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Cutting-Room Floor

Off!'s Keith Morris Mouths Off, Before the Group's Show at the Whisky Tomorrow

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Mon, May 7, 2012 at 4:00 AM
click to enlarge AARON FARLEY
  • Aaron Farley

See also: Still a Malcontent: A midlife crisis spawns Keith Morris' new band Off!

In this week's music feature we get inside the heads of punk rock "supergroup" Off! on the eve of the release their self-titled debut album. (They hate that term, btw.) The group, which is led by former Black Flag and Circle Jerks frontman and Keith Morris, was spawned from the disintegration of the Circle Jerks. Below are excerpts from our conversation with Morris -- at Carousel Restaurant in east Hollywood, where Off! was first conceived -- that didn't make the article.

On working "day jobs":

"I come from working class, so it's not that big of a deal. Not a big deal to get up at eight in the morning and chop up some fruit and some vegetables and ask people what they would like to drink ... [Friends] would look at me and go: 'Why are you working here? You're a rock star - you should be out playing the coliseums of the world.'"

On being considered a "legend":

"I don't shine that kind of light on myself ... Being a legend with a pocket full of change might not even get you a bus ride or a cup of coffee."

On songwriting:

"The idea is just to get it and get out and trim all the fat. One of the things that I like bringing up is we have this invention called the compact disc, which I think holds 72, 73 minutes worth of music. And all of a sudden all of bands decided -- well, not all of the bands, but a great deal of bands decided -- 'well, if it holds 72 minutes of music we're going to have 71 minutes-worth of music on our CD'. Consequently, you had all these CDs where, after about the first 15, 20 minutes, was like 'why am I listening to this?' -- it's just meandering on and 'listen to me and how I can play this instrument' ..."

On the Circle Jerks' 2010 break-up:

"All of a sudden there were a lot of horrendous decisions being made and, being at the age that I'm at, if it was a record company or a manager making those decisions it would be 'OK - we'll either go along with this and see where it takes us or we'll fire them and move on.' But when it's a band member - you don't just, like, fire one of the most important people in the band! ... So, after a few disastrous decisions, I just put my foot down and said 'I'm no longer a part of this'."

On a "revenge of the nerds" attitude:

"Part of playing music - playing loud music; playing music the way that we play it with the middle finger up in the air - was all those [high school] bullies and all the teachers that said 'oh no, you can't do this; you're not good enough to do this' ... [But] now it's 'welcome to the party' - everybody should be allowed to come to the party. Being 56 years old and having seen as much as I've seen, participated in as much as I've participated in, it's like 'open the front door and let everybody come in'. And if you're a dick, then get the fuck out; and if you're not, then hang."

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