Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mike Watt's Coming To Town!

Posted By on Tue, Jan 4, 2011 at 3:00 PM

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Mike Watt is one of those alt-rock icons that really makes you glad to be alive. The guy's brimming with charisma, enthusiasm, niceness, and ethics. You love him and you're pretty sure he loves you. Well, the time to share the love is coming soon, as the storied bassman is hitting Orlando on his upcoming tour. March 23 @ the Social.

And now, for your tl;dr pleasure, I provide the text of the press release that accompanied the announcement. It is by far the longest such bio I've ever read, and the fact that it (excruciatingly) details the history of a well-known legend makes it that much more awesome. The print opposite of "We Jam Econo" is after the jump:

"hyphenated-man" is the name of mike watt?s third opera, contemplating the

engine room (1997) being the first one and the secondman's middle stand

(2004) being the second. He expressly put together the missingmen (on

guitar: tom watson and on drums: raul morales) for this project a couple

of years ago and now (with the mastering by john golden), it has now been

realized, recorded at tony maimone?s Studio G in Brooklyn Spring of 2009.

It's the first release on watt?s clenchedwrench label.

?whereas ...engine room dealt w/my pop's life in the navy as a metaphor

for the story of the minutemen,? watt explains, ?and ...middle stand was a

parallel to dante's "comedia" dealing w/an illness that almost killed me

in 2000, this third opera is quite different in that it has no standard

narrative (libretto!) meaning no regular beginning-middle-end and is as it

were "simultaneous" in the way a mirror from just inside my head - right

in this middle-age moment of mine - was then shattered into thirty pieces

and then each piece stuffed in the head to show a piece of my state of

mind (or out-of-mind) as of now. ?thirty tunes?? yes, they're little

ones... actually they're ?thirty parts? of one big tune. back in 2005, too

heavy to really hear minutemen stuff for many years, I had to face myself

and get the nerve up to hear it again when I agreed to let keith scheiron

and tim irwin make the we jam econo documentary (many thanks to them and

all who helped out on that). I even did a few gigs w/george hurley w/us as

a duet doing some of the old tunes and it was trippy for me, like I was

digging on how ?econo? those tiny tunes were - no filler, right to point

and distilled down to the bare nada.?

From his earliest years performing with d. boon and the minutemen while

helping to establish the American indie rock scene through the

then-fledgling SST scene, mike watt has had a deep sense of purpose

although, as he admits, "it's hard to describe the mission, what makes me

put almost everything else secondary. when i tour, i conk at people's

pads. i play every day. i'm not using it as a means to a lifestyle. i

don't really know what the mission is exactly except to do this as intense

as i can. it's like being a sailor or something. Sometimes, it does feel

as if I've been given orders, a bizarre spin on the minstrel or troubadour

scenario, the town crier, the guy that goes between the towns to let the

other towns know about each other."

An inveterate road dog, mike has spent an incalculable percentage of the

past quarter century touring in numerous ensembles and configurations.

Beginning with the minutemen in the early 1980s, watt helped define the

"econo-tour," a road warrior-style approach to touring that involved

performing the most gigs possible in the fewest days with the lowest

possible overhead. Sharing a van with SST labelmates Black Flag, the

minutemen unknowingly created the roadmap of national club routes that the

budding Punk Rock Nation would later adopt as its own. Finally, after four

years of watching the tour van odometer flip over to zeros, the minutemen

came to an end on December 23, 1985 when a tragic van accident took d.

boon's life.

watt retreated from music after the loss, though not for long. An avid

Ohio-based minutemen fan named Ed "fROMOHIO" Crawford found watt's number

in the phone book and announced that he was moving to San Pedro to start a

new band with watt and drummer george hurley. The trio launched fIREHOSE

in June 1986 going on to create five studio albums and a live EP,

indulging in seven-and-a-half years of non-stop econo-touring (without

ever taking label tour support).

In the spring of 1995, he released his first solo album, ball-hog or

tugboat? The album enlisted no less than 48 different participants

including members of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, the Beastie Boys, Soul Asylum,

the Lemonheads, and the Screaming Trees. In fact, the tour line-up for

Watt's first solo outing included Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder on vocals, the

Germ's Pat Smear on guitar, and Nirvana's David Grohl on drums, with

Grohl's then-new group, the Foo Fighters, delivering their very first live

performances in the support slot. After this tour, he did two more with

Nels Cline and two drummers as the ?crew of the flying saucer.? He then

toured for a year as a sideman on bass for Perry Farrell's Porno for Pyros

and recorded two songs for their second album.

Then watt trimmed his caravan back to a three-man team and recorded his

1997 follow-up, the punk opera contemplating the engine room. The thematic

effort revolved around three seamen in the engine room of a naval vessel,

in sum creating a powerful metaphor for the minutemen and their road lives

in "the boat" (watt's name for the van he tours in). He brought this

around the towns for fourteen months with the black gang, a trio that had

the album's nels cline and stephen hodges at different times along with

bob lee and joe baiza.

the secondman's middle stand was watt's third solo album and first to be

recorded with a bass, organ (pete mazich), and drums (jerry trebotic)

line-up. This project was his response to a critical illness in 2000 with

a fever lasting 38 days, its climax an abscess bursting in his perineum.

watt used his recovery period to re-read, among a dizzyingly wide range of

other books, Dante Alighieri's "Divine Comedy," (he first read it as a

teenager) which is divided into three sections: "Inferno," "Purgatorio,"

and "Paradiso." Both "Purgatorio" and "Paradiso" are divided into 33

cantos ("Inferno" has 34) with each section divided into groups of 3 lines

called tercets -- a direct influence on the album.

In addition to his primary efforts, watt's yearnings for creative output

have resulted in numerous collaborations and side projects, both in the

studio and on the road: Unknown Instructors with george hurley, guitarist

Joe Baiza (Saccharine Trust) and a revolving cast of vocalist/poets; bass

guitar duo dos with ex-Black Flag bassist kira roessler; the Fog with J

Mascis; Banyan, an experimental alt-jazz project with Pyro/Jane's

Addiction member Stephen Perkins; hellride with Perkins and Peter

Distefano ?whupping up stooges in a john coltrane way?; Li'l Pit;

Crimony; Bootstrappers; the original Punk Rock Karaoke with Eric Melvin of

NOFX and Greg Hetson of Bad Religion;.

watt also was part of the Wylde Rattz with the Stooges' Ron Asheton,

Mudhoney's Mark Arm, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Steve Shelley who

covered the Stooges' classic "TV Eye" for the soundtrack to the Todd

Haynes film Velvet Goldmine. This led to Iggy Pop inviting mike to join

the reformed Stooges along with Ron and Scott Asheton, touring with them

as well as playing on their comeback album, The Sickness. watt continues

as a Stooge in the current line-up with James Williamson rejoining the

band after the death of Asheton in 2008.

Our man in Pedro also stays busy with a weekly web radio program, The Watt

From Pedro Show (twfps.com), and his own site, hootpage.com, both of which

provide outlets for his many political interests, including the fight

against FFC regulations on low power FM stations and web radio channels.

He also loves pedaling his bike around his town four days a week while

paddling his kayak the other three - all at the crack of dawn.

But there is a thread that connects all of Watt's concerns. "Art and music

mirrors nature in a lot of ways," Watt says. "Nature's a lot about

resonances and cycles and rhythms. Nature has no ethics or morality.

Neither does music. It operates on a level where words aren't. There's

always going to be a hankering to get connections on a non-word level. Can

we have ideas that don't have words for them? You can't know anything, you

can only believe. The way you describe what you believe is a prison. Music

is a way to get around that.

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