D.O.A. frontman turned politician Joey “Shithead” Keithley subject of new documentary
Joey “Shithead” Keithley, frontman of Vancouver hardcore pioneers D.O.A., is subject of a new documentary from Scott Crawford (Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington DC, 1980-90, CREEM: America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine) and Paul Rachman (American Hardcore). It's called Something Better Change (named after D.O.A.'s 1980 debut album), and it "follows [the] political journey" of Joey Keithley, who was elected city councillor in Burnaby, BC in 2018 and is campaigning for re-election in 2022. The doc will explore "connections between music and activism," and it features Henry Rollins, Keith Morris, Jello Biafra, Krist Novoselic, Duff McKagan, Beto O'Rourke, and others.
"If you really believe in something, you got to fight for it and you cannot just talk about it," said Beto O'Rourke, who also went from punk to politics. "Joe Keithley running for office; I mean, this is one of the hardest things you can do."
Joey said to Rolling Stone, "When Scott Crawford approached me about making a documentary, it wasn’t long before I saw that we shared the same vision; we both wanted tell the same story — that punk rock activism can take on any bullshit thrown our way and create results that really make a difference in our communities."
"When I started playing in D.O.A., I realized pretty quickly that the band was a great way to get people to listen to ideas and help to make this world a better place," Joey continued. "Much like the band’s motto ‘Talk – Action = 0’ says, now that I’m elected official, I’m really getting a chance to see those positive changes in real time."
Scott Crawford adds, "Not only have I been a longtime fan of D.O.A., but Joe Keithley’s ‘David versus Goliath’ story of affecting change from within the political ecosystem is one that I think will resonate with audiences — especially given our current political climate. This is a film that will explore how music and activism continue to interlink, with music often serving as an introduction to social issues that inspire people to get involved and foster dynamic change."
Watch the trailer and read the synopsis below. Learn more and help back the project at Kickstarter.
Also read the 2018 interview with Joey that we did as he was running for office.
Throughout the 1980s, outfits like Black Flag, D.O.A., Dead Kennedys and the Circle Jerks helped define the decade's deafening hardcore punk sound, paving the way for the eventual explosion of punk bands through radio and MTV in the decades to come. While punk rock's upper echelon may no longer be as culturally seditious as they once were, the genre's effect on a new generation of activists and aspiring politicians has never been more clear.
In 2018, after 40 years of fighting against oppression, homelessness and corporate greed in the U.S. and in his native Canada, D.O.A. frontman and cultural politician Joey “Shithead" Keithley turned art into life by running against the outspoken Mayor of Burnaby (population: 250,000), Derek Corrigan. Against all odds—and with only a $7000 campaign budget—Keithley won a city councillor seat in Burnaby, BC and helped to unseat the entrenched five-term Corrigan who once famously said, “I would never bend over to give a homeless person a dime because he might steal my watch."
Will Keithley's message and DIY approach to campaigning resonate with voters in the upcoming Burnaby election of 2022? This underdog story examines the idea that even in these truly surreal times, music still has the power to affect change.