A counseling session with Circle Jerks' Keith Morris [RiYL 54]

“I’m sorry if I can’t look you in the eyes during the interview,” Keith Morris apologizes, taking the microphone from me. I’m slightly baffled by the statement until he lays down on the couch, feet facing me, mic resting on his chest.

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It takes a few minutes to shake the feeling that this is some sort of on-the-record counseling session. Morris isn’t feeling 100-percent. Not too surprising, really, for a 58-year-old hardcore singer grappling with diabetes and emphysema, but the mere fact that he’s made it this far is an accomplishment in and of itself -- and then there’s the fact that, in a couple of hours, he’s set to take the stage with his new band, OFF.

For the time being, however, the former Black Flag/Circle Jerks frontman is attempting to exert as little energy as possible, as we sit in the Bowery Ballroom’s backstage, in amongst assorted food item that look to have been plucked from the shelves of a nearby health food store. But while Morris will barely move a muscle during the hour-plus conversation, his mind and mouth hardly ever stop. There’s plenty of ground to cover, of course, from the early Southern California hardcore days of the late-70s/early-80s to his recent rebirth, creating arguably his best and most immediate music since Golden Shower of Hits. And then there’s the health concerns and the lawsuits and the time spent on the Black Flag Facebook page defending his old pal, Henry Rollins. As for their old bandmate, guitarist Greg Ginn, however, Morris isn’t likely to be rushing to defend him on social media any time soon.

[photo: Katjusa Cisar]

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Published 10:57 am Thu, May 22, 2014

About the Author

Brian Heater (@bheater ) is a senior editor at Engadget and the founder of indie comics site, The Daily Cross Hatch. His writing has appeared in Spin, The Onion, Entertainment Weekly and The New York Press. He hosts several podcasts and shares an apartment in Queens with a rabbit named Sylvia.

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