An Interview with Joe Keithly of D.O.A. and Sudden Death Records

One of the most legendary members of the punk rock scene, Joe Keithly is arguably Canada's most outspoken musician. Not only has he paid his dues by endlessly touring with D.O.A., Keithly has also made a name for himself by becoming involved with a number of organizations and starting Sudden Death Records. Here, in this short interview, Keithly talks music, politics, and, yes, hockey.

First of all, how did D.O.A. originally form? What line up changes has the band undergone and what's the current status? 
DOA started in 1978. We have done 10 CDs. The line up has altered a lot: I would be considered the anchor, or maybe a better way is like the captain of a hockey team, we keep trading guys and cutting them or we use the waiver wire to build a contender. The actual line up details will be in my book I am working on (a family tree). D.O.A. has been around for over twenty years.

In a scene where bands seem to last as long as their songs, to what do you attribute D.O.A.'s longevity? 
Philosophy, DIY-anarcho-be-your-own-boss attitude. Plus a lot of gaff tape.

Additionally, as far as long-lasting punk bands go, D.O.A. is literally one of an extremely select few that has managed to maintain a large fan base without ever having to turn towards major labels to do so. How have you managed to stay true to your original course without creative stagnation, corporate hoop-jumping, or compromise? 
Lucky I guess and fuckin' crazy.

So, what's the deal with the atheism? How did "Festival of Atheists" develop? How did you decide to incorporate CD-ROM technology into the record? Do you feel that the endeavor was a success and did you actually manage to arrange a Festival of Atheists anywhere? 
Well a friend of mine said, "Let's do a Cd rom," so I merely expanded on the idea of the Festival. We never did pull off a complete festival, but we sure did have a lot religious fanatics pissed off at us.

Also, I noticed that part of the album's proceeds go to the Downtown Eastside Youth Activities Society, the organization that operates the needle exchange program in Vancouver's poorest neighborhood. How has the program evolved? Is the situation improving and is there a way that your fans can help out? 
Well, the situation has not gotten any better. They just had a march in that area. I think it was 2000 dead over the last 20 years. People could contact Downtown eastside Residents association to get contact numbers for organizations doing work in that area.

How and why did you form Sudden Death Records? Is there a particular mission of goal that you would like to achieve with the label? 
Everyday we work to take over the world!!!

Also, I've noticed that a number of punk and indie bands (D.O.A. included) paradoxically vehemently oppose the corporate greed that seems to pervade the entertainment industry, but nevertheless support professional sports teams. What do you think about this? For example, I consider myself a fan of both the New York Yankees and the Montreal Canadiens, but I have a disdain for companies like Molson (The long-time, recently made former, owner of the Habs) that contribute to the greed that has tainted our beloved pastimes. Is this hypocritical behavior on the part of politically-aware activists or merely an inescapable catch-22 that casts a dark light on the very healthy love of athletic competition? Should this even be a concern? 
Yes, the people that run the leagues and own the teams are generally not the greatest bunch of people going, but you are right ,it is tough I am a big fan of the Van. Canucks ,the Dallas stars and the Oakland Raiders and usually my team loyalty is much stronger to the team than the athletes, for example somebody has a great season with the Canucks (Pavel Bure), I hope they are sub-par elsewhere. Yes, sports are great, oh well!

Back to the music questions. Is D.O.A currently working on any new projects? 
Yes, a new album for D.O.A.

Are there any tours in planning? How about Sudden Death? Any new projects there that you would like to mention? 
Vice Squad, The Ripcordz, Los Mex Pistols, and now, Portrait of Poverty.


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