|Mike Watt and The Missingmen|
|With Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth), Estrogen Highs and Electric Bucket. 8 p.m., April 5. Daniel Street Club, 21 Daniel St., Milford. $12. 203-877-4446, danielstreetclub.com, manicproductions.org.|
Working closely with bassist Mike Watt, they made a startling discovery; Watt had not listened to a single note of Minutemen music since the 1985 van accident that claimed the life of guitarist and childhood friend D. Boon.
Gainesville, Florida. “But I had to for We Jam Econo, and I liked that.”
Watt's post-Minutemen solo career began with 1995's Ball-Hog or Tugboat and continued with 1997's conceptual Contemplating the Engine Room, which equated his father's Navy experience as a machinist in a cramped compartment to his own in a van with the Minutemen. Secondman's Middle Stand followed in 2004, another concept album inspired by Dante's Divine Comedy and a nearly fatal illness in 2000. After working on We Jam Econo and then slipping into the bass role for the Stooges reunification (a role he's kept for the past eight years), Watt felt the time was finally right to channel his Minutemen memories into his fourth solo album, the conceptual but straightforward Hyphenated-Man.
“It was scary for me, but I thought it was something I had to do,” Watt says with a laugh. “It was a trippy part of my life that I wanted to write about. I never thought I'd write one of these (conceptual) things, and then I got caught up in this form. I've got a fourth one planned.”
In classic Minutemen fashion, Hyphenated-Man is comprised of 30 short tracks, averaging a little over a minute and a half each. While Watt's songwriting methodology remained largely unchanged — start with a title, work out the music, wrap up with the lyrics — his mechanics and inspirations were much different.
“I was with the Stooges in Spain; in Madrid, there's the Prado Museum, and they've got seven or eight Heironymous Bosch paintings, which I tripped on when we were there,” Watt says. “He did a lot of little things that made up a big thing and I saw parallels to the Minutemen stuff, in a weird way. I usually write on the bass — I'm kind of a fan — but the difference here is I used D. Boon's Telecaster. This time I wanted to write the bass second because I felt a little guilty, out of respect for Georgie (Hurley) and D. Boon, about using the Minutemen paradigm again. And I was superstitious and wanted D. Boon to help me a little.”
Although it's been seven years since Middle Stand, Watt has hardly been keeping to himself. He's been touring and recording with the Stooges for eight years now, first with original guitarist and his Wylde Ratttz bandmate Ron Asheton, then with James Williamson, who ended a 35-year retirement to step in after Asheton's 2009 death. He's also been working on a variety of projects, including his first new album in a decade and a half with Dos, his bass duo with ex-wife Kira Roessler, which will see release this year.
“I got a lot of shit in the pipeline,” Watt says with a laugh. “In May, you're going to get the fourth Dos album, then an album I did with two young Italian musicians last year, then the Spiel Gusher album with Richard Meltzer and a Tokyo couple, and three albums with Nels Cline. No more seven year wait; that was weird, I know.”
For the Hyphenated-Man album and tour, Watt assembled the Missingmen, a new trio featuring guitarist and longtime collaborator Tom Watson and drummer Raul Morales. The set list for this tour is essentially a recreation of Hyphenated-Man, with a few Minutemen (and other) surprises thrown in. Whether he's in the studio or on the road, Watt has a very simple philosophy, one imparted to him by his best friend nearly three decades ago.
“I like the idea of no filler,” Watt says. “Like D. Boon would say, ‘People work hard all week ... we don't want to waste their time.'”