Published Nov 29, 2010Looks like the Circles Jerks' loss is our gain. Helmed by hardcore stalwart Keith Morris, Off! have their humble origins as a kind of Circle Jerks plan B: when a planned record of new material (the band's first since 1995's Oddities, Abnormalities and Curiosities) started to fall apart in the studio, Morris jumped ship, teaming with Burning Brides guitarist Dimitri Coats, who had been working as a producer on the abandoned sessions. Together, the two put together a not-too-shabby collection of dudes, including bassist Steve McDonald (Redd Kross) and drummer Mario Rubalcaba (Rocket from the Crypt, Hot Snakes) and Off! were born. An obvious attempt to return to the speed, simplicity and direct nature of Morris's early career with Black Flag and Circle Jerks, the songs here, culled from four separate EP releases, sound and feel like they could have been pulled right out of a time machine just returning from the early '80s. With Morris at the forefront, that's a good thing, because he's a man with enough credit to do nostalgia right. Which isn't to say Off! are rip-off artists, as the band manage to carve out their niche within the realm of classic '80s hardcore. They just sound good enough to be a lot older than they are.
Is it true OFF! were born from a failed Circle Jerks album?
Morris: I was having a conversation with our manager today and he was kind of bummed that I was talking so much about the Circle Jerks and Dimitri being the producer of the Circle Jerks record. But we can't avoid that. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the three other idiots that make up the Circle Jerks for creating and allowing me this opportunity. We were working on our first album in 14 years, but it was such an extremely lazy band with a lot of unnecessary, arrogant bullshit. They thought we could write whatever we want and people would like it because we hadn't done anything in so long. That's not a good mentality to have in the creative process.
Given that you recorded all four EPs in two days, where did the idea come from to split them up?
I, for once in my life, came up with a plan, in an attempt to be a leader of the band ― the white Kobe Bryant of the band, with knee-length dreadlocks. I was really enjoying early shoegaze bands, at that time, and they would always release an EP first, then another EP, then another EP. So, over the course of a year, they would be recording these EPs that they'd eventually combine with a few more songs to release a full-length on CD. That was our mentality: the limey mentality. Move along at your own pace and not be pushed into any situations. (Vice)