one who’s making this comment”. Some of them do. The majority will just hide behind the internet. It’s really sad that you can tell gross lies about people. There’s no due process in the public opinion.

MN: It’s happening fast and in this weird way where Twitter is the town square with the angry villagers with the pitchforks.

JK: Oh yeah, storming Frankenstein’s castle trying to bring the monster out.

(laughs)

MN: You recently said that you ran with the Green Party. I read that you have also run as an NDP (New Democratic Party) candidate. It seems to me you have a lot more shades of grey on the liberal side of Canadian politics. We do here to some degree, it’s just not formalized in that way. Tell me a bit about that.

JK: It’s pretty interesting. Obviously, they are not consistent.  You get a lot more strengths with a two party system when you do win. It doesn’t allow for a lot more variation on that. On the other hand, same as the United States basically, we have a British Parliamentary system. Different than the American one but in essence does the same thing. Whoever gets the most seats does all the laws for however long they’re in.

One of the things we’re working on here in B.C. is we have a vote in October on proportional representation. Just a real quick snapshot- in this last election I ran for the Greens, the governing party got 42 seats and the NDP who were locked got 41 and the Greens got 3. The Greens made a deal with the NDP and kicked the right wing guys out. They had been there for 16 years. It looked like they would never lose and we wouldn’t get rid of them. One of the conditions we made to the NDP was, “We want proportional representation.” When you think about it, in the vote we got 17% of the votes in the Parliament in B.C. We only got 4-5% of the seats. Put it that way. It’s disproportionate. We should have 16 seats but we only have 3. So, we’re campaigning to get proportional representation. You can get a lot more democracy when people feel involved. Some people will say then you have weaker government. Germany is one of the most successful countries in the world. They’ve had no shortage of coalition between right and left wing politicians and things just kind of get done. You may not like everything. Their economy is stronger than ours, their social safety net is stronger than ours. Sounds pretty good to me.

MN: (laughs) World War II gave them an opportunity for a massive rethink. This leads me to another topic I wanted to discuss. The US is leaning towards right-wing populism and they’ve already been through it…

JK: I’m writing songs for a new D.O.A. album. We should have it done in April. One of the lines is like “Think back to 1933.” It’s not just in the United States. It’s happening in Britain and France, Austria and Holland and they actually have right-wing fascist governments in Poland and Hungary.

MN: Yup, that’s exactly my next question. You see these elections in France and Germany, Austria and that whole belt of countries in Europe. Are you experiencing these pro-nationalist movements in Canada? Germany is particularly alarming.

JK: Yeah, They got 12.5% of the seats. It’s a democracy so they are allowed to run. We do have some right-wing groups here, a lot smaller than what you’re seeing in the United States or in the Netherlands. It’s funny, my youngest son is 21 and he was going to go to this club to check out this punk rock show. I said, “Oh yeah the Astoria. You gotta watch it there. Apparently, these right wing guys drink beer there and have this really stupid name “the Pride Boys” or something like that. Really dumb beyond belief.

(laughs)

So the people who run this pub told them to get out and they wouldn’t get out. They came back a couple of times. The third time they came back someone followed them to the can and beat the crap out of them. He came out staggering bleeding-not that I’m advocating violence. He said, “I’m gonna call the cops.” The people that owned the bar said, “You have cell phones, call the cops yourselves.”

(laughs)

This is at our little local punk rock club on the east side of Vancouver.

MN: Just like the old days with (Nazi punk band) Skrewdriver or something?

JK: Yeah, that reminded me of the old days when you would have Nazis, they wouldn’t kill anyone. I remember a bunch of shows like that with idiots showing up. Milwaukee, San Francisco… yeah.

MN: I can imagine. With the amount of touring D.O.A. did. In your opinion, why do you think we are seeing more of this right-wing populism?

JK: Well, Donald Trump exploited it to the max by reaching out to disenfranchised white people, saying, ‘Look I’ll stand up for you.’ These other guys haven’t stood up for you.” This had been happening in Europe for quite awhile. The Le Pens have been popular in Europe for like 30 years. Marine is the leader now but her Dad; Jean, he was in the party for 20 years before he died right? (note: He’s still alive.)

MN: That’s true. (note: I have no idea what I’m talking about.)

JK: Nothing is new. Fascism has always been there like in Italy. I remember travelling there and there was a gas station selling buttons of Mussolini. I was like, ‘Huh?’ This guy was a fucking asshole, right? They had small ones, medium sized ones and really big ones if you’re really proud of him. I don’t know why, but I think people spread this information on the internet. It obviously helps a lot to spread your ideas around. You get good ideas and bad ideas spread with equal speed. That’s part of it. In Europe, a lot of it recently has to do with the Syrian refugee crisis. You have this war where hundreds of thousands of people have been killed. Millions have been displaced and you have hundreds of thousands of people that are going to Germany or maybe it’s closer to a hundred thousand. You get people who go, ‘I don’t have a job. How do these people have housing? Medical supplies, this kind of thing.’ Which you still do in Germany. You may be poor but you get all this kind of stuff from the government. They resent this and all of the sudden these people are the enemy. When you think about it, they been bombed out of their homes by Russian planes, Syrian planes, chemical attacks. These people have it really rough if you as

The one really egregious example is in Hungary where people were just trying to get through because of the Soviet Warsaw Pact.  People were getting shot climbing over fences- oppressed for years and years. As soon as they get some refugees that might wanna go there they start building this 15 foot high double wire fence. They completely forgot that ‘Hey, we were in this spot one time.’ I forgot who the philosopher was that said, “Forget your past, you’re just going to repeat it.”

MN: It always ends with a construction project.

(laughs)

JK: Yeah, well the wall isn’t being built so fast in the United States. I heard a company bought some land on the border and they are suing the United States government for putting a fence there.

MN: That’s really cool.

JK: I can’t remember who it was, but I thought it was a great strategy because it throws a wrench into this. All the sudden the courts were like, ‘Um, they do own the land right up on the border.’

MN: Republicans love state’s rights unless it goes against their interests.

JK: It’s all great until it’s inconvenient for you.

MN: You’ve run campaigns as both a Green Party candidate and with the NDP correct?

JK: With the NDP some people liked me but they blocked me at the end with my nomination by a vote. Then I just quit. I went back to the Greens because I had run with the Greens in 1996 and 2001. I tried to run for the NDP in 2013. Like I said, I had some really great supporters and then I ran for the Greens in both 2016 and 2017.

MN: What is the fundamental difference between these two shades of liberalism?

JK: One thing I’ve always said about the Green Party is that it’s more open-minded. The NDP has some decent ideas. They are not all wrong that’s for sure. There are a lot of minority people involved in the party. I gotta think these are two stacks of certain sectors of society. They do a lot of good stuff for unions. I’m all behind that. Unions built our country. There’s not a lot of representation for people that are disenfranchised and who are not in a union. It’s not that different than the United States. 40-45% of our workforce that was unionized is down to 25%. I’m not saying that’s a great thing, but I’m saying that’s a lot of people not being represented properly. I think the Green Party is a lot more open about that. The other thing that we’re doing that I think is more progressive is a more sustainable economy using green technology and various offshoots of that. Rather than reliance on forestry. It used to be a giant thing like in Oregon and Washington. It’s still a decent sized industry. We have to move on. The world has moved on and we will get left behind is we don’t concentrate on education on the high tech stuff.

MN: This is a problem that’s affecting many Western societies where politicians campaign on these promises of bringing jobs back that have been phased out by automation. Only one in five jobs in the energy sector are in fossil fuels from what I understand.

JK: Yeah, everyone wants to get cheap toys for their kids or grandkids on Christmas, so consequently those toys aren’t made in the United States. They are made in the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam or China because people work for a buck or two bucks there. You can’t have it both ways. You wanna buy that lego set for 15 bucks, if it were made in the United States it would be thirty or fifty. I’m using this as an example. Lego might be made in Sweden, (laughs) I’m not sure. If it were made in Sweden it would be like fifty bucks.

MN: I have a six year old son. I’m guilty as charged.

JK: Oh yeah, fair enough and because of the economy you have to find stuff that’s cheap. My wife and I are always looking for bargains. We don’t waste money at all.

MN: When you transitioned into politics, did the old name “Joey Shithead” hurt you at all?

JK: (laughs) Yes and no. The one thing it did- and I was kind of surprised- with people who knew of me from 20 years ago were like, ‘Where’s your mohawk? Where’s the studded jacket?’. I would show up on people’s doorstep not wearing a suit, but not in a leather jacket, there’s an in between. 20 years ago this would have been much harder but recently people are like, ‘I know D.O.A.’. It doesn’t mean they are fans of the music or they love punk rock. Although some are fans and I’ve signed autographs on the voter’s doorsteps, they will be like hold on a second, I’m gonna grab this old single. A lot of people know me through activism for various causes I’ve helped with or D.O.A. has done benefits for. So they respect the politics. Some people are like, ‘That’s great. We need more shitheads’. I say, ‘You guys elect shitheads all the time’.

(laughs)

So what’s wrong with a Joe Shithead, right? The president and the prime minister are shitheads right? People kind of get it, so it’s fine. When I talk to them about policy, they like my ideas and are like, ‘Huh, ok that sounds good.” The toughest part is trying to get them to vote for the Green Party. Until this last election, we were regarded as a vote splitter. Having won those three seats and believe it or not that was the highest total of any kind in North America of any kind with a caucus of three.

MN: Wow, I didn’t know that.

JK: Yeah it is the highest of any state, provincial, federal, or municipal city type election. We are constantly going to win more and if we get proportional representation. That means we will probably have like 20 or 30 at-large members. If that happens, and I get my name on the party list as an at-large member, then I think I could get elected for sure. It wouldn’t be just the people of Burnaby who know about me, it would be 15-18 towns that make Greater Vancouver. They would be like, ‘Yeah I know that guy. I’ll vote for Joe.’ They know I’ve stood up for stuff and am not full of shit. That’s the main thing.

There’s some funny stuff. I had this one old lady who’s like 80. I knocked on her door before to see if i still had her vote. There was a big article in the paper about me and of course it had D.O.A. and Joe Shithead, crazy past type thing. I knocked on her door and said, ‘Hello Mrs. Johnson.’ She says, ‘I saw you in the paper. I did not like your nickname.’ Looked at me sternly and I thought, ‘Oh crap.’ So I started shucking and jiving on the doorstep. After 7 or 8 minutes of this she says, I already voted for you in the advance poll. She just wanted to see me dance around a little bit. (laughs) It was pretty funny and she’s a sweet old lady.

MN: Looking back at the late 1970s and 1980s. Do you think punk was a better means for distributing social messages that you campaign on now? Would you have done what you’re doing now earlier?

doa flyer

JK: Punk was a very effective way to get stuff out there. Punk rock was some of the main opposition to right-wing politics of the 80s like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, Brian Mulroney  who was Prime Minister in Canada at that time. Punk rock was leading the way. In America there was rap. They saw that the punk guys had a handle, so they picked up a handle and started all this protesting from their cultural point of view. Not as white suburban kids, but as African American inner city kids. A lot of that stuff from the Dead Kennedys to Public Enemy was taking on Reagan and the politics of that. It’s so similar to this week when Trump was in Salt Lake City and he rolled back those public monuments which I thought was so tragic and it’s exactly what Reagan did around 1981 or 1982 where they opened up national parks to mining and natural gas, releasing this stuff in the air. It’s just so fucking similar. It was just terrible, right? When you only care about money, those are the kind of ideas you come up with. I don’t get this moving the embassy to Jerusalem. It’s going to do nothing except to get more people in the area to hate America more and get more Americans killed. Israelis and Arabs on the ground are going to get killed. It’s just fucking pointless. Richard Nixon had ten times as much vision than Donald Trump.

MN: I find this argument convincing that if he was such a great deal maker he would be even more horrific. I think every day he and his people come up with fucked up things to do to get retribution on the people who didn’t vote for him. He’s massively insecure. The environment is just one of those things on the list to be exploited for money and spite. We won’t get it back.

JK: It’s so crazy. I got off track there.

MN: What are some of the environmental challenges Canada is facing at this moment?

JK: The pipeline is a really big one. Oil- that’s a big thing. Reducing our carbon footprint. That’s up in the air because of what’s happening in Washington because of the US rejecting the Paris Accord. This is a big challenge to Canada. Surprisingly we have the most freshwater in the world of any country and First Nation people do not have enough access to clean water. Which is just unbelievable when you think of how pristine Canada appears to be. Our treatment of first nation people has been pretty abysmal. Our prime minister is trying to rectify this, but it’s going slow. Canadians are not as nice and Canadian as people think we are.

(laughs)

Know what I mean? There’s some fucked up things going on here.

MN: Do you have any more campaigns left in you?

JK: We’re working on a civic campaign in my hometown of Burnaby. I got a really busy year next year. I’m doing a new D.O.A. album for the 40th anniversary. We plan on touring the states, Europe, Canada, China we been back to China three times AND I think I’m running for city council. I organized a local group here in the city and we have lots of energetic volunteers. I think we have a decent chance of making a difference here. I think I always do have a campaign in me. They do take up a lot of time. They take up a lot of time. The last one I think I knocked on 6,000 doors. Maybe 7,000. I lost count. It was a lot! I talked to a lot of people. It’s really interesting because you learn a lot. As a politician (I wouldn’t consider myself a politician because I haven’t won yet), you go in with a preconceived notion, but when you actually talk to people. You learn, ‘Ok, it’s not about that.’ or ‘Ok, that’s a different point of view I never considered’. You learn a boatload from the voter on the doorsteps.

MN: I imagine you refine your position just hearing about what the citizen’s concerns are.

JK: Even issues that don’t normally come up. I will go up to a doorstep with three or four main points and just work them from there. I’m fast on my mental feet. I’m pretty adaptable when talking to people. I keep a list. Rather than just being blind and speaking the same thing over and over again. See how that works out, repeat ad nauseum.

MN: That’s probably why politicians generally sound like that. Like sound bites. Some sort of compartmentalizing occurs.

JK: Yeah, at some point you don’t want to give in to your political opponents. People have legitimate questions. If they don’t agree with you, you just have to say, ‘I’m sorry we disagree on that. I don’t think that’s the right thing to do and I think you’re wrong, but it’s your right to call me wrong or whatever’.

MN: That’s democracy. So lastly, in your opinion what is the most underrated punk band from back in the day that more people should know about.

JK: You know, a really great one that never got their due was Toxic Reasons from Dayton, Ohio. They made some really good records but made this stupendous record called Independence. That’s a great band.

toxic reasons.jpg

MN: I remember the name but don’t recall ever hearing them.

 

JK: People know them but they don’t get the respect they deserve. They were pretty groundbreaking. One of the truly great punk rock bands of the midwest. All the ones from California got their due. All the New York and Boston stuff got really big in hardcore and punk and stuff like that.

MN: I asked because I wanted to hear an oddball.

JK: Another band from the midwest Die Kreuzen.

MN: Great band, ‘the crosses’.

 

doakreuzensanantonio

JK: From Milwaukee I think.

MN: October File stands out for me.

JK: Definitely. Obviously the DC scene was big. Everybody knew Ian (MacKaye) and Dischord. All the bands that were on that label got credit. There were a lot of good bands. Nothing wrong with that. A lot of the smaller towns did not get their due. D.O.A. did well because we traveled. That’s why people know us. When people thought of Canada and punk they thought of D.O.A.. It was synonymous. We’d turn up and push that thing. We’re not just punk rock, we’re Canadian punk rock. We’d go to Europe in 84 and 85 and an awful lot of people in the States or in Europe said D.O.A. was the first or second punk rock show they’ve ever seen in their lives. That had a big influence on people because we took the bull by the horns and got out there. I think Michael, we are over 4,000 shows over the last 40 years.

MN: Wow. The thing is back then before the internet you had to have these communities. So people would know, if you went to Canada you guys would have the floor they could stay on.

JK: We were really good friends with the Black Flag guys. They were touring like crazy just like us. Whenever we met those guys we would exchange information, ‘Hey did you get paid for that show in Sacramento.?’ They’d be like, ’Fuck no, that guy ripped us off.’ We’d tell Chuck the bass player to write it down. We’d share information so you knew where you were gonna get paid, where you weren’t gonna get paid, and who could put on a show. We used to send letters out with a single. ‘Hi, we’re a punk rock band from Vancouver called D.O.A.. Would you like to book us.’ We’d wait for a letter to come back. Obviously you couldn’t find a phone number, there was no information there at all. We’d look in the back of Kerrang in the classifieds. ‘Hey a guy here puts on shows’. You’d find a phone number or an address. When you tell that to kids today they are like, ‘What are you talking about?’

7788d4c2f922b39d1265c43e18da2c28--punk-art-punk-rock

MN: So labor intensive.

JK: That’s the way it was done. We went to Europe and to Poland when it was still a communist country because a guy sent us a letter and said, ‘We really love D.O.A. and your single General Strike and we’d love it if you could play in Poland’. There was no phone number in the letter so we sent a letter, ‘We’d love to come to Poland’. ‘Why don’t you come in March?’ Ok, So we arranged this tour around these six Polish club shows. That was great. Just completely groundbreaking. We still go play in Poland and we got this great following there. People get into politics. It’s great.

MN: That’s great. I’m not gonna keep you any longer. Thanks so much Joe. That was lot of fun.

JK: Thank you Michael. That was a lot of fun.

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