Intro: About This Forum... and Mike Watt

Discussion in 'Ask Mike Watt [Archived]' started by paul, Aug 24, 2001.

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  1. paul

    paul Staff Member Founder Administrator

    Jul 20, 2000
    It is my pleasure to introduce Mike Watt to the Pro's Forums at! Watt has agreed to donate his time and effort to communicate his wisdom and experience to those who seek it - I'm thrilled to have Mike on board, and look forward to some great discussion.

    In case your new to the Pro's forums, a couple of quick suggestions: If your question is better suited for public response, please use one of the many general public forums here at TB. And, although it is possible for any registered user to post a reply in this forum, please allow Mr. Watt to have the first reply in any given thread. Other users may chime in after that to post follow ups.

    Mr. Watt is the moderator of this forum, and all rules in the "Posting Rules and Guidelines" apply without exception.

    And now, in case you're a newbie to the world of music, here's a quick intro on one of the world's greatest bassists, written by Chris Grier:

    At first blush, punk iconoclast Mike Watt seems a strange choice to pick for a bass player website's Q & A forum. Since when was punk about being able to play your instrument?Well, one good answer is: Since Mike Watt started playing gigs 22 years ago in 1979.

    Watt, born 1957, made his bones in the legendary Minutemen, the trio he formed in San Pedro, CA, with his childhood buddies, guitarist/singer D. Boon and drummer George Hurley. The Minutemen helped define the American independent music scene, inspired a thousand bands, and Watt's name, to this day, remains synonymous with the do-it-yourself ethic that got it all started and keeps it all going.

    There is near-unanimity among critics that that band's work, especially the 1984 double-LP "Double Nickels On The Dime" (SST), ranks among the best and most inventive music to emerge from America during the 1980s. The music's punk, alright. Because the Minutemen said it was. In truth, their music – and everything Watt's done afterward – didn't just crossed genre lines, it stomped up and down on top of them.

    Other bands he's founded: Dos, fIREHOSE, Madonnabes, the Crew of the Flying Saucer, the Black Gang, Li'l Pit, Hellride, the Pair of Pliers, We Go Speedro, the Jom & Terry Show and others he's toured or recorded with: Sonic Youth, Ciccone Youth, The Lucky Sperms, Banyan, The Wylde Ratttz, Porno For Pyros, J Mascis + The Fog, and on and on and on. You're on the 'Net now, check out those bands to get a further look at what the man's done. No way to list it all here.

    Things you may not know that say something about the man: It was Sonic Youth who lured Watt back into recording after D. Boon died in a 1985 van crash. He's played with Rickie Lee Jones at the drop of a hat, with no rehearsal. He's gotten in the ring with Charlie Haden, the guy who laid down the basslines on Ornette Coleman's groundbreaking/mindblowing "Free Jazz." When he made "Ball-Hog or Tugboat?" (Columbia) under his own name in 1995, no less than 50 musicians - Beastie Boys, Sonic Youths, Pearl Jams, Foo Fighters, a Pixie, J Mascis, Nels Cline etc. - gladly helped out. Watt called them all himself, no middleman manager routine. That's the kind of respect he carries. His second solo record, "Contemplating The Engine Room" (Columbia) was a "punk rock opera" and inspired by his pop, a chief in the U.S. Navy and the Minutemen.

    Not bad for a self-described "thud-thug from Pedro."

    All the while, he's toured the U.S. and Europe 40-some times, doing it all himself, carrying the amps, dealing with management, driving his 11-year-old Ford Econoline across the country. On his self-produced website, (, he posts his tour dates, he asks fans to print out flyers for the gigs and tack them up on phone poles. And so others might learn what pitfalls touring holds, he documents his experiences, warts and all, in tour diaries on his web site. In Watt's world, there is no deadweight, no roadies, no rock-star 'tude.

    He nearly died in early 2000, after a misdiagnosed infection ran wild in his abdomen. He spent weeks in the hospital and months recuperating. He's recording a new album now, a drums-bass-organ trio, which is more than a little bit different from what gets pigeonholed as "punk" these days. No surprise that Watt admires John Coltrane.

    So what kind of music, then, does Watt play? Ask him after a gig and he'll have a simple defintion: "I'm D. Boon's bass player." What further definition is needed? Why? Watt would have you think about these things.

    On a recent tour, Watt played the Stooges' "Funhouse" and segued it right into "My Favorite Things," the movie song that jazz purists gave Coltrane a buttload of grief for covering because he dared to use it as a launchpad for his wild improvisations. Watt was making a point. If it's good music, what does it matter what you call it?

    A woman unfamiliar with Watt watched this once and asked, How is this punk?

    Watt's answer quotes his buddy D. Boon: "Punk is whatever we made it
    to be."

    His discography is here:

    And his website:
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