Joe “Joey Sh*thead” Keithley hasn’t traded-in his punk rock ways to take a seat on Burnaby City Council.
He and his band D.O.A. are often referred to as some of the founders of “hardcore punk” and they’re still touring and encouraging their fans to fight back against the system. Coincidentally the name of their 4oth anniversary album, released in May,and speaks out against a system Keithley is now a part of.
“Being in D.O.A. is like being on this really crazy fun soapbox talking about whatever you want. We have been doing that, in a sense, for about 4o years, you could call it being a cultural politician and trying to affect change through our music,” said Keithley while on the road, headed to a show in Oregon.
The phone call that would hurl him into politics followed a neighbourhood battle against a development in a second-growth forest in his hometown of Burnaby. The Green Party asked him to consider joining them and after some consideration, Keithley was in. Running provincially and locally, he finally earned his seat on council in October.
“Some might call it third time lucky,” said Keithley.
Punk music has always been entrenched in politics and speaking out against social norms and what they perceive as injustices.
“What I have been promoting for years, all along through D.O.A., is grassroots democracy, where people can actually have a say. I have got a few ideas about how to bring city hall to people as opposed to people coming to city hall and politicians snubbing their nose at them,” said Keithley.
Through his life experience, music and history, the lead singer and guitarist hopes to inspire a younger and more diverse demographic to branch into politics.
“We need more women running and more people of colour running so it’s not just a bunch of old white guys. We need more young people involved so it’s not just a bunch of old white guys,” said Keithley.
Musicians may be the key to unlocking a more diverse demographic according the punk rocker, with their different view of the world from travelling on tour, experiencing different cultures and understanding what fans want could give them an edge in the political sphere while appealing to a different demographic.
However, the band says their traditional fight-the-system, politically charged music won’t change now that the front man of D.O.A. is on the other side.
“The music is still the same, the latest album, Fight Back to me is an extension of the same thing. It’s fight back against inequality, economic inequality, gender inequality and racial inequality. Those are really prevalent in our society and our world right now,” said Keithley.
D.O.A. isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, after a few failed retirement tours they look to play bigger shows and more festivals come summer while they are currently on tour and will stop in Kelowna at Doc Willoughby’s Friday, Nov. 23.
Their latest album Fight Back was inspired by the socio-economic issues the band saw plaguing the world and is a reflection of 2017.
“It was a reflection of the time, it’s a look at racism in America and Europe, stuff like that. I said to a friend of mine a couple of months ago, ‘Did you think that we would be talking about the Ku Klux Klan in 2018?’ And he said ‘no,’ it’s unbelievable and stuff like that people have to fight against, we can’t just take this lying down,” said Keithley.
The show is going to have the crazy out of control flair with a political message they have always maintained.
Tickets are available online at rockdistrict.ca Frig Off! will open for the band Friday at 10 p.m.
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