Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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OFF!AND RUNNING

Keith Morris has been playing in punk bands for most of his life — originally singing for Black Flag and performing with the Circle Jerks for three decades before starting OFF!

The supergroup also includes Stephen Shane McDonald from Redd Kross, Mario Rubalcala from Rocket from the Crypt and Dimitri Coats from Burning Brides.

On Tuesday they will stop by St. Petersburg's State Theatre for a show also featuring '80s Detroit punk group Negative Approach and Double Negative.

OFF! so far has released a collection of EPs called The First Four EPs and a new, self-titled full-length — both blistering albums that rattle off 16 songs in about as many minutes. And although the sound is much in the vein of Morris' '80s punk bands, it has earned them coverage from outlets like Rolling Stone and Spin, and bigger shows with bands like The Cure.

Morris said the attention has been criticized by some within the punk scene who think "this punk-rock thing is like a list of rules" — which he dismisses with a blunt, "F--- that."

"People call us punk rock and people call us hardcore and I'm not any of these things," he said. "I'm just an angry guy."

The band's heightened profile has also gotten them offers to play the Pitchfork Music Festival and Pensacola's DeLuna Fest on Saturday. Morris said the appeal of playing festivals is a sunny atmosphere and a starkly contrasting mood from punk shows.

"It's like a party, and when you go to a party, I don't want to see guys dressed in black," he said. "I don't want to see girls dressed in black … I want to see some miniskirts, I want to see some hot pants. I want to see some rubber boots, I want to see some floppy hats."

The dynamics of making music with OFF! is different as well, Morris said. Their new album was recorded in three days — not just due to punk efficiency, but also to accommodate schedules of playing in other bands and being parents.

"One of the things I'm dealing with is that three of the guys in the band are dads," Morris said.

Yet despite the presence of parenthood, OFF! hasn't been immune to the police troubles of Morris' previous bands. In March 2011, three of the band's members were arrested in Arizona for taking a restaurant's vegetable oil to power their biodiesel van.

Morris said the arrest was a bizarre situation involving a man in a sports car making a citizen's arrest and police as baffled as the band was. "They're scratching their heads, saying this is the equivalent of hobo dumpster dives," he said.

His sentence ultimately ended up being three hours of community service.

Coming out on DVD on the same day as OFF!'s State Theatre show is My Career as a Jerk, a documentary on the Circle Jerks directed by Dave Markey (1991: The Year Punk Broke). Morris said being interviewed was initially tough as he was still dwelling on the band's falling-out. "We should've been over as a band 15, 16 years ago, but we continued because we didn't know any better," he said.

However, Morris said he is happy about the way the documentary turned out.

Despite his approval of My Career as a Jerk and playing Black Flag songs during a show with Refused, Morris is uninterested in revisiting the past — something he's felt since OFF! first got together.

"We realized this music was too good for the Circle Jerks," Morris said.

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