Things to do: Circle Jerks, White Oak Music Hall, September 3, 2022

Keith Morris was relaxing in a Colorado hotel room the morning we caught up with him to chat circle jerks‘ Tour date Saturday, September 3 at White Oak Music Hall. A brief chat about the tour, which celebrates the anniversaries of the band’s iconic first and second albums, became a window into how songs from these hardcore punk classics were written and recorded.

The White Oak stop will feature touring mates 7 Seconds and Negative Approach, but on the day of our chat, Circle Jerks were gearing up for a set in Denver on Punk in Drublic, the touring craft beer and music festival hosted by Fat Mike of NOFX. It was a good opportunity to ask about the camaraderie shared by Circle Jerks and a bunch of punk bands they influenced.

“We have TSOL and the teens, Pennywise, NOFX. It’s gonna be a good one. Lots of fun,” Morris said of the lineup that day. “Among all these bands, we are the elderly. We all know the guys from all the bands. We just played a gig in Spain with Pennywise and we’ve been touring here in the States with the Teenagers. Greg (Hetson), our guitarist, from all his tours with Bad Religion, he knows all these guys. So it’s kind of like a big bro-fest.

“I know all these guys so it’s actually very – what’s the word I want to use? Not comfortable. But that’s kind of what it is. Being in an environment where you’re surrounded by people you know works. It’s just a good thing.

Morris said recently that he’s spaced out Circle Jerks’ tour dates to take a breather here and there because delivering the set is physically taxing. That was the case when the band emerged from Los Angeles in 1979 and it still is today. The current lineup includes Morris on vocals, Hetson (also of Redd Kross and Bad Religion) on guitar, bassist Zander Schloss (The Weirdos, Joe Strummer) and drummer Joey Castillo of Bronx, Queens of the Stone Age and Danzig.

So they’re an all-star band that delivers quintessential songs that fans have long been waiting to hear live. This is Circle Jerks’ first North American tour in at least 15 years and Morris wants to give the songs the energy they deserve. His physical regimen for the tour includes good nutrition, hydration and, if possible, staying away from airports.


“I’m on European time right now. We came back last Sunday, we spent all day Sunday traveling from Slovenia to Italy to Switzerland and all those airports were just horrible experiences. Normally when you travel you want something and you want to be polite to your fellow travelers. It was all thrown out the window,” he reported. “It was me before you, cut in line before you, fuck you.

“They would open a door and just let 50 people in a line, just out of the blue. Like, what are you thinking?! There’s a reason there’s a line and I don’t like someone cutting in front of me,” Morris said. “Train stations in Europe, airports, even LAX. LAX was awful. LAX was horrible, just a horrible experience. You go to all these beautiful places and it’s all ruined by having to spend three or four hours in an airport.

It all sounds like a punk song, perhaps a new Keith Morris classic, the kind that sprung from dissatisfaction with the system that created the founding bands he led, Black Flag, Circle Jerks and OFF. ! The current tour focuses on the 1980s group sex and the 82s wild in the streets. These albums are essential to the history of hardcore and paved the way for a wide range of bands to follow, including traditional bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Guns N’ Roses.

Because these albums were so essential to the genre, we asked Morris if the music experts cleaned them up. Is there anything meaty to share about how these recordings were created?

“The recording itself was really jerky,” he said of group sex. The classic includes favorites like “Deny Everything”, “Wasted”, “World Up My Ass” and “Live Fast Die Young”.

“What I mean by that is that Greg and I had to sit by the phone waiting for the people who worked in the recording studio to call us and say, ‘We have an hour today. between seven and eight, so be here and get your gear ready and ready to go,” he continued. “The reason he and I sat by the phone was because he had the truck that carried all the gear and I had the garage where the gear was stored. There were days when we sat and waited and waited – and the call didn’t come in. Then the next day the call came in at 10 a.m. Or the call came in at five o’clock at night. fixed time for this.


Perhaps the practice of jumping when the studio said “frog” gave the songs the urgency and organic feel they have. The pure, raw emotion from them was likely the result of not thinking about it too much, he suggested.

“We didn’t have much time. Well, we’re going to do these overdubs, we need to overdub the guitar and we need to add some splashes of cymbals and we need to add some backing vocals – we didn’t have time to do that. It was very, very limited.

“We had played those songs. And we practiced them in my garage. You were out playing live. Pretty much we knew the songs. There would be no tricks, turns or detours. It was just going in and hitting it,” he said.

“The same applied to wild in the streets. Our friend Gary Hirstius ran us and did our live sound and produced wild in the streets“recalls Morris. “We worked, we rehearsed every day for four or five hours. When we walked into the studio, we weren’t going to stand there staring at each other, we were just going to go. The tape is rolling, let’s go.

Morris may be on the verge of recovering from his airport woes when he repacks his passport after the Circle Jerks tour. His group, the punk supergroup STOPPED!has a new record, Free LSDwhich will be released in September and whose film will be released in October.

Click to enlarge

Circle Jerks fans celebrate 40 years of wild in the streets in 2022

Album cover

“We start shooting in October. Circle Jerks stops touring at the end of September and I’m already starting to panic because OFF! has concerts in Spain on October 6, 7 and 8, which leaves me absolutely no time to rehearse,” he said. “I’m a little freaked out about it. It will be what it will be, I play with very, very good guys.

So maybe expect a new song against the pitfalls of international travel soon, Keith Morris fans. And expect it to be durable. After all, the songs of group sex and wild in the streets are still explosive 40 years later. They still serve as vehicles for generations of listeners to drive their own discontent with society and politics. There is an opportunity for them but after all these years some people still don’t get the music. Does this surprise Morris?

“Not at all. There’s a really good explanation for that. Music isn’t for everyone to understand or like or go out and buy. It’s angry, it’s aggressive, and a lot a lot of people don’t want to hear that. A lot of people want to hear the Doobie Brothers or Kanye West or whoever they listen to. And that’s fine. That’s fine. Because music is supposed to move you on some levels. And a lot many people don’t want to be affected by what we do, and that’s good.

Circle Jerks will perform on Saturday, September 3 at White Oak Music Room, 2915 N. Main. With 7 seconds and negative approach. Doors 7 p.m. for all ages, standing room only in the lower room of White Oak. $32.50.