- - Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Mike Watt is a punk pioneer. When Mr. Watt and school pal D. Boon created The Minutemen in the late 1970s, they joined the punk movement and made rock history. Sadly, that came to an untimely end in 1985 when D. Boon was killed in a tour van accident.

Mr. Watt soldiered on, forming the band fIREHOSE, which released more than a half-dozen solid records of music that a recent reunion tour showed still matter. In his career Mr. Watt has played with everyone from Dave Grohl to J Mascis and even joined a reformed version of The Stooges behind Iggy Pop.

Away from rock Mr. Watt is also an avid nature photographer. His book, “Mike Watt: On and Off Bass,” is now available as an e-book. Mr. Watt checked in from his beloved home of San Pedro, California, to talk about his early days in “the movement,” life after D. Boon and his radio show.

Question: What are you up to?

Answer: I just came home to San Pedro from being on tour … to England, Scotland, Wales, Netherlands and Belgium with this project called Cuz.

Q: What is Cuz?

A: Cuz is just a product of [the] modern day. You can trade files over the Internet; you don’t have to be in the same room.

This man from England, Sam Dook [of The Go! Team]  and I met maybe six years ago. We first did some jams, created this concept of us being our own samples. It was never supposed to be a touring band, but then some DJs over there started playing the CD, and we got some gigs out of it.

Q: Do you still dig touring?

A: Well that’s mainly how I make a living: I play for people. That’s how I did it in the old days and how I do it these days. I like it. I

t’s kind of like a sailor’s life. My papa was a sailor. I like to tour, but I like to come home too. [San] Pedro is the bungie cord that brings me back.

I’ve got another tour coming up where I play [sideman] to Tav Falco, a guy who has been a hero of mine for a number of years.

Q: When you started in music, did you imagine you would spend your life on the road?

A: When I got into music I didn’t know it was gonna be like this. I got into music to be with my friend D. Boon. You know what happened there. To be making music all these years later without him is kind of weird.

Q: How did The Minutemen form?

A: Me and [D. Boon] made a band after school just to stay out of trouble. Never knew about possibilities. We were lucky to have graduated high school in ‘76, the year the [punk] movement started going.

Everything came out of the movement. You weren’t in arena rock sitting a mile away. You were right up there. The guy playing the gig later that night could be standing next to you, whether it was Pat Smear or Alice Bag. They could be talking to you. I remember Joey Ramone saying, “Punk was like a hay wagon: You got an idea, come on! There’s room.”

Q: Do you think if D. Boon had lived you would still be making music together?

A: That’s weird for you to say but … yeah, I think so. We had a lot of [expletive] ideas and places to take them.

The whole thing about the movement and this music thing is we weren’t like a lot of other people. We never saw it as a burden. It was a huge opportunity. A lot of ideas about bringing out something that was so personal and making it so public. I still feel a big debt to that time. It ended up as my life’s work.

Q: What do you attribute you career to?

A: Luck. Although luck isn’t always good. I think you have to put in the work. You have to be blessed in working with these people. The big danger in hanging around, and not getting killed off young, is you start to think you know it all. That’s a really dangerous, lame place to be. I guess I’m a work in progress.

Q: How important is the bass player to rock?

A: I always thought that if the bass player knew the song, then anybody could join him. The bass is like glue. It holds things together, but if it has nothing to stick to, then it’s just a big puddle.

Q: Was it hard forming fIREHOSE after D. Boon died?

A: [Lead singer and guitarist] Edward [Crawford] is not D. Boon. There were a lot of comparisons, and that was a heavy thing for Edward to get saddled with. Still, we did 20 tours and seven records.

Q: Are you still playing with The Stooges?

A: Well, both [guitarist Ron Asheton and drummer brother Scott Asheton] are gone. So I don’t know if there is any more Stooges. But I got to serve with them for 125 months.

Q: Musically, what are you doing?

A: I’ve got three albums in the can. Two of them are recorded and got to get mixed. The thing about touring so much is I neglect my recording stuff. But I’m gonna get the albums done after this Tav Falco tour.

Q: Are you still doing your Internet radio show “The Watt From Pedro” show?

A: Yes, all of my radio shows are archived at Twfps.com. I do them once a week. Done it for over 14-and-a-half years. Over 400 shows. I love doing that because I get to turn people on to music that I found out about. It’s another way of repaying my debt to the movement.

For all things Mike Watt go to MikeWatt.com.


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