Back in the early days of Chimpomatic, we had big ambitions for the site and got off to a great start by securing this 2001 interview with the bass king, Mike Watt. It's taken 3 1/2 years to get the interview together and online, but surprisingly little has changed. Bush has just been voted in (again) and Watt has just released his long planned third album - "The Secondman's Middle Stand". That's not available in the UK (again), but track it down on import. However, some better news comes in the shape of two upcoming Minutemen gigs in the UK. Watt + George Hurley will be playing Minutemen songs as support for Shellac at the Scala on December 2nd. The Minutemen will also be playing at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival this Christmas, curated by Jake & Dinos Chapman....
After an earlier brush with death, Watt had been recuperating by touring with J Mascis & The Fog - who also brought along Ron Asheton of The Stooges. The previous night's gig had also featured a bloody cameo from Bobby Gillespie, making it action packed...
Mike called me on the phone finally, doing his own press and arranging his own interviews. We decide not to do the spiel after the gig, as they'd be "Doin' Stooges" with Ron Asheton at the gig, and Watt anticipated being drained. He tells me he'll be doing laundry the next morning, so we agree to meet there at 8.30.
"Got to get up early, else the place is stuffed full of Americans who bogart all the machines," says Watt. "It's two blocks up from the ho', but it's the only Laundromat". After looking in 3 laundrette's we find him and get down to business.
Watt: I'm just about to start laundry. First laundry of the tour, so... this is my last outfit...
CSF: Don't they have laundry in the hotel?
Watt: Yeah, but mucho-doe! So I like to use these places, which are all over. Not as many as in the United States, but more than when I first came here in'82. a lot of things are different than they were back then...
CSF: Do like playing in England?
Watt: Sure... all these gigs have been good, but there was something about last night. That violence I didn't dig.
CSF: Yeah, with Bobby Gillespie?
Watt: You know I only met him the night before and he seemed like a really nice guy - I never would have imagined... He said some kid spat on him.
CSF: How come he was there?
Watt: He's a good friend of Kevin Shields, and Kevin's a good friend of J's.
CSF: How 's come they're such good friends?
Watt: Bloody Valentine toured with Dinosaur on the 'Rollercoaster' tour.
CSF: Oh, the Rollercoaster - that was years ago.
Watt: So, we were here in November and Kevin helped us with that John Peel thing. a funny little medley: Everything Flows, Pavement and...
CSF: The Ruts?
Watt: Yeah, Ruts - they were a great band.
CSF: Was that all you did for John Peel? That was that festive 50 thing right?
Watt: Well there was two. We did some J songs and there was something for the end of the year where we were supposed to take some of his top songs. That's why... J didn't know what to pick. So J picked 3.
CSF: Could he do whatever he wanted?
Watt: Well, they had this list of songs - like his top picks over the years. I mean like 30 years. He was a nice man.
CSF: He's kind of the man for that kind of music.
Watt: Yeah. He showed up at the gig and he was talking. I told him I had a T-Rex record called 'Unicorn' where he reads a little fairy tale, and I asked him about that and he told me stories about Marc Bolan showing him Stonehenge - and it was wild. You know I never would have imagined at as a kid that I 'd be talking to John Peel about Marc Bolan. Marc Bolan was my first rock and roll... first guy I had a poster of, from my first gig in 1971. I really liked him. I liked Creedence a lot too - John Fogerty, and The Who and Cream. When I met D. Boon when I was 13, we didn't really know any rock music, so Creedence was a big band and then that summer we went and saw t -Rex with his father. His father's from Nebraska, and we were sitting there you know... it was wild. Marc Bolan with his hair all out here. Kind of like my hair back the 70's when I was a teenager. I played a gig with this band 'At the Drive-In', have you seen them? Those guys had big fro's - yeah that's funny. That's the way I was - so I think I will do that again.
CSF: Your hair's pretty big now dude - you 're getting there.
Watt: Yeah...after the tour. Oh my gosh, I don't shave on tour, but I don't have beards like this in Pedro....look, this is my village people shot.
Watt: That's kind of what I look like sometimes. And here's what I look like mostly (shows driver's license).
Watt: See, girls get to play with their hair, I get to play with my face. That's what I usually look like.
Watt: I 'll get to use this passport tomorrow.
HK: Are you leaving today?
Watt: No, tomorrow. We're gonna play tonight in Brighton, and then go to Belgium through this 'chunnel' - where you got on a train and your still in the van. Ride on top of the train in the van.
CSF: Yeah it's cool, it doesn't feel like it's moving.
CSF: It looks like the whole world start moving the other way.
Watt: Oh, wow! I 've always taken the ferries, and they take forever. This thing's like 40 minutes or something
CSF: Where are you going, Brussels?
CSF: You get there in 2 hours or something.
Watt: They told me they're trying to run the line all the way to London. In fact that is where I met Bobby Gillespie. Up by King's Cross and St. Pancras, where they got all those train stations and tubes, they're gonna build a tunnel to there.
CSF: It already comes in to Waterloo, but they want to build it all the way around, so it's faster. At the moment it comes to England and gets slower, where as in France it's really fast.
Watt: Right, I think that's the kind of... Europe has this idea to get... that's way different bro' to the old days, because every border used to be carnet heavy inspection, duane's, zoll and every time it was like 'ze papers, ze papers'. Now with the e.u . it's so easy for van guys. Some guy who makes a living from playing pads, they need to have not only open minds, but open borders. That's why I'm pro Internet, pro e.u . in some ways. I understand the sovereignty issues and stuff but...
HK: I don't think we'll lose that.
CSF: It doesn't really matter in many ways.
Watt: Just cutting out the middle-men and just trying to get on with each other in parallel universes. Emma Goldman said this thing about how there's no such thing as the mass, just small groups of inspired minorities. And this whole nationalism thing man... see in the United States we have no concept of it, as our neighbours are way off in the extremes, kind of in the hinterlands. I mean we're only 120 miles from Mexico, but we don't have those concepts.
CSF: There's kind of free trade between Mexico the U.S. and Canada though right?
Watt: Yeah, but it ends up being like 'lets chase the weak pollution laws and the low wages' and so... it's kind of free. It's kind of like making money for certain bosses. But still, open -ness is probably the best way in some ways. They talk about this thing called'fair trade' maybe more than'free trade' whereas they should maybe worry more a little about the... there's a point to that though, 'cos I do think that part of it is primary economy. I heard there's a green thing here now.
CSF: Green card?
Watt: Green card! Green party.
CSF: Oh yeah, but they don't do too great though.
Watt: But maybe it's just starting - in the United States, we're just starting with Ralph Nader.
CSF: How well did he do?
Watt: Maybe 3%.
CSF: That's pretty good though.
HK: Who did you vote for?
Watt: Ralph Nader. You know, I voted Democrat for many years, and mainly it was to vote against the 'other asshole.' My first vote was Jimmy Carter in '76 against Gerald Ford and, I don't know... there wasn't enough positive. I was always voting negative against the other side - which is important, especially if that guy seems dangerous. and this current buffoon certainly seems that - but for some reason, I don't know. I was 42 at the time, and I thought, "Whoa! I'm gonna vote Green. " They won't let this guy in the debates. "Al Gore, if you 're a democrat, why won't you let this man speak?" He's not racist. He's not a bigot. He just wants to take the other people up on some of the things they say. I mean it was very strange that Al Gore didn't go after George w 's governor record. Texas is very dirty. Education is very poor. Texas is a huge state, lots of resources, but where are the priorities? But Al Gore didn't go after this, 'cos he had corruption in his state - Tennessee. Ralph Nader had none - he didn't have to worry.
CSF: Kind of a stand off?
Watt: That's what made me upset in a way - why wouldn't they let him at the debates?
CSF: Do you need to have been a senator to run for President?
Watt: No. You only have to be United States born, and over 35. And not a felon. That's it. You don't even have to belong to a party. So, that disappointed me with Al Gore. Ralph Nader goes back to the hippy days. He had this group called'Nader's Raiders. ' it was about corporate responsibility and this kind of thing. Funny thing about the cold war and all this fight to have free enterprise, it seems that once it's over everything is becoming concentrated. Like music, there's not one pure music major label - they're all divisions of big companies and there's only like 3 or 4 of them. One computer company, mainly. This huge Bill Gates. The most powerful man in the United States, ever. They say even more than Rockerfeller was. Why? I thought we were moving towards more openness and whatever. I was talking to some people after the show last night - because last night I got kind of upset with that violence and so I wouldn't go upstairs after the gig. I went into the crowd and outside, just to show the kids... that rock -star shit... Not that Bobby is a rock -star or anything, but the whole idea about the guy on the stage getting away with anything. I just wanted to tell them that I wasn't into that. I think Bobby just snapped. With the spit.
CSF: He is kind of a rock-star though.
Watt: Is he? See I 've never met the guy. He seemed very shy. There was this thing for a movie, on the roof by that station - King's Cross - and they were doing a version of 'Motorhead' - Lemmy 's song. And they wanted us to pogo and it was in the rain and there was electricity and I said, "Whoa, this is kind of scary. " And we said to Bobby, "Come to the show tomorrow night - do some Stooges."
I was talking to some kids outside the gig last night and they were telling me about these riots, anti -capitalist riots - is it called 'Mayday' maybe? - and the kid was saying to me, "Can you understand that? Can you understand why people would get so upset?" he was asking me, you know because the United States has quite an image as idiots - which is well deserved - but I said, "Yes, very much. " But it's hard because they get a lot of T.V. images, so we're either Fred Durst or we're Tony Montana. We're strange things to people, even though we do live up to a lot of those images. Fred Flintstone. Ralph Cramden. Archie Bunker.
Watt: Do you get 'All the Family' here, with Archie Bunker and all that?
Watt: 'Cos I talked to people... now this will show you - we're a nation of T.V. people. You probably have your share here too, but that show was on for years...
CSF: Is it a sitcom?
Watt: Yeah, and a lot of shows were based on it too. That one and this one in the 50's called'i Love Lucy ' with Lucille Ball. All the shows are copies of those two. But I ask people, "What do you think of Carroll O'Conner's rings?"... 'cos this show 's been on for like 30 years, and people say, "What do you mean Carroll o'Conners rings?" and I say, "You know Archie Bunker, he's supposed to be this square john and everything, what do you think about his rings, what were they trying to say?" and no -one notices, but the guy... you know he's a square john right, he has a wedding ring - a gold band... but he has 2 of them. And it's not even on his wedding finger. Both of'em are on his middle fingers and like, nobody notices. I say, "How many times have you watched that show? What's up with the rings, what does that mean?" Is it the writers having a joke, saying 'fuck this guy '? Or is it Carroll O'Conner? Do they tell him what to wear, or did he wear that on his own?
CSF: Did you ever find out?
Watt: No, I never have. You know I 've looked on the web for it. What gets me is that people never even saw that, ever. And it was like on their faces, constantly.
CSF: Probably millions of people are wearing their rings like that, because that's how he did.
Watt: Metal fingers without even knowing it. It's really bizarre. He's supposed to be this middle aged World War 2 veteran. It's just bizarre. He's an underground cat. But anyway, that's one sense of awareness. These kids were talking about living under the capitalist system and that's another kind of awareness. This guy pulls out a book, out of his little pack. It surprises you about people's state of consciousness, so I try not to get too cynical about like who is a dumb fuck, 'cos you just don't know. Some times you can look pretty much the dumbfuck. It's quite surprising. I know a lot of people my age call kids slackers, but I grew up in the 70's and there was never a bigger group of fucking slackers than those cats. I think kids now grow up real fast.
CSF: It seems like a lot of those people that were labelled slackers have gone on to do stuff now. Like you guys and...
Watt: Slackers! Well I'm 43, but there was this idea that these guys... like j, not doing interviews and people say j's a slacker. That guy does a lot, his mind's always going. He's shy.
CSF: He's kind of the epitome of what a slacker's'supposed' to look like, so I guess people see him as a slacker.
Watt: Yeah, they ask, "How many bong hit's does he do every morning before you can relate to him?" It's wrong man, it's just all image. There was a guy from the air force over here talking to me after the show, from Lafayette. a lot of people sign up to see the world. My father joined the military. But you do get to see the world. This guy was here from Lafayette in Louisiana, and here he is at the Empire watching a rock gig. It was a trip for him. But he says, "Hey, I could be bitter and stuff, especially for the first few months I couldn't believe it, but then after a while it was like'hey, I'm gonna get something out of this. '" That's kind of a trip, and I said, "You know, tour's kind of like that for me."
CSF: It must be bad being away from home for that long. You 've been touring for quite a while, like 7 months or so right?
Watt: October 23rd I started with j. And then I 'd only had one day off between my tour and his. So... yeah. But on the other hand the opportunity 's there. I'm a sailor's son, I never would have got to see none of this without being able to play. There's the'b' word'Burden, ' and then there's the 'o' word 'Opportunity.' I'll take up with the'o' word.
CSF: Your "Contemplating The Engine Room " LP is all about your dad, and touring.
Watt: And D. Boon. It's a double thing, it's my father's life and this is very important. He died very young at 52 from cancer - he worked in nuclear engine rooms in the navy. The man never understood what I was doing. He knew I played with D. Boon and stuff we did as kids, but he did not realise that I made a living from this. He retired up to Fresno and I started sending him postcards and it caught on to him like I was a sailor. So I used that idea and then the 3 guys in the van, or the three guys in the boat - with the idea of being in a band touring is kind of the same as like being in the navy.
CSF: Did he get that in the end?
Watt: Yeah, he did. It was intense. He didn't have music people in his family. He didn't understand.
CSF: Did he come and see shows?
Watt: No. Well, he saw a bit of Firehose once in Fresno, at this restaurant called the Spaghetti Factory. They have this thing in the u .s., where they take over an old warehouse and they make a spaghetti restaurant out of it, so they're all over - they're called'The Old Spaghetti Factory. ' So he came and kind of saw what I did. That was the last year of his life.
CSF: Did he enjoy it?
Watt: I don't know. I was afraid to talk to him about it. You know we had a big deal in the 70's. Maybe'76, when we graduated high school and punk starts, and my father comes down - you know I live in the harbour, San Pedro - to have a talk with me. And I tell him me and D. Boon have been writing songs and we're gonna make records, play gigs. And he's like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, but what is it really?" and I go, "Well you know, there's no rules, you just go for it " and he looks at me and he says, "Is it socialist?" so I laughed and I couldn't believe it. He was so mad. He had gotten a six pack of beer, which was weird as he'd never done that, and he picked up a chair by the leg. Then put it back down. I 've never seen him so mad in my life. I just didn't know... he just didn't understand. And then maybe 15 or 16 years later, when I was finally getting there and sending him these postcards home, he was finally getting that his boy travels around in a van playing. His people are from the south. He was born in Red Bluff, Carolina.
i said, "Pop, things change. " All he knew was image, and you can imagine what he was seeing in'76. Guys wearing make up. He didn't know Johnny Rotten from David Bowie - it was kind of trip for him. For him, rock and roll was kind of young. He was 18 in 1957 and so to him it was like Jerry Lee Lewis - who was in his mind very crazy. And he actually kind of is. I got to meet that man and he said an interesting thing about slackers. We were doing this gig together, and his band was all kind of session musicians from Nashville, and he said, "You know some people think it was better in the 50's, but I don't think so " and I say, "Why 's that Jerry Lee?" and he says, "In those days kids were stupid. Nowadays kids are smart. " This is the man that my pop told me about. The craziest motherfucker in the world in my pop's eyes. He'd just turned 60 year's old when I saw him, and he went out there at the Universal Ampitheatre and played his piano. He kicks his stool into the audience, he's playing with his heel, he's playing with his elbow. But I think that then my dad began to understand. To start with he didn't really know I made a living out of it, not that I make a big rock -star living now, but I can live and play.
CSF: He thought it was just a hobby?
Watt: Yeah. And it was - for years. For me and D. Boon as boys, and then as the Minutemen. We were just starting to make a little more money when D. Boon got killed, which was a real shame - besides everything else. We worked all the time in other jobs. Jack in the Box, flipping burgers, in a parking lot, washing dishes in the hospital - all kinds of things.
CSF: How long did that go on for?
Watt: The whole Minutemen! We were just starting to turn the corner. Then we became Firehose and started making a bit more money. Nothing extravagant - I live in an apartment. It's neat though, Pedro is a harbour. I mean l.a. is the nearest important town, but it's' strange too, 'cos we face east as it's on a peninsula and so I face England. The sun comes up over the harbour - it's really neat. a lot of people who live there live in the water. Anyway, you 've got some questions....
CSF: One thing from that... you 've said how D. Boon's dad kind of became your surrogate father.
Watt: Yeah, he just died on April 4th, 3 days after D. Boons birthday. Emphysema. Literally suffocated to death over 20 years. It's horrible. You run out of air in the bronchial sacks. He was very important. He rescued us at a gig once. We were in 10th grade at high school. It's the first week of school and there's a big football game, with the helmets - our kind of football. We got beat bad by a band in the town next to us, and they bring a little portable stage up on the pier and this band wants to use our gear, but they know how to play and they get us to open up - we're called the Bright Orange Band - so we're up there and were doing Alice Cooper, and Blue Oyster Cult, Creedence, Black Sabbath and we're sucking out loud. This was before the days when people had Fenders and stuff. People used to buy their stuff at thrift stores for $10. Just copied records, no one wrote their own stuff. And they're throwing so much shit at us that this guy hit's the power and they start rushing us, and they want to kill us. D. Boon's dad comes along with his pick up truck to the lip of the stage, we jump in to the truck. So here we were for the whole rest of the year. I tell you , when punk came we were ready for it.
We didn't even know that your top string - let's say your'e' note - had to be tuned the same as your buddy 's. We didn't relate the tension of the strings to pitch. We though some people liked loose strings, some people like tight strings. We must have sounded like... We don't have any recordings, but I can imagine what it must have sounded like. I remember I got my mother to sew on these big orange letters, 'cos our favourite band at that time was the Blue Oyster Cult - b.o.c. - so we were the bright orange band - b.o.b. So we had these big letters, saying b.o.b., but we didn't have any dots, so people thought my name was Bob. That happened to me too when punk came. Punk was a trippy thing, it was this thing in town that was very small, and Pedro's like 30 miles south and basically all the nuts from all the towns came to Hollywood. Since I was 10 I 'd lived in Pedro, before I was 10 I lived in Virginia. My whole world was Pedro, but no one knew where Pedro was. I mean they 'd see the sign on the freeway but... So I got a real inferiority complex, so I spray painted'Pedro' across my waist -'course they thought my name was Pedro! a lot of these things are a little too internal. Like the opera, a lot of people didn't get that. They didn't know it was one song, or that it was over one day. Things that are so obvious to me don't always translate. I mean, 'Double Nickels on the Dime' was this huge joke on Sammy Hagar. He had this song called'i Won't Drive at 55' meaning he can't be calm and whatever, but we thought, 'man this guy is jive'. You know he's radical so he has to drive like a nut, but he makes the most conservative music. Very non -risk taking. 'Cos Double Nickels on the Dime is trucker talk for driving 55 - the speed limit. He has it on his label, he had 55 and then a big red line through it, so we put the actual speed limit on ours, and if you look at the picture I got my eyes on the camera and the sign says'Pedro', but the speedometers right on 55. We had my buddy Dirk in the backseat, and it took 3 rounds to get that shot - so much respect to you photographers (pointing to chimp cameraman chimp76) . But no one got it. And then like Ummagumma - the Pink Floyd thing, their double album where every guy 's got a solo song - we had the same thing. We were making fun of arena rock, but no one got this. We even got the idea of a double record from the Husker's (Husker Du) . We had this album all recorded and they come to town and they do'Zen Arcade' and we think, "Oh, we should do one too. " So we wrote all these extra songs.
CSF: What you only had a single album to start with?
Watt: Yeah. We never even imagined making a double album, it was all because of the Husker's. It was quite a family in those days, S.S.T. (the Minutemen's records label) . It was really neat, none of us copied each other, but we were inspired by each other.
CSF: At the time did you feel like it was important?
Watt: Oh, yeah. Very much so. At first the scene was very small, so you weren't really in it for mass popularity, you were in it'cos you loved it... But there was a little infection in every town, it was like a network... sort of like a primitive version of the web now, with fanzines, the bands, the gigs... you konked at their houses. I think I'm really lucky to have that experience you know, before MTv. No one had their hands on punk yet. I guess it got pretty big here (Uk) . a lot of those bands had signed record deals - the Jam, the Buzzcocks, the Sex Pistols, but it was much different in the United States. It was very small, we were putting out our own records.
CSF: a bit more of an independent scene?
Watt: Yeah. So we didn't suffer the highs, so maybe that was a little different, but we were also more free, 'cos of no market pressures. Free to create our sound. No one's gonna like it anyway, so why copy what's on the radio? It was crazy.
CSF: It's really important now in retrospect now, that whole scene, so at the time did it seem so?
Watt: Especially for me it was very important, without it I would not be the person I am today. D. Boon was my first important experience and my most thorough, and secondly was my punk experience with S.S.T. Those two things shaped me. We were influenced by stuff from over here (U.K.) . There was a band called Wire. They just got back together... they had these little songs... yeah it was one of the first gigs I saw after my sickness. I saw Richard Hell read poetry and then I saw Wire in the same week. And I was so frail you know, it was something else. And there was a band from Bristol called Pop Group and they took Beefheart and mixed it with Funkadelic, and we thought, "Whoa, why didn't somebody already think of that?"
CSF: That kind of thing seems much more adventurous than some punk.
Watt: Yeah, but you 're talking about guys who only knew arena rock... never been in a club... In fact, an example, we were so far away I didn't know the bass had bigger strings! I mean the guy is like a thousand feet away, he's this big! You know my whole experience about punk was as a big adventure. a lot of it was ideas we never wrote... no one in our town wrote their own songs. And then we go up to Hollywood, and these cats don't even know how to play and they're writing their own songs... And that epiphany you know, just changed us... changed us forever. But what I'm trying to say is it wasn't just guys we're in the van with - like Henry (Rollins) and Greg (Ginn) and Chuck (Dukowski) - it's also guys across the water here in England. You know, making their little records. I mean how many of those records were made? There was a little import store on the way to college - Long Beach state - called'Zed of London', Zed records. We hadn't even heard of'Zed' that's how you guys say Zee?.....but what the fuck, we thought it was some dude's name! Anyway, he used to import these hippy records - Gong, Neu - and they also started bringing in the punk records, and I didn't even know what these bands were... I just got the records every week, a new one on the cover... I didn't know what they sounded like. Some times they 'd be terrible, but sometimes they 'd be really wild and you didn't know. But the sounds were so much different, 'cos the bands knew they weren't gonna be'mersh anyway so they were just doing it for...
CSF: Just doing it for themselves.
Watt: a huge influence over us. They gave us courage.
CSF: Don't you think that the internet has taken over that? The spreading of that stuff. Like your website.
Watt: Yeah like a fanzine, but I am no webmaster. This is me dealing with folks on a one to one level. My page looks as big as Mr. Sony 's.
CSF: It's mad isn't it?
Watt: Yeah, to me that's the good thing about the web - not online shopping. It's the idea of making parallel universes and wheels within wheels. And then you can get around these'gatekeepers' and their spiel. Like Rolling Stone. Why do we always have to go to them? I never see them in the pit. You know, they pick the time when the thing it's right. "Ok, now every body like this. " Why? Why wait for permission from these cats? And the web allows you that. It also fights nationalism, because there are no borders.
CSF: It's equal for everybody.
Watt: I was trained in'puters, so I go way back where you punched cards.
Watt: Yeah mainframes. All the schools shared one. It took 4 hours for a turn around. You 'd need 20 odd machines to just punch cards. So I was always kind of interested as something to do. I even got a degree, although I majored in punk rock. But this other angle, when it started... You used to call people's houses - these things called bulletin boards. But a lot of those people were... I never wanted to meet them. They knew about'puters and stuff, but it wasn't really... companies really didn't take care of using them. Other users banded together to pass on information. Kind of the same ethics in punk. Self reliance.
CSF: Teaching people.
Watt: Yeah, but you wouldn't want to really meet a lot of these guys. They knew code and all this, but you could tell from their posts and all that they were fucking loons. But now with the internet you have a lot more non -techie people. Students, musicians. First the internet was just these bulletin boards and then once it got open, people started thinking, "Hey this is gonna be a good thing. " And there was a lot of bad things, but people thought, 'i can get something out of this. '
CSF: Is that when you got into it?
Watt: Yeah... it was first in the schools. And then what they started doing was connecting bulletin boards to bulletin boards and then finally people started getting it into more of a web like that. It slowly kind of came together. And now you 've got people who know nothing about computers, they can just push their little pictures. It's sort of like cars. You can just put it in'd', you point it. You don't have to know carburettors. But where you take it...
CSF: It's a good way of publicise yourself. I 'd totally lost touch with your stuff and Firehose and that kind of stuff. It can be really hard to find out about that kind of stuff, especially outside of the u .s., like when new albums are coming out and so on... and now, I know about your illness and everything.
Watt: Even to a writer, the idea of a newspaper might be strange, but now every writer can make his own works that he can publish right up! But yeah, there's a lot of good things about it. Advertise, share. Hopefully... one thing that you can do on a stage with writing is to hopefully give people confidence with their ideas.
HK: So how do you feel about the down sides. Like paedophilia. How do you feel about the bad sides of the internet?
Watt: I think that people can have to much reliance on things and not actually do stuff and get out in the real world. They can just sit there playing dungeons and dragons or whatever... and you can get caught up in stuff... like online chatrooms, where you can get a little abstracted out, where things can get kind of sick. Like frats. In our United States colleges we have these things called fraternities... maybe there should be a period in your life where you 're alone and you have to make friends. I mean you go there where it's like, "Hey Bra..!" and you go to the sorority girls houses... and I think it's kind of fake. There should be actual one on one living. 'Puter can be... it's like hanging out on the phone all day. I don't think it's the actual technical part of the machine, it's the way it's used. It's like a telephone and a television all at once. And you know how people just sit in front of the T.V., and they never talk back, right? They just sit there. And they say stuff like, "There's nothing on T.V. " but they're still watching it. This is dangerous. And you know the'puter kind of carries along with that background. There's also no actual articles. Physical like a book. If I write a book and you bring it to your house, it's in your house. Someone could change the copy of the book he has in his apartment, or the public central library, but you still have that unique copy. You could say, "No, he changed that, look he wrote this!" but I could change something on my hootpage and you can't ever remember what I put there before. And lets say a central government or computer does that like that George Orwell thing, yeah this is a problem. What makes it free, being fluid, is also scary because you can't tell what was real and what's manufactured, so these are some of the dilemmas. Also racists and fascists can put up their'interesting' ideas and so inspire stupid people to do retarded things. But I would rather live with those dangers than not have it. I think the benefit's outweigh those. But I don't want to make it like a panacea where it just solves all the problems.
CSF: Do you think you could get by now without using the internet?
Watt: It would be much more difficult. Like my mailing list. I just did La, where I 've got 1200 people on my list and it's incredible. All the stamps and all the labels. I would. I would! I would keep going, I wouldn't give up just'cos I didn't have my 'puter. But it's sort of like, how would I play for j. without a bass? I 'd have to get up and play jug for him. It's a machine that I use, that I don't pray to, but I use it to get where I'm going. (Mike points to my notes) If you didn't have this typed up, you 'd probably write it by hand. You would keep it going. If you didn't have the video camera here, you use a tape recorder. If you didn't have a tape, you 'd actually write what I was saying. If you 're inspired enough you go for it, no matter what machines are at your disposal.
CSF: (pointing at notes) I 've run out of printer ink, so I had to hand write these bit's.
Watt: See, we do what we have to do. (Raymond) Pettibon gave me this book by Benvenuto Cellini, this guy in the 1500's. He wrote an autobiography - you know he's a renaissance man right, a goldsmith, but he also works a canon for the pope, it's most bizarre - but the guy keeps talking about the self reliant man. The guy tries not to be like either a king or a boss, or be totally subservient. He's some guy who tries to deal with like -minded people. It doesn't mean that he's above everyone else, but he can bring something to the party. To make it a more happening thing. And that's kind of what I'm into.
CSF: Do you see yourself like that?
Watt: Yeah, from my punk experience. My dad would never even believe it. These guys in silly clothes from Hollywood got me going on a whole way of thinking and living
CSF: They changed your world.
Watt: Yeah, they changed my world. Basically I remember seeing it for the first time, there was this movie called'Rocky Horror Picture Show ' and there were guys who would go every week. They 'd memorised the whole movie. They 'd come to the front of the screen and sing. Throw toast. And I didn't understand at first, but it was kind of the seeds that would go on to change my whole life. It's funny about that.
CSF: Do you see yourself as a hero?
Watt: Whoa. Well... I see myself as... kind of a strange man that a lot of people want to know why I do what I do. So it makes them think a little bit about my sanity and also about maybe their own world too. So, I don't know if that's too heroic. I mean, we've all got gigs and we're all trying our hardest at doing what were doing.
CSF: I read that you see... like Richard hell... he was your hero.
Watt: Yeah, he's the first guy that I put on my bass... a picture of him
CSF: So do you see yourself as a person like that now? I mean could you see yourself going on tour with a band doing Minutemen songs, where you come on stage like Ron Asheton is on this tour, and you come on stage and do a few tracks?
Watt: Yeah, I 've had people say that. I remember meeting Richard Hell for the first time, and I couldn't say anything... still is hard for me to talk to him... I get star struck... he's a very nice man... uh, I don't know, it's weird. I mean I know all the holes in Watt's life. I'm inside the head here, so it's hard to see me as a hero. I'm a guy who was very lucky to play with D. Boon, and be part of the S.S.T. family in the early days...and be fortunate enough that people nowadays are still open minded enough to see what I'm up to. So I would call myself a lucky man. But, I love it when other cats who play bass come and see me and they say, "It's trippy what you do on the bass. "
CSF: This guy next to me at the gig yesterday was like that.
Watt: He was into that?
Watt: So, I like that part of it if I can rub off on people like that. But I'm really afraid of fascist elements in rock though. People being So afraid that you 're like some kind of El Duche or something, that they cant do it... where I would like people to look at me like, "Well, if he can do that then I surely can do it. " Making them feel important about themselves and not all like, "Wow, he's so great I could never do that. " You know, I 've been doing this quite a while so like a bicycle, you know, after a while you don't fall down as much, but I think it's important where you take that bike. You 're not just like, "i Am Zee Bike Rider! Look I Can ride with no hands. " You know, what's that about? There's this problem from playing a long time you know, where you play more notes and faster. I just wanted to help J out. The politics of it is strange - we (the bass players) look good making the other acts look good.
CSF: It's kind of your responsibility?
Watt: Yeah. It's like a built in humility. And bass is mystery. Even though you can get closer to the stage now they still don't know what it is. Like that guy said (nasal) "That is not the role. " That was great about d. boon. He said, "Fuck the roles. We're gonna make our own sound. I 'll play really treble here Watt and you just come through the middle. " So on the whole... I'm glad that guy liked that.
CSF: How come you never talk about your mother? The opera is all about your dad and...
Watt: Well, my Dad's dead and D. Boon is dead, so that kind of shared a kind of common thread through which I wove the stories. My mother's still alive. I have breakfast with her every Sunday. And ah... she came saw me play in La about a month and half ago. Do you know what little league is? You got that here where you play baseball? That's what it's like. Your ma coming to a little league game. Kind of embarrassing. And my sisters came too, so that's the first time all 4 of us were together for a long time.
CSF: Did she like it - your mother?
Watt: Yeah, she was cracking up at j. My mother has seen me maybe 14 or 15 times. For her it was never weird... plus she lived in Pedro. In fact, for a year while I was having surgery I lived at home with D. Boon. So me and D. Boon both lived at home at my Mom's apartment. And she always thought... 'cos D. Boon was an artist... she'd say, "Oh that's art - you guys are doing art. " So it never freaked her out really... like it did my father so much. So uh, yeah I should write more about her....
Watt: Hey j. You popped pretty early. (to us: we wanted to get here before the u .s. tours) . It's three pounds forty. Soap's over there for 20 cents.
CSF: £3.40? Christ
Watt: Yeah, plus 20 pence. Way cheaper than the ho' though.
CSF: So, do you think you might write stuff about your Mum someday?
Watt: Yeah, yeah. I mean the whole idea about writing about... I mean, I don't think I 've written about my sisters. The thing is writing about people close to you is always scary. I like to write about... D. Boon would say, "Watt, you write about too spacey stuff man. " So that's why with Double Nickel's I wrote this landlady note..
CSF: The shower thing? ("Take 5, d.")
Watt: Yeah, so I was like, "Is this real D. Boon?" But I'm getting more and more confidence... first born. CSF: Do you wish that you had kids? To like, pass all this on?
Watt: Well maybe the kids that come to the show are all my kids. See, my pop was a sailor - never home. And with me being on tour a lot, it was a very big stigma on me - him being gone all the time, I didn't want to do that to a kid. That's why me and Kira never had children, that was a big problem in out marriage too. Because girls can't wait. The change happens. So, I think my kids are the ones who come to the shows. I always thought of my songs as kids. Little children with little lives of there own.
J Mascis: Do you have a 20p?
Watt: Yeah, here you go.
CSF: So who's your favourite kid?
Watt: I like 'History Lesson Part II.' It said a lot to me.
CSF: If you had to tell someone where to start to find out about you would that be it?
Watt: Well, that song is one that I did because a lot of people were scared of the Minutemen. Like we were martians from planet jazz. So I wrote that song to tell them, "No, this is about these two guys from Pedro who always play together, " and we have hero's - like you said - and we were, you know, bozos, who went up to Hollywood. We were silly. We're not really trying to be so self important. And we sung a little bit different, 'cos these other guys had their...
CSF: So is that your favourite record then?
Watt: Yeah, for my music. I like my opera too, just for having the nerve to try and talk about those things I was afraid of. You know, here I was, 14 years after he was dead and I finally had the nerve to look back at it.
CSF: How did the Stooges thing come about?
Watt: I was sick all that time. I almost died. It was horrible. And I laid in bed a long time, and I couldn't play bass. First time since I was 13 that I stopped. I had never stopped playing bass since I started. And when I came back I had tubes in me, so I couldn't play. I had atrophy really bad - I couldn't play at all. I couldn't make scales, I couldn't do rhythm and so I started doing Stooges songs. There's not a lot of chord changes. And I slowly got a little stronger, so I called j. up and I said, "j. I want to come to New York City and do a gig of Stooges songs, will you do it with me?" He said O.K. And Murph. We did three of them, and I think that gave him the idea of me helping him out touring this record. And Ron (Asheton) has been to my gigs, I even did an album with him for some music...
CSF: Velvet Goldmine?
Watt: Yeah, Velvet Goldmine. With Thurston. And he had seen Firehose and stuff. And J asked me, "Can you call Ron?" Yeah. It was that spontaneous. It's weird how it came back into my life since being a kid. I don't understand a lot of reasons why things happen. I mean, here I am in London singing 6 or 7 Stooges songs, 43 years old. It's so bizarre. It was such radical music for me.
CSF: So, did j. just like Ron so much that he....
Watt: It was a big part of him growing up. a lot of his guitar style is from Ron Asheton. It came out of me being hurt, and the idea that hey, if you want to know someone just ask them. Ask them to play with you ... which was like the old punk days. "Hey, you wanna play?" I remember I wanted to play with Schooly d in Philly, and they said, "You can't do that. That's rap, and it's very heavy. " I called him up and I played a gig with him. He took his glasses off and he goes, "Hey, my names's Jesse. " I met his homeboys James and Mike and Code Money. Just asked him. I always thought in the old days of rap that was just black punk. I didn't see any different - everybody else said, "No, no. They are two different universes. "
CSF: It was pretty amazing standing there in the crowd at the gig last night... and you didn't really play that many Mascis songs really. Half the gig was....
CSF: Yeah, and I was standing there and it was you and j. Mascis and Ron Asheton and Bobby Gillespie... doing Stooges songs.
Watt: That is so trippy. Believe me, it trips me out. It really freaks me out. I would never, even a couple of years ago if you 'd asked me... you know, "You 're going to be doing this. " And I 'd say, "No, come on, " and here I am.
CSF: One of the ways I got into a lot of other music is through your music, and reading the liner notes and stuff. Particularly Ballot Result, where you had this big list of bands who you thanked and then I went off and I found out about those people.
Watt: Yeah, I wanted to talk about things that had a big influence on us. Like I said with'History Lesson Part Ii' they just thought we were aliens. We were trying to say, "No, we're like you . We're influenced by people. " We were shaped by the sounds of folk around us.
CSF: Like John Fogerty?
Watt: Yeah. You know if you want to be a good farmer, you use a lot of manure.
CSF: That's where you got your shirt style from right?
Watt: I got my shirts from John Fogerty. You know, I grew up in navy housing. Military. I didn't realise that those were farmer's shirts. I just thought he had the most unique rock and roll shirt. I didn't really understand. And then later on, "Oh yeah, farmer's wear those things. " I just thought no one looked like him. He was bizarre in those days. I just thought, "Oh, that's his way of doing t -Rex. " Everybody had their own way, their own little style. And this is the way John Fogerty does it. I didn't think it was anything to do with farmer's or...
Watt: You know I never wore socks?
CSF: How come?
Watt: Well, I live in Cali'. Haven't worn socks since I was ten. Then when I got sick the doctor said, "Mr. Watt, you 've got to change. " In Cali' I never even used a heater. See this weather here? (it is a balmy 23c outside - English high summer) That's what we have all year round. I mean there's a lot of negatives too, believe me. But one positive thing is the weather. What I 've found in this world travelling around is that people are people. Geography is what's different.
CSF: What about touring, did you wear socks then? It must get cold.
Watt: What I try to do is tour in the spring and the fall, when everywhere's like Cali'. Everywhere has one period of the year where they're like Cali'. That's when I try to play your town. You get a little cleaner air usually too. One negative of Cali' is we have bad air. It's better in Pedro, but we have a lot of violence. There's a lot of negatives about my town but there some good things and one of them is the weather. That's why I never left. I 've been everywhere, well not everywhere, but a lot of pads. I like the weather. I love visiting pads, but as far as living...also, all my music history is there. I can go to the tree where D. Boon jumped out and me. "Whoa, look at this. 30 years ago. " He thought I was a guy named Eskimo. "i'm not Eskimo. " He took me to his house. I hadn't even heard of George Carlin. we were 13. He'd memorised - his older half brother had a George Carlin record - he'd memorised the whole album. We were walking to his pad. I had just moved from navy housing to the projects and he starts reciting all the bit's. And I think he's making all this stuff up. I'm thinking "Jesus, this is the smartest man in the world. " And then he plays me the record and I was like "Ah, D. Boon. " But Pedro is a very strategic place I 'll never move. I use the Laundromats there. They cost 50 cents. Do you know what 50 cents is?
CSF: About 30p. That's cheaper than here.
Watt: Ten times. I think here they're taking advantage of the tourists. We do that too. But Pedro, we're a harbour town. Longshoreman, fisherman.
CSF: It's £2 where I live. That's still a lot though.
Watt: I remember Georgie (George Hurley - drummer with Firehose) had some shirts done in a hotel in Austria and it was like $80! So that's a bargain at two pounds.
CSF: He could have bought new shirts for that.
Watt: Yeah, a few shirts. And some Levi's.
CSF: So when you 're on tour now, do you see yourself still putting out the music of D. Boon and the Minutemen?
Watt: Yeah. People ask me what kind of bass player I am and I say, "i'm D. Boon's bass player. " I see in some ways, 'cos there's a lot of his playing in my playing. I mean, I was the bass player, but we were very integrated as personalities, but his playing still comes out. That's one reason I really take it serious what I'm doing. He got killed way too early. I also feel a big responsibility not to vampire on him and stand on my own two feet. But on the other hand I don't want people to forget him, and I want them to think of him when I play. I really feel special about him, and I want him to live through my music somehow. I don't know how. I think about him everyday.
CSF: How come you don't play his songs?
Watt: I played uh... I never used to play Minutemen songs at all and then I started doing it last tour. I played'Little Man With a Gun in His Hand', which is one he wrote with Dukowsi. So, I don't play a lot of Firehose songs either, because it feels weird for me to do them without the guys you played them with. I'm going to try some Firehose. I'm going to do a tour from September 12th to November 3rd, with Tom Watson from the Pliers on guitar and this guy named Jerry Trebotic, a longshoreman from my town. He's the drummer from Madonnababes. He just had a baby - I'm the godfather. And we're going to do'What gets heard', which was a Firehose song. I feel special about those bands - Minutemen and Firehose - and I wouldn't want to vampire them.
CSF: I saw Firehose in the Marquee... about 10 years ago.
Watt: That was a great gig... in'91.
CSF: Yeah... and you didn't do any Minuteman songs.
Watt: That was very painful for me. It still is. To play without him is so scary. I know it's hard to really put it to you , but it was very intense to watch D. Boon. He was very inspiring. I can't tell you man, the guy danced around and sung his brains out and played just so intense. There's a big empty space playing without him, so I'm still slow coming around to that... but we wrote a lot of songs. I'm going to do'The Product' this tour with Tom and Jerry, which was off'Buzz or Howl'. D. Boon wrote that. In fact it's got one bass line over and over. I don't even change the whole song, I'm like a robot. That was D. Boon, and it was like a dialog between him and Georgie. D. Boon was very brave. Guitar is the traditional centre or focal point, but he was very generous about me and Georgie.
CSF: Do you think that nearly dying changed a lot about the way you think about things?
Watt: a lot of the songs on the next record are about that. Yeah, it did. You always think that you have enough time, until you 're laying there dying. For a week you can't do anything. I had a lot of feelings inside me which I did Not want to be trapped in there.
CSF: Anything in particular that you want to talk about?
Watt: Oh, all kinds of stuff. I hadn't really made a record in 3 years. And records are ways for me to get things out. Just ideas trying out and... everything... riding my bike. That why I got told by the surgeon, well I asked him, "Will I still be able to ride my bike?" I had to give them permission to cut my dick and balls off, the infection was so intense. Can you imagine? That was a nightmare. And, yeah I want to get... I have a huge urgency... that's why I 've been touring too, It cost $35,000... saved my life, but... that's nothing... I am alive, what's the price tag on that. It made me look at life like... you never know when your last gig is. D. Boon always played hard, never knew when his last gig was. It was in Charlotte, North Carolina, with REM. Last song we ever played together was a Televison song 'See No Evil'. I played guitar. We all played Pete Buck's guitars. Georgie played guitar. And it was our last. We didn't know. We never imagined, and my sickness re -affirmed that.
CSF: So did it make you want to get out and do all these things before you miss out?
Watt: Yeah. I 've been out on touring since September 11th, 2000. Non stop. But I feel lucky.
CSF: Do you feel like you 've been given a second chance?
Watt: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean I was almost gone.
HK: Did that scare you?
Watt: I was 120 pounds and I had 35 days of straight fever. Convulsions every hour. My white cell count was 40,000 - I was almost gone. If that thing hadn't have exploded the doctor said I would have been a dead man. They had to do emergency surgery. These doctors were amazing. The young guys from med' school, at county and you know they work in the gunshot ward. They saved my life. I wrote a song for one of them - Dr. Hopkins the head surgeon. He was like 20 years old. He thought I was nuts. He goes, "Mr. Watt you might need a psychiatrist. "'Cos you can't have fever that long. I was all slurring. And I was so grateful to him just for looking me in the eyes. The other doctors' wouldn't even look me in the eyes! He didn't understand and then my sister brought a magazine in with me on the cover. He's still in school and he brought his whole class in. "Mr. Watt travels around in a van and performs. " It was really neat in a way, you had all these different types of people all with not a lot of money and there was 5 of us in one room. No T.V., no radio. And the nurses were great, you never had to wait more than two or three seconds. Which was so much different than the medical stuff I was getting before that. They had written me off to die. Fed me pills and stuff.
CSF: Did you play the song for the doctor? Or is going to be on the new record?
Watt: It's going to be a weird record. It's going to be bass, drums and organ - no guitar. I haven't really done those gigs live.
CSF: Who's playing on that?
Watt: Bass is Barrett Martin. Barrett played with the Screaming Trees.
CSF: Is that all written?
CSF: When are you going to record it?
Watt: When I get some time! This fall. One thing I have to do is... j. asked me to play with a pick. So I have to play again with my fingers. So I have to do a tour where I play with my fingers. I play with my fingers when we do Stooges.
CSF: So you need to get back into it.
Watt: I haven't played with a pick in 17 years, so you can imagine.
CSF: So when will the record come out - hopefully?
Watt: Spring 2002.
CSF: Will you come on tour to England?
Watt: Oh yeah. Absolutely.
CSF: Because the last record didn't even come out in England right?
Watt: That's right, Columbia over here didn't do it. That made me angry. I didn't think that English people should have to pay a high import price.
CSF: Why 's that?
Watt: Columbia England did not release it. There's rivalry in those companies. It's a shame.
CSF: It's weird because the'Ballhog or Tugboat' album was pushed quite commercially here.
Watt: That's the way these people work - some of them. The u .s. company supports me very much. I 've been with them 10 years, but what can I say about that, it was out of my hands. That one of the prices you pay when you compromise.
CSF: So did you put on that tour yourself?
Watt: Yeah, I played here at the Garage. Mainly I did on the continent, hardly any in England. I like playing in England a lot - Scotland too.
CSF: It must be kind of a detour then to come over to England.
Watt: Not for me. For me it's just like playing in Nashville, or Austin... Chicago, New York City. I have gotten rid of those prejudices a long time ago. Fuck that shit. The world is too big to have a mind that small, that somehow some town is better than another. Like I said, the only difference is geography. I think people are people.
CSF: Do you still do all your own tour management stuff then, organising the gigs, konking on peoples floors?
Watt: In England we did some pads. a lot of places you stay in bed and breakfast's. In some lady 's house. Ain't nothing wrong with it for me. To me they're all means to an end. The gig comes first, everything else is secondary. I konk on the deck of my apartment!
CSF: Has it been good playing for Columbia?
Watt: Yeah, they trust me. They never touch my stuff - I deliver finished tapes.
Watt: Yeah, that's a trip. They like that. They say that I'm the only one like that. I'm the only one for them in a lot of ways like that. That's why they like me, they say I'm different.
CSF: I read that one of their guys gave a conference on "How Do You Publicize a Mike Watt in a Britney Spears World?"
Watt: Yeah that was in Texas at this convention called 'South by South-West.' They wanted me to go to that but I was too afraid. How Do You Publicize Publicize a Mike Watt in a Brittany Spears World? Kind of a dilemma. But, if you 're going to have Brittany Spears you should get to have Mike Watt. You know she was like a mouseketeer and her mother brought here out as a little kid. a much different experience to mine, but we're both on the same planet. And these guys have to tell people about it.
CSF: I doubt she does here own webpage.
Watt: No, but I can see Howard, my publicity man at Columbia, finding it fun to work on Mike Watt when all he's got is Brittany Spears. He's from the old days. He was in a band called the'Nurses' in the late 70's. Then the Velvet Monkeys, with Don Fleming. So we share very much, but the world changes around us, or the commercial world at least. So no matter that even though he gets his paycheck from Mr. Sony, he's still interested in trippy music.
CSF: I guess it's in their interests for you to do well anyway.
Watt: It's trippy about that, but at the same time I live in the country with all the Hydrogen bombs and I'm not too much in control there either. There's a lot of things where I'm not in control. That's why I try and be in control of things I can really get my hands on, like my van, my bass.
CSF: What do you think of all this Napster stuff?
Watt: I like it.
CSF: You 're banned on Napster.
Watt: Am I? There's Gnutella.
CSF: I haven't tried that.
Watt: I have. I got some John Cale. I wanted to play a song, but my record got lost and I couldn't find it. So I looked it up and got that song.
CSF: Is Gnutella any good? They don't link to a central server right?
Watt: It's hit and miss. But I found the song, 'Guts', and I played it on tour. To me... I define the world into two categories, gigs and flyers. Anything that isn't a gig is a flyer. That's the way I look at Napster - as a flyer. **** says anything that is against what Metallica is for is good. That's how he looks at it.
CSF: I found loads of music that I then bought because of Napster. And now I go to sites like allmusic.com where it says, "If you like that, try this " and that led me to even more new stuff that I just wouldn't have heard about.
Watt: Yeah, so, people... I don't understand their point of view, they're just greedy.
CSF: But having said that, I have heard younger people saying "It's great, I can get this whole album for free. "
Watt: But it doesn't sound as good. It doesn't have the artwork. And what I 've found is that people really buy records not because they want to buy the song, but because they want to support the artist. That's why I do it. I could get on a lot of guest lists when my friends come to town to play, but I buy the tickets to support them. So, whatever. That's a personal thing, there's no blanket statement there. I just like openness, that's just the side I fall on. It lets people know. So instead of just the people with all the money letting people know, Napster was a way for the econo guys.
'Ponces. ' I heard this word, This guy in Portsmouth, I played in Portsmouth day before yesterday. 'Cos I was born in Portsmouth too - probably the town it's named after, as it's a sea town.
Nelson has a boat there, we didn't get to see it though. But anyway, there's this picture of a band on the wall and somebody had written across it'ponces', so I ask the guy, "whats that?" and he says (affecting English accent) , "Oh, you know. a bit twee. " But I gather you don't really want to be called a ponce. It's non too positive.
CSF: Mostly it used for someone who like gets stuff for free. Like you would ponce a fag of someone.
Watt: Is that it? Like we would 'bum a smoke'
CSF: Yeah, spread that word around.
Watt: O.K. thanks.
CSF: That's about it I think. I have a few stupid questions. What five records would you recommend that people should listen to?
Watt: Oh yeah. I like 'Blank Generation' a lot. I like 'Willy and the Poorboys'.
CSF: Oh yeah!
Watt: I like... I really like 'Pink Flag' that Wire record - that was wild on me. I like... 'Live at Leeds'.... 'Sell Out' though, that was my favourite Who record. I like... I like 'Another Side of Bob Dylan'. That was a trippy record. I like 'Sister' too... 'Damaged'. Uh, 'Flip Your Wig', 'Up On The Sun. '
CSF: Steely Dan?
Watt: Hah, I head a lot of that! Which one of them? 'Countdown' I guess, or 'Pretzel Logic'. Some of their songs are funny. Yeah I like 'Don't Take Me Alive'.
CSF: What about movies?
Watt: I started watching them again. I didn't watch any in my thirties, but I watched a lot of experimental ones in my twenties. My favourite movie... when I was sick people brought them to me... I liked 'Being John Malcovich', I thought that was an important one.
CSF: He did your video right? Spike Jonze. How did that come around?
Watt: Spike, yeah. Well, he was a skater. He took pictures of skaters, and he took shots at Firehose gigs. He's an interesting man. He's very involved in his work. He made the 'Big Train' video. We got sued for that.
CSF: How come?
Watt: Fucking... train company. For the toy train we used. They said they owned the colour and the shape of the train. Assholes. They were just looking for money.
CSF: Have you ever thought about doing soundtracks?
Watt: I have been asked to do one. Yeah, when I get some time. It 's a movie about a meth -amphetamine cook. It 's called 'Spun. ' It 's gonna be shot in Portland. It 's this guy Willy de Santos. The company who put out Sophia 's (Sophia Coppola) movie 'The Virgin Suicides '. Out of Venice. Cali ', not Italy. But yeah, I though that might be interesting. I 've always thought my songs were like little films. I always thought of my songs as beginnings, middles, ends. Like little cinemas, with me as the director. So yeah, I 'll try it out. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
When I get home in July I'm making a movie with Raymond Pettibon about Jim Morrison.
CSF: With you filming in it?
Watt: Yeah. I'm in two movies by him. One called 'Sir Drone ' and one called 'ThWhole World is Watching: Weatherman '69'
CSF: Are they on video? Are they on the internet, so I can track them down?
Watt: Joe Carducci, the guy who used to run S.S.T. puts them out.
CSF: On 'Owned and operated'?
Watt: Yeah, that's right. He has them available. I got a Joe Carducci page on my site, where he vents his little views.
CSF: 'The Antagonist?'
Watt: Yeah. He's insane. I love him.
CSF: 'All' is on that too right?
Watt: That's right, Bill Stevenson. He just had a son.
Watt: That's another band who I got into. I got into Descendents and Minutemen about the same time.
Watt: Me and D. Boon put out their first record.
CSF: They were great.
Watt: Yeah, 'Milo Goes to College.'
CSF: I got into all that through Santa Cruz skate videos. All the S.S.T. bands.
Watt: 'Brave Captain.'
CSF: Yeah, 'Brave Captain,' on the Natas section. That's the one I first got into - 'Streets of Fire.'
Watt: Streets of Fire! Ohio skate out. I have a big connection with skaters. When I was a kid they didn't have rubber wheels. So you couldn't go on the street. When I got older I always tried to play my bass like it was a skateboard. I wrote an article for 'Thrasher' about that. A couple of articles.
CSF: You've written quite a few things, for Grand Royal too.
Watt: Yeah. I think it's important to. I don't like the way things are compartamentalised. I think things should overlap all over.
CSF: I saw the video for "This Ain't No Picnic" recently too.
Watt: Yeah, with Reagan!
CSF: I saw that and 'Ain't Talking About Love.'
Watt: That was filmed the same day!
Watt: Yeah, we played a gig that night and just did the song three times in a row.
CSF: It's 40 seconds long.
Watt: Right. D. Boon dances in it though.
CSF: O.K., that's it! See you later.
Watt: O.K. thanks bro! I'll come back with new records and new songs. Smooth sailing bro'.
Minutemen - This Ain't No Picnic
MInutemen - Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love
1st Jun 2001 - Tumblr
Perhaps this will come as a surprise to absolutely no-one, but we are fast approaching the death-throes of record retailing in the UK. Of course, we've all been predicting it for years - how online purchasing would lead to the demise of retail - but rather like the possibility of a death in the family we've tended to put it out of our thoughts until it actually happens. Sadly it's about ... read article
Last year saw many bands introduce themselves with impressive debuts, but few were as infectious and exciting as Workout Holiday, the first LP by Austin's White Denim. It was a total shambles of a record darting from one idea to the next and threatened to collapse under it's own weight all the time, but it was electrifying. Chimpomatic managed to have a quick word with bassist Steve Tere... read article
I'd have to say that No Age's LP Nouns has really been the stand out record of this year for me and in more ways than one. Its infectious energy has made it hard to resist but has also encouraged me to delve deeper into the context in which it was created and as a result a whole new scene has opened up to me and introduced me to a wealth of new talent. It's a scene loosely centered aroun... read article
10th Dec 2008 - Add Comment
When Nirvana went global and 'Grunge' became a household word, Jonathan Poneman and Bruce Pavitt's fledgling record label hit the big time. Geffen Records bought out their contract with Nirvana in a tidy deal that gave the Seattle label percentage points on future Nirvana releases - as well as reviving sales of Bleach to make it the label's biggest seller to this day. With interest in S... read article
26th Aug 2008 - Add Comment
With fifth studio album Evil Urges arriving in stores this week, Louisville rockers My Morning Jacket were in town to promote the album, record a Black Cab Session and put on an acoustic show at St. James Church. It's no secret that Chimpomatic are big fans of the band, so we had plenty of questions about British Bobbies, Butch and Sundance, Nashville and Kentucky. read article
7th Jun 2008 - Add Comment
I've been a Silver Jews fan long enough to have developed my own set of ill-informed stereotypes about it’s creator David Berman. I’m sure they dovetail perfectly with everyone else’s opinions of the man and involve a hermetic and reclusive artist, deeply troubled by personal struggles of the past and a guy so dedicated to his craft that the tedium of touring and interv... read article
With a new album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga just released, Chimpomatic favourites Spoon continue to evolve. BC caught up with drummer and producer Jim Eno to talk about recording the new album, out of date Wikipedia entries and his lack of tight jeans. read article
15th Aug 2007 - Add Comment
With a second album, The Beatific Visions, in stores on Monday, Brighton's favourite country-punkers Brakes are back with a vengence, including a recent show at Kilburn's The Luminaire. Chimpomatic caught up with front man Eamon Hamilton to talk about recording in Nashville, South By South West and David Niven... amongst other things. read article
3rd Nov 2006 - Add Comment
Following the release of his new album Post-War and a short UK tour, Chimpomatic caught up with M.Ward for a very brief Q&A. read article
15th Sep 2006 - Add Comment
After storming this year's SXSW festival, and signing to major label XL, Minneapolis' Tapes 'n Tapes' debut album The Loon has finally been released in the UK. As the band prepare for another UK tour, Chimpomatic talked to Matt Kretzmann about their new-found success - as well as Minneapolis's most famous miniature rock-star. read article
3rd Aug 2006 - Add Comment
Following a UK tour in support of Editors and a headline gig at Koko in May, Chimpomatic's BC caught up with Matt Berninger of The National to talk about Alligator, Shakespeare and more. read article
27th Jun 2006 - Add Comment
Back in the early days of Chimpomatic, we had big ambitions for the site and got off to a great start by securing this 2001 interview with the bass king, Mike Watt. It's taken 3 1/2 years to get the interview together and online, but surprisingly little has changed. Bush has just been voted in (again) and Watt has just released his long planned third album - "The Secondman's Middle ... read article
1st Jun 2001 - Add Comment