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Keith Morris (OFF!, ex-Circle Jerks, ex-Black Flag): don't use 'punk rock' as an excuse to act stupid!

Keith Morris (OFF!, ex-Circle Jerks, ex-Black Flag): don't use 'punk rock' as an excuse to act stupid!
BANDS : Black Flag, OFF!

Keith Morris name is well known in the hardcore punk scene. Starting with Black Flag, continues with Circle Jerks, and ending with OFF!, each of this three bands that Keith played in, have a word to say when it comes to hardcore punk. The musician was extremly kind and agreed to have a disussion with us as OFF! will release the second album this year. In the following lines, Keith talked about hardcore punk, love for the writings of Hunter S. Thompson, a possible reuniuon of Black Flag, English humour of Monty Python and... sarmale! More in the lines below:

Metalfan: Hello Keith and welcome to Metalfan!

Keith Morris: YEEEEEOOOOOOOW!!!!!!

Metalfan: You are a well known figure in the hardcore punk scene for your activity with Circle Jerks and also with Black Flag, you also have a new band called OFF!. Please tell us how did OFF! start as a band?

Keith Morris: OFF!'s golden guitar god and our studliest member Dimitri approached my other band to produce and become the slave driver who was gonna' crack the whip and put our noses to the grindstone. In other words he was brought in ( and we all agreed this was great) to set a fire under our asses to attempt to get us to be creative and write/record our first album in 15 years. In the proceedings things took a turn South and became childlike and ugly. RIDICULOUS! Older guys don't wanna' take orders from the younger character and the other guys in my other band weren't into Dimitri who took control and had the balls to tell the elderly, egotistical, arrogant and set in their ways guys that their music wasn't good enough to be on the new Circle Jerks album. I TOTALLY respected him for this but band members no. 2, 3 and 4 weren't buying into it. They fired him and I wasn't going to let my work with Mr. Coats get tossed out the window so I quit. I realized being a founding member that I didn't need to walk away from a band I helped start that I was gonna' go on a lengthy vacation in which I may never return! Dimitri and I made a list of who we wanted to have in our band and Steven McDonald was at the top of the list for bass players as was Mario Rubalcaba at the number ! slot on the drummer list. I contacted both of them and we were making loud noises in a room 3 weeks later...

Metalfan: Speaking about Circle Jerks, which is the status of the band in this moment?
Keith Morris: They're all in some sorta' state of suspended animation being displayed in the Museum of Natural History & Science downtown Los Angeles. Just Kidding! One of the guys is 2nd guitarist in Bad Religion, the bassist is playing guitar with Sean from Throw Rag in SEAN Y ZANDER and Kevin the Jerks drummer just finished a tour with 400 BLOWS.
Metalfan: This year you will release a new album with OFF!. What can you tell us about this record? To be more specific, about each song from the album?
Keith Morris: WOW! Do you want this as an essay? A finals paper? Short stories? Why would I give you a song for song rundown and take away the suspense or surprises? Where's the fun in that? I'll say that we have our scorchers and we've stepped outta' the "Box" and got a little bit more musical meaning that we've let some other musical influences creep into our mentality! In "King Kong Brigade" we stretch out a bit with some ALICE COOPERisms, Dimitri and I were also listening to BLUE OYSTER CULT, MISFITS, FLESH EATERS, BLACK SABBATH, CAPTAIN BEYOND, FUCKED UP, LED ZEPPELIN, DESCENDENTS, DEEP PURPLE, SEX PISTOLS and the great classical composer GRIEG!

Metalfan: In 2010 you have released the first full-length album with OFF! titled First Four EPs. How was the album received by the fans and by the media?

Keith Morris: People who pay attention to what we're doing really love us! We are very fortunate to be at the ages that OFF! is at and have this kind of reception as we lucked out and happened to be in the right place at the wrong time or something along those lines. It's a Cinderella story and we're just getting ready to go to the big dance contest and win the lead slipper. 2010 seems as if it was a couple' months ago but we're having such an amazing time that it all zips right by! Having a BLAST!


Metalfan: You have released two records with Black Flag, the EP Nervous Breakdown (1978) and the compilation album titled Everything Went Black (1982). What can you tell us about each of this records?
Keith Morris: I've never been paid royalties…………I guess it's just as easy to get plowed under by a small/indie label as it is by a multi-corporate ultra-conglomorate label. A lot of peeps "in the know' say the Nervous Breakdown EP is one of their favorite pieces of vinyl ever recorded and then more often than not it gets slagged by the critics who lean towards Fleetwood Mac with Stevie Nicks & Lindsey Buckingham or the DOOBIE BROTHERS and the reason for this is that probably we didn't allow Greg Ginn & Robo to sing backing vocal harmonies or have a string quartet playing with us. Everything Went Black has two of my favorite Black Flag vocalists as Dez and Ron Reyes are better than Henry who is better than me but i'm better than Dez who's not as good as Ron but Ron's a better vocalist than me as i'm way better than Greg who doesn't sing on any of these tracks but is better than Robo who doesn't really sing in the first place and he's not nearly as good as Henry who's a way better vocalist than Dez who is much better than I am but not as good as Ron...

Metalfan: A lot of musicians and bands like The Melvins, Sepultura, Hatebreed, Converge and many more consider Black Flag to be one of their biggest influences.

Keith Morris: Well when Greg Ginn and I started Black Flag we didn't know what we were doing or how to go about acquiring the right people to play with us so it was the scenario of the "Blind leading the Blind" and we went along at our own pace figuring and finding out stuff as it came. As for what we created most will say it's Greg Ginn's band because he wrote the songs but what good is a song if you don't have the right people screaming the vocals, banging on the bass and hitting cymbals and drum skins? When it comes to music. How do you feel about this?

Metalfan: Do you talk in this days with the former members of the band?
Keith Morris: I talk with Chuck "The Duke" Dukowski at least 2 or 3 times a month, Billy Stevenson who had the longest tenure playing drums in BF every coupla' months, Ron Reyes probably 3 or 4 times a month on Facebook and Henry whenever I run into him at a gig and through his column in the LA WEEKLY every week!

Metalfan: I think this is a hard question. I have also asked Chuck Dukowski this, but would you consider to reform Black Flag after all this years? Black Sabbath did it and work to a new album after 33 years. What do you think about Black Sabbath?
Keith Morris: Wouldn't work…….the guitarist can't keep up and has a difficult time remembering songs he wrote as he's lost a few steps. When some of the guys left Black Flag they left with a bad taste in their mouths and wouldn't go back. A lot of sad skull  drudgery and heavy shit that fucked with a few heads and a so called First Four Years reunion at the Hollywood Palladium back in 2003 that had a bunch' fans feeling ripped off and thinking that Ginn had just shoveled the last dirt on the Black Flag grave. As for Black Sabbath that's Black Sabbath without Bill Ward = NO Black Sabbath!


Metalfan: I know that you are a fan of Bad Brains. They are working on a new studio album, what do expect from them?
Keith Morris: OFF! played a gig with them at Emo's in Austin Texas and they RULED! They've slowed down just a coupla' notches and because of this have become HEAVIER! They were TOTALLY bitchen' so i'd expect a great album from them and I know they'll not disappoint!

Metalfan: You enjoy the writings of Hunter S. Thompson, which is your favorite book by him?
Keith Morris: Hunter S. Thompson's a freak and a way crazed character and any writings by him are nuts! FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS is a great one! FEAR AND LOATHING: ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL and GENERATION OF SWINE are also way wicked cool!

Metalfan: How important do you think it was Hunter S. Thompson for the political scene from US and how do you see the things now without him to make a statement?
Keith Morris: He was important in that he didn't mince his words and was very straight up and no bullshit when it came to dealing and describing these human garbage heaps. He also added a sprinkling of political sarcasm that kept his writings from turning too boring. Another great character who sadly is no longer with us was the standup comedian Bill Hicks but thankfully we still have that cat Jon Stewart on Comedy Central!

Metalfan: I know that you like Monty Python's Flying Circus. Do you think that is a big difference between the British humor and the American humor?

Keith Morris: I think British humor is much darker……SPAMITY SPAM SPAMITTY SPAM! I'll have more SPAM please!

Metalfan: Do you consider touring Europe with OFF!? Is there any chance to see you here in Romania?
Keith Morris: I'd love to play shows in Romania but the closest we'll come is Germany as we're playing 4 gigs there...

Metalfan: I know that you like foreign food, here in Romania we have sarmale, you would love them!
Keith Morris: I'll Google "sarmale" and letcha' know if i'm interested!

Metalfan: Thank you Keith for your time and for your answers! It was a honor! In the end would you like to send few words to our readers or to add something?
Keith Morris: Have fun, make friends, let off steam, carry yourselves in an intelligent manner and don't use "punk rock" as an excuse to act stupid!
Autor: H.
   May 17, 2012  | 0 Comments  | 5662 Views « BACK

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