Thursday, August 30, 2012

Keith Morris Interview Part 2 / Getting OFF! with the Chili Peppers, bodysurfing, etc.

Dimitri Coats, left, and Keith Morris go OFF! (Andy photo)
By Andy

On a recent Wednesday evening while the weather blazed in the mid-90s in Los Angeles, Keith Morris was pleased to have a light breeze blowing through his front window.

He was comfortable. He was ready to talk.

After turning down the volume knob on his latest favorite tuneage, an album by the War on Drugs (a folky, rocky indie band out of Philadelphia featuring some John Lennon-, Bob Dylan-like vocals), the 56-year-old OFF! screamer tackled a variety of topics, ranging from OFF!'s recent opening slot for the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the massive Staples Center in LA to the tranquility of bodysurfing in his hometown of Hermosa Beach when he was younger.

Past and present wedge together in harmony for Morris. Here's a taste of what resides in his mind these days:

Courtesy graphic

Hot weather... religion and chocolate

All of these global-warming detractors-- they can go fuck themselves. They get to experience hell on Earth... if they believe that hell is hot. I personally believe that hell is filled with all of those people, and who would wanna hang out with them? So, I'm gonna be good, I'm gonna be as good as I can. I'm gonna be friendly, oh, I'm gonna go to church and donate all my money to the church; that way, I buy my way into heaven. That seems like a great plan. I don't know if I would really do that.

I grew up around church people, and they were all very nice people, but some of them were racists, some of them are attached to (people behind Proposition 8 in Pennsylvania), anti-gay, that's pretty narrow-minded, maybe it's from all of the chocolate (in Hershey) that they've consumed. Maybe chocolate does affect people's thought process or brings on Alzheimer's early -- just fucks with their mentality.

I'm a diabetic, so my chocolate consumption, I try to keep it at a minimum. I don't do a very good job at it, but that's life. I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't do drugs, so I might as well get to eat some chocolate.

Flea and Anthony Kiedis. (Courtesy photo)

Chili Peppers gig

It was a very weird experience for me. We get a lot of haters (on Facebook), from the punk-rock community, the people that listen to us. Those people don't like the Red Hot Chili Peppers because they sell millions of records and they jump around and they get really hot chicks and get to go to all of these different places. I pretty much adhere to a rule that if you go out and you do the work, you deserve some kind of a reward. And they're obviously being rewarded, and hooray for them because they worked hard. It wasn't like some record company just handed it to them.

I grew up with Flea and Anthony and watched them running with all of our peeps, being a part of our party, deciding to start a band. Granted, I don't like everything they do, but I like them as human beings, and think that's even more important than whatever kind of music they make.

(Editor's note: They grew up with X, Gun Club, Flesheaters and the Germs. Flea played in FEAR and the Circle Jerks, the Weirdos and wanted to play in Black Flag.)

So it's not like they're these guys who think that it's trendy to say, "Hey, we love this stuff," because they listen to a lot of different music, just like myself.

Chili Peppers rock Iguana's in Tijuana in 1989. (Cat Rose photo)

I started a new band, why adhere to some kind of fucking Rule No. 3? These are the bands you can play with and you can't play with. You're not cool if you play with these bands. You're not cool if you play a gig with these bands and it's really expensive and we can't afford to go to it. It's like, hey, life's unfair, life's unkind, we'll get around to coming back and playing in a club. Anthony made a statement on stage: "The next time OFF! plays a club show, I want all 14,000 of you to show up at the club." Just think about it, just think of all the different scenarios.

(The show) was extremely odd for me, because when you're in a building that big, you have security everywhere. Every time you turn around, there's somebody breathing down your neck. In order to get a simple "yes" or "no," you've gotta go through a minimum 2-3 people. That I don't like.
I just look at it as a big party. It was kind of intimidating. I looked down into the front row and there was a girl sleeping in the front row while we were playing. Maybe she had a little bit too much to drink, maybe she found a Quaalude dealer,  who knows?... the guy that she was with certainly wasn't enjoying what we were doing.

(Editor's note: They played to maybe 6,000 to 8,000 as openers. While living in Boston years ago, Morris sang Black Flag's "Fix Me" with Mudhoney -- who were opening for Pearl Jam -- in front of about 15,000 people at the Boston Garden. He also sang with the Chili Peppers in front of 70,000 to 80,000 when they opened for the Rolling Stones at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.)

Courtesy photo


I got a surfboard one Christmas morning with a westsuit, (the water) was fucking freezing. There were no waves, they were just 15-foot walls, you couldn't surf it, no matter how great a surfer you were. There were like 300 guys out there, a hundred of them had just gotten new surfboards from their parents. We'd smoke angel dust, so we were fucking high as kites, just got out there and it wasn't fun. I actually ended up surfing maybe two or three weeks, and decided, "You know what? Nah, I'm not into this."

I love bodysurfing. I grew up in Hermosa Beach... one of the last places I lived in Hermosa Beach was near the Strand on 9th Street. So, on a summer evening at about 5 o' clock, when everybody had left the beach, I remember there were quite a few days where I walked across the sand, there was nobody on the beach. I'm just out there swimming around, paddling around, floating around and catching a wave here or there. The brilliant thing about bodysurfing is, depending upon what time of year, of course, all you need is a pair of trunks, some shorts, and you're off. You're one with nature, whatever you would like to call it. 


I grew up with hippies, and I love them and I love the mentality, and it would be great if we had that kind of mentality now. You would think because they smoked so much pot, that they were just passed out all day long, and that wasn't so. I was actually around a Yippie, and he would have blown up a police car or two, he would have blown up a Bank of America somewhere if he had the opportunity. But the hippies that I grew up around, they were down for the protest -- they weren't down with the man. They weren't buying into any of the program.....


We're nothing more than a folk band. When you boil all of the flesh and the meat, the muscle and the skin off of the bones. When you're listening to OFF!, we're nothing more than a protest band, we're just a folk band -- but we're loud, we're obnoxious, we're in your face and we're angry about it.


Morris noted that OFF!'s upcoming monthlong tour with Negative Approach, The Spits, Double Negative and Power Trip (not the Jeff Dahl outfit) won't have them sleeping on people's floors or living on $5 a day like in the old days:

"We're older and we need a reward," he said. End of interview. The road awaits.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Keith Morris' classic albums / Interview

Keith Morris with OFF! (Andy photo)
By Andy

Just call me captain of Ship Keith Morris.

The interview sea tosses and turns with myriad topics, from music to body surfing to global warming to hippies to whatever the hell Mr. Morris chooses to address.

He noted by phone last week: "I talk in circles, and I'll take detours, and I'll take a left turn when I'm supposed to take a right turn."

It's my job as skipper/reporter to steer him toward certain topics at times, and at other moments, let him go wherever he wants to roam because you know he's going to give you some nuggets of wisdom and humor that are crucial to your story. (Or just something you can tell your friends over a beer when storytime commences.)

Today's topic is albums and bands that paved Morris' musical road from Black Flag to Circle Jerks to OFF!

Let's do it:

The Beatles

While I was growing up, I was listening to a lot of different music and I had a lot of favorite bands. One of the first records that my friend purchased was The Beatles' "Sgt. Peppers," and that's a groundbreaking album. Granted, it's a studio album made by guys that were trapped in the studio, who had already given up the idea of playing live because... how would you reproduce something like that? With the orchestra and the mellotron and the loops and the backward vocals and the way that the music moves through the headphones? I mean, I'm sure you could... modern day you would be able to, and they eventually did play live on the rooftop.

Jimi Hendrix Experience

The next record that was on my turntable would have been the first Jimi Hendrix album, which was the first album that I purchased with my own money, and that would be "Are You Experienced" Another groundbreaking recording, another insanely genius band.

Some guy got on Facebook and wanted to compare Jack White to all of the great guitar players. And as much as I like Jack White, as much as I think he's probably the best (rock) guitar player that we have right now, he's no Jimi Hendrix, he is no Jimmy Page, he's no Jeff Beck. I would put Mick Ronson, who played in David Bowie's Spiders from Mars, in that group.

The (Facebook) guy was ranting and raving about this blues thing that the White Stripes did. Yeah, the White Stripes played some really cool blues, and Jack White certainly can play the blues, he can certainly play the slide guitar, and he's extremely, extremely good ...but you don't compare him to Jimi Hendrix--- you don't fucking compare any guitar player to Jimi Hendrix-- that guy was not even from this Earth, he was from someplace else.

Led Zeppelin

The next album I purchased was the first Led Zeppelin album-- that's a pretty amazing album. You know, we're talking about these records that have a vibe to them, they have a certain life to them, they have a really cool, warm quality to them. Everybody's still learning all their recording techniques: "Let's mic the kick drum this way, and then let's record the drums in a castle," or what have you.

A lot of amazing albums. Granted, when I did finally get around to seeing Led Zeppelin (at the LA Forum), it was one of the worst concerts that I ever saw, because I sat behind them. They were on tour for their fourth album: "Black Dog," "Stairway to Heaven," "Rock and Roll," and I love that album... "When the Levee Breaks"? --- Come on! How many hip-hop, soul-brother rappers have sampled that kick drum? That beat?

Chuck Berry

I had a period where I had one side of Chuck Berry's "Golden Decade" on my turntable for about four weeks. There would be no Steve Jones, Sex Pistols, if there wasn't a Chuck Berry. Because Steve Jones is based on Johnny Thunders, and Johnny Thunders is based on Keith Richards and Keith Richards is based on Chuck Berry.

So Chuck Berry was kind of a punk-rock guy. Chuck Berry showed up to a Circle Jerks show (in 1986), and he totally wigged out. He said, "I gotta play with these guys." We ended up playing with Chuck Berry, played "Roll Over Beethoven" in front of a bunch of slamming, stage-diving, hot-bodied, muscular punker-dunkers. He got a kick out of it. He told the club owner (at Mississippi Nights in St. Louis) "Let these gentleman know that they're one of the greatest rock-and-roll bands I've ever seen." I guess you don't get paid any higher a compliment when it comes to what we're doing.

 OFF! influences

Dimitri and I have stuff that we listen to whenever we're getting ready to write music. Stuff that influences us. And I would like to take it back and get (OFF!) maybe a little bit greasy or swampy, so I'm into Creedence Clearwater, and I had to play The Gun Club for Dimitri-- a lot of these bands he'd never heard of. Agent Orange, the Angry Samoans, the Descendents, even some of Black Flag's catalogue, a few Circle Jerks records -- we listen to all of that stuff.

We listen to all of the twists and the turns, but we also listen to Blue Oyster Cult, we listen to Golden Earring, and we listen to Alice Cooper -- "Love it to Death" or "Killer" or "School's Out." I turned him on to Deep Purple -- "Fireball" and "In Rock," which are two amazing heavy, metallic-type albums. He's familiar with Black Sabbath, "Master of Reality" is a pretty amazing album. The Alley Cats, any of the Dangerhouse label, a few things on SST, we're big fans of the first Damned album.
He's a huge Saints fan, the first two are brilliant records -- if you listen to them, they're not a punk-rock band, they're like a really souped-up garage-rock band, toss in some horns-- that's some pretty interesting stuff.

I'm a big fan of all those Australian bands-- there's something in the water over there. It's basically just an island of bad Brits... even the lighter, wimpier bands have a fucking grit and an umph to them. Like, "Hey, we're just trying to get laid here. Don't think you're gonna start pushing us around because we will kick your ass."

To finish off on an Australian note, Morris offered:

I talked Chuck Dukowski, Greg Ginn and Robo Valverde into skipping out on a Black Flag rehearsal early so we could go up and witness AC/DC on their first U.S. tour at the Whisky a Go Go---- that's some pretty bad-ass shit.

At AC/DC Lane in Melbourne, AUS. (Cat Rose photo)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Checking in from Sweden: The Nomads / Interview

From left, Björne Fröberg, Nick Vahlberg, Hans Östlund and Jocke Ericson. (Courtesy photo)
By Andy

When it comes to a garage-fuzz-punk-rock band singing in English with Swedish accents, you can't beat The Nomads.

Even if they weren't from Sweden, they'd still tear it up over tons of other bands in their genre. Bands from all countries need to stay on their toes with The Nomads around.

They kicked it into gear in 1981, taking some cues from The Sonics' stompin' blueprint and have blitzed their way through the years with heaps of rock and melody. They've released 60-plus singles and full-length and mini-albums over the last 30 years, and this year the band weighs in with another stellar long-player, "Solna," a city north of Stockholm.

The album is currently available overseas and can be ordered from in the UK.
A U.S. release on Green Mist Records in Philadelphia is planned for October.

Courtesy photo
Today, The Nomads consist of original members Nick Vahlberg (vocals, rhythm guitar) and Hans Östlund (lead guitar) along with Jocke Ericson (drums) and Björne Fröberg (bass, vocals).

Here, Vahlberg answers some questions via e-mail:

* "Solna" is the first Nomads album in 11 years since "Up Tight"… what have you guys been up to for the last decade or so?

Nothing terribly exciting, I'm afraid...we've been working day jobs and raising families.

* What's the key to putting together new material after such a long break?

We didn't write a single song from 2001-2005. Then Backyard Babies asked Björne and Chips to write a song for their new album. They offered BB "Ain't No King Of Rock 'n' Roll," which they, for some reason, declined. We recorded our own version, Little Steven declared it "the coolest song in the world this week" (on his Underground Garage radio show) and that inspired us to continue writing.

* Do the "Solna" songs rank up there with your other songs from over the years?

We've been getting quite a few people saying that the new songs are just as good as the best of the old ones...and I agree!

* The Nomads have been together for 30 years -- what keeps things rolling for you guys?

It's not a full-time thing for us anymore, so we enjoy every minute of it.

* You've covered American bands like the Dictators, The Sonics and more … what's special about those American groups?

It's American rock 'n' roll...always the best!

* Do you have any good Handsome Dick Manitoba stories?

No, but I'm very happy to have been able to play together with HDM and befriend him -- he's fantastic, you can't possibly be more New York than him.

* You've got a song "American Slang" on the new album -- what's some of your favorite American slang words or phrases?

"Douche bag" is still pretty funny.

* Since we're from Seattle, and you've recorded here, what are some of your best memories from our area? Who are some of the interesting rockers you met and hung out with here? Favorite places to hang out?

We worked mostly and didn't go out to too many shows. We had a blast at a Young Fresh Fellows New Years Eve show and hung out a lot with those guys, but the very best live experience was actually Jimmy Scott, an amazing old-school crooner, at a very cool old jazz club that I've forgotten the name of. Went there with Kim of the Fastbacks and Ken of the Posies. We played a show at the Crocodile, which was a great place -- is that still there? (Editor's note: Yes, it is. It was remodeled and reopened a few years back.)

* Looking back on your career, what Nomads album really stands the test of time or is your favorite?

"Outburst" from '84 still sounds really cool, I think. "Sonically Speaking" from '91 is great, too, but "Outburst" is our masterpiece.

Top and bottom, '80s Nomads (Courtesy photos)

* What was the experience like writing a song with Peter Case?

"Call Off Your Dogs" had already been written for the Nomads by Peter and Jeffrey Lee Pierce, and Jeffrey had mentioned it to us a couple of times when we ran into each other on the road. For different reasons, we never got to hear it and were becoming frustrated as we were really curious. When Peter Case came to Stockholm in '86, I was determined to get to hear the song. Peter remembered the music, but had completely lost the lyrics, so we started to write some new words backstage after his show. The the record company dragged us away to some night club and we continued writing while drinking and partying, then the whole thing was wrapped up at his hotel room after some room-service drinks orders. I stumbled out of the hotel with a cassette of it at five in the morning!

* In April, you held a record-release party. What was that party like? Were there any hangovers the next day from beer drinking and cheering the release of "Solna"?

You bet! It was great to finally have the damn thing out, felt like we'd been working on it forever.

* What's the best place to eat and drink in Stockholm or the surrounding areas?

Bröderna Olsson's Garlic & Shots is a great place both for eating and drinking. (Where the record-release party was held.)

* What's on the Nomads' upcoming schedule? Any American dates?

We'll see if any offers appear. At the moment, we only have some shows in Sweden and in Spain booked, but I'm sure there will be more during the rest of the year. Check out the Nomads page on FB-- for the latest info.

[Below is The Nomads' "The King of Night Train" --- enjoy!]

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Love Battery Buzzes Seattle Crowd

Kevin Whitworth. (All Cat Rose photos)
Much like the mural behind them, Love Battery's music swirled and painted many moods on Friday night in Seattle.

As the sun slowly, eerily began to set on the appreciative crowd and band, Love Battery hit them "Between the Eyes" and transported everyone back to 1992.

The gig had original vocalist/guitarist Ron Nine and fellow axeman Kevin Whitworth leading the charge through the band's catalogue with drummer Ben Ireland and bassist Curt Eckman joining the team.

Cat Rose was on board with her photos:

Top to bottom, Nine, Eckman, Ireland and Whitworth.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

An evening full of screams, hair -- and meat

Black Breath's Neil McAdams. (All Cat Rose photos)

From Brokaw to Black Breath to Red Fang at Neumos ... and, finally, the Meatmen up the street at the Highline. That's how our last Friday metal/punk evening went in Seattle.

Here's some Cat photos of most of the bands:


Rick Troy howls away amid his band's Helmet meets Jesus Lizard style.

Stuart Dahlquist, bass, and Mike Henderson, vox.

From top to bottom, Mark Palm, Elijah Nelson, Jamie Byrum, Eric Wallace.


Tesco Vee: Dutch Hercules.

*** Sorry, there are no Red Fang photos, as the band on this night did not allow flash photography. We previously took photos of them with a flash -- not sure what has changed from then until now, but it was too dark for our SLR camera to take decent photos without a flash. Oh, well.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Scenes from the Hillbilly Headbangers Ball in Seattle

Skelator. (All Cat Rose photos)
Talk about running the gamut, from honky tonk to rockabilly to hard rock to heavy metal.That's what the second annual Hillbilly Headbangers Ball was all about last Saturday at Slim's Last Chance Saloon in the Georgetown area of Seattle.

You had the Shivering Denizens singing: "Why don't you just leave -- leave me alone ...Pack your shit up and go," while plucking away on acoustic-electric guitar, banjo and standup bass (some electric guitar and accordion made appearances, as well).

Then, there was the mighty Skelator, offering: "You have travelled many miles for a heavy metal show. You've ventured across the land, through the ice and snow," the band fist-raised and headbanged as day turned to night.

All in attendance were in good spirits, including our friend Melissa, who pointed at Skelator's leather-armbanded singer prior to its set and said, "I feel like he's gonna dive off the stage and land on a unicorn ... or turn into a unicorn."

Along with the Shivering Denizens and Skelator, the concert also featured Hartwood, Hot Roddin' Romeos, Hard Money Saints, The Hardcount, Demon Dogs, Zero Down and headliner Witchburn.

Here's some Cat Rose pics to document the wild day: