With their mohawks and studded leather jackets covered in patches, punk bands are often wrongfully seen as general anarchists conniving to bring down the man and the government he represents.
But Vancouver’s D.O.A., the godfathers of hardcore punk, have a bold message and imagery found within their thrashing guitars and thundering drums, and it’s a message they will be sharing June 30 at Vernon’s Status Nightclub.
“D.O.A. has been my soapbox all along,” said founder and front-man Joe Keithley. “If you don’t attempt to get anything changed, nothing will.”
Through their wild, fast, obnoxious, and political tracks, D.O.A. advocates for the environment, freedom of speech, and anti-racism.
Their newest single, F*****d up Donald, has received more than 3 million views and counting.
“That’s been great,” Keithley said of the single. “It’s selling like crazy because it’s true. We did this video when he was still running in the election.”
But for Keithley, writing politicized songs full of socialist ideologies wasn’t enough in terms of sparking change, and in 1996, he ran in his first B.C. provincial election for the Green Party.
“I’ve always been very political,” Keithley said. “I became politicized when I was about eight.”
Keithley ran for the Green Party again in 2001, receiving the highest percentage of votes next to Green Party co-founder and former leader Adriane Carr.
In May’s provincial election, Keithley ran as the Green party candidate in his hometown riding of Burnaby-Lougheed, winning nearly 15 per cent of the votes.
“It was good. It was the fourth time I’ve run,” Keithley said of the provincial election. “We came in third, and we had a great reception.”
With a campaign fashioned after that of Democrat Bernie Sanders in the 2016 United States presidential election, running in the election has been Keithley’s way of taking a formal step forward with his politics.
“I’m trying to help the common man and woman,” Keithley said, joking that he is the Sanders of Canada.
“We did a hell of a lot of ground work. It’s living up to D.O.A.’s mantra — talk minus action equals zero.”
But campaigning has not been without considerable effort and consequences, forcing D.O.A. to take the back seat during election time.
“We’re kind of starting up touring again after the election,” Keithley said. “We’ve been extremely busy. It will be fun for us to be playing again.”
Following in the footsteps of his idol Pete Seeger, 61-year-old Keithley doesn’t plan on hanging up the leather jacket any time soon.
“I’ve always been playing music,” Keithley said, adding that he hopes to accomplish a quarter of what Seeger has done.
D.O.A.’s show at Status Nightclub kicks off their international tour with stops in Europe, Asia, and Canada to promote their 2015 release, Hard Rain Falling.
“It has a lot of great songs,” Keithley said of the band’s 15th full-length studio album. “It’s hard hitting.”
Since D.O.A.’s inception in 1978, they have played 3,000 shows on five continents; influenced modern rock groups such as Green Day, Nirvana, Offspring, Henry Rollins, David Grohl, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers; supported grassroots democratic movements, women’s rights, food bank benefits, First Nations’ rights; and stood against war, racism, and weapons proliferation.
And even after four decades of punk rock activism, D.O.A. still commands a room with their stage presence.
“I think it’s going to be a wild show.”
D.O.A. is playing alongside the McGillicuddys Friday, June 30 at Status Night Club. Tickets are available for $20 at the door. Show at 8 p.m.