Arsenal Pulp Press
Joey Keithley has served his country as the only constant member of the long-lived Vancouver based band, DOA. DOA is notable for being the first truly original Canadian punk band to have an impact on the punk subculture. Keithley's band was a vanguard of the turn to hardcore punk which emphasized shorter songs, intense lead singers, basic song construction, and the DIY ethic. DOA formed in 1978 (after beginning as 'The Skulls') and has been touring and recording ever since, releasing their most recent studio album, We Come in Peace, in 2012. Since their incarnation, the band has released MANY great albums featuring a shifting lineup that always has Keithley (who went by the name Joe Shithead for much of his early career) at the band's centre.
Keithley has also become one of a small number of punk heroes who has written his memoirs of the scene. I, Shithead contains Keithley's memories of emerging into the punk scene during the mid-70s up to the early 1990s, considering the band's been around for an additional ten years past this book's publication, there's lots of band history left unrecorded by its figurehead.
These recollections of the early years of punk are great to read because of how they describe the emergence of an international punk scene becoming a subculture. Keithley's book is full of all sorts of anecdotes about playing to BC bikers, dealing with slimy promoters and owners, drinking beer, getting rowdy, dealing with cops, fighting with jerks in the audience, and so on, everything that makes a great punk story. The book, as a memoir and as a punk history, is at its best when Keithly talks about his touring stories and playing with, and befriending, some other now historically relevant punk band at a legion hall or divey club with 100 people in the audience. DOA and a large number of other bands mentioned as friends of the author, are still talked about, and knowing the origins and music of classic groups like Husker Du and Flipper is part of what makes up the credibility of newcomers to the scene. It made me happy when Keithley said that he dragged Steven Leickie of the Viletones through a pool of his urine in a Toronto club.
I, Shithead is also relevant for explaining how a group of not very responsible men of working-class origins and limited financial means carry out a complicated undertaking such as a multi-date concert tour. This book answers questions like, how does a man make a living as the lead singer of a punk band (he doesn't - so he holds a side job as a taxi-driver). And it explains Keithley's need to keep politics in music. Close to the end of the book Keithley had estimated that he had done over 200 benefit concerts by about 1990. I'm hoping for another book that covers the band's history up to the present day.