varmintcong.com presents: The semi-comprehensive MIKE WATT INTERVIEW
In 2006, Mike Watt is a punk-rock legend. He played in the Minutemen, firehose, Dos, Porno For Pyros, and dozens of other bands. His latest release is called The Secondman's Middle Stand, on Sony. And in addition to all his other projects, he's the bassist for the Stooges, who will have a new album out next year. He is arguably THE TEMPLATE for funk-influenced rock bassists, just ask Flea of the Chili Peppers, who is interviewed in the recently-released Minutemen documentary, We Jam Econo.
In April 1988, firehose was touring to support their second SST album, If'n. They released a total of 5 albums and a live EP, disbanding in 1993.
Original 1988 intro-We talked to Mike Watt in a student lounge adjacent to the USF Empty Keg minutes before firehose blew us away with their set. Several minutes of interview were lost due to a faulty microphone. These minutes are indicated by (unintelligible). Participants included: Jeff Schwier; Craig Cunningham; John Barsdis; Unidentified Fan
John: I'm going to be photographing during the session.
Craig: Ah, this is John.Watt: Hi John.
John: Yeah, how's it going?Watt: Mike Watt.
John: We talked to you last year ...Watt: Yes sir, (at the) Act IV (lounge, where firehose played the year before.) Hello testing? (takes microphone)
Jeff: Yeah, it's working. (unintelligible)Watt: April 14th, 1988. Mike Watt. Ah, we got a problem. Yo yo (testing microphone). It's … is it? (unintelligible) Hello hello (testing) one, one, one. This is April 14, 1988. I'm Mike Watt, bass player for Ciccone Youth ... and firehose.
Jeff: As a side project.Watt: firehose is a side project … (laughs)
Jeff: Alright.Watt: No, my…
Jeff: You want me to hold the microphone? Or would you prefer...Mike: I'll do it.
Jeff: OK.Watt: It's like a bass.
Jeff: Alright. Why do you and (drummer) George (Hurley) work so well together?Watt: Me and George been playing together for ten years now. You know, the way we met him was, me and D. Boon, you know it was very hard, growing up in the projects, to really play LOUD anywhere. Cause ya had to play in a bedroom. So, we would find drummers with sheds and stuff, and George had a shed. But George is a real personal drummer man. He don't approach it as...like a …. An accepted thing to do man, he goes and manhandles it his way. I like that.
Jeff: (to Craig and John) Yeah, you missed it; they were playing 100,000 Years (old Kiss song) during the soundcheck.Watt: That's right. Paul Stanley. I saw him once on the street in NYC.
Craig: Really?Watt: Yeah, and I shook his hand and he didn't know what to think. I said, “Paul Stanley, you're one of the dudes who fired me up to play bass guitar.” And then just walked away.
Jeff: What's your favorite Kiss album?Watt: Oh, Hotter Than Hell. In fact, that one and Tyranny & Mutation---Blue Oyster Cult, two of the best recorded albums ever. I like that LOUD sound man, and Hotter Than Hell had LOUD sound and some good tunes.
Jeff: Alright.Watt: Yah know, Goin' Blind.
Jeff: Oh hell yeah, we're old Kiss fans from way back.Watt: Alright, I saw them play-get this-me and D. Boon were playing, we had a band called the Bright Orange Band. And this is in 1973. And there was a show called “In Concert” on ABC, do you remember that show?
Jeff: Yeah, yeah.Watt: And Kiss was on there. They did Firehouse, Black Diamond and Nothin' to Lose, before they had their first album out, and we recorded it. I would tape ‘em all. Show you what a primitive asshole I was, I'd tape ‘em right off the TV. Ya know-WHOOOO-big ol' hum and everything.
And I learned them songs, and we were doing Kiss before there was a Kiss album. And Gene Simmons has a lot to do with the way I play bass. He really does, that slidin' stuff.
Jeff: (to Craig and John) He was sticking his tongue out during soundcheck too (ala Kiss bassist Gene Simmons). MUCHO HA-HA (everybody laughs)Watt: 100,000 years.
Jeff: Alright. Wanna talk about DOS a little bit?Watt: Yeah. Me and my wife we have a band with just two basses. We really started before D. Boon was killed, ya know? And-uh….I met Edward, and I didn't know what to write for this kid. I didn't know him, so I gave him DOS songs, and they turned into….Relatin' Dudes To Jazz, and From One Cums One, and stuff like this…Under the Influence of Meat Puppets. They didn't have any words. Well anyway, we got another album coming out in a couple months, with more singing. We do some Billie Holiday, we do a Sonic Youth song, Pacific Coast Highway, PCH. Kira makes me sing it.
Jeff: That first album is great.Watt: Well thank ya. And-uh…we're gonna get ready for the third firehose album-Strike Three (laughs) - gonna have Edward swinging the guitar like Bono in (the video for) With or Without You. No, no, we ain't gonna call it that.
Jeff: Have you already started working on that one?Watt: Writing the songs. I got a song called Whispering While Hollerin' and The Softest Hammer.
Jeff: What have you learned from Ed, and what do you think he's learned from you? Edfromohio I mean.Watt: Right, well what I've learned from Ed is that rock n roll is not for the privileged or a … punk rocker. Just having your say, playin' your tunes, it's not for the privileged man, anybody could do it. I bought that kid his first amp, and he never even played electric guitar, ya know. And you really don't think that, especially in the ‘70s, ya know, with arena rock, you thought that it was special and it's not, it's just a way of playing, man. It's righteous. It's more proof to me that it's for real. It's not all convoluted agents and PR men. It really is just pickin' up a guitar and wailin' on it. That's what I learned...
Jeff: What do you think you taught him?Watt: Well, all this perverted music thing. Ya know, D. Boon … I gotta tell ya man…When, ya know, the only band I was in…We started doin' it when we were eleven years old. His mom made me play bass, and … I never knew, we didn't have older brothers, I didn't know it (bass) was a back-up thing man, I thought I only had four strings cause they were bigger (laughs). Ya know, and I didn't know I was supposed to play in the background, so I just got to...keep up with 'em, ya know? Shit. So, in a way, I only know one way to play, ya know? I don't know what I could show Ed. I try to show him a whole lot, but I don't know if it makes any sense to him.
Jeff: It seems like he's learned, not just from the way he looks but, like, I watched the soundcheck, it seems like he's learned a lot.Watt: Alright, then you can tell me more than I can (laughs).
Jeff: Well, I dunno...Watt: No really, because I'm so close to it. Sometimes when I'm telling him things I'm thinking to myself, “Boy Watt, you sound like shit … you're soundin' … Blowin' it out your ass, the boy don't know what you're talkin' about man!” (laughs). Ya know what I mean, because I do have a twisted way, I only learned one way … Anyway.
Jeff: Is there another Minutemen album comin' out?Watt: No, ya know what I'm doin' is I'm puttin' em all on CDs.
Jeff: That's great.Watt: I want D. Boon's tunes up there with all them mersh dudes … (Bon) Jovi, the boss. (Springsteen) Now even to make it more econo, I put two records on a CD, 'cause that's such a rip-off ya know. $14, six songs, c'mon. There's already two volumes, 'Post-mersh' I called ‘em. One of ‘em's got (What Makes A Man Start) Fires and (The) Punch Line and the other one's got Buzz or Howl (Under the Influence of Heat) and (Project) Mersh and I'm comin' out with a third one … #3 with (The) Politics of Time and all the singles, and I put the double album (Double Nickels on the Dime) and Three Way Tie (For Last) and Ballot Result.
Jeff: The double album (Double Nickels), we've been playin' a lot of that.Watt: That's my favorite one. Ya know, of all the records Watt's made, that happened, that was the best.
Jeff: Is there anything you remember about that?Watt: Yeah. We recorded one album in November '83 and then here next month Husker du, which me and D. Boon put out their first album ya know. Land Speed Record, that's New Alliance (records) … we loved them guys man. It's sad about them splittin' up ya know, but anyway … we record this album. Last time I used my Fender Precision (bass), if you wanna know, but anyway and I moved to the Telecaster… What happened was we heard they did a double album in three days-Zen Arcade, so we went and recorded a whole 'nother album so we could have a double album too, and we put “Take that huskers!” (on the liner notes). And I used the Telecaster bass, the first time. I bought it from a jesus freak. It was all natural (finish), it looked like a coffee table. It looked like this (motions to wooden table), had to spray paint it white.
Jeff: So, the first one you used the Precision, and the second one...Watt: Right. You can't tell … you know how we got the order? Here we got forty five songs-omigod how we gonna pick an order? So we come up with this plan-democracy. This comes from high school civics. Like this-there's three of us, forty-five tunes, each dude gets a side. The fourth side'll be the songs we don't pick. We drew straws, D. Boon got first pick, George got second pick, I got third pick. D. Boon picked (Anxious) Mofo. George of course picks his solo song-You Need the Glory, right because we each had a solo song. I had the landlady note - Take Five D. D. Boon had Cohesion. That was our joke, you know, like double album-solo songs. So, my first pick was (Political Song For) Michael Jackson (To Sing). You know the way records are … The first song they play, that's got to be the best song. We figured if ya pick ‘em first, they gotta be the ones you like the best. And side four was the chaff side. You know what chaff is?
Jeff: It's the shit that gets thrown out.Watt: Right.
Jeff: Alright. What's with (firehose's song) Song for the Singer in REM?Watt: I wrote that for the singer of REM. Now I didn't say Mike Stipe … on purpose ya know.
Jeff: Yeah cause when you guys were here last time Ed told us that Michael Stipe inspired him to play guitar. He said that when he saw the Minutemen play with REM, he talked to Michael Stipe, and Michael Stipe said he had a good face to be in a band.Watt: Well, Ed's kinda weird that way. I wouldn't, believe me, nobody ever told me I had a good face, that's why I played the bass. I knew I wasn't gonna make it on the face. I knew D. Boon, well D. Boon knew he wasn't gonna make it on the face. We both knew we weren't gonna make it on the face. Mike Stipe-we didn't even know what REM sounded like, man. We get this phone call, “You wanna tour, open up for us, homes?" And uh … so we buy a record and see what they sounded like (laughs). 'Cause we'd read about ‘em, but I never heard ‘em. Anyway, so we go and … the crew, no one wanted us on the tour. The only reason we were there is cause the REM guys really like the Minutemen. And we couldn't really figure, ya know, listening to ‘em, we couldn't figure what they liked about us. But the main point was that they liked us, sorta like Edfromohio, ya know, him likin' U2 and all these bands I don't even know of, some reason he wanted to come play with Watt, ya know. I tell ya, I couldn'ta moved out to Ohio to start a band, no fuckin' way. OK, so, me writin' that song for Michael Stipe, the man came to a gig in Athens-firehose with Edward. And of course Edward came over there and wanted to talk with him and stuff, but Michael … See, I don't know if you remember but I burned up in a fire. Do you remember last tour? Cause I was healthy by that time, but my whole head … oh no I wasn't in Florida. My head caught fire, this tour I'm talking about, when we were in Athens, (the) day before the tour my Volkswagen blows up in my face, and I'm all burned up. So, Mike Stipe's there and he gave me some stuff, some comfi, aloe, my whole nose and ear and face all burned, see, no scars, from that stuff he gave me. He goes, “Watt, I'm gonna come out in the spring of '88 and I wanna write songs with you." So I just wrote him a song ahead of time. No, usually I don't start with a title, like here's a song for the singer in REM, but that's the way I did that one.
Jeff: Have you heard from him yet?Watt: No (laughs). But I have nothing but fatherly respect for Michael Stipe. Seriously, I think he's a regular dude. Ya know, I'd write my wife letters and he'd write little pictures on the outside of the envelopes and, he was a neat guy, man. His dad was military I think, an officer, but my dad was a chief. So in some ways we're kinda common. He don't work nothin', it'd be hard to be a singer, what do you do in the solo, ya know? Maybe that's why REM don't have many solos (laughs). What do you do? Twirl the mike like (Roger) Daltrey?
Unidentified Fan: Are you and D. Boon half brothers?Watt: Pretty near. Our daddies are different, and our ma's, but we probably are. I grew up a lot, my dad was a chief-a sailor, and always gone. I spent a lot of time at D. Boon's house. With his ma.
Jeff: Who made you play the bass.Watt: That's right. I was the guitar player for like four months … and then she said, “Naaah….”
Jeff: Play the bass.Watt: Yeah and we didn't know what bass was, or guitar or nothin'. I tell you, we didn't even tune with each other until we were like 20. We didn't know.
John: Sounds familiar.Watt: Yeah, we thought if it felt good, you know what, we'd do Down on the Corner (CCR) and if that … (sings riff) If that sounded right.
John: Close enough.
Craig: You don't have any cassettes of some of the old stuff?Watt: No, none, no. We got one tape of the Reactionaries, a band we made just before the Minutemen, one tape. (now available at corndogs.org)
Jeff: The Kiss live, you still got that on tape?Watt: We got the Kiss, but not us. We never thought about recordin' man, in those days ya didn't…Everybody, ya know, was so good ya just never thought ya had a chance. Ya know what I mean? There was some punk rockers up there all outta tune … Now that sounds lame in a way, but in another way it's inspiring, man. It's like it isn't holy anymore, all of a sudden they opened the doors to the church ya know, wiped out the priests. It's righteous.
Craig: What finally influenced you to go ahead and start playing seriously or try to … or were you just playing for fun and then …Watt: Nah, I just played with D. Boon, we just played. Well, we took it serious man … ya know like hey-we got these songs, we got some opinions….we got some…licks, and if you're gonna let us on the stage, we're gonna give it to ya. But not like we got anybody by the balls, no way. No, it wasn't like that. Like we deserve something, no. It was just righteous to have the chance to go for it.
Jeff: Alright, now we're gonna ask the obligatory drug question. I was looking back through my old Creem magazines. And there was this summary of the LA psychedelic scene and they had this interview with this LA drug dealer named Tabitha and she said that the Meat Puppets, Henry Rollins, and you and D. Boon were, quote, “heavily into acid”. Is that a bunch of bull?Watt: Yeah, well Tabitha's probably eatin' some tabs, ya know, ahh … (laughs). What period is this? I did, yeah. Ya know, I went to college, I have a degree in electronics, and … I… Cabaret Voltaire concert, yeah I was on LSD once about eight years ago, and I did a little of that stuff. I would never … ahh … advocate it or nothin' like that, it was just like ah, taking a big walk to Philadelphia and falling down in some potholes along the way, ya know what I mean? I was never heavily into it, and there was no scene. The Meat Puppets live in Arizona. I guess in one of our trips we flew over there. But yeah. I've had at it and D. Boon had at it. I thought it was part of growing up, especially in the seventies where it was all like that. To be hip you had to be chemical (laughs). So she's trying to blame our music on drugs?
Jeff: No, no I just saw it and I thought … I knew it was … well...
John: I remember reading that and laughing. It was hard to imagine Henry Rollins in an acid state.Watt: I know he's used it but I don't think he was … yeah and I don't think he was heavily into it.
John: Heavily into it is a sort of, type of mindset.Watt: That's somebody trying to say she's privileged. I think that's what she's trying to do. She's wearin' her hipness on her sleeves there … and it stinks (laughs). Sorry Tabitha, I love ya anyway, whoever ya are.
Jeff: Will you ever leave San Pedro?Watt: To tour, only.
Jeff: You're gonna live there forever?Watt: Yeah, like bass. You think I'd be a better bass player if I played a five string bass?
Jeff: No, no.Watt: OK, well symbolically I'm trying to say the same thing.
Jeff: What is it about San Pedro?Watt: I'm two blocks from the water, from them fishing boats, from the real world man. I wanna be in the real world. I'll run outta songs, I'll run outta reasons to play. I'm an entertainer, not a musician.
Jeff: It's inspirational?Watt: That's right. Get my hands filthier.
Jeff: Is George still working construction during his spare time?Watt: He's doing some landscaping. Yeah, we works a back-hoe, and, ya know, front loader.
Jeff: Yeah, he told us about it.Watt: It's a true story. Edfromohio was the college, he was sent there, his parents sent him from Toronto, Ohio to Columbus. Yeah, he's much different that way. He even got a, when he graduated from high school, had a scholarship from music school. He knows trumpet, I found out later. He's never played it for me, but his mother …
Jeff: You should bring one on tour.Watt: I don't know why he doesn't wanna play it.
John: If he was forced to play it as a teenager he may have ahh …Watt: Yeah, right, maybe that's why he likes guitar. In fact, I heard he had to get a special retainer to make his jaw so it would work it. (trumpet)
John: Sounds like Clockwork Orange.Watt: Right, right, Malcolm … er, no, no. What was his name?
John: Alex, our little Alex.Mike: Alex, excuse me.
Jeff: I heard about a concert you did with X and Jerry Lee Lewis. How'd that go?Watt: Right, about three months ago, in February. Jerry Lee Lewis, see, same tradition. Motherfucker kickin', playin' with his feet, kicked the stool, sixty years old, threw the coat, threw the glasses, and ya know what he said to me? He said, “Ya know, people say they wanna go back to the fifties,” and he says, “You don't wanna go back to the fifties, those weren't good ole days.” He said, “Kids nowadays are way more smart, man, it's way better being around today.” That's what Jerry Lee Lewis told me. But the same spirit, ya know what I mean? It's funny, 'cause he talks in third person about himself.
John: Really?Watt: Yeah, (adopts southern accent) “Jerry Lee …”, ya know and it's like (laughs) … and it's him talkin' about himself.
Jeff: So that was pretty cool huh?Watt: Oh yeah.
UF: X sold out.Watt: X-John Doe's a good guy man. I tell you, I never understood why he was in punk rock, he sang so good, out of all the LA bands, the Germs and stuff. Because at first it was hard for me to understand, I mean from all this arena rock, all of a sudden I'm in a club, OK? I just graduated high school. Me and D. Boon and George were 76ers, bicentennial boys, ya know, and here we're in the clubs for the first time, and ya know it's like, I thought it was like the farm team, ya know. The dudes just startin' out and learnin'. And here's John Doe singin' with that voice, and it blew me away. Ya know what happens when ya get on a big label and all that stuff? All of a sudden there's like 30 families countin' on you. Yeah but … 30 families, little babies, they got babies that need to be fed, you gotta sell records, you know? It changes, it ain't tunes any more, ya know what I mean? It's-yeah-dollar-business! But there's families countin' on ya, they got a house, you know what I mean? Your sound man, your roadie man. It ain't as loose and little, so it does get different. But it aint cause he's evil man. He's got a good heart, he really does. He lives next to Dodger Stadium in a little house. He's not a boug-ain't bourgeois.
Jeff: What do you think happened to Husker (du)?Watt: I don't know.
Jeff: You haven't heard anything? We just heard.Watt: What, I'm gonna call ‘em up? Yeah, I talked to that guy the day before that happened.
UF: He committed suicide? (Husker du's manager)Watt: It was terrible. What, I'm gonna call ‘em up and “Hey, how's it goin?” I dunno what to say.
Jeff: I don't know if you talk to ‘em or not.Watt: I don't know what to say about that. Ya know, they were almost together 10 years. I should be an authority on power trios, but … I love those guys, and they're smart men.
UF: They'll always have Zen Arcade, they'll always have New Day Rising.
John: I was thinkin' of that … we'll always have Zen Arcade.
Jeff: Zen Arcade and Double Nickels are like the two best SST …Watt: I like some of Candy Apple (Grey). No, no, not Candy Apple, New Day Rising.
John: Oh, New Day Rising is the killer …Watt: Yeah, it's got that song, the last song on side one. Divide and Conquer. One riff.
UF: They'll always have Eight Miles High. They put out some good …Watt: And Bob'll (Mould) be back, and Greg (Norton). It just is - bands are tough man. It's like the army in a way, and how long do you want the army to go? But, I like bands. I think they make more sense relatin' to people. The solo thing is tough. Most solo dudes come from bands, right? Nobody starts off as a solo dude, hardly ever.
Jeff: What does Ethan James (co-producer, engineer) do for you?Watt: He helps me mix them records.
Jeff: But I mean, what does he contribute to your sound and, ya know, as a person?Watt: I think he's straight ahead, he lets what we're doing-see we write all the songs before goin' in the studio. And I think he gets ‘em over without any bullshit. Sayin', “Hey, underline this part, I want bold letters here, I want asterisks here …" He don't do that. He says, “Well, what do you got, Watt?” To me that's like a record company should be. (Suddenly menacing) Don't tell me what to fuckin' play! (laughing). Just make sure it gets in the stores.
Jeff: Have you been to Ohio yet? Have you met Ed's relatives?Watt: Oh yeah. His ma and his dad. And I was thinking … first time … his dad does music, he's a conductor.
Jeff: Did they come out to the show?Watt: No, they didn't but we slept at their house. His mom-even if you get there at 3 in the morning, she cooks up turkey. They have a little house in Toronto, Ohio-maybe population 3,000. Little town, titanium-mill town. And his father, when I first met him I thought he was gonna go (yells) “What are you doin' to my boy!?” (laughs) But he wasn't, he was real nice. Told me about, during WWII he was … The flagship of every group has a band and he was the leader of a band on a boat and it was hit at Salvo island, it was like one of our worst defeats, the Japanese came and snuck up and sank four cruisers and he was on one of ‘em. And everybody from the band made it.
Jeff: That's awesome.Watt: But he was nice to us man. It really surprised me. I was scared man cause I'd never done that before. This kid runs away and lives under my desk for nine months and then I take him back to his dad ya know, it's like, “oh my god”. But his pop was proud of him, even though he wasn't doin' no trumpet. Think it was 'cause he was makin' his own songs, makin' his own … ya know what I mean?
Jeff: Any new bands you've heard recently that you like?Watt: The Dils are back together, called Blackbird, just the Kinman brothers with a rhythm box. They're really good. Ah … I'm a big fan of Sonic Youth, and the Meat Puppets, the Husker Dus, always.
UF: The Replacements?Watt: Yeah, they're - Paul (Westerberg), I think is way smarter than he comes off. I think he's way smarter than he lets on. I think he's an OK guy, I hope …
Jeff: ...Hope they don't screw him.Watt: Yeah I think he knows, yeah, yeah, I think he knows what's up. He's a smart guy.
John: What about the Urinals? You remember a band called the Urinals?Watt: Damn right! Inspired me and D. Boon real big time. Ack Ack Ack.
John: We found an old record up at the station …Watt: I've got ALL their records!
John: They didn't have Ack Ack Ack. We played She's a Drone (sings) “She's a Drone, She's a Drone …" I love that one, it's fantastic stuff.Watt: She's a Drone.
Jeff: Yeah, we played it this week.Watt: What else is on there? There's another song on there…
Jeff and Watt: It's a compilation.
Watt: Yeah I know, New Underground, I helped that guy put that together. That's a sad story. Here's a guy who gets excited by music, right? Gets, forms his own little record company, puttin' out records. Somebody tells him he's good, starts believin' it. He gets arrogant, puts heroin in his arm. Sad, ya know? This idea I'm talkin' bout, like D. Boon, ya know - one band-one block, that's great man, but, don't ever … humility is a virtue man. And that kid … that record's there, we can still play his records but the dude who made it, it's like-shit (angrily). And the Urinals now, they're called Radwaste. Two of ‘em. Have you ever heard of Radwaste? That's John Jones. Big inspiration.
Jeff: So, what's Greg Ginn up to? (former Black Flag guitarist and SST records honcho)Watt: I think he's gonna make another band. I think so. He hurt his finger. Well what happened, he broke his finger playin' basketball. Yeah - he loves basketball. So do I-James Worthy. I got James Worthy to sign one of my basses. So to me like punk rock when it's going good is like basketball, ya know when they're passing it-bing-bing-bing. It's righteous.
Jeff: Yeah, you were talkin' about that during the soundcheck, the ding, you were lookin' for a ding on your bass sound?Watt: Right, well Chris Squire-ding ding. No, I don't like the ding, I like the Live at Leeds growl-OOOEEERRR! (growls loudly). I don't like Chris Squire and Sting. Ya know sting sting ding ding sting sting. I'm more of a (growls) Jack Bruce, Gene Simmons. In fact this old bass guitar Jack Bruce sold, I played his old Cream bass. (unintelligable)
(resumes talking about '70s bassists) Grand Funk guy, I could never tell what note he was playin', looked like he was jammin'. Ten Years After (growls again). It's a bass thing, you guys might get lost by that.
John: What about the ‘50s stuff? Were you ever into that stuff? I mean 'cause you can hear it, the big stand-up bass … that's some incredible stuff.Watt: I never played one of them, but I love the spirit. Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, ballsy-assed motherfuckers. Him and Eddie Cochran. Good people, ya know. Unfortunately there was some businessmen involved that fucked that all up, and they're still here, the fight ain't over.
Jeff: What do you do to people who try and pull that shit? Like disappear after a gig or something?Watt: No, we haven't had that. But I've had a guy bootleg us. That's why we were gonna do the triple album (what became Ballot Result). We figured the best way to fight a bootleg was to have a better sounding live album. Remember the ballot that came in Three Way Tie? That was gonna be for a triple album and half of it was gonna be live.
Jeff: That was still a great album even though you kinda had to … scrape it together. The first two sides are awesome.Watt: I got so many letters. See I don't want people to think I'm vampiring off D. Boon. He was a great dude, man, he worked hard. Nobody should be fuckin' … takin' advantage of him, and I only made that record cause I got so many letters from kids. (unintelligible) resumes talking about Double Nickels on CD) CDs can only go 70 minutes so I left off the covers. I mean, what other ones should I cut?
UF: That used to be, I didn't even look at what side I was playing, I just put it on regardless. Because it was all equally great.Watt: Man, when I look at all the records I've done, even with firehose … Double Nickles is … it was just a chance thing too, ya know? $1200 to make that. Yeah, nobody should tell you that money talks. Money makes loud noises, but it don't always talk.
Jeff: You wanna talk about the new album at all?Watt: If'n? Yeah I got it from a Bobby Dylan song like your paper (USF Oracle) says here. I got it from Don't Think Twice, It's Alright (recites) “If'n you don't know by now.” (laughs)
John: Is that where firehose got the name?Watt: I got it from Subterranean Homesick Blues. (recites) “Don't hang around with those who carry around a firehose, you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”
Jeff: I thought they called you firehose.Watt: Who's they?
Jeff: I dunno, at SST.Watt: Oh Jack Bruce said that once because he's a good friend and … ya gotta understand, dudes like that felt bad for me, and wanted to get me out of my house. (after D. Boon's death)
Jeff: Sonics helped? (Watt refers to Sonic Youth as Sonics)Watt: Yeah, a lot, without the Sonics … (sighs) ya know? And then don't forget without D. Boon there'd be no firehose, cause I wouldn't be playin' bass. Ya gotta know that man. It's not like D. Boon lives on, he doesn't, he got killed. (struggles). I miss him so much, but … without him there'd be no band. I wouldn't be doin' bass. I'd be cleanin' somebody's yard up, doin' pools, whatever. Makin' an honest livin', like I'm tryin' to do with the bass. But I can't pretend that he's here, ya know, that's what I mean.
Jeff: Who are those guys? (pointing to pictures of firehose in Oracle)Watt: That's what I was sayin'. It says here (reading) “firehose take their name from Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick”-see it tells you here in your paper.
Jeff: Let me see that. What the hell is this anyways? (skims through article) Oh, they talk about the album.Watt: (turning the tables) Well, what do you think about their review? (sticks microphone in my face).
Jeff: Ah, probably sucks raw eggs. You were over there (he was interviewed by WUSF radio before us) what did you think?Watt: Well the lady, her name's Jenny (Juristo, later a DJ on WMNF) and she's fired up, and she's for real. But the other thing's (WUSF was dropping their only new music show, and presumably Jenny was the DJ in danger of being dropped) bullshit, yeah. And if they cut their station loose they really are dicks. Ya know, what is it, Soviet France or what?
UF: WMNF is the station.
John: Yeah really, I think the problem is WMNF has got the bases covered.Watt: I'm into it man! There's nothin' worse than a good idea, ya know what I mean? And I think that the more voices that are heard, ya know? “Nobody's got a monopoly on the truth,” Gorbachev said, I think (laughs).
So that's it. To give you an idea how fast he talks, this text was extracted from 30 minutes of taped interview. He talks like he plays - 1,000 miles a minute (which aint bad). Anyhow, thanx MIKE WATT, John and Craig and the unidentified fan who helped out. The show was fuckin' awesome! Buy the album, buy both albums fer chrissakes, and hold on tight!
Photos: Mike Watt's hoot page
Copyright 1988 GTO/HoMade/Jeff Schwier/varmintcong.com
All rights in your ear sideways with a brick