Bassist Mike Watt stormed out of San Pedro, California in the early 1980’s with the influential punk power trio the Minutemen; blending elements of funk, jazz and classic rock into the hardcore scene. The tragic death of his close friend and bandmate, D. Boon, put an end to that great band and sent Watt into depression. Eventually, he re-emerged with the help of Sonic Youth, playing on several of their recordings before forming another trio, firehose, and the all-bass duo called Dos.
Watt has released several solo albums, written operas, and played on other peoples’ albums too numerous to mention. Now comes Mike Watt – On and Off Bass – a collection of his (surprisingly good) photography, which also includes excerpts from his tour diary. Icon Fetch talks with Mike Watt about the origins of the new book, his recent spoken-word collaboration with rock critic Richard Meltzer, and how a day doesn’t go by without him thinking of his late friend, D. Boon.
Richard Meltzer was one of the first rock critics, penning the first full-length book on the subject, “The Aesthetics of Rock,” in 1970, while reveling in much of he excesses of the day. He wrote for many of the seminal magazines, including the Village Voice, Crawdaddy, Creem and Rolling Stone. He also had a long association with Blue Oyster Cult, co-writing several songs, including “Burning For You,” “Stairway to the Stars,” and “Death Valley Nights.” He’s also hosted a radio show and fronted a punk band called VOM.
Meltzer’s latest project has been in the works for over 25 years – Spielgusher teams his spoken-word pieces with instrumental backing courtesy of legendary Minutemen & firehose bassist Mike Watt, along with some Japanese session musicians. The result is a dizzying collection of 63 tracks – some abrasive, some laugh-out-loud funny, but all delivered in Meltzer’s dry affectation. Icon Fetch talks with the infamous writer about the origins of the album, being pigeonholed as a music journalist, and how he left the original Woodstock in disgust after only one day.