by James Mann
Keith Morris is the legendary founder of Black Flag and Circle Jerks. He’s currently leading Off!, still spreading the punk rock spirit around the world and he recently released his memoirs, My Damage to great acclaim. Ink 19 asked him a few questions about the world today. He does not disappoint.
Q: You got your start in the late ’70s, early ’80s with Black Flag and Circle Jerks, during the time of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Now, in 2017 we have Trump. Does it feel somewhat like you’re living this all again?
A: WORSE! “0” is not even close to or even can be compared to Reagan as at least Reagan had some political education and experience having been governor of California. The former governor it is said entered the presidency at the beginnings of his brain being riddled with Alzheimer’s disease so he has a slight excuse for being the dip shit that he was. What’s “0”‘s excuse? This isn’t about me having lived through this before it’s about all of us living in what’s going on right now! We as a country are fighting with each other, not taking the time to listen to the other side, a lot of us set in our ways and not willing to move forward, having been lied to so many times that we believe their lies, being pushed aside by the ultra mega corporations and having our say taken away from us. The people who’re supposed to speak for us have a vocabulary that includes “What’s in this for me?” or “Get out of my way because I’m more important than you!”. I can write on for another hour about this but I won’t!
Q: On the 1982 Circle Jerks album Wild In The Streets you wrote songs such as “Question Authority” and “Moral Majority”. Do you ever consider yourself a political songwriter? Or put another way, is punk music protest music at heart?
A: I do consider myself a political, social commentary and satirist just to lighten things up! I’ve always been serious but there comes a time and a place where you’ve gotta’ throw your hands in the air and say at the top of your lungs……..FUCK IT! Punk rock lyrics should be all things you want to say including freedom. We play rock and roll music as loud and furious as possible. Rock and roll at it’s base is “I don’t wanna’ be like you!”, “I won’t take orders from you!”, “Don’t you tell me what to do!” and this equates to us versus them or youth versus authority. This has gone on since that kid living inna’ cave started hitting stones together!
Q: In your travels with Off! what sort of mood do you pick up on among your fans about the election and our current state of affairs?
A: Well it’s a mix of people who don’t care that show up to get their faces erased to open minded souls who’re aware of what’s going on to those peeps that have to have a voluminous enlightening experience. As for the mood is hopefully energetic, electric and exciting and everyone getting to let off some steam!
One of my “Whoa! What did he just accuse me of?” scenarios was being called Nigger in a room with about 250 people while I was trying to explain the lyrics to “Poison City”. Yes this is an anti government, fuck politicians song pointing the finger at the second bush administration for what they did on 9/11 and how they exploited that horrible event. We were lied to and why didn’t one of those jets crash into wherever Cheney or Rumsfeld resided?
Q: As a lifetime California resident, do you have any thoughts about Calexit?
A: Calexit for me taps into a few things such as why the state of California with our large population, agriculture, porno industry, computer technology, military machinery, the three branches of the showbiz industry being TV, movies and music doesn’t have more to say in the choosing of who is going to run this country. We get fucked over by places that have a few thousand people and I know we’re trying to be fair but something’s wrong with that shit. We possess the 6th largest economy of the world with 5 industrious ports in the top 100 in the US and I’d think we should have a larger role in the political situation. What do I think of Calexit itself……….I’m a fence sitter. One day I’m for splitting from the USA and starting something else and then the next day I’m thinking what would we do if Colorado, Arizona, Utah and Nevada decided to invade us? I ultimately fall back on we’re part of the United States and we need to be more united to upend the evil in our nation’s capitol………….
Q: What concerns you the most living in Trump’s America?
A: First off IT’S NOT Trump’s AMERICA! I’m most concerned with the lying and denying and the anarchists against the fascists against the everyday, common American. No more tax breaks! No more tax shelters! No more offshore banking and money in politics! No more raking the people who just want to earn a living, enjoy life, hang out with their families and friends and own a stereo, car and even a house over the fuckin’ coals! There’s way too much evil shit happening and I believe that we all have to be good humans because our world starts with us as individuals!