(Note: Due to the Fates feeling tempestuous, we suffered some technical issues this last year that resulted in the apparent loss of our precious interview footage from our interview with Mike Watt on December 7th 2015 at the Roxy in Los Angeles. Luckily, this footage was recently recovered off of a crashed hard drive. Given this week’s exciting news of Mike’s new collaborative supergroup called “Big Wallnuts Yonder,” we feel it is relevant to “unearth” this lost interview as a testament to this great musical virtuouso and his continued prolificness).
I had the pleasure of sitting down with punk legend Mike Watt (of Minutemen and fIREHOSE fame) before his opening set in support of punk band X at the Roxy in Los Angeles. It was a historic and special night. X was performing a series of sold out shows to raise funds for guitarist Billy Zoom’s medical expenses from his cancer treatment. There was a vibe in the air of gratitude and friendship, all around. Perhaps none were as amiable and appreciative than Mr. Mike Watt. If a pharmaceutical company could somehow synthesize and bottle Mike’s pleasant mood, it would singlehandedly put the antidepressant market out of business overnight. Such is the power of Mike Watt’s demeanor. His mood is infectious.
Of course, Mike Watt’s influence on modern music goes without saying. As one of the elder statesman of the 80’s punk scene, from his days in the Minutemen, Firehose and his other collaborations, the “Punk Papa of (San) Pedro” has continued his pattern of frenetic creativity to this day. He hosts a weekly podcast with his brother entitled “The Watt From Pedro.” He has also gained quite a name for himself as one of the most famous, unofficial “ambassadors” of that beastly testament to American automotive manufacturing and ingenuity, the Ford Econoline Van (see here for further evidence).
Not one to rest on his laurels, Mr. Watt has consistently trailblazed through the years in his various bands and side projects, riding down uncharted roads and largely avoiding potholes along the way. In many respects, his skill behind the wheel of his Econoline has mirrored his ability to traverse the musical landscape around him, never stopping too long in one place, and mapping out his next stop with the restlessness of an excited tourist, with a decent amount of “junk in the trunk” providing him the tools to adeptly adapt to different environments and weather conditions. In fact, just yesterday it was announced that he is forming a “supergroup” called “Big Wallnuts Yonder” with musical co-collaborators Nils Cline (of Wilco), Greg Saunier (Deerhoof), and Nick Reinhardt (Tera Melos) where we see yet another example of his pathfinding abilities and, for lack of a better term, the “nuts” (pun intended) to stake out uncharted territory with other skilled collaborative travelers.
All in all, we talked for over 30 minutes about a wide variety of topics including his favorite musical collaborations (“everyone’s got something to teach you“), being called up by Iggy Pop to play with the Stooges, his fond recollections of D. Boon, his first foray at Hot Topic and the camaraderie of the early Southern California punk scene. At the end of the interview there is also footage of the “Bass King” in action from that night’s concert.
To stay connected with Mike’s various projects, check out: www.hootpage.com. We also recommend that you check out his very cool weekly podcast entitled “The Watt From Pedro Show” that he hosts with his brother (see here).
Did you learn anything new or eye opening from the video? Any burning questions that you would like us to ask Mike in the future? Please let us know on social media and share by clicking the Facebook or Twitter links below. Thanks.