Mike Watt: On and Off Bass
by Mike Watt
Legendary Punk Bass Player Mike Watt’s Photography, Reflections and Diary Excerpts
“Mike Watt: On and Off Bass is sincere, funny, handmade, beautiful, totally idiosyncratic, and entirely original.” —Rick Moody, TheRumpus.net
“Unusual and beautiful . . .” —The New Yorker
The New Yorker calls it “unusual and beautiful.” The LA Weekly raves, “the photos are strikingly inventive, revealing yet another side of this modern-day Renaissance man.” MTV calls it “a charming, well-shot document of a the legendary punk rocker’s photographic dabbling.” Detroit Metrotimes: “A unique insight into Watt’s mind.”
“Mike Watt: On and Off Bass” is getting a lot of buzz. And for good reason, considering the author and photographer is the legendary punk bassist himself. Mike Watt got his musical start thumping the bass with legendary San Pedro punk trio, The Minutemen in 1980 and he has been at it ever since. Over the years, he’s toured with Dos, fIREHOSE, his own The Black Gang, The Secondmen, The Missingmen, and others, and he has worked bass as a sideman for Porno for Pyros, J Mascis and the Fog, as well as punk godfathers The Stooges.
Off the road, at his beloved San Pedro, CA home base, Watt developed a deep interest in photography. In Spring 2010, Track 16 Gallery in Santa Monica, CA hosted an exhibit of his photos: “Mike Watt: Eye-Gifts from Pedro.” According to Track 16 executive director Laurie Steelink, who curated the exhibit, “He has this knack for finding the early morning sweet spots when venturing out alone on his bike or kayak. The resulting photographs never seem to dry: light, flight, salt, rust, and tide commingle in fiery sunrises, endless heavens, roiling waves and fog.” The photos offer another side of Watt that fans of his punk rock music may not be familiar with: While seemingly serene, many have an underlying tension and that often shows the sharp contrast between industry and nature. In “Mike Watt: On and Off Bass,” photographs that appeared in the exhibit are punctuated by Watt’s poetry and snippets selected from 10 years of his diaries. Watt’s writing is insightful, funny, intimate and honest, as he explores topics like John Coltrane, long hauls and overcoming performance fears. “Mike Watt: On and Off Bass” exposes Watt’s vision as a photographer, diarist and poet, taking its readers on a trip. And when you stop turning the pages of Watt’s story, you start turning the pages of yours, re-ignited.
The LA Review of Books‘ Craig Hubert offers a keen and insightful review of “Mike Watt: On and Off Bass” in this week’s edition. Hubert notes, “[Watt] has a keen eye for capturing unexpected disruptions within seemingly normal, even mundane situations. . . Loss is prevalent throughout “On and Off Bass,” but it is undercut with hope; there is always the sustaining reservoir of inspiration — from Boon, from music, from San Pedro itself — to dip back into. It’s the same reservoir that John Coltrane described in a 1966 interview with Nat Hentoff: ‘There is never any end. There are always new sounds to imagine, new feelings to get at.'” Read the full review here.
Rick Moody‘s extensive interview with Mike Watt on TheRumpus.Net is an essential read for fans of the legendary punk rock bass player, photographer, poet and writer. It starts with major props for the Three Rooms Press book “Mike Watt: On and Bass,” which Moody notes, “As with everything that Watt has turned his attention to since he began making art in 1980, On and Off Base is sincere, funny, handmade, beautiful, totally idiosyncratic, and entirely original.”
Hear Watt in a live interview by John Schaefer on WNYC’s Soundcheck show: http://soundcheck.wnyc.org/story/205506-mike-watt-and-bass/
MTV Hive writer Austin L. Ray is impressed with the econo nature of the new Three Rooms Press book, “Mike Watt: On and Off Bass” by the legendary punk bassist. The book features photos from Watt’s gallery show at Track 16 in Santa Monica, juxtaposed with poetry, reflections and diary snippet from Watt’s massive 1,500 page collection of musings on Hootpage.com. The article features Watt discussing the origins of some of the photos in the book. Check it out at MTVHive.com.
The New Yorker loves “Mike Watt: On and Off Bass”, calling it an “unusual and beautiful photographic memoir.” Read the full review here.
LA Weekly writer Nicholas Pell interviews Mike Watt, revealing exclusive photos from the new book “Mike Watt: On and Off Bass.” Pell raves, “His skill lies not in classical composition — although photo nerds will nonetheless find plenty to like in the book. Rather, Watt’s strength comes from his ability to capture everyday scenes. His pictures make the mundane into the sublime.” Check out the full interview, commentary and exclusive photos at blogs.laweekly.com
Incredible interview on TWI-NY with Mike Watt where he talks about a lot of things, including his new book, “Mike Watt: On and Off Bass.”
TWI-NY: What does being on the water mean to you?
Mike Watt: That time of day, the crack of dawn, is almost like Pedro is mine. It’s not like I own it, but I’m the only one around except for that nature you’re talking about. Being in the kayak, that feeling of the sea, it’s a trippy feeling.
Really great review of “Mike Watt: On and Off Bass” from the Express Milwaukee’s David Luhrssen at http://bit.ly/InzwQr “Watt’s photography shows the intelligence of a man with a thoughtful appreciation for the world around him.”
“Mike Watt: On and Off Bass” gets another rave review. Greg Barbrick, on blogcritics.com says it’s a “collection that rewards repeated viewings and is very well crafted.” Read the full review here: http://bit.ly/H59CzQ
Rockerzine writer Katy Dang raves about “Mike Watt: On and Off Bass,” noting that through the photos and text, “Watt brings his world and his experiences into focus, sharing them unabashedly with whoever chooses to come on board. He brings the past into the present, never merely resting on his laurels and always missing D. Boon, his missing friend.” Read the review and an in-depth interview here.