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)

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