KEITH MORRIS THRILLS INTERVIEW
Posted on September 02 2013
BY KYLE JENKINS
Q: What was it like back then (as in) when you were in Black Flag and Circle Jerks compared to now with your current band OFF?
A: Times are WAY different with this new invention that people call the “Computer”! No more standing at entrances of venues passing out handbills and flyers expecting or hoping that the peeps exiting will be into what yer’ doin’ onna’ musical level. No more stapling or gluing posters or flyers to anything standing that would allow this. We don’t hafta’ call 50 friends in an attempt to get them to call 50 of their friends who would in turn call 50 of their amigos, etc., etc., etc……………but the royal unadulterated, unhinged bummer is everybody expects everything for free! More internet users sit at home and watch the live performance on Youtube or whatever without really goin’ onna’ field trip, a safari or an adventure to see it for real. No cigarettes and booze in the parking lot with yer’ pals, no piss drenched bathroom floors, clogged toilets, sweating people rubbing against each other, jumping up and down, screaming and yelling, the whole vibe of being there with all of the energy’s missing when yer’ listening to an Mp3……………like IGGY said “NO FUN”!
Q: Here in Australia I would compare our culture that of a cake. Meaning that most bands are all fairly bland (or trying to be bland) like the bottom of a badly baked cake, and that their artistry is based solely on whatever imagery they can place on top (just like the icing or decoration on a cake). Does this reflect similarly to what is happening where you are?
A: Some of my favorite rawk groops are Australian and i’m CERTAINLY not gonna’ compare them to cake! The DRONES, the BAD SEEDS, BIRTHDAY PARTY, BEASTS OF BOURBON, the SCIENTISTS, MASTER’S APPRENTICES, BIRD BLOBS, LIME SPIDERS, TUMBLEWEED, LIPSTICK KILLERS, the SAINTS, DIVINYLS, HOODOO GURUS, the EASYBEATS, MAGIC DIRT, early BEE GEES, and the newest Aussie band I last listened to was a pop band who sounded like a mix of CHEAP TRICK and NIRVANA being NEON who would probably most resemble a cake due to the vocals being kinda’ “sugary”. Now gettng down to cake like bands would you be referring to the LITTLE RIVER BAND? As for where i’m at there’s too many bands of shapes and sizes with whatever their mentality or agendas taking up too much space! Yeah it’s a giant bakery!
Q: Here in Australia 1 radio station pretty much dictates all taste, to the point that only bands that get played on that station are able to consistently get gigs. You could almost say that its like a cultural concentration camp. Is this similar or different to where you are? A. We’ve got so many venues here in Los Angeles/Southern California that the radio doesn’t really dictate who’s hot and where they play. We’re fortunate in that there’s an open mindedness that won’t allow too much dictating by any one group or individual. It’a a wide open party! 4. For yourself, what is the difference between the three bands (Black Flag, Circle Jerks and OFF) that you have been involved in?
A: BLACK FLAG played and wasn’t concerned with what was going on during their set as the dance floor could’ve turned into a war zone and we wouldn’t have flinched. The FLAG was always under constant scrutiny by the authorities as we were messing with their “Conservative Vibe”! The CIRCLE JERKS cared and wanted things to be more festive. Let’s drink, do drugs, get laid, be the life of the party and have everybody make new friends. The JERKS were harassed by the cops every now and then but we always managed to get out before the crap hit the walls. OFF! pretty much adheres to the CJ’s party plan with less drugs and girl chasing as 3 of the guys are Dads with Kids. Too many responsibilities!
Q: Why did you start / get involved with the Fuck Yeah Fest?
A: My friend SEAN CARLSON has been doing the FYF FEST for 7 yrs. We recently had to change it from the FUCK YEAH FEST as we started dealing with the California State Parks & Recreation, Los Angeles City Council, L.A.P.D., the Chinatown Chamber Of Commerce and L.A.F.D. so the Fuck Yeah Fest title wasn’t gonna’ fly with all these civil minded, starch collared business persons and politicians. I’ve been involved since 2005 when I was asked to tell stories between bands and showed up, watched a handful of acts and seeing that the room was so packed there would be absolutely no way to get to the stage……….even getting on my stomach and crawling between people’s legs! Let me just say there were 500 peeps inna’ space that was only supposed to have 350! The scenario was 200 partiers out in front of the venue mingling on Sunset Blvd. and another 500 downstairs inna’ space built for 300. It wassa’ CLUSTERFUCK of major proportions. I ran into Sean 2 blocks away drinking booze outta’ a bottle at a bus bench and asked why he wasn’t at his Fest coordinating things? He replied that it was totally outta’ control and he hadda’ headache! It’s only grown larger each year and last years FYF FEST had about 25,000 attendees.
Q: In Australia it seems that every day of the week there is a new festival, but pretty much the same people / bands are playing them. Was Fuck Yeah fest a vehicle for yourself to say that there is more out there than the lazy force fed art / music that makes up culture these days?
A: We want to keep things interesting and not compete with any other music fests. As you know there’s a new music festival on every corner in every town and even in people’s back yards! Last yr. we had SLEEP, The MOUNTAIN GOATS, 7 SECONDS, TED LEO & THE PHARMACISTS, WARPAINT, SOFT PACK, THEE OH SEES, BEST COAST, SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS, OFF!, ARIEL PINK’S HAUNTED GRAFFITI, DAVILA 666 and a whole bunch more. We’ve gotta’ limited budget so we can’t get way out there! We’ve talked with many more expensive bands and because i’ve made so many friends with other bands over the years we’ve dug into the woodwork to get bands to reform or play at a fraction of what they’d normally get paid which sometimes works as we’ve built a really great fan base.
Q: Who are some current bands / music that you have been listening to or enjoy watching?
A: This list could go on forever but just off the top of my head………….THEE OH SEES, FUCKED UP, REDD KROSS, AUDACITY, CRYSTAL STILTS,TY SEGALL, DEERHUNTER, RYAN ADAMS, THE SHINS, TRASH TALK, SMITH & WESTERNS, DURAN DURAN, THE JIM JONES REVUE, ODD FUTURE, CAPTAIN BEYOND, BLACK LISTED, CEREBRAL BALLZY, CULTURE KIDS, THE JOLTS, SONS AND DAUGHTERS, DAVILA 666, BLACK LIPS, NO AGE, BLACK MOUNTAIN, MOON DUO, JEFF THE BROTHER HOOD, IDLE TIMES, TV GHOST, EDDY CURRENT SUPRESSION RING, LOVE IS ALL, THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES and an army of others!
Q: Do you think the internet has changed the way we experience music?
A: YES! It makes people LAZY! Let yer’ fingers do the walking! Don’t sit there and let yer’ ass grow large………….GO OUT AND DO SOMETHING!
Q: Do you ever see a time when people will value small record stores for the fact that they allow a more real experience of collecting, discovering and finding music? A. I’d like to hope this will happen but imma’ pessimist and think we should be lucky and spend more time in the ones that still exist! 10. Other than OFF, are there any other projects you are involved in currently?
A: Seeing as the Circle Jerks have made one terrible decision after another over the course of the last 15 years they’re onna’ insanely long hiatus while i’m having fun in my new musical organization, OFF!! Dimitri who is the guitarist in OFF! and I have a new batch of songs to write and i’ve gotta’ finish writing a book and movie.
Q: The world has gotten uglier over time, do you see it changing and if so how can it change?
A: My feelings toward this ugly spiral is that the world starts with you so you’ve gotta’ do the best you can to survive and take responsibility for yer’ space as it starts right where you stand! Be good to yer’ friends and do your share to help the environment……..recycle, tune up yer’ automobile, don’t waste energy and be aware of yer’ surroundings! Nothing worse than somebody who doesn’t care or complains and doesn’t do anything to back it up!
Q: Why should anyone start a band?
A: They shouldn’t! Just kidding! Start a band and have fun and when it gets too business like or paint by numbers or going down the list of things somebody has told you to do that would mean to not give up yer’ day job! Put as much of your personality into it as you can or don’t do it at all!
Q: What makes a great band or for that matter what makes anything great for you?
A: Creativity with personality, lotsa’ color, vertical as much as horizontal, great characters, something that gets people excited, brings outta’ an energetic response, no posturing, ’cause it’s all been done before so you better be beyond just a normal kook!
Q: What are some memorable gigs / concerts that you saw?
A: ALICE COOPER BAND performing “Killer” @ the Hollywood Palladium, the “Search And Destroy” IGGY & THE STOOGES w/JAMES WILLIAMSON @ the Whisky A Go Go 1973, DEERHUNTER @ the Henry Fonda Theatre, the JESUS LIZARD destroying HELMET @ the 9:30 Club in Washington DC, GOLDEN EARRING on their “Switch” tour @ the Santa Monica Civic in 1975, AEROSMITH’s “Toys In The Attic” tour w/STATUS QUO @ the Long Beach Arena, ROBIN TROWER’s first US tour @ the Whisky A Go Go, X & DOA @ the Starwood, the GERMS & BLACK FLAG w/RON REYES being filmed for the “Decline Of Western Civilization”, the GUN CLUB @ JET’S in South Central L.A., the SEX PISTOLS @ Winterland, the CLASH @ the Santa Monica Civic w/the DILS and BO DIDDLEY just to name a few……………………
Q: Are you a constant listener and collector of music?
A: I’d think that by answering some of these other questions this would be apparent! I’ve got about 6,000 albums, 3,000 CDs, 1,000 7 inch singles/splits and EPs and about 200 cassettes.
Q: Any thoughts of ever coming down to Australia?
A: OF COURSE! I’ve been asked to sit onna’ panel for the BIGSOUND music event in Brisbane in September and I think the BIG DAY OUT Festival wants OFF! There was a big fest that just took place w/IRON MAIDEN, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, FUCKED UP, the BRONX, HIGH ON FIRE, SLAYER, TRASH TALK, PENNYWISE, SOCIAL DISTORTION, ROB ZOMBIE and a whole cast of other nitwits and freaks that would be a FUN one!
Q: What recent purchases at the record store you made that you thought were great?
A: What I think is “great” or “cool” might not necessarily turn out to be or equate to being “great” or “cool” to someone else! These were my last few record store purchases………ARBOURETUM’s “Song Of the Pearl” , CANDY CLAW’s “Hidden Lands”, SONS & DAUGHTERS’s “This Gift”, the FRESH & ONLYS’ debut LP, BAD SPORTS, CRYSTAL STILTS’ “In Love with Oblivion”, TAMARYN’s “Led Astray Washed Ashore”, the DRONES’ “Havilah”, GOLDEN TRIANGLE’s 1st EP, the J. GEILS BAND’s “The Morning After”, HEROIN’s 2nd EP, DWIGHT TWILLEY’s 1st and 2nd albums, TARKUS’s self titled 1st album, THE PHANTOM FAMILY HALO’s “The Legend Of Black Six”, MAGAZINE’s “Secondhand Daylight”, The EQUALS’s “Baby Come Back”, BECK’s “Odelay”, TV GHOST’s “Mass Dream” and their 1st album, GANGLIANS’ 1st album, WHITE HILLS’ 1st album, THEE OH SEES’ “Singles Vol. 1+ 2″ and “Castlemania”, The BLACK ANGELS’ “Phosgene Nightmare” EP, LOVE IS ALL’s “Two Thousand And Ten Injuries” EP, the GRIS GRIS’s 1st album and BUCK DHARMA the guitarist from BLUE OYSTER CULT’s solo record. This list doesn’t include a buncha’ singles and other EPs i’ve bought over the last 4 weeks…………..I don’t drink or do drugs so I spend my extra cash on music!
Q: Most people I believe only consider their value as an artist / musician within the confines of the currency and popularity they collect. For myself I believe that if you can say to yourself when you are on your death bed that ‘I made a difference due to the substance and integrity of my work (fuck the rest)’ than you have made a difference. What do think about this and what does this idea of making a difference mean to you?
A: I don’t enjoy the “Death Bed” reference as i’m not through LIVING! I’ve got places to go and new peeps to meet so I don’t think in terms of what i’ve done and what difference it makes. Yes I realize that i’ve been a participant in something much larger than myself but i’m not through! Yes BLACK FLAG and even the CIRCLE JERKS to a certain extent have helped create a template or blueprint for a ton of bands but i’ve still got things to do………I’M NOT DONE!
Q: A favorite band of mine was Fugazi. However over time they slowly introduced more and more free form jazz / improvisation into their sound. I wasn’t so much into this as I like music that is more immediate, however in stating that, how do you view your music and has it changed over time or has is stayed within a certain way of working?
A: I’ve pretty much stuck to the bare bones approach but love all types of music. I’ll get around to making music with a guitar orchestra for the movie i’m writing. I’ve already talked w/JOSH HOMME of QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, DANIEL LANOIS who’s produced NEIL YOUNG, U2 and has made records of his own, RYAN ADAMS from WHISKEYTOWN, CHRIS GOSS of MASTER’S OF REALITY and a coupla’ other of my fave guitarists to help with the soundtrack. I love FUGAZI and for my musical tastes they could do abso-fucking-lutely nothing wrong!
Q: The last question I have is first not a question but to say thank you for giving up your time to answer the questions / be interviewed, but also I wanted to ask is there anything you would like to add or say to the fans of your music in Australia?
A: Firstly KYLE yer’ more than WELCOME! My pleasure! And for your readers enjoy yourselves and have fun but don’t fuck with any of the peeps yer’ hanging with ’cause that’s exactly what the authorities want you to do…….DON’T ACT STUPID! CHEERS!!!!!