Joe Keithley is a busy man. In addition to preparing for the Vancouver-based hardcore punk pioneers’ 40th-anniversary tour; a CD, “1978—”, including early demos and rarities; and running his record label Sudden Death, Keithley has been putting his motto — Talk-Action=0 — into action as a newly minted member of Burnaby City Council.
“I ran on the green platform and there’s a lot of common ground with mayor Mike Hurley,” said Keithley, who has been working to fight against demovictions and creating affordable housing in Burnaby. He has a long history of political activism and environmentalism.
“City council is a lot different than provincial and federal government where there is a lot of stomping and booing. These are eight people you’re working with for the next four years and you have to really listen to their ideas and work with them. It is so important to co-operate and get things done,” Keithley said.
“People look at all the stomping and yelling in government and people and ask, ‘we‘re paying millions of dollars for this?’ They all do that except for Elizabeth May, who stays away from that, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a Green party member.” Keithley continued, adding there was a steep learning curve upon being elected to council.
“It’s a lot of responsibility,” he noted.
“I ran for the Green party provincially and lost (in 1996 and 2001). But when I got elected in October, I told the band we’d be taking a break while I learned how to do this job. Because all I’ve ever done is played music for 50 years and played with D.O.A. for 40 years. But we already had some of these tour dates booked before I got elected,” he said, adding he will be taking some homework on the road to read during downtime.
“We’ve been doing a lot of weekend shows. But during the summer there is more time between council meetings.”
He takes a brief respite from fighting for affordable housing in Burnaby by taking D.O.A. on a quick tour which comes to the Slice, Tuesday, May 21. He shares the stage with Vancouver/Seattle folk musician Mike Edel.
“I don’t know him, but I’m glad to hear it because we used to have a punk band, a new wave band, an experimental band and a reggae band playing the same show,” said Keithley, noting people tend to have a pretty narrow definition of punk rock.
He is excited about the new double record compilation.
“We released a studio album, ‘Fight Back,’ last year and it did really well. The Rod Obvious, who used to work with Bob Rock, found some old demos. Because Bob Rock, who went on to become really famous and still is, used to record punk bands at night for free,” said Keithley, noting he decided to turn those demos and other early demos as an double LP set, not only to celebrate the band’s 40-year history, but to remember a lot of early D.O.A. members, who passed away in the past few years.
The demos date from around 1972 to about 1982.
“Randy Rampage, Dave Gregg Wimpy Roy and Brad Kent, who all died of heart attacks and things around 56 and 57 and 58 and we wanted to remember them,” Keithley said, adding they are prominently featured throughout the set.
“We had a lot of fun playing together and it was a really fun process creating this. And we wanted to give our fans their money‘s worth,” he said.
The set includes a lot of unreleased tracks like “Rip This Joint,” and and early versions of songs like “World War 3 the “The Enemy,” which was originally about taking on Nazis, which seems eerily prescient today. Or else just goes to show that nothing ever really changes.
“D.O.A. was always about being against fascism and racism and sexism and Nazis and racism and corruption. But who would have thought that in 2019, that we’d still be talking about Nazis and the KKK,” Keithley observed.
He noted how conservative leadership in the U.S. and Canada has evolved through the years, from Ronald Reagan to George Bush to Stephen Harper.
“Now we’re on Trump,” Keithley chuckled.
Keithley will be joined by his bandmates, drummer Paddy Duddy and bassist Mike Hodsall, who are also the backbone of AC DC Tribute BC DC. They have also been part of D.O.A. for the past five years.
“They’ve played over 400 shows with me in China, South East Asia and Australia and the U.S.,” he said.
“Playing China is interesting. When we played there in 2009, they didn’t know who we were other than we were a Canadian punk band. But by the third time they knew all our songs,” he continued, adding with the recent spat going on between China and Canada related to the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzou, they won’t be going back to China soon.
“As a prominent Canadian, I probably wouldn’t go back to China now, but we are working on another tour of Southwest Asia,” he said, adding they will only be doing short tours — two weeks at the most to accommodate Keithley’s council duties.
“The guy who helped organize the first China tour is working on getting booking us a tour of India,” he observed.
Though the new collection has older lyrics and older arrangements, Keithley said they will probably stick to the better-known versions of the songs.
“We’ll probably play the songs the way we usually do, but we might learn the old lyrics to ‘The Enemy,’” he said.
D.O.A.’s takes the stage at the Slice at 10:45 p.m. Local country singer/songwriter Tyson Ray Borsboom and Seattle/Victoria indie Rock musician Mike Edel are on at 9 p.m.