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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


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!