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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


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.