NEM#108: Mike Watt’s Punk Operas

Mike is one of our finest bass players, starting with California punk legends MINUTEMEN in the early ’80s and breaking into the majors with fireHOSE going into the ’90s. He was so beloved by the alternative community that his first solo album in ’94 was a star-studded affair; Eddie Vedder and Dave Grohl joined his band for the supporting tour. After that, he released three concept albums over the years and has been an in-demand collaborator on dozes of projects as well as backing Iggy Pop in the reformed Stooges, with Porno for Pyros, etc.

We discuss “Bob Dylan Wrote Propaganda Songs” by Minutemen from What Makes a Man Start Fires (1983), “The Boilerman” from Contemplating the Engine Room (1997), the first, second, and last sections from Hyphenated-Man (2011), and “I Got Marty Feldman Eyes” from the Big Walnuts Yonder self-titled album (2017). We conclude by listening to “Yeah, We’re Gonna Learn to Fall” by Jumpstarted Plowhards from Round One (2019) featuring Todd Congelliere. Intro: “Walking the Cow” by fireHOSE from Flyin’ the Flannel (1991). For more, visit

Watch the entire Minutemen We Jam Econo documentary. Listen to Hyphenated-Man straight through. Here’s the video for “Walking the Cow.” Here’s the video for “Piss-Bottle Man” from that first solo album featuring vocals by Evan Dando from the Lemonheads. Here’s some documentation of the craziness from the recording of Big Walnuts Yonder.

Here’s Mike live in 2019 with his trio The Missingmen. Here he is live jamming with Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore. Watch him rip back in the day with fireHOSE and live on TV in ’95 in front of Vedder and Grohl. Here he his live in 2005 with a group called Banyan featuring Nels Cline. He’s also done several albums as a bass duo called dos with his ex-wife. Here’s a recent recording with the jazzy Unknown Instructors (feat. J Mascis from Dinosaur Jr. and drummer George Hurley from Minutemen). He does beat poetry on this track recorded with an Internet collaboration with s.howe called The Island. Here he is live playing a classic Stooges track with Iggy Pop. Here he is backing violinist Chris Murphy.

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