Keithley guitar DOA

Punk Legends D.O.A. Gone And Back Again

DOA - Keithley, Duddy and Hodsall
Photo by Tom Weibe

That’s right, the title is correct. Punk legends D.O.A. are back and about to embark on the ‘True North Strong & Free Tour’ in support of their Welcome to Chinatown live album.

For those not familiar with D.O.A., they formed in 1978 and released their first EP “Disco Sucks”. Lead guitarist and vocalist Joe Keithley aka ‘Joey Shithead’ was a founding member of the influential punk band and has been with them every step of the way. And now, over a dozen studio albums and three generations of fans later the Welcome to Chinatown live album which was recorded over three nights at the Rickshaw in Vancouver, continues the D.O.A. tradition of bringing their fans a thrilling and cultural music experience. Performing with Keithley are drummer Paddy Duddy (Circle The Wagons, Rusty Nails) and bassist Mike Hodsall (Circle The Wagons).

I asked Keithley to summarize D.O.A. for new listeners and he said, “It’s the original punk rock, we might be the last band on earth playing this style. It goes back to the roots of punk, which combined back beat rock groove with sped-up hyper tension. We always try to combine a sense of urgency with a healthy dose of humour and anti-authoritarianism and damn it we have a good time doing it!”

I remember when I was introduced to D.O.A. for the first time. It was 1988 and some students at my high school were listening to D.O.A. while skateboarding after class and it caught my attention. I asked them who the band was and they laughed at me for not knowing. I remember feeling silly but till then, for me, the message from music was about girls and having a good time; it was the age of the hair bands. Punk rock though and in this case D.O.A., opened a world of politics, class angst and a general new way of looking at the larger world through music for me. A fan of punk was born that day.

In 2013 Joe Keithley sought the New Democratic Party (NDP) nomination in Coquitlam, British Columbia. “I’ve been working on trying to change Canada and this world into a better place from outside the system for the last 35 years, now I will do my utmost to effect that change from inside the system,” said Joe Keithley on seeking the NDP nomination. It was at this time that D.O.A. had announced their farewell tour, much to the dismay of their loyal fan base.

D.O.A. was not going to leave their fans empty-handed though, they released “Who The Hell Do You Think You Are?” before their farewell tour. Here D.O.A. takes a satirical and humorous look at the state of world politics and the mainstream media and proceeds to give them a once over.

Keithley would go on to lose the nomination contest by just five votes. “When I lost my nomination by five votes, I was pissed,” says Keithley, “but I soon realized that I had not forgotten how to write songs, how to sing and play guitar and how to kick ass up on stage! So I am ramping up D.O.A. again and we’re going to let our street politics tell the stories about what’s really happening!” So the NDP’s loss has become a win for music fans.

When asked about a future political run Keithley stated, “Yes, I will run again provincially in 2017.” And about a potential federal political run Keithley said, “That’s a tough one, I just ran into one of our coolest senators Larry Campbell (he proclaimed D.O.A. Day in Vancouver back in 2002) on the plane back from Ottawa and I don’t envy his schedule, too far away from my heart which is my family and BC. If I don’t win next time then I can still take advice from my hero Jimi Hendrix “Well I still got my guitar”.”

D.O.A. are not only leaving their mark on the Canadian punk rock scene, they have influenced some of the biggest names and bands in punk.

Henry Rollins of S.O.A. and Black Flag said, “The D.O.A. vinyl, the early recordings are good, but live it was just monumental change your life blow-away time. And that’s the mark they left on D.C.. It was just like they came through town and we all kind of went wow; damn. It’s a band I have a lot of respect for. We would sleep on their floor and they would sleep on our floor. We spent many nights on the couch or carpet of Joey Shithead. So D.O.A. wasn’t only a great band, they were our friends.”
excerpt from BloodiedButUnbowed webisode.

In 2004 Keithley wrote an autobiography entitled – I, Shithead: A Life in Punk. Here Keithley gives us a window into his life in punk and it emphasizes that the D.O.A. slogan of ‘Talk – Action = 0’ are for him, words to live by.

Keithley guitar DOA
Photo by Kevin Staham

About the choice of tour name – True North Strong & Free, Keithley says, “Yeah, I love this country and D.O.A’s always really tried to show people around the world what Canada is like – Like ice, snow, hockey and chainsaws! We also talk about bigger Canadian issues, like our historically poor treatment of first nations and a greener solution that thinks beyond the oil sands. We used to laugh when an English writer dubbed us “Canada’s goodwill ambassadors” Well, maybe it’s true! LOL”

Fans of D.O.A. and punk rock should have a great time at the upcoming concerts as Keithley dropped, “We have picked out a bunch of songs that will reflect our perspective on sensitive issues… hahaha Actually what I mean is we are going to kick the crap out of our fans and anybody else that shows up!!! Musically and culturally speaking of course! We have a bunch of songs ready to rip from Hardcore 81, Something Better Change, War on 45 and beyond, as well as our Canadian roots songs like The Hockey Song and each night we will feature the crowd in a beer swilling contest while we play Beer Bellied Polka.”

Keithley continued, “The fans at the Ontario shows have to come and try D.O.A. Hardcore 8.1 Malt Liquor from Beau’s Brewery, it’s quite the drink! Oh yeah, one last thing: Talk – Action = 0.”

On further tour dates and locations Keithley stated, “I have written a stack of new songs, so we will start recording a new album (our 16th) in January, it should be out by March 2015. Then we will tour Canada, the States, Europe, South America and extensively through Asia in 2015. It will be our 3rd time in China, each trip there has been wild, so we look forward to more!”

Find more information about the ‘True North Strong & Free Tour’ in the media! Events Calendar.

Find D.O.A. at:

Written by Roy Whyte

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