Watt's third solo album, The Second Man's Middle Stand, tracks the entire painful ordeal. The details are in the songs: "Puked to High Heaven," "Bursted Man," "Tied a Reed 'Round My Waist," "Pissbags and Tubing." "It left a deep impression on me," sighs Watt.
Now healthy and back to poppin' notes in songs that blur the line between art-rock and post-punk, Watt (pictured, center) sounds invigorated. The Second Man meanders along the same path Watt's been rambling down for the past quarter-century, but there's newfound and hard-earned joy in the grooves. "Records are springboards to take chances with," he says.
Through it all, the music has kept him going. It was there when boyhood friend D. Boon -- with whom he formed the seminal punk band the Minutemen -- died in a traffic accident in 1985. It was there when Firehose -- the trio Watt and Minutemen drummer George Hurley created a year later -- disbanded a decade ago. And it was there when Watt spent four months in bed, tubes sticking out of his body, thinking about his cat (which has since passed away). "I'm inspired these days," he says. "I'm inspired enough to write a whole opera about all this."