Sitting down with Mike Watt was an amazing experience! We met him in his studio that heʼs had for many, many years and I have to say there couldnʼt be a better location to have a creative space. The studio sits atop a hill in San Pedro, CA. If you look off to the west, you can see nothing but the blue Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island. When you look down south, a complete view of San Pedro harbor and the Port Of Los Angeles. Of course, a perfect ocean breeze is blowing steady.
Mike has been a steady figure in the L.A. and American punk/rock scene for a long time. Many great bands and albums have come from Mike. So, I was more than excited to have him be a part of the show!
The interview with Mike was particularly memorable for a few reasons. The format of filming segments for Down The Highway usually has me interviewing the person first, then doing the musical performance afterward. I feel like after we talk and warm up to each other, it makes the playing part a little easier and gives us a certain connection. The second we walked into Mikeʼs studio, he plugged in his bass and started playing “Party With Me Punker”. Thatʼs the Minutemen song we decided to do. I just sat down and started jamming it with him. Why not? After a few minutes of messing around with the song, I said something about him singing the song and getting a take of it later. It was then that he informed me that I would be singing the song. Holy shit!!! First off, I didnʼt prepare for that at all, and I wasnʼt really a singer at that time. I begged and pleaded with him to sing it……he refused! The funny thing is that I actually had all of the lyrics written down as cues for when we played the song. There really arenʼt any chord changes in it, so I needed some kind of reference point. I decided to suck it up and do it. We made it through the song pretty flawlessly.
If you watch that performance on the Los Angeles episode of Down The Highway youʼll see me glancing down at the lyrics sitting on the floor while we were taping the performance! I never bothered to learn them all the way through, because up until the moment I was in the room with Mike I thought he was singing the song. Thatʼs a very terrifying position to be in: filming a show with someone that youʼve never met before, performing a song with someone youʼve never met before, and learning that you have to do a major part of the song right now, on camera, with no practice. Terrifying! We made it through and the reason Iʼm telling this story is the compliment Mike gave me after.
He said, “Great job! D Boon would have loved that version!”
D Boon was Mikeʼs singer/guitar player in The Minutemen and best friend. He passed away a while back, so getting that compliment was amazing, but also very heavy and I feel Mike actually meant it.
This leads me to the interview itself. A conversation about music can take any turn it wants. Mike and I had a great talk about music, but there are some dark things that Mike has dealt with in his career and life. Our conversation took that turn and became very intense and real. He has dealt with losing his best friend and band mate, dealing with serious illness which almost took his life, and everything in between. Make sure you watch this segment of the show carefully. Itʼs quite a roller coaster of emotion. I thank him very much for letting us into his life.