Mike Watt is one of those alt-rock icons that really makes you glad to be alive. The guy's brimming with charisma, enthusiasm, niceness, and ethics. You love him and you're pretty sure he loves you. Well, the time to share the love is coming soon, as the storied bassman is hitting Orlando on his upcoming tour. March 23 @ the Social.
And now, for your tl;dr pleasure, I provide the text of the press release that accompanied the announcement. It is by far the longest such bio I've ever read, and the fact that it (excruciatingly) details the history of a well-known legend makes it that much more awesome. The print opposite of "We Jam Econo" is after the jump:
"hyphenated-man" is the name of mike watt?s third opera, contemplating the
engine room (1997) being the first one and the secondman's middle stand
(2004) being the second. He expressly put together the missingmen (on
guitar: tom watson and on drums: raul morales) for this project a couple
of years ago and now (with the mastering by john golden), it has now been
realized, recorded at tony maimone?s Studio G in Brooklyn Spring of 2009.
It's the first release on watt?s clenchedwrench label.
?whereas ...engine room dealt w/my pop's life in the navy as a metaphor
for the story of the minutemen,? watt explains, ?and ...middle stand was a
parallel to dante's "comedia" dealing w/an illness that almost killed me
in 2000, this third opera is quite different in that it has no standard
narrative (libretto!) meaning no regular beginning-middle-end and is as it
were "simultaneous" in the way a mirror from just inside my head - right
in this middle-age moment of mine - was then shattered into thirty pieces
and then each piece stuffed in the head to show a piece of my state of
mind (or out-of-mind) as of now. ?thirty tunes?? yes, they're little
ones... actually they're ?thirty parts? of one big tune. back in 2005, too
heavy to really hear minutemen stuff for many years, I had to face myself
and get the nerve up to hear it again when I agreed to let keith scheiron
and tim irwin make the we jam econo documentary (many thanks to them and
all who helped out on that). I even did a few gigs w/george hurley w/us as
a duet doing some of the old tunes and it was trippy for me, like I was
digging on how ?econo? those tiny tunes were - no filler, right to point
and distilled down to the bare nada.?
From his earliest years performing with d. boon and the minutemen while
helping to establish the American indie rock scene through the
then-fledgling SST scene, mike watt has had a deep sense of purpose
although, as he admits, "it's hard to describe the mission, what makes me
put almost everything else secondary. when i tour, i conk at people's
pads. i play every day. i'm not using it as a means to a lifestyle. i
don't really know what the mission is exactly except to do this as intense
as i can. it's like being a sailor or something. Sometimes, it does feel
as if I've been given orders, a bizarre spin on the minstrel or troubadour
scenario, the town crier, the guy that goes between the towns to let the
other towns know about each other."
An inveterate road dog, mike has spent an incalculable percentage of the
past quarter century touring in numerous ensembles and configurations.
Beginning with the minutemen in the early 1980s, watt helped define the
"econo-tour," a road warrior-style approach to touring that involved
performing the most gigs possible in the fewest days with the lowest
possible overhead. Sharing a van with SST labelmates Black Flag, the
minutemen unknowingly created the roadmap of national club routes that the
budding Punk Rock Nation would later adopt as its own. Finally, after four
years of watching the tour van odometer flip over to zeros, the minutemen
came to an end on December 23, 1985 when a tragic van accident took d.
watt retreated from music after the loss, though not for long. An avid
Ohio-based minutemen fan named Ed "fROMOHIO" Crawford found watt's number
in the phone book and announced that he was moving to San Pedro to start a
new band with watt and drummer george hurley. The trio launched fIREHOSE
in June 1986 going on to create five studio albums and a live EP,
indulging in seven-and-a-half years of non-stop econo-touring (without
ever taking label tour support).
In the spring of 1995, he released his first solo album, ball-hog or
tugboat? The album enlisted no less than 48 different participants
including members of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, the Beastie Boys, Soul Asylum,
the Lemonheads, and the Screaming Trees. In fact, the tour line-up for
Watt's first solo outing included Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder on vocals, the
Germ's Pat Smear on guitar, and Nirvana's David Grohl on drums, with
Grohl's then-new group, the Foo Fighters, delivering their very first live
performances in the support slot. After this tour, he did two more with
Nels Cline and two drummers as the ?crew of the flying saucer.? He then
toured for a year as a sideman on bass for Perry Farrell's Porno for Pyros
and recorded two songs for their second album.
Then watt trimmed his caravan back to a three-man team and recorded his
1997 follow-up, the punk opera contemplating the engine room. The thematic
effort revolved around three seamen in the engine room of a naval vessel,
in sum creating a powerful metaphor for the minutemen and their road lives
in "the boat" (watt's name for the van he tours in). He brought this
around the towns for fourteen months with the black gang, a trio that had
the album's nels cline and stephen hodges at different times along with
bob lee and joe baiza.
the secondman's middle stand was watt's third solo album and first to be
recorded with a bass, organ (pete mazich), and drums (jerry trebotic)
line-up. This project was his response to a critical illness in 2000 with
a fever lasting 38 days, its climax an abscess bursting in his perineum.
watt used his recovery period to re-read, among a dizzyingly wide range of
other books, Dante Alighieri's "Divine Comedy," (he first read it as a
teenager) which is divided into three sections: "Inferno," "Purgatorio,"
and "Paradiso." Both "Purgatorio" and "Paradiso" are divided into 33
cantos ("Inferno" has 34) with each section divided into groups of 3 lines
called tercets -- a direct influence on the album.
In addition to his primary efforts, watt's yearnings for creative output
have resulted in numerous collaborations and side projects, both in the
studio and on the road: Unknown Instructors with george hurley, guitarist
Joe Baiza (Saccharine Trust) and a revolving cast of vocalist/poets; bass
guitar duo dos with ex-Black Flag bassist kira roessler; the Fog with J
Mascis; Banyan, an experimental alt-jazz project with Pyro/Jane's
Addiction member Stephen Perkins; hellride with Perkins and Peter
Distefano ?whupping up stooges in a john coltrane way?; Li'l Pit;
Crimony; Bootstrappers; the original Punk Rock Karaoke with Eric Melvin of
NOFX and Greg Hetson of Bad Religion;.
watt also was part of the Wylde Rattz with the Stooges' Ron Asheton,
Mudhoney's Mark Arm, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Steve Shelley who
covered the Stooges' classic "TV Eye" for the soundtrack to the Todd
Haynes film Velvet Goldmine. This led to Iggy Pop inviting mike to join
the reformed Stooges along with Ron and Scott Asheton, touring with them
as well as playing on their comeback album, The Sickness. watt continues
as a Stooge in the current line-up with James Williamson rejoining the
band after the death of Asheton in 2008.
Our man in Pedro also stays busy with a weekly web radio program, The Watt
From Pedro Show (twfps.com), and his own site, hootpage.com, both of which
provide outlets for his many political interests, including the fight
against FFC regulations on low power FM stations and web radio channels.
He also loves pedaling his bike around his town four days a week while
paddling his kayak the other three - all at the crack of dawn.
But there is a thread that connects all of Watt's concerns. "Art and music
mirrors nature in a lot of ways," Watt says. "Nature's a lot about
resonances and cycles and rhythms. Nature has no ethics or morality.
Neither does music. It operates on a level where words aren't. There's
always going to be a hankering to get connections on a non-word level. Can
we have ideas that don't have words for them? You can't know anything, you
can only believe. The way you describe what you believe is a prison. Music
is a way to get around that.