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D.O.A. not dead yet

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Punk band remains true to its roots, 20 years on

WHO: D.O.A.

WHERE: The Boot Pub

WHEN: Sunday, Feb. 25

The pioneers of "hardcore" return to Whistler this week as a prelude to a world-wide 20 th anniversary tour.

For those not familiar with the term, D.O.A. created the "hardcore" sound with their gut-wrenching, fast and just plain loud music and their political, personal and worldly lyrics.

"For me it started when I was in high school," says frontman Joe "Shithead" Keithley. "I got involved in this protest where 1,000 kids from the schools in the Burnaby area got together to protest the testing of nuclear bombs off the coast of Alaska… we marched on the U.S. Embassy… they were telling all the Canadians to fuck off and mind their own business."

At the time, Keithley was into folk music, like Bob Dylan, but also held a fondness for the heavier sounds of bands like Black Sabbath. By the end of the ’70s, punk bands from the U.K. were beginning to take their social messages world wide, and Keithley says that was also the beginning of D.O.A.

Fast-forward 20 years and you’ll still find Keithley fired up over activist politics, and the band fired up to get back into the recording studio and on to stages around the globe.

"Things have changed at least five times (over the last 20 years) as to what’s popular and what people like to listen to. We have a perpetual theme of hell-raising, politics, beer-swilling, loud obnoxious guitars… sound-wise we still try to bludgeon our audience to death."

That style has perhaps taken on a new name in 2000: punk metal. This once underground sound has become the sound of choice with many youth and Keithley says he finds many of these kids at his concerts.

"Every time we play The Boot the average age is about 21. We don’t get the older crowds that might go into a quieter bar in the village. We don’t really get the high rollers that just came into town for heli-skiing. Or if we do they haven’t made themselves known to me offering any stock investment in D.O.A.," quips Keithley. "We also (recently) played in Calgary at a skate park where, aside from a few crustier punks, the average age was about 18. But given the right opportunity and promotions, we can draw people between the age of 12 and 50."

Fans of D.O.A. since its inception will be excited to learn that Randy Rampage has made his return to the band. The original bassist and "rock mad man" pursued several projects after leaving D.O.A. in 1982.

"We’ve come full-circle with having Randy back in the band. We’re two-thirds of what we originally were. He provides a great unbridled attitude – he doesn’t care what anybody thinks. He just says whatever the fuck he wants, that’s what I like about him." The date at The Boot will be just the second show since Rampage’s return.

Along with "hot shit" drummer Jan Bone, the trio is also set to get back into the studio to record D.O.A.’s 11th album.

"It should be released in Canada in September on my label, Sudden Death Records. The title is Those God Damn Canadians , us being Canada’s goodwill ambassadors, whether Jean Chretien likes it or not. We start with a big tour of Europe in June. That’s the first place the record will be released."

Keithley says the crowd at The Boot may get a sneak peek of the new material.

In the meantime, long-time fans as well as new ones looking to check out the band’s roots can now listen to D.O.A.’s very first album re-released in CD format.

"Something Better Change came out in 1980, and it was impossible to find. It became a rare collector’s item in the vinyl form. It sold for like a $125 in New York and L.A. and similar amounts in London and Europe… Sales are going really well. It’s gotten around. It’s in all the basic music stores. I looked on the Billboard Chart and I didn’t see it there, but anything can happen."

Keithley’s social rantings can also be heard on a nightly online chat show – www.mycityradio.com – from 10 p.m. to midnight. He provides an interactive outlet for everything the band has ever touched on and more – sports, art, music, politics, comedy. Keithley says he was offered the show after friends talked him up as a natural host.

"It’s a matter of thinking for yourself and having the desire to raise shit."

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