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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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Richard Hell And The Voidoids - Blank Generation
You gotta understand bass the way it was back then, and my understanding of bassists before Richard Hell came along. Basically, back then bass was where you put the idiot friend. This was the guy in little league you put in right field where nobody hits the ball.

But then you have Dick Hell. Dick's a bass man, but y'know… he writes the song, he's the leader, he has that trippy-ass fashion and this wild style of singing, and he's, y'know, he's making statements! This is not the guy in the back! 

It blew my fucking mind, man, It was like Richard Hell was an affirmation of my entire life. And then the Voidoids cover a Creedence song! 'Walking On The Water'! I couldn't fucking believe that one, man. Then D. Boon picks up on this Hell thing and he's like, "OK, I'm gonna play all trebly on my guitar against your bass to give you room." He was like, "We're gonna make this like an economy, we're gonna make this political: we're gonna try to put political ideas into how we're gonna make the music." Not the the fucking lyrics, man, literally how the songs were made! Fuck! He was like, "we're gonna bring the drums up and I'm gonna play all high [putting on a deep D Boon-style voice]: "A dialogue, a dialogue, we're going to create a dialogue!" [laughs]. 

So I put a picture of Hell on by bass, in his fucking cool clothes, y'know, and the musicians in Pedro (y'know the best guy was the one who could play 'Black Dog' the best)... when they saw it, they were like "fuck you… fuck you". You couldn't tell people you were into punk back then 'cause they'd hate you! The reaction to punk in the US was really really negative, man. I mean, we'd get the batteries, the sacks of puke, even the cups of piss thrown at us during gigs.

Later on I find out that Hell's from Kentucky, and I get to be friends with him! I go to his apartment in New York and he takes me to the Guggenheim, let's me play his bass, and his wife talks to me about Divine Comedy, which I had read a bunch of times as a boy. 

Man, me and D. Boon loved how he dressed in the Blank Generation times. We loved it! We were so into dressing like him. I had him on my radio show a while back and it was so bad, 'cause I asked him about his style back then and he fuckin' hated it! He got so mad. But Hell was fundamental for me. He taught me that punk wasn't how you played, it was what was going on in your fucking head, man. Punk was whatever you wanted it to be. That's a D. Boon quote.

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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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