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September 29, 1995 - Image 20

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-09-29

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6B - The Michigan Daily - Wt"~e 4c. - Thursday, October 5, 1995

Mike Watt still rocks, gray hair and all
Youthful musician drives his own punk van

By Brian A. Gnatt
Daily Music Editor
Mike Watt is a punk rocker. De-
spite graying hair, a lumberjack ap-
pearance, and a giant smile perma-
nently branded across his face, the
37-year-old bass player extraordinaire
is one of the most congenial and tell-
it-like-it-is musicians in the business.
Never caught without a flannel,
Levi's, and Converse All Stars, Watt's
15 years of touring and recording have
never succeeded in extinguishing his
child-like enthusiasm and sincerity that
come through in everything he does.
With his start in the legendary '80s
punk legend the Minutemen and later
founding fIREHOSE, Watt's solo
debut "Ball-Hog or Tugboat," released
earlier this year, continued his tradi-
tion of honest and passionate music.
With a slew of guests including Pearl
Jam's Eddie Vedder, ex-Nirvana
members Dave Grohl and Krist
Novoselic, Soul Asylum frontman
Dave Pirmer and just about every big
name in rock today, the album turned
into a humble all-star super-record
featuring numerous talented artists
performing Watt's powerful new ma-
terial with the bass player himself.
"I hadn't done anything like that,"
Watt said in an interview with The
Michigan Daily. "It was my 20th
record and my 24th tour, so I wanted
to do like a goof, like a freak. I still
put entertainer on my work."
With the new record, Watt said he
hit the road like any punk veteran
would; by getting in the van.
"One good thing about being a punk
band is you get to travel, to drive your
own van and learn all these towns,"
he said. "I've done 25 tours, all kinds
of tours. One tour I just ties rags
around my fuckin' ankles because I
was shitting so hard for three days, I
just said fuck it. Land O' Lakes in
Florida, some ranch dressing blew me
out big time. But now after all that
I'm like one of those turkey vultures,
you see them eat the road kill? You
can't kill those things with a pound of
strychnine. I think Watt's like that
now too."
But while Watt is a card carrying
member of the old ethics of punk rock,
he has a problem with the newer "punk"
bands surfacing in the mainstream.

"I understand in a way why punk
rock come about," he said. "We had all
the misfits. We didn't want to be with
them so we went and made our own
world. But what happens when that
world gets to be the big world? Then it's
just rubber stamp culture. We want to
run, so my anecdote to that is to try to
get things more personal.
"I don't know if some guy in a tour
bus, they call it alternative or heavy
metal, I don't know what they call it,
but the guy is still isolated in his own
world. I talk to people, and they can't
believe I'm putting away my own gear
on my amp. They think I fly to gigs. I
think punk was a way for the music to
get back into people's hands, and that
way I just see them taking our clothes
and our music and doing Gap ads. And
they forget about the value and the

ethics. It's not really the big guys on
top. A lot of the guys in bands are trying
to do this. They're trying to get it away
from a fingerprint and more like a rub-
ber stamp, because then they don't re-
ally need to work. You just do the
Mike Watt
with Six Finger Satellite
Where: Blind Pig
When: Tonight
Tickets: $10 in advance
Doors open at 9.30 p.m.
connect the dots, you do the coloring
But after 15 years of traveling the
globe in a van, Watt said he's happy
that he has had the chance to see and
experience the world, even if it meant

tying rags around his ankles because
of digestion problems a few times.
Watt's rock'n'roll diary is full of ex-
periences, both good and bad. One of
the worst:
"Getting hit with a bunch of used
rubbers in Austria was pretty bad," he
recalled. "The lights went on after the
first note, and they were hanging on
me. D. Boon got hit with a couple. But
you know, they didn't understand our
But Watt's energy and music are far
from being tapped, and the musician
doesn't see any type of retirement in
sight. "Time keeps pushing us forward,"
he said. In the future, Watt said he'll
"play bass, hopefully be vital and not be
a museum thing."
And in another 20 years? "Doing
another interview with you."

Mike Watt - still smiling after 24 tours.

Artists, labels take away cash with movie, TV soundtracks

By Ted Watts
Daily Arts Writer
If you've been paying attention, and
I'm sure you have, then you've recog-
nized that in the last few years movies
have been bringing forth soundtracks
of some note. And I'm not talking
aboutDanny Elfman-type scores, either.
I'm talking rock/alternative artists
showing up on CDs released in con-
junction with a film.
This isn't anything new. The1987
sountrack for "Less than Zero" featured
artists like Aerosmith, Poison, Slayer,
LL Cool J, the Bangles and Public En-
emy. Prince produced an entire concept
album for the first of Tim Burton's
"Batman" movies. But the "Less Than
Zero" soundtrack was fairly isolated
and the Batman soundtrack provided a
full album ofPrince songs. Now, though,
there are a slew of soundtracks with
several artists of varying talent who
recorded unique (also known as "not
appearing elsewhere") songs on them.
Remember the "Bill and Ted"
soundtracks? Littered with artists like
Extreme, they also contain tracks by bands
like FaithNo More, Primus and Megadeth.
And who can forget Kiss covering Donny

and Marie Osmond's "God Gave Rock
and Roll To You?" Well, at least the
movies had to do with music (albeit the
terrible "Wyld Stallions.") And Faith No
More's Jim Martin and the whole of
Primus did appear in "Bill and Ted's
Bogus Journey." Nevertheless, some bad
precedents were being set.
Another noteworthy effort was the
"Judgment Night" soundtrack, the Emilio
Estevez vs. Dennis Leary movie of about
two years ago. Notable for its mixing of
rap acts with other acts, this was one ofthe
all too few reallygood soundtracks. Com-
bining the two bands on each track fairly
well, the rock halves ofthe acts tend to get
lost a bit in the shuffle, but the album
hangs togetherwell, with rap dominating.
One of the important selling points of the
album was that if you liked one of the
bands on the album, you'd still have to
buy it to hear them. And for the most part,
those Teenage Fanclub fans aren't really
into the heavier aspect of rap and roll.
Now we come to the descent into mad-
ness. Soundtracks with new songs by
many artists have begun coming out with
frightening regularity. "The Jerky Boys."
"The Basketball Diaries." "Johnny Mne-
monic." These three albums have come

quency of B-side collections by bands I
like, there is little other choice. Ironically,
Helmet, a band with tracks on both the
"Johnny Mnemonic" and "Jerky Boys".
soundtracks, did recently release a B-side
collection. It was released afterthe "Jerky
Boys" soundtrack, but it failed to contain
either album track. The Helmet situation
is complicated even further by the fact
that a different song had been planned for
the "Jerky Boys" soundtrack and was
included on an edition of the English CD
magazine"Volume."Thepeople in charge
of that particular soundtrack thus made
the life of Helmet fans even more compli-
The "Jerky Soundtrack" also added
insult to injury by making me get a CD
with Green Day on it. My tastes aside, it
seems that any given person who needs to
buy a soundtrack for a single song has
pretty high odds of ending up with tracks
by someone they find extremely repug-
nant. That overarching concept of "alter-
native," as wide-ranging and wrong-
headed a term as "rock," throws disparate
forms of music together. This adds the
aspect of not being able to listen to a
soundtrack inactively, as there is aneedto
skip to the one or two songs desired and

then remove the CD while cursing record
and movie company executives.
Another annoying aspect is that a lot
of these songs aren't even appearing its
the movies. It would be an interesting
contest to see ifanyone woufd be abfe to
find the PJ Harvey track on the "Batman
Forever" soundtrack in the damn movie
itself. Although you can hear the Flam-
ing Lips song in the Riddler's apart-
ment, this is more of an exception than
a rule. And do you even really want to
hear Bono singing in the background of
a movie with the darkest of all heroes?
Something just seems a little wrdng
with that.
Andthe listofsoundtracks keeps grow,
ing. "National Lampoon's Senior Trip,"
"Empire Records" and "Angus" all have
soundtracks. Of course, ifyoujust decide
to ignore soundtracks, you're left with the
unsavory option of potentially missing
songs by one of your favorite bands. If
you don't pay attention, how can you
know that one of those has a Green Day
song on it, just like the "Jerky Boys"
record did?
Essentially, you wouldn't. Ha ha ha.
Don't you love it when the man is stickin'
it to ya?

Bono Is turning tricks with his crucifix
on the 'Batman Forever' soundtrack.
out within the last year and all three have
had unique songs on them by bands I
personally like sufficiently to feel the
need to acquire them. The problem being
that none of the soundtracks had more
than two songs on them I wanted. With
list prices spiraling ever higher, the cost
of each song was around eight dollars.
Rather pricey, but with the relative infre-

. I a


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