OFF!'s 'Wasted Years' Inspired by Black Flag/FLAG Rift, Keith Morris Says
Published Apr 04, 2014Perhaps adding fuel to the fire, outspoken OFF! singer and songwriter Keith Morris says that some songs from the band's upcoming album Wasted Years were directly inspired by his feud with Black Flag founder Greg Ginn.
"I get to point the finger in my hatred and distaste for certain people. I get to point my finger and sing certain things about certain people. I do that from time to time and that takes place on this record a couple of times," Morris tells Exclaim! "See, I could tell you 'Well, I wrote these songs and the lyrics are about Greg Ginn or [Circle Jerks'] Greg Hetson,' but the fact of the matter is, Greg Ginn or Greg Hetson to me could be someone else to you."
Still, he's adamant that the Black Flag/FLAG fiasco and Ginn really riled him for this latest batch of OFF! songs, which arrives April 8 via Vice.
To refresh your memory, Morris was the original singer in Black Flag, who emerged in 1976, but he left the band in 1979 and went on to form Circle Jerks and later OFF! At the behest of former bassist Chuck Dukowski, in late spring 2013, Morris ended up in an organic configuration of past Black Flag members who played a few live shows under the banner FLAG.
But as more interest for the band grew, Ginn filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against FLAG, ostensibly because he had resurrected the Black Flag moniker and began touring and recording with a refurbished version of the band (at last count, Wikipedia cites 21 people who can claim membership in Black Flag over its intermittent, near 40-year history). Ginn's suit was ultimately rejected.
So both versions of the band were out and about at the same time, and the inherent spite and dysfunction driving both forces was eye-catching, to say the least.
"People were just losing it, it was bananas," Morris says of the reaction to FLAG show. "We knew that none of us wanted to play with Greg Ginn. Even if that situation, for some reason was allowed to happen, none of us were gonna play with Greg Ginn."
Morris says Dukowski was determined to make FLAG a parade of everyone who'd played in Black Flag, less Ginn and original drummer Brian Migdo, who had lost touch with everyone and whose conversations about such matters never seemed to end well. Even vocalist Henry Rollins might have taken part were he not busy with commitments surrounding National Geographic's Animal Underworld series that found him travelling the world and, according to Morris, "eating insects in Nepal or whatever he was doing."
Unfortunately, this reunion never took shape because of Ginn's lawsuit, which curbed FLAG's enthusiasm.
When asked if FLAG might reconvene, Morris says that it's a possibility but his priority is OFF! and that's all he's focused on now.
See OFF! on tour, including stops in Vancouver on April 12 and Toronto on May 10.
Listen to this entire interview with Keith Morris on the Kreative Kontrol with Vish Khanna podcast.