The Canadian hardcore scene in the mid-’70s to early-’80s was a rather disjointed landscape.
While punk bands such as The Viletones, Teenage Head and The Forgotten Rebels were packing holes in the walls in Toronto with mohawked and chain-smoking fans, the West Coast scene was burgeoning with a harder, faster, more edgy political genre of music.
At the forefront was Vancouver rabble rousers D.O.A., whose leader Joe “Joey S–thead” Keithley is credited for making the term “hardcore” part of the punk rock vernacular.
Soon after a San Francisco journalist came up with the term hardcore to describe bands such as D.O.A., The Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Minor Threat and the Circle Jerks, D.O.A released its landmark album, Hardcore 81. The album became a hit, and the hardcore movement took off.
The genre has since gone to take on a life of its own with bands still churning out more than just three explosive chords to this day.
And the originators are still at it, as will be seen, heard, and felt when D.O.A. plays Vernon’s The Green pub Saturday.
The legendary punk pioneers are back on the scene with a new album, Hard Rain Fallin, and a world tour that takes them across Canada, Europe, the U.S. and China.
With Keithley on vocals and guitar, Mike “Corkscrew” Maggot on bass and Paddy Duddy on drums, the new album (on Keithley’s label Sudden Death Records) is said to return to D.O.A’s early roots.
“It’s fast, furious and political. The songs deal with racism, gang life, oil pipelines, warmongers and police shootings, in other words, exactly what’s happening in our society,” reads a release from the band.
With a middle finger pointed towards the establishment, one of the singles off the album is aimed at a certain toupéed celebrity politician vying to be America’s next president. The tune is similar to one D.O.A. released about former President Ronald Reagan in the ‘80s, and the video has, so far, received more than three million views.
D.O.A. started playing shows in 1978. Realizing there were no record deals coming their way, Keithley and the band took on a do-it-yourself approach long before DIY became common practise and formed Sudden Death Records.
The label released D.O.A.’s first vinyl seven-inch EP, Disco Sucks, which soon became an underground hit, and the band started touring from Vancouver to their newly adopted home base of California five to six times a year.
Over the last four decades, D.O.A. have released 15 studio albums, sold more than a million albums worldwide and played 3,000 shows on five different continents. The band’s shows and attitude have won over three generations of fans and influenced the likes of Green Day, Nirvana, Offspring, Henry Rollins, David Grohl and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, to name a few.
Keithley has also found time to write two books and has never been afraid to spill out his political views, whether through his music or actions.
A well-known activist, he once studied civil law before discovering punk and was a B.C. Green Party candidate, who ran in the Coquitlam-Burke Mountain by-election last year, narrowly losing. He and the band were also supporters of the Occupy Movement.
Hardcore fans can catch D.O.A, with special guests Irradiation, Saturday, Sept. 10 at 9 p.m. at The Green in the Village Green Hotel. Tickets are $15 in advance (available at The Green or Record City in downtown Vernon) or $20 at the door.