OFF! Promise a ‘Party,’ Not a ‘Show’ on First Tour
Relentless, raw, and vicious are all fitting ways of describing Los Angeles foursome OFF!. “When [people] point their finger at us or try to describe us, they don’t get very creative. It’s always ‘punk rock.’ Oh boy, that’s exciting,” frontman Keith Morris recently told Noisecreep.
Though it’s best not to glue a genre tag on the group just because of its members’ legendary resumes, defining OFF! as punk rock and hardcore is understandable. After all, Morris spent his early days as Black Flag‘s first singer, right before founding of the iconic Circle Jerks in 1978.
The band is rounded out by guitarist Dimitri Coats (Burning Brides), drummer Mario Rubalcaba (Hot Snakes and Rocket from the Crypt), and bassist Steven Shane McDonald (Redd Kross). Though the band keeps most of its songs to under a minute, their delightful chaos is more a burst of unbridled rock — a description at which Morris laughs approvingly.
Fed up with the unspoken rules of hardcore and punk rock — you can play one place but not another — Morris admits the band’s goal is to avoid everything expected from a band of their pedigree. “I’m gonna take it a step further and play to whoever I want to play to. I want to play to whoever wants to listen to me. The guys in my band feel the same way, because we’ve grown up and done all these things. We’ve earned the right to go wherever we want and play to whoever we want.”
After their first show, the band began playing at a record stores, fitting settings since their debut album is essentially a 7″ box set. Similarly, on their upcoming US tour with the always pummeling Trash Talk, the dates all revolve around smaller venues and even include a VFW hall. “All of these places are places I’ve never played. I’ve played all of these cities, but it’s taking it back down to the street,” Morris explains. “It’s bringing it back down and making it a bit more working class, because that’s where I come from.”
But times have definitely changed for the seasoned punk veterans. Though Morris was widely-known for destructive behavior in his early years (something he now attributes to drugs of the white and powdered variety), don’t expect to hear any onstage declarations of adolescent-like nihilism during an OFF! show.
“The guys in my band are human beings,” Morris says. “We love our wives, we love our kids, we love our neighbors. That might sound hippy-dippy but the fact of the matter is, we have a really nasty f—ed up government. Our military just wants to go around beating people up and blowing things up. It’s like ‘don’t we have better things to do?’ Let’s get a party started. Let’s do something positive rather than something negative.”
“It’s not going to be a show,” Morris promises. “It’s going to be a party. It’s going to be a wild-ass party.”
The idea of an OFF! party might seem at odds with the confrontational nature of the frontman’s lyrics. “I’m just pissed off, ya know,” Morris explains. “I would hope that people would understand that when I say ‘we don’t belong,’ [I'm saying] that those people out there want some kind of donation from us. They want us to be buying their product. They want us to be [walking] along, whistling their tune, and being really good consumers.”
He added, “We know what we’re doing. We know what it’s about and we know what we want to do. We know what we want to accomplish.”
OFF! are playing at SXSW in Austin, TX, and will hit the road with Trash Talk for a two-week tour starting March 22nd.