July/August 2020 – Facing the Music

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ADAM BLASBERG JULY/AUGUST 2020 BCBUSINESS 71 W e'll start with the obvious: calling Joe Keithley a Weekend Warrior might be a tad reductive. After all, the front man for iconic punk rock band D.O.A. has been playing about 70 (often sold-out) shows a year for the past 20. But jamming out and run- ning his record label, Sudden Death Records, ceased being the main items on Keithley's plate when he snagged the eighth and final spot on Burnaby city council in 2018. It's hard to say which ver- sion of Keithley is the alter ego. Is it the mild-mannered councillor or the leather jacket– adorned "Joey Shithead" per- sonality he cultivated over 40 years of rock 'n' roll? Even at 64, it still might be neither. D.O.A. has always stuffed its songs with political messaging: anti-racism and environmen- talism figure heavily, and the band's slogan is "talk minus action equals zero." So it makes sense that Keithley took runs at provincial office in 1996, 2001 and 2017 as a member of the BC Green Party. (He currently represents the Burnaby Green Party on council.) Still, it was a bit of a shock to the system when he actually won. "I went, Wow, I'm elected. What do I do now?" Keithley recalls with a deep laugh. "I knew what I wanted to do, but there was that moment." So far, at least (and before the COVID-19 pandemic), the rocker has been able to keep his band's sched- ule more or less full. "It took a bit to figure out what the schedule was and how it worked and what kind of time we had," Keithley says, noting that the group was able to play about 60 shows in his first full year as councillor. "My first duty is to the citizens of Burnaby—they elected me, and being a councillor is a serious, full-time job. But I realized that there was time, in the summer especially. So once I found out Burnaby councillor and businessman Joe Keithley refuses to put down the guitar by Nathan Caddell W E E K E N D WA R R IOR WARRIOR SPOTLIGHT Joe Keithley is a city councillor, a musician and the owner of Sudden Death Records, a Burnaby- based independent record label. Keithley is the sole employee, but he leans on contractors for support with tasks like PR. The label, started in 1978 to put out his band D.O.A.'s first record, has released all of the group's 20-plus albums. Keithley estimates that Sudden Death has issued about 100 albums over the past two decades (by bands like English punk rockers the Vibrators and new wave Vancouver outfit the Pointed Sticks), but he acknowledges that his re- cent council win has eaten into his time at the label. "We sell the records around the world, but if I'm on tour or there's a bunch of council stuff happening, at times the record company will take a back seat," he says. "But we do have our distributors, and they will get the product out to the customer, which is fortunate for me." –N.C. GUITAR HERO Joe Keithley sought to use his powers for good when the COVID-19 pandemic hit No Ordinary Joe O FF T H E C LO C K the schedule for committees, council meetings and public hearings, I was able to say, OK, we can play this weekend; I'll ( quality time ) UNLIKE A CONVENTIONAL GYM, WHICH MIGHT HAVE LINEUPS, POOR LIGHTING, LACK OF CLEANLINESS AND LOUD MUSIC, IF'S STUDIOS ARE LUXURIOUS, MODERN AND BRIGHT.

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