Econo icon Mike Watt’s post-Minutemen career is a fascinating melange of major-label alt-rock coups (1995’s Ball-Hog or Tug Boat, now available for the low low price of $0.96) and underground experiments, particularly his two prog-punk “operas,” 1997’s Contemplating the Engine Room and 2004’s The Secondman’s Middle Stand. He’s got a new one, “Hyphenated-Man”, coming out it in the U.S. in March, and he’d be happy to describe it for you in classic stream-of-Watt-consciousness fashion:
whereas “…engine room” dealt w/my pop’s life in the navy as a metaphor for the story of the minutemen and “…middle stand” was a parallel to dante’s “comedia” dealing w/an illness that almost killed me in 2000, this third opera is quite different in that it has no standard narrative (libretto!) meaning no regular beginning-middle-end and is as it were “simultaneous” in the way a mirror from just inside my head – right in this middle-age moment of mine – was then shattered into thirty pieces and then each piece stuffed in the head to show a piece of my state of mind (or out-of-mind) as of now. “thirty tunes?” yes, they’re little ones… actually they’re “thirty parts” of one big tune.
And so forth. However disorienting this turns out to be on record, Watt is fantastic live, just about the only dude who can get away with calling his bass a “thunder broom.” He’ll be at the Mercury Lounge April 4; I’m sure if you’re attentive and polite during the new stuff he’ll pull this out for the encore:
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 5, 2011