Talk – Action = 0 has long been the slogan for Canadian punk rock legends DOA, and now the band’s founder and frontman Joe Keithley (formerly Joey Shithead) is taking it a step further; Provincial politics. It’s a decision that is bringing the thirty-five year run of the band to a close.
While it was a hard decision for Keithley to park the tour van, it was one that made sense. Long before Joe was a punk rocker playing benefit concerts for everything from Rock Against Racism, to the Occupy movement, he was firmly entrenched with the folk activism of Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie. As a musician, you can only take your activism so far before you are “preaching to the choir” so to speak. Keithley feels that stepping into politics full time will broaden that base.
So with his seeking the nomination for the NDP in the riding of Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, he is putting DOA to rest for the time being. Whether or not the band’s demise is permanent remains to be seen. Although being a politician hinders his ability to hit the road, he will certainly continue to write songs.
As is the way with politics in the twenty-first century, there will be opponents and detractors who will take cheap shots at a candidate who is a punk rocker and is known around the world as Shithead. While most people on the political stage may have had wild and crazy moments in their youth, the only difference is that a lot of Joe’s youth was in the public eye. As he puts it “It’s not like I was drunk driving in Hawaii and endangering lives. Nothing I’ve done in the band has been like that”.
From reading DOA lyrics, to scanning his campaign platform, it’s not hard to tell where Keithley is coming from. He fights for the environment and the working class, and against big business and oppression. He also has the potential to bring in younger voters who are familiar with his music. These are all things that would be an asset to the NDP in the coming Provincial election.
The title of DOA’s debut album was “Something Better Change” and it would seem that in 2013 Joe Keithley has found a way to do just that. We will just have to wait and see if British Columbia is ready for a punk in politics. DOA’s stop in Victoria on the Farewell Tour is on Sunday, January 28th at Club 9one9.
By Tyler Forslund