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Baker's Dozen

"The Spirit": Mike Watt Of The Missingmen's Favourite Albums
John Calvert , March 6th, 2014 10:13

Currently in the middle of a European tour, the Minutemen, Dos and Firehose founder pares down his record collection to give John Calvert his thirteen all-time top LPs

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MI-GU - 'From Space'
I thought I'd bring something to my Baker's Dozen from recently, not from my boy-punk days or young punk-man days. 

When I went to Japan in 2008 a young fan of mine who'd moved to Osaka sent me this record. And one thing I learnt in the early days of punk is "always listen to anything anyone sends you, cause you never know". So I listened to it, and I thought it was most trippy thing. And then, when I finally got to play with them it felt like this was the first band I'd played in since playing with D. Boon that had a real effect on me. Shit just got personal again. There's the way they sang in English, which isn't their first language, and her drumming, man [MI-GU's drummer Yuko Araki]! Her story is incredible. Her dad's a squid fisherman, but he sent her to one of those Yamaha drum schools.

The thing I found about getting older is the danger is you think you know it all, and I try to fight that, man, 'cause everyone's got something to teach you. So like, MI-GU's thing is precision… and precision and "'fusion" was one of the things Minutemen were reacting against. You know when we graduated in '76, the biggest record was Romantic Warrior by [jazz-fusionists] Return To Forever; we hated it. But one thing MI-GU has taught me is that you can have precision and expertise and still bring "the spirit", so I didn't want to be a punk snob just 'cause there was some notes involved. I mean their lyrics alone, man: "What do I know? What do you know? / Water in your body / Water in space / We never learn from our mistakes / That's a reality we have to face / Can you relate to yourself… from space." What the fuck?? And I was born in 1957, the year of Sputnik, so I always wanted to be an astronaut. 

And y'know what, I'm glad I listened this MI-GU thing has opened all of these new areas for me. For 35 years I booked my gigs through this Dutch promoter called Carlos. But now i'm getting gigs through all these kids who learnt about Minutemen through MI-GU: all these Irish noise bands like Adebisi Shank and And So I Watch You Afar, from Belfast. Tony [Wright, former ASIWYFA member] has got me doing spiel on his new record. The best thing is, I get to hang out with all these young cats now and get to see, "the next shift". It's not all museum pieces and people in glass boxes these days. The [punk] ethos survives in them!

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Mar 6, 2014 4:09pm

Cue inevitable 'He's picked a load of albums I've heard of, boooooring' type comments. Sounds like a real gent, I'd love to go for a beer with him.

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Mar 6, 2014 4:57pm

Love Mike Watt, best Baker's Dozen ever. Thanks!!

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Mar 6, 2014 4:58pm

He is a real gent, had a drink with him when he last played the Lexington.

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alex connor
Mar 6, 2014 5:36pm

mike. fucking. watt.
That made my day.
I'm still smiling...

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F Again
Mar 6, 2014 5:42pm

Oh man, what a joy. Can you bring Watt back for a second and third Dozen?

Thank you for this, it's just the best.

Watt is The Man- then, now and forever.

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Taun Aengus
Mar 6, 2014 6:20pm

Mike Watt is the man. What a heartfelt soulful dude. All those albums are like pouring gasoline on a fire.
Just had a thought--How about getting Lester Bangs back from the dead and finding out his favs?

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Mar 6, 2014 7:14pm

Mike Watt is almost impossibly cool.

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Manic Inventor
Mar 6, 2014 7:19pm

A Baker's Dozen that woke me up instead of putting me to sleep. Hell Yeah!

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Mar 6, 2014 7:26pm

everytime i read "D.Boon" written i can hear mike saying it in his voice hahaha. he fucking loves saying it.

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Mar 6, 2014 9:48pm

Every bit as excellent a read as I'd hope.
Countdown to the Ruby Lounge...

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Mar 6, 2014 10:31pm

Blue Oyster Cult ** are ** (were) shorties!! And so is Richard Meltzer!!

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Mar 7, 2014 3:46am


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Mar 7, 2014 2:27pm

This was a joy to read. Brilliant. Love Mike Watt and can't wait to see him again in a few weeks.

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Mar 7, 2014 8:17pm

Not to nitpick, but in the first paragraph of the Stooges record, the word "shields" is used, when I think Watt meant "shills": to act as a spokesperson or promoter <the>

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Mar 7, 2014 11:49pm

In reply to Jeff:

It's possible that is what he meant. Apologies, if so. I was talking to him from another country so the connection was a little sketchy.

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Mar 8, 2014 11:05pm

Mike Watt Forever! Thank you for getting him to talk about his favourite records, I can now go off and love him just that extra bit more.

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Mar 10, 2014 11:08am

Mike Watt will always be the man and one of my biggest heroes. I think the first comment said something about "Cue the inevitable "He's picked a lot of albums I've heard of etc." but the great thing about his choices is that they aren't just name dropping the classics as some might do, but that you can hear each album's honest to god influence on his playing and his approach to life. Thank you Mike!

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Mar 11, 2014 12:46am

Seeing Mike slay in Los Angeles last year was a blast (even jamming on "Sister Ray" in tribute to Lou). Love the term "hittin' the Creedence" - gotta use that.

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Mar 13, 2014 1:49pm

I didn't want that to end...just brilliant, give him a regular spot. Got me fired up like carburetor dung.

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Mar 13, 2014 4:48pm


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Mar 17, 2014 11:54am

I think when he says "second band" on the Stooges page he might have meant "Secondmen" as Iggy would have asked him to be in the Stooges around 2002 when Watt was doing the Secondmen band...

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Mar 25, 2014 1:44pm

They say never meet your heroes, they obviously never met Mike Watt. I got 5 minutes with him after his gig in Belfast a few years ago and he was polite, engaging, enthusiastic and just the friendliest guy you could meet. Love the guy, love this article!

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Apr 4, 2014 2:10am

The many musical layers of Mike Watt. That is all.

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