When old school Seattle punk-metal icon Duff McKagan wrote about punk rock at the Seattle Weekly a couple of weeks ago, he gave a little list of bands he considers essential to the canon. Though it wasn’t specifically numerical in importance, the phenomenon-by-response stack of heroes began with The Ramones (good choice), then The Clash (a little more arguable, but who can resist?), and then — D.O.A.
To quote McKagan:
“D.O.A., Something Better Change: If you grew up in the Northwest in the late ’70s or early ’80s, D.O.A. were a larger-than-life example of how brilliant a live rock band should be. They were as important as any band in history, as far as I’m concerned.”
The actual word “hardcore” as applied to latter period North American punk rock is most likely taken from a D.O.A. album title — Hardcore ’81. Note the year of its release, and that there really wasn’t a musical genre with that name before D.O.A. nailed their hard, fast, no compromise sound.
D.O.A. released The Men Of Action 30th Anniversary DVD this month, and it is a glorious memento of possibly the world’s most underrated rock band. This collection of interviews and performance lips shows how D.O.A. toured as relentlessly as Black Flag ever did, and for far longer; they have an oeuvre of strong yet spastic songs like “World War 3,” “Fuck You,” “Fucked Up Ronnie,” and others that transcend the underdog politics of their time and milieu; and their hearts have always been in the right place. Not just anarchists, but supporting feminist and anti-war causes and playing tons of benefits, but never losing touch with making really good to great records.
True to their concern for fan-value, a complete copy of their new record The Northern Avenger is a bonus to the DVD, as is a 12 page booklet of photos of the band playing cities and shit-holes kids like me grew up in. (I saw them live before I’d ever heard the word “hardcore.”) This release was produced by Bob Rock, and it soars like classic D.O.A., possibly the only punk band from 1980 that I’m still buying new records from.
There are ten videos on the DVD as well, and testaments of love by everyone from Green Day to Rollins to Rancid to Sonic Youth. Of special note are fan-drools from Nirvana and Soundgarden, as Vancouver, B.C.-spawned D.O.A. has always given Seattle love and attention, and the musicians who have grown up inspired by their amazing live shows went on to change rock history — and not just in Seattle either.