Mike Watt has been described as "arguably the hardest working man in underground rock," and his background certainly supports that assertion. The punk rock legend is responsible for the booming bass guitar and voice that powered Minutemen, Firehose, Dos and numerous solo projects for more than three decades. He's also lent his four-string skills to live tours with Porno for Pyros and the reunited Stooges. But those are just a fraction of the collaborations enjoyed by this jovial performer known for his blend of punk energy and working-class earnestness.
NOTE: The artist recently published “Mike Watt: On and Off Bass”: Legendary Punk Bass Player Mike Watt's Photography, Reflections and Diary Excerpts. Go to www.threeroomspress.com for more info.
"There was a Minutemen gig where we got booted from the club during the soundcheck. It was the Cuckoo's Nest. There was a new owner or some shit -- we had played there before. We were soundchecking with 'Joy,' a song that’s not even a minute long. This owner looked around and said, 'You guys sound like that? I thought you played the Roxy?' Then he just started laughing at us and said, 'Pack it up, boys.'
"I also remember the first time we got into the Whisky (a Go Go) with Fear, and then X asked us to open up. We got the chance to play at the Croatian Hall, so we were like, 'We'll open up for them at 7:30, then we'll rush back to San Pedro to play.'
"I'd just had knee surgery, so I was doing the fucking gig in a chair with my leg in a cast. We got down there, and it was like, 'Wow. A club with monitors. You can actually hear.'
"Then we rushed back (to the Whisky) and it was a bunch of jocks dancing to New Wave stuff. By the time it was our turn to go on, it was maybe one or two songs before they started throwing things. First it was just the ice in the drinks. Then it was the glasses. I couldn't dodge. I'm in a chair in a cast, and I'm getting hit with all this shit. Then somebody pulls the power and shut the whole thing off.
"We also had this gig in Vienna. It was the first time Minutemen played over there. It was with Black Flag. The first note of the first song, all the power goes off. It comes back on, and I've got a dozen used condoms thrown all over me. They're hanging on my neck, on my shirt. (Guitarist) D. Boon got hit in the face with a cup of piss.
"We call those kinds of gigs 'character builders.' But the ones where we got stopped and couldn't play anymore, those are really the 'worst gigs.' They're failures because we don't get to finish."
— Mike Watt