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OFF!

The unlikely rise of Off!, a hardcore revivalist outfit boasting the pedigree of Keith Morris, Dimitri Coats, Steven Shane McDonald and Mario Rubalcaba, has no foreseeable limit, again building with the imminent release of second LP proper Wasted Years. Speaking ahead of the album’s arrival, Keith ruminates on his recent purple patch, as well as Black Flag’s politicking time bomb.

I try and pay attention to what’s happening,” Keith says on Off!’s fervent popularity. “I’m on Facebook, I’m an administrator of like five different pages, I talk to a lot of people. I’ve done more interviews in the last three-and-a-half years than I have the entire time I was a member of Circle Jerks. In these last few years I’ve done more travelling, getting on jets and going to far away places.
 
“The way I look at it, I can’t break it down and get descriptive, I can’t say, ‘Oh we’ve struck a nerve, we’re doing something that no one else is doing’. That shit is egotistical, and I’m really not into that. There are a lot of great bands out there, and there are some bands who are doing what we’re doing. We haven’t reinvented the wheel, we haven’t discovered fire.
 
“Dimitri hit some notes and chords that transported me to a place where I grew up. When I say ‘where I grew up’, I mean the church in Hermosa Beach that was responsible for The Descendents, Red Kross, Black Flag. We hit a youthful note, and I was completely blown away by what he was playing in our living room. What I really like is being able to go out and play. Having the popularity that we have doesn’t mean we’re going out and buying houses, getting nice cars, getting our wives and girlfriends pregnant for the third or fourth time. It just means we’re keeping busy.
 
“A lot of times, that’s a really great thing. I’ve been to Australia twice, both times with Off!, and I love it there. It’s quite expensive, but I love it there. Mario went into a pizza bar and looked to his left and Nick Cave was there with his kids. That’s a good thing,” he laughs.
 
I would rather talk about Off!.” Keith responds when I enquire as to the current situation with the band touring as Black Flag, and Keith’s own FLAG. “The thing with FLAG and Black Flag turned ugly, we’re still going with the litigation. We’re a group of guys who played those songs with Greg Ginn. Then me and Chuck Dukowski played a couple of shows that were off the hook. People went ape shit. We would be stupid to not continue doing this.
 
“We weren’t going to do it where we record new music. All the other guys associated with it are in other bands. You’re not going to get Bill Stevenson to not play in The Descendents. I’ve got Off! That’s my priority. In the process we were presented with papers from Greg Ginn saying we can’t use the black bars or go out and play the music. It just got ridiculous. All I can say is that we were a group of guys having fun playing these songs. The songs are only as good as the people who play them.
 
“We’re the good guys, we’ve done nothing wrong. All of a sudden it turned into this stupid thing. It’s insanely expensive. At one point Flag had to go out and play just to pay our lawyer. We’re older guys with bills to pay, kids to clothe. We might get out there and play shows, but I’ve got an Off! record, I’ll be having a great time. I’ll be hanging out with those guys. There will be a new Descendents album in six months. They’ll be playing shows, making a big chunk of dough. Why would they do FLAG? Even though they love us and we’re all bros,” he says.
 
After starting with four EPs, which were later compiled into a single release, Off! have now created two LPs in a row with Wasted Years. “Our original plan when we started the band, because we only had maybe ten songs, was to go in and record four or five songs and put it out as an EP. There was a wave of English bands that put out all of these EPs, then when they had four or five, they compiled them as an album. That was our plan. Now that didn’t happen because the way we conduct business, everything gets thrown together in an extremely short amount of time. This album, Wasted Years, we actually allowed ourselves a week. I had a couple of days to record vocals,” Keith recalls.
 
BY LACHLAN KANONIUK
 

Wasted Years is out Friday April 11 on Vice.