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Music / D.O.A.

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"You’ve got to know who your enemy is."
— D.O.A., "The Enemy"
D.O.A.'s classic lineup in 1981. From left to right: Chuck Biscuits, Randy Rampage, Dave Gregg, and Joey Shithead

D.O.A. is a legendary Canadian hardcore punk band formed in Vancouver in 1978 by singer and guitarist Joe Keithley, also known by the charming stage name “Joey Shithead”, out of the ashes of his previous outfit The Skulls. The original lineup also consisted of bassist Randy “Rampage” Archibald and drummer Chuck “Biscuits” Montgomery (who would later go on to play for Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Social Distortion and Danzig).

Inspired by earlier punk bands like The Ramones and Sex Pistols, populist folk singers like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, classic rock bands like The Who and Led Zeppelin, and a smattering of Reggae, D.O.A. combined political outspokenness, a gritty working-class aesthetic, a frank sense of humour, a relentless touring schedule and catchy, thrashy riffs to become the face of Vancouver's then-fledgling punk rock scene (alongside bands like The Dishrags, The Subhumans, The Young Canadians and The Pointed Sticks) and one of Canada’s most legendary punk bands. Along with groups like Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, Hüsker Dü and MDC, they were part of the first wave of bands that could be described as Hardcore Punk. Their lyrical content and association with various radical left-wing political causes also makes them, along with The DKs and Crass, among the first anarcho-punk bands.


The band is often credited with naming the hardcore genre: Joey Shithead offhandedly described D.O.A. and bands like it as “hardcore” in a 1979 fanzine interview, and iconic Nevada band 7 Seconds soon consciously adopted the word as a descriptor of their sound. D.O.A.’s 1981 album Hardcore ‘81 and the extensive North American tour undertaken to promote it likely helped spread the term around. In 2019, the album’s iconic status was cemented when it won the Polaris Heritage Music Prize (beating out classic Canadian albums by The Band, Joni Mitchell, and Sarah McLachlan in an online poll).

Several lineup changes later, the band first called it quits in 1990 after releasing their 5th and 6th studio albums Murder and Last Scream of the Missing Neighbors, the latter a collaboration with ex-Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra and their best selling-record to date. Joe then pursued an acting career and formed a short-lived band called Instinct.


By 1992 though, D.O.A. were back at it as a Power Trio with new drummer Ken Jensen and a new studio album, 13 Flavours of Doom, produced by Nomeansno's John Wright. Tragedy struck in 1995 when Jensen died in a house fire, and subsequently lineup changes became no less frequent than before; the band added second guitarist Ford Pier and drummer Brian O'Brien in 1995, but longtime bassist and co-lead singer Brian "Wimpy Roy" Goble left soon after.

Joe became a published author in 2003, releasing the memoir I, Shithead: A Life In Punk through local Vancouver publishing house Arsenal Pulp Press. He followed it up in 2011 with Talk - Action = 0, which shared its title with D.O.A.'s most recent album and was more of a "coffee table" book, with hundreds of rare photos, posters, lyric sheets and other archival materials from the band's career accompanied by anecdotes from Joe.

The band announced their retirement a second time in 2013 in anticipation of Joe Shithead running for political office (under his real name, Joe Keithley) in their home province of British Columbia. Joe’s bid was ultimately unsuccessful, and by 2014 D.O.A. was back at it again with a new lineup and a new album, Hard Rain Falling. Joe was eventually elected to office in 2018 as a city councilor in his hometown of Burnaby, British Columbia, and now splits his time between serving on council and recording and touring with D.O.A.

Studio Albums:

  • Something Better Change (1980)
  • Hardcore ‘81 (1981)
  • Let’s Wreck the Party (1985)
  • True (North) Strong and Free (1987)
  • Murder (1990)
  • Last Scream of the Missing Neighbors (1990) — collaboration with Jello Biafra
  • 13 Flavours of Doom (1992)
  • Loggerheads (1993)
  • The Black Spot (1996)
  • Festival of Atheists (1998)
  • Win the Battle (2001)
  • Live Free or Die (2004)
  • Northern Avenger (2008)
  • Talk - Action = 0 (2010)
  • We Come in Peace (2012)
  • Hard Rain Falling (2015)
  • Fight Back (2018)
  • Treason (2020)


  • Bloodied But Unbowed (1983)
  • Greatest Shits (1991)
  • Dawning of a New Error (1992)
  • The Lost Tapes (1998)
  • War and Peace (2003)
  • Punk Rock Singles (2007)
  • Kings of Punk, Hockey and Beer (2009)
  • 1978 (2019)

EPs & Notable Singles:

  • Disco Sucks (1978)
    • The band's debut EP
  • The Prisoner b/w 13 (1979)
  • Triumph of the Ignoroids (1980)
    • A lo-fi 4-song live EP
  • Positively D.O.A. (1981)
    • A compilation EP meant to introduce the band to the British market, and the first to feature "Fucked Up Ronnie" and "New Wave Sucks".
  • War on 45 (1982)
    • An 8-song EP originally released on 12" vinyl, often treated as an album.
  • Right To Be Wild (1982)
    • A benefit single for the legal defense of friend of the band Gerry Hannah, who had been arrested as a member of the anarchist insurrectionist group Direct Action, better known as the Squamish Five. It contains a cover of The Subhumans' "Fuck You" (written by Hannah) and the original song "Burn It Down".
  • General Strike b/w That's Life (1983)
    • A benefit single written, recorded and released over the course of a couple of weeks in support of the Solidarity Crisis movement in British Columbia.
  • Don't Turn Yer Back On Desperate Times (1985)

Current Members:

  • Joe "Shithead" Keithley — guitar & lead vocals (1978-present)
  • Mike "Corkscrew" Hodsall — bass (2014-present)
  • Paddy Duddy — drums (2014-present)

Former Members:

  • Randy Rampage — bass (1978-1979, 1980-1982, 2000-2002, 2005-2008)
  • Chuck Biscuits — drums (1978-1979, 1980-1982)
  • Harry "Homo" Mitchelson — lead vocals (1978, lasted one show)
  • Randy Romance — second guitar (1978)
  • Brad Kent — guitar (1978)
  • Dave Gregg — second guitar (1979-1988)
  • Simon "Stubby Pecker" Wilde — bass (1979-1980)
  • Andy Graffiti — drums (1979-1980)
  • Bill "Zippy Pinhead" Chobatar — drums (1980)
  • Ken "Dimwit" Montgomery — bass (1982), drums (1982-1983, 1984-1986)
  • Brian "Wimpy Roy" Goble — bass, occasional lead vocals (1982-1996)
  • Greg "Ned Peckerwood" James — drums (1983-1984)
  • Kerr Belliveau — drums (1986)
  • Jon Card — drums (1986-1990)
  • Chris Prohom — second guitar (1988-1990)
  • Ken Jensen — drums (1992-1995)
  • John Wright — drums (1995; studio only)
  • Ford Pier — second guitar (1995-1996)
  • Brian O'Brien — drums (1995-1998)
  • Wycliffe — bass (1997-1998)
  • Kuba — bass (1998-2000, 2002-2003)
  • Jan "The Great Baldini" Rodgerson — drums (1999-2007)
  • Dan "Dirty Dan Sedan" Yaremko — bass (2003-2005, 2008-2013)
  • James "Floor Tom Jones" Hayden — drums (2007-2010, 2013)
  • Jesse Pinner — drums (2010-2013)

D.O.A.’s music provides examples of the following tropes:

  • A Cappella: "The Kenny Blister Song" off Hardcore '81 just has the band singing the line "Kenny, Kenny Blister, man who ran away" twice, unaccompanied. It may refer to their then-manager, Ken Lester.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: A common theme in many of the band's songs, as well as anecdotes featured in Joe's books I, Shithead and Talk - Action = 0.
  • All Drummers Are Animals: Original drummer Chuck Biscuits earned comparisons to The Who's Keith Moon in more ways than one; in addition to absolutely pummeling his drums, he's remembered for his irresponsible behavior, culminating in him tricking a blogger and fan into thinking that he had died of throat cancer in 2009, years after his retirement from music, prompting his surviving brother Bob to drive down to his home in Seattle to confirm he was still alive.
  • The Alleged Car: In 1987, the band purchased a used school bus they named "Miss Piggy" as a touring vehicle. It ended up constantly breaking down and needing repairs and was retired by the next year. Joe notes in his autobiography: "DON'T TOUR AROUND IN OLD SCHOOL BUSES. THE SCHOOL DISTRICT HAS SOLD THEM OFF BECAUSE THEY ARE UNRELIABLE HUNKS OF SHIT."
    • Averted with their next vehicle purchase, a step van that was named after Reid Fleming, World's Toughest Milkman (a character in a locally-published comic strip) for its resemblance to a milk truck. It lasted for 25 years before it was sold off in 2013 during D.O.A.'s second short-lived hiatus.
  • Alliterative Name: Bassists Randy Rampage and Dirty Dan Sedan. (Not to mention little-known early guitarist Randy Romance).
  • Anti-Police Song: As an anti-authoritarian hardcore punk band who were regularly harassed by police, it's pretty much inevitable that they would have several of these.
    • Their very first EP contains both "Royal Police" (later rewritten and re-recorded as "The R.C.M.P." in 2010) and "Woke Up Screaming", which was inspired by an incidence of police harassment at a bar.
    • "The Enemy" off Something Better Change mentions being beaten by police with billy clubs in its first verse.
    • Police brutality is also a central theme of, uh, "Police Brutality" off Northern Avenger and "The Cops Shot A Kid" off Hard Rain Falling, and "Killer Cops" and "The Cops Are Comin'" off Fight Back.
  • Assimilation Academy: "Nazi Training Camp" describes one.
  • Ass Shove: The song "Nazi Training Camp" contains the lines "Electric prod up your ass / But you seem to enjoy it."
  • Canada, Eh?: The band wears their nationality on their sleeve, though not in a jingoistic way (the closest they ever get is criticizing American encroachment into the Canadian economy). References to Canada and locations within it are peppered throughout the band’s discography, but notable instances include the following:
    • The early D.O.A. song “Royal Police” is about the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (better known as The Mounties), Canada’s federal police service which also serves as the local police in most of Vancouver’s suburbs. An updated version of the song was included on the 2010 album Talk - Action = 0, retitled “The R.C.M.P.” and making the subject matter more explicit (even referencing a specific instance of police brutality: the death of Polish-Canadian immigrant Robert Dziekański after being tased at Vancouver International Airport).
    • The album title True (North) Strong and Free is taken from a line in the Canadian national anthem, “O Canada”.
    • The cover of the album Loggerheads features an iconic photo of a Canadian soldier facing off with a Mohawk warrior during the Oka Crisis, and the opening track “Logjam” is a Take That! against corrupt Canadian politicians, “free-traders” who ransack the economy, racist “rednecks”, and the oppression of indigenous peoples.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Drummer Brian O'Brien retired from the band after throwing out his back too many times.
    • Averted by Joe shortly before the band's 1990 hiatus when he accidentally cut off a small piece of his left ring finger with a chainsaw that was used as a prop in the band's live show; it only temporarily affected his ability to play guitar and he says the chunk "grew back".
  • Catchphrase: Joe's is "Ya hey!", often shouted right before a song is about to kick into high gear; he sometimes signs autographs with it and it's even written on the control knob panel of his main Gibson SG guitar.
  • Coat Full of Contraband: Wimpy wears one (as well as a fake mustache and a sombrero) in the video for "We Know What You Want" to sell cigarettes to kids on a playground.
  • The Cover Changes the Meaning: The band's version of the American folk song "Midnight Special" on their 1990 album Murder—which was originally about a passenger train that would go by a prison at night and give hope and comfort to the prisoners—is rewritten to be about the then-imprisoned Nelson Mandela and other black South Africans enduring apartheid. (Coincidentally, Mandela was finally released from prison the same month Murder came out).
  • Cover Version: Most D.O.A. albums feature at least one cover song:
    • Their second album Hardcore ‘81 features a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Communication Breakdown”.
    • Their 1982 extended EP War on 45 is about half covers: “Let’s Fuck” (a vulgar parody of the 1960s hit “Let’s Dance” by way of The Ramones’ version), “War” (originally by Edwin Starr), "War" by Ranking Trevor (with new lyrics and renamed "War in the East" to distinguish it from the other song) and “Class War” (originally by California punk band The Dils).
    • Their version of “Fuck You”—originally by fellow Vancouver punks The Subhumans—was first released as a benefit single for former Subhumans bassist Gerry Hannah, who had recently been arrested as a member of the armed insurrectionist group Direct Action (better known as the Squamish Five). Another version of the song, rewritten as a blues shuffle, was included years later on Win the Battle.
    • The B-side of the “General Strike” single was a raucous cover of “That’s Life”, popularized by Frank Sinatra.
    • Let’s Wreck the Party features a cover of the pop standard “Singin’ in the Rain”.
    • True (North) Strong and Free includes a cover of Bachman-Turner Overdrive's “Takin’ Care of Business”
    • Murder features a cover of then-bassist Wimpy Roy’s old band The Subhumans’ “No Productivity” and the American folk song “Midnight Special”, with new lyrics about apartheid in South Africa.
    • Last Scream of the Missing Neighbors, their collaborative album with Jello Biafra, features a cover of The Animals’ “We’ve Gotta Get Out of This Place”.
    • The band recorded a version of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” for the soundtrack to Terminal City Ricochet, but it wasn’t used due to the licensing rights being too expensive. It later turned up on the compilation album Greatest Shits.
    • Around the same time, the band recorded a version of "Where Evil Grows", originally by Vancouver-based psychedelic pop band The Poppy Family, as a benefit single for an environmentalist nonprofit called Environmental Watch that was associated with Poppy Family frontman Terry Jacks, who also produced the track.
    • Loggerheads features a slow, plodding, dissonant cover of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues", appropriately renamed "Folsom Prison Dirge"
    • The 1993 EP It’s Not Unusual… But It Sure Is Ugly! features a cover of “It’s Not Unusual”, made famous by Tom Jones.
    • The track “Marijuana Motherfucker” off the album The Black Spot combines two songs by David Peel and the Lower East Side Band, “I Like Marijuana” and “Up Against the Wall”. The album also contains a version of the traditional gospel song "This Train is Bound for Glory", just titled "Bound for Glory".
    • Win the Battle features a cover of "La Grange" by ZZ Top.
    • Live Free Or Die features covers of Barry McGuire’s “Eve of Destruction” (which was later included as the B-side to the "Fucked Up Donald" single), Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising”, and a re-recording of “Marijuana Motherfucker”.
    • Northern Avenger includes another CCR cover, “Who’ll Stop the Rain”.
    • Talk - Action = 0 features covers of Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore” and Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’”.
    • We Come in Peace features covers of the Toxic Reasons’ “War Hero” and The Beatles’ “Revolution”.
    • Hard Rain Falling features a cover of Jamaican reggae group The Slickers’ “Johnny Too Bad”, best known for its inclusion on the soundtrack to The Harder They Come, as well as Johnny Cash's "San Quentin".
    • Fight Back features another Bob Dylan cover, "Wanted Man".
    • Treason includes a cover of Neil Young’s “Hey Hey, My My”.
    • The band has also been known to perform various other covers in concert, including Black Flag's "Nervous Breakdown" and fellow Vancouver punks Rude Norton's "Tits On the Beach".
  • Cultural Cringe: "Logjam" off Loggerheads indicts several aspects of the Canadian social fabric and economy, lambasting greedy industrialists, corrupt politicians, and "rednecks" who hate indigenous people.
  • Driven to Suicide: "Suicidal" is about impoverished teenagers in New Jersey who kill themselves out of sheer hopelessness.
  • Epic Rocking: Few D.O.A. songs exceed four minutes in length, making the nearly fourteen minute long "Full Metal Jackoff" from Last Scream of the Missing Neighbors all the more impressive. It was recorded in one take with Jello Biafra giving the band hand signals from the vocal booth for different sections of the song, and Joe says drummer Jon Card's cymbal-hitting arm was "ready to fall off" by the end.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: Live versions of "World War 3" slow to a stop and pause for a few seconds before another couple rounds of the chorus.
  • Filk Song:
  • The Fundamentalist: Joe is an outspoken atheist, and the religious right increasingly became a target of the band's ire as their career went on. Joe has been known to don a clerical collar and robe in live concerts and videos to portray the character Reverend Joe Shithead.
  • Greatest Hits Album: The band has released no less than ten of these, the most well-known being 1984's Bloodied But Unbowed which mostly compiles tracks from Something Better Change and Hardcore '81.
  • Green Aesop: Joe is an outspoken environmentalist who has traditionally aligned himself with the British Columbia Green Party, and songs like "Hole In The Sky", "The Only Thing Green" and "Pipeline Fever" sharply criticize environmental destruction and the wealthy elites who profit from it. The band has also played numerous benefit concerts in favour of environmentalist causes.
  • Grief Song: "Junk City Nowhere" is dedicated to former D.O.A. drummer and Joe's childhood friend Ken "Dimwit" Montgomery, who died of an accidental heroin overdose in 1994.
  • Guttural Growler / Harsh Vocals: Joe is known for his low, gravelly voice, which has only gotten lower and gravellier with age.
  • Hardcore Punk: They're one of the bands that helped put the genre on the map and are widely considered the Trope Namer.
  • Heavy Meta: The songs "I Hate Punk Rock" (later re-recorded as "They Hate Punk Rock"), "Punk Rock Hero", "California Hardcore Last Chance", "Fuck You w/ The Blues" and "You Won't Stand Alone (ska-sized)".
    • The album Hardcore '81 counts as well; the popularity of the album and subsequent North American tour is often credited with popularizing the name of the Hardcore Punk genre (though 7 Seconds were the first to call their own genre "hardcore", inspired by an offhand comment by Joey Shithead in a fanzine interview).
  • I Am the Band: Joey Shithead is the face of the band, the lead singer, the main songwriter, and is the sole constant member.
  • I Call It "Vera": Joe bought his first guitar, a Gibson SG, from a pawn shop the day after he enrolled in university in 1974; it's still his main guitar to this day and was named "Northern Avenger" in 2008 on the suggestion of producer Bob Rock while recording the album of the same name.
  • Intercourse with You: D.O.A. doesn't sing much about sex (or romantic love, for that matter), but "Let's Fuck", a vulgar parody of the 1960s hit "Let's Dance", is a rare exception.
  • Live Album: A shoddily-recorded live EP called Triumph of the Ignoroids was released around the same time as their debut album in 1980, documenting an early D.O.A. performance as contestants in a local battle of the bands. They later released the more professionally-recorded Talk Minus Action Equals Zero in 1991 and Welcome to Chinatown in 2013, both immediately following band breakups that turned out to be hiatuses.
  • Lives in a Van: The theme for the song and video "I Live in a Car".
  • Longest Song Goes Last: The entire second side of Last Scream of the Missing Neighbors consists of the nearly fourteen minute-long track "Full Metal Jackoff".
  • Long Runner: Not including brief retirements from 1990-1992 and 2013-2014, the band has been going for over 40 years as of 2020.
  • Miniscule Rocking: Hardcore '81 contains three songs less than a minute long: "Musical Interlude" a.k.a. "Oo Ee Oo Ee Oo Ah Ah" (22 seconds), "The Kenny Blister Song" (16 seconds), and "Waiting For You" (45 seconds).
  • Music Is Politics: D.O.A. may embody this trope more than any notable Canadian punk band. Apart from the explicitly political content of much of their material, Joe has been a political activist since his teen years, has run for office several times and currently serves on the city council of his hometown of Burnaby. He even recorded two songs with Burnaby's mayor Mike Hurley on bass to lift people's spirits and encourage cooperation during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • Obligatory Bondage Song: "Want Some Bondage", featured on the early live EP Triumph of the Ignoroiods.
  • Ode to Intoxication: The band has enough songs about beer to warrant a themed compilation album titled Kings of Punk, Hockey and Beer.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted from March-April 1978 with guitarist Randy Romance and bassist Randy Rampage in the band simultaneously, and from 1995-1996 with bassist Brian Goble and drummer Brian O'Brien (though the former was usually known as "Wimpy"). The band has also had two drummers named Ken and two drummers named John/Jon, though not at the same time.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience:
    • Though the band has recorded several ska and reggae-flavoured songs, "War in the East" off War On 45 is just a reggae song, replete with a beer bottle as a percussion instrument.
    • "Dance O' Death" off Let's Wreck the Party was the band experimenting with hip-hop (though Joe says they actually had funk in mind while recording it). A music video was released for the song, and Joe notes proudly in his autobiography that both it and their idol Dee Dee Ramone's video for his solo rap single "Funky Man" were among the "worst rap videos of 1987" according to MTV.
  • Parental Incest: "M.C.T.F.D" off Hardcore '81 is a warning to a titular "middle-class TV family daughter" about her perverted father, who apparently also has eyes for his son and the family dog.
  • Pedophile Priest: The song “I See Your Cross” calls out hypocritical Christian preachers, and references the Mount Cashel Orphanage in Newfoundland, which closed in 1990 amid revelations that children had been physically and sexually abused there.
  • Power Trio / Rock Trio: D.O.A. was one for (most of) their first two years, and has been one since their 1992 reunion, save for second guitarist Ford Pier's brief stint with the band in the mid-1990s.
  • Protest Song: Like Take That! below, it would be easier to list the D.O.A. songs that aren't protest songs in some way, shape or form. Joe was politicized at an early age and counts reggae music and folk singers like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie as influences in addition to early punk bands.
  • Pun-Based Title: The record titles Greatest Shits and Dawning of a New Error.
  • Punny Name:
    • Original drummer Chuck Biscuits' stage name is a play on a slang term for vomiting.
    • Former drummer Floor Tom Jones’ stage name is a play on “floor tom” (one of the drums in a standard drum kit) and the singer Tom Jones.
  • Religion Rant Song: Joe proudly proclaims his contempt for organized religion in songs like "I See Your Cross" and "That's Why I Am An Atheist" (as well as their accompanying music videos), and this was also the theme for the packaging and promo of the album Festival of Atheists.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: It was widely reported that founding drummer Chuck Biscuits had died in October 2009 from throat cancer; it turned out that Chuck had tricked a music blogger he'd been exchanging emails with for unclear reasons.
  • Revolving Door Band: Joey Shithead is the sole constant member of the band, with the rest of the original lineup having completely turned over back in 1982. Besides him, Brian “Wimpy Roy” Goble served the longest, handling bass and occasional lead vocals for 14 years. Joe has had 27 bandmates over the years, each serving for an average of just under 4 years.
  • Sequel Song:
    • The album Murder contains "Waiting For You, Pt. II", a sequel to "Waiting For You" off Hardcore '81.
    • Averted with "Return to Lumberjack City" off Win the Battle; one could be forgiven for thinking it's a sequel to "Lumberjack City" off True (North) Strong and Free, but it's actually just a re-recording of the previous song (due to the fact that the original album couldn't be reissued).
  • Singer Namedrop: A couple of the band's songs mention themselves: "Big Guys Like D.O.A." off The Black Spot, and "It Was D.O.A." off Treason (which also namechecks Joey Shithead).
    • Oddly enough, "D.O.A." off Hardcore '81 doesn't seem to be referring to the band; the chorus says "You're D.O.A.", apparently meaning "dead on arrival". Joe claims the lyrics were written by a fan and handed to him while he was sitting on his front porch.
  • Slogans: The band's official motto is "Talk - Action = 0", which they took from an anarchist magazine called Open Road. It first appeared on the back cover of War On 45 and has been used as the title of a 1990 live album, a 2010 studio album, and a book by Joe.
  • Something Something Leonard Bernstein: Joe is known for slurring his vocals a lot of the time, particularly on earlier records, and especially on faster songs (and especially on the even faster live versions).
  • Song Parody: A few of the band’s songs are humorous rewrites of other ones:
    • “Let’s Fuck” is a vulgar parody of “Let’s Dance”, a relatively genteel 1962 hit by Chris Montez that was later covered by The Ramones.
    • “Billy and the Socreds” is a parody of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s hit “Down on the Corner” that lambastes then-British Columbia premier Bill Bennett and his right-wing Social Credit Party; it was included on the benefit compilation Expo Hurts Everyone, released in protest of the 1986 World’s Fair taking place in Vancouver.
  • Special Guest:
    • John Wright of Nomeansno played drums on The Black Spot due to the sudden death of Ken Jensen, though he was never an official member of the band and isn't credited as such on the record.
    • Bif Naked sings a duet with Joe, "All Across the U.S.A.", on Win the Battle.
    • We Come In Peace contains two duets: "Do You Wanna" with Hugh Dillon of Headstones and "We Occupy" with Jello Biafra.
  • Stage Names: Lots of members have had them:
    • Joe Keithley = “Joe(y) Shithead”
    • Randy Archibald = “Randy Rampage”
    • Chuck Montgomery = “Chuck Biscuits”
    • Harry Mitchelson = "Harry Homo"
    • Brad Kent = “Brad Kunt”
    • Simon Wilde = “Stubby Pecker”
    • Ken Montgomery = “Dimwit”
    • Brian Roy Goble = “Wimpy Roy”
    • Greg James = “Ned Peckerwood”
    • Jan Rodgerson = “The Great Baldini”
    • Dan Yaremko = “Dirty Dan Sedan”
    • James Hayden = “Floor Tom Jones”
    • "Randy Romance" was in the band briefly as well, though it's not public knowledge what his real name was.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Though Joe sings the vast majority of the songs, other members occasionally lend their vocal talents:
    • Randy Rampage sings lead (and belches) on "I Don't Give A Shit" off Hardcore '81.
    • Wimpy sang several songs during his tenure, usually ones that he wrote or originally sang with his former band the Subhumans; “Fuck You”, “No Productivity” and “Behind the Smile” were all originally Subhumans songs.
    • Their cover of Edwin Starr's "War" is a rare instance of Dave Gregg on lead vocals; he would sing most of the chorus while Joey went guitar-less for one song.
    • Chuck Biscuits sang lead on “Kill, Kill, This is Pop”, which first appeared on the Vancouver punk compilation record Vancouver Complication.
    • Ford Pier co-wrote and sang lead on "You're Paying For Your Body Now" off The Black Spot, the only album for which he was a member.
    • Paddy Duddy narrates most of “It Was D.O.A.” off the album Treason.
  • Take That!: It would be easier to make a list of D.O.A. songs that aren’t an example of this. They’ve attacked everyone from bigots, to religious zealots, to police officers, to shitty landlords, to lecherous adult men who prey on teenage girls, to warmongers, to reactionary civilians, to the rich, to corrupt politicians at all levels of government.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Their first-ever EP (and their later full-length True (North) Strong and Free) contains the song "Nazi Training Camp", containing the immortal line "Swastikas are in your brain".
  • Traveling Salesman / Honest John: The band play put-upon employees of the "Mega-Mass Merchandising Corporation" in the music video for "We Know What You Want", a song that satirizes consumerism and advertising. One scene features Joe as a door-to-door salesman offering a portly woman a choice of lingerie, bikinis, or lard.
  • Trope Codifier: Though it wasn't completely unheard of before them, D.O.A. are widely credited with popularizing the modern concept of DIY punk touring: booking a string of dates at small venues with local opening acts, piling into a van and heading out on your own. Before the mid-late 1970s, up-and-coming rock bands would typically be hired for multiple-night stands with multiple sets per night at local bars and clubs, earning their keep by playing cover tunes while gradually building up a repertoire of originals. Joey Shithead shared his list of contacts with original Black Flag bassist and tour booker Chuck Dukowski, and both bands are said to have greatly inspired the punk scenes of each town they came through.
  • Trope Maker / Trope Namer: The band's album Hardcore '81 and the subsequent North American tour of the same name is often credited with popularizing "hardcore" as the name of a punk genre, though the whole story is a little more complicated: Joe offhandedly described D.O.A. and other bands like it (such as Black Flag) as "hardcore" in a 1979 print interview, which soon inspired the members of Nevada-based group 7 Seconds to dub their own genre "hardcore new wave" (the terms "punk" and "new wave" were often used interchangeably back then).
  • Unplugged Version: 2012's We Come In Peace features an acoustic version of "General Strike", originally released as a single in 1983, reportedly at the suggestion of Jello Biafra.
    • The band often performed acoustically under the name "Drunks On Acoustics" in the late 1980s.
  • Video Full of Film Clips: The music video for "Behind the Smile" uses clips from the film Terminal City Ricochet, in which Joe plays the character Officer Friendly and in which D.O.A. has a cameo (in addition to recording several songs for the soundtrack).
  • Vocal Evolution: Joe's vocals were a little smoother and more youthful-sounding on their first couple of records, but by 1982's War On 45 he developed his signature growl.
  • War Is Hell: A common theme in their songs, including "World War 3", "Masters of War", "We Don't Need No God Damn War", "Warmonger" and their covers of songs like Edwin Starr's "War", Ranking Trevor's "War in the East", and Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction".