Landing this interview was quite the journey for us here at ThrashHead.com. Our Editor In Chief, Josh, went to the Marquis Theater in Denver to catch Keith's new outfit OFF! as they made a stop in the Mile High City during their fall 2011 tour.
Now, both Josh and I have met Keith before, but you can't blame a guy like Keith for not remembering Josh, even with a mug like his, considering the hundreds of thousands of faces he's come across during his many, many shows. Finding Keith by the tour van, Josh walked up and, after politely introducing himself, asked if it was possible to get an interview; Keith, in his usual way, paused and just stared at him. Now, I dunno if Josh, a man who has met, hung out or played with almost everybody imaginable in the underground scene, was standing there with a goofy grin like that a young fan would wear when meeting one of their idols for the first time or what, but when Keith spoke, he simply said: "No"
I can't be sure what happened next, even Josh himself, isn't sure, but as he said his goodbyes and walked away, perhaps with a dejected look upon his face, shoulders slumping...maybe even a tear slowly rolling down his cheek, Keith told him to hold up and said "Sure, I'll do an interview." Had this been a test of some sort? Was it Keith's famous sense of humor? Was there something about Josh's demeanor which softened his heart? No one can be sure with the enigmatic persona of a man who has become such an integral part of Rock n Roll history.
Josh handed him his card and that was that....so we thought. OFF! was gaining steam, they continued their tour, and then flew over to Australia for more gigs only to return and start work on a new album...no rests for legends!
We had written a couple of times, but figured his schedule just didn't allow for it. But, I couldn't rest, this was Keith Morris for Christ sake, the man who had belted out some of the most insane punk anthems of our generation with Black Flag, The Circle Jerks and now, OFF!...I had to make one last effort. I wrote, explaining a bit of who we were, what our motives for beginning ThrashHead.com were..."Sure, I'd be jazzed to do it." was his answer. Cool, we were a go, just one thing: I was the dude slated to make the call...gulp!
He was just wrapping up the OFF! LP and packing his bags to head to Texas, he had been doing interviews with some of the biggest rags in mainstream media and he took the time to hang out with us. This tells you a lot about the man....thank you Keith!
ThrashHead: I had read that you were looking to do some stuff with Circle Jerks in '09, I believe it was, and were going to go back to a rawer, earlier sound but that was scrapped. You and Dimitri (Coats) continued to work together and OFF! was born. Can you elaborate on why the Circle Jerks project collapse and how that transitioned into OFF!
Keith: Well, what happened with the Circle Jerks was that..when you have older guys who've been in a band for as long as we were in a band together, there's certain mentalities that prevail, our bass player being a guitarist, being a songwriter, being a lyricist, our guitarist being second guitarist in a more popular band, a lot of different situations...our drummer being a guitar player, songwriter...all of a sudden there are all of these guys who are excited about making a new Circle Jerks record, the problem, what got in the way of the new Circle Jerks record, were the songs; the music that was being put into the musical pot, the songs weren't very...inspiring.
I have a lot of people tell me "Well Keith just because you hear that guitar line, and you don't like the guitar line, you're not hearing the bass, you not hearing what the drums sound like, you're not hearing it when it's blown up in a studio, you're not hearing a vocal line or melody or whatever on top of it, you have to give it a chance." Dimitri was actually going to produce the record, for every couple of songs that Dimitri put down and said "those songs aren't good enough to be on a Circle Jerks record" there would be a couple of other songs that he would say "you are going to write lyrics for these songs" and I appreciated that kind of input, like an outsider's input rather than the guys in the band going "you gotta write lyrics for my song" and all of a sudden it turns into politics, all of a sudden I'm walking on eggshells amongst all the guys in the band and I feel like I am not supposed to do that, I don't need to do that...I am 56 years old now, I have been doing this for awhile now, I know a good song from a bad song.
One of the things that happened was that the guys in the Circle Jerks didn't get along with Dimitri, the guy we hired to produce our record. See, one of the things that they failed to understand was that we weren't going to make a new record unless somebody from the outside came in and cracked the whip and said "this is the work schedule, this is the deadline, this is when we are going into the studio, this is how many days we are going to spend in the studio". See, we wouldn't have been able to get that together ourselves, we were the kind of band that....we could barely tie our shoelaces, we could just barely get it together to get into a room and rehearse , a bunch of older guys who are too busy to focus on one thing, everybody has all these other things that they are doing. They eventually, I believe, got fed up with Dimitri being the younger guy coming in and saying "this is how it is guys". I appreciated that, I appreciated the fact that we had Dimitri saying "this is what it is going to be"; the guy actually did his homework, he actually did what Brett Gurewitz over at Epitaph told Greg and I to do, and that was the same thing Rick Ruben told Metallica to do on their new album and that is "go back to your first couple of records and bring back that kind of energy, bring back some of that songwriting, bring back some of that attitude"; that wasn't going to happen with the Circle Jerks.
ThrashHead: So everybody had their own ideas of what they wanted to do, and you're looking at it from a point of view of "well, we're the orchestra and we need a conductor", also there was a lack of inspiration, you weren't getting the feel of songs like "Beverly Hills" or "Coup D'état" , songs which immediately picked you up and when people heard the music they felt a surge of emotion; it wasn't Circle Jerks of old where you could whip up a Huntington Beach strut with a couple of chords.
Keith: It wasn't quite like that but you just hit the nail on the head...my vibe was: we have all of these new bands out there, I mean we're older guys... we're just going to come out with a record that sounds old? We're just going to come out with a tired record? As if the mentality was "We're the Circle Jerks, we can write whatever we want to write and all these people they'll love it."... I don't subscribe or adhere to that mentality I won't have anything to do with that.
ThrashHead: Something new and fresh...
Keith: I love my new band, and I just have as many problems with this band as I did with my last band, you know older guys , but we all have a really great pedigree, the guys have all played in really great bands, and everybody, for the most part, I would say about 80% of the time, we get along; you know it's like... about 80% or 90% of the time we are have the same kind of mentality...we have the same kind of outlook.
I have all of these new opportunities, all these new opportunities would have been opportunities which the Circle Jerks would have had in the past but the band could never make these opportunities materialize. I mean, we eventually, at one point, we had the chance to go to South America but we couldn't even get it together to go to Australia or Japan, we couldn't get it together to go to Europe. I've already, with OFF!, done a summer European festival, it was amazing, it was incredible, then I went to Australia for some play dates, normally a band goes over there they might play four or five shows, we ended up playing eight shows, people loved us. Now, I am getting ready to go back to Texas for SXSW and last year at SXSW we played six or seven shows, this year we are only playing three, but it's like we were given the chance to be more selective, we are more focused, and we come back and play a couple of shows here and then we go to Europe again.
ThrashHead: Then with OFF! you are feeling more fulfilled as a musician then?
Keith: Well, not only that, but I've never been this busy, I am swimming...I am here doing this interview with you and I just got through doing an interview with a guy from SPIN magazine and yesterday, Rolling Stone Magazine made their list of most important bands to see at SXSW which is a really big deal and we were in their top ten...you know, it's like all of sudden we're getting recognition from people who we might not get the time of day from.
People are kind of like standing up and paying attention; sitting up with their ears perked saying "wow, this is kinda cool, these guys are this old and they're doing this? And it sounds fresh and new?"
ThrashHead: Getting a lot of people excited...
Keith: Well, I'm totally excited, I am having the time of my life...I'm supposed to, in a musical career, I'm supposed to be planning my retirement and I don't plan on retiring
ThrashHead: You shouldn't be planning your retirement, you've been putting out great music since, what, '78, even earlier? I mean Jesus Christ, one reason why we wanted to interview you was because we've been to your shows, you've inspired us, I mean, my first show seeing you was at the Alcohol Salad in '88, our Editor has run into many, many times...from when we were kids until know, we have families of our own and the music is still cool, and that's what is important.
The thing is that Keith Morris, you, are a fundamental part of music history and I think a lot of snot nosed brats who've been hijacked by MTV, or those kids in the nineties when MTV said "Wow, hey these kids have something here, let's repackage it and make it something else" need to be re-introduced to what came before...one of our very first interviews was with Tim "Spit Stix" Leitch who used to be in FEAR and when we had asked him about the early days, the first person he talked about was you "Keith was there at every show for me with a cold beer in his outstretched hand when we finished our set" ...the first name that came to mind from one of your fellow pioneers was Keith Morris. It's totally awesome you are starting to get recognition from a wider audience which you should have had for many, many years. I am humbled you took the time to give us an interview...
Keith: Hey, you're paying for it...(laughs heartily) let's just toss a little sarcasm in there...
ThrashHead: (Laughing) There you go. How did you come by the name OFF!, another bug spray, Pettibon is doing the art work...but is there more meaning to it then just the obvious?
Keith: Well see, you're immediately associated our name with a bug product, you'd be one of the guys who comes from the school of Black Flag being an insecticide, which it wasn't...to us it was anarchy, freedom, here we come, we're Billy the Kid and all those type of characters, Al Capone, Robin Hood and Peter Pan, I guess I would be Peter Pan...(chuckles)...just kidding; but, Black Flag had absolutely nothing to do with killing insects, the same with OFF! We just went through a thing with Johnson and Johnson who owns the bug spray OFF! and they told us that we couldn't use the name...we just told them that, we're not a bug spray, we aren't an insect repellent, we're not here for the summertime to ward of mosquitoes, we're OFF!, we're a band, we're not competing with you. The people who will be listening to us, the people who will be wearing our t-shirts, they're not going to be thinking of you, we're not thinking of you, so leave us alone. We had to get through all of the rigmarole and finally got clearance , they were actually very good about it, you would think that this ultra-mega, giant, super corporation was going to squash us like bugs...ok, there's that word bugs...but, OFF!, to us, is like "Well it's Friday afternoon, I've been working all week, I am going to get off at five, I am going to a party and go off..." ; It's Friday evening, you're looking at the clock, it's ten to five and your boss says, "Well, no, you're not getting off at five I have a lot of work which needs to be done before you leave this evening, so you're not getting off at five" and you're first thought is, while you're looking at your boss pissed off...pissed off, ok...another one with off, "could you just get the fuck off my back"...another line with off, that's what OFF! is about, not like "Ah mister mosquito, please stay off of me", that's not what we're about...we're the guys who aren't afraid to say a few things, we're the guys who are not afraid to say something which you might be afraid of saying, we're not afraid to make the message. One of the things we tell a lot of people, if you ever have a problem with your higher ups, your employers, give us a call we tell them to go fuck OFF!
...it's no skin off of our ass.
ThrashHead: One question I have to ask, it's been asked a billion times, but it's for the younger punx...there are a lot of folks who don't really understand the beginnings of punk rock music and the west coast hardcore scene...a lot of the artists we grew up with are no longer around, they've passed away, and they're gone and we'd like to document a little bit about what the scene was like, and what motivated people to become involved. How were you introduced to punk rock and when was it you decided "hey this is what I want to do"?
Keith: Well, I am a fan of music, I've listened to all different forms of music, on all sorts of different levels, my dad was a big jazz buff...he liked west coast jazz which was a little bit lighter than say your Miles Davis and your John Coltrane and your Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, Rahsaan Roland Kirk. My mom, we'd get in the car, the first thing she'd do, she'd turn on the A.M. radio. So, we'd be listening to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks and Motown, The Temptations, Box Tops...we would listen to, growing up, all different types of music...so I always had my ear open, I was always the kid who'd go to the record store, there were times I would buy an album because the cover looked cool, it looked interesting to me, it peaked my interest, consequently I bought a lot of albums that totally sucked you know, the first Doobie Brothers, that first Doobie Brothers album they looked like Motorhead on the cover...
(I crack up laughing)
...singing about peanut butter eat it all the time or whatever the fuckin' hit was off of that record, but also growing up, I loved aggressive music, I was always a big fan of Black Sabbath and MC5 and Ted Nugent, even though he is a turd for a human being...and Patty Smith, Television, The Sex Pistols...I was listening to stuff like Deep Purple and Alice Cooper, I always like something with an edge to it and then came punk rock; we heard The Damned "Neat Neat Neat" and The Sex Pistols "Never Mind The Bollocks" and The Clash and, you know, we had our bands that influenced those bands, that also influenced me like MC5, Iggy and The Stooges, the punk rock thing was, for me, just a natural progression, I would've listen to it...there was nothing leading me in that direction, except for the Eagles and the Fleetwood Macs of the world. When I say Fleetwood Mac, I mean the Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks Fleetwood Mac, I don't mean the Peter Greene Fleetwood Mac which is fucking genius, some of the greatest rock music put to vinyl, put to tape...I mean Southern California laid back, feathered hair, sniffing cocaine, getting the BMW hand washed, sipping the wine coolers by poolside over in Beverly Hills at the Hotel California, these bands, they're great bands, they make great music, it's just not the music that I want to listen to, that music does nothing for me...except make me want to go elsewhere and listen to something else.
ThrashHead: An inundation of popular materialism which can make one nauseous
Keith: That and it's just so....the Hotel California? Where's the Hotel California? Oh, Beverly Hills...are you kidding? Even if I won the lotto I wouldn't be able to afford to stay there.
ThrashHead: It's well known you are into an eclectic range of music, shit, our ed has run into at the Wax Trax in Denver stocking up on albums. When you were younger you worked in a record store, I forget exactly where, but down on the coast...
Keith: I worked at a place, I'd fill in every now and then, I'd watch the counter at a place called The Record Hole, I also filled in for my friend Michael Piper called the Rubicon which was on Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach, for me it was centrally located because it was between where my high school was in Manhattan Beach and where I worked for my dad down at the Pier in Hermosa Beach...and Michael, I would pretty much hold him responsible for helping to plant the seeds that would grow to become Black Flag...that situation, working in a record store where he liked the Buckingham, Nicks Fleetwood Mac...he loved the music coming out of Laurel Canyon, the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell and...the hardest thing he would play would be Heart. I remember listening to the first Heart album over and over...which actually, it's a pretty damn good record...all of these people make great recordings, it's getting back to what I said earlier, it's just not what I want to listen to. You can't take anything away from these people, they are really great in whatever their creative endeavors are, it's just that their creations aren't what I'd like to attach myself too...it's not the stuff I want to wrap my ears around.
ThrashHead: What do you say to those who turn their nose up towards other forms of musical expression? Those who are stuck in the rut of being closed minded and not allowing themselves to be open to other influences?
Keith: Hey, there's a lot of people who listen to our music, who are part of our scene who are like that...our thing became very selfish...why are you going to play for them, why are you going to play with that band? You should be playing with this band, why do look the way that you do...like all of sudden there some kind of rules to all of this! Now, I am getting back to Black Flag, that's what Black Flag was about, it was about freedom, it was about doing whatever you wanted to do, that's what Black Flag was about, it has nothing to do....maybe it did, in a roundabout way, trying to illuminate the insect mind.
ThrashHead: You're right, we've run across that in the present day punk scene, people saying bands not being "relevant" or that's not "real" punk, etc.
There are people who say punk is dead, we know different: from Anarcho to crust, there's great bands our there like Oi Polloi still playing, Appalachian Terror Unit, Parasytic and many others, but what are your thoughts about that, what do you say to those stuck in the past, who don't know about the great present day bands, who say hardcore punk is dead?
Keith: It's only as dead as you want it to be, there are plenty of bands out there, plenty of great bands...of course, if I were to rattle off some of the bands I like, none of these bands might show up on any of your lists... you might turn around and say "that's not a hardcore band, that's not a punk band", maybe they are, maybe they are just doing things differently, perhaps they have been provided an opportunity to be on a label that's not necessarily what you might not consider to be a "punk rock" label or a "hardcore" label . But, maybe they are using that as a means to get their music out there who might be a little more open minded, who might not be walking around with their head in a box.
The bands that I would rattle off right now would be Pissed Jeans, Fucked Up and Ceremony who are on Matador, there's Brutal Mights, there's Career Suicide out of Canada, there's Trash Talk, they are about 3 and half miles from where I'm at, over by USC in a warehouse... they're hanging out with this new rap crew, hip hop crew, Odd Future, I don't know if you've heard them, their pretty whacky, their kinda like a bunch of soul brothers who want to be a punk rock band without being a punk rock band or a hardcore band.
ThrashHead: Essentially punk rock music is an attitude, not how you look, it's whatever stance you want to take to be free musically and express yourself.
Keith: Ok, first off, hardcore is not dead, punk rock is not dead, rock n roll is not dead, classical music is not dead, you know, the list goes on and on...hip hop is not dead...American Idol is probably gonna be on television for another, minimum of three or four seasons...the thing is, when it comes to punk rock and hardcore, when it comes to rock n roll, what is all of that? It's starting somewhere with some kid who is saying "I don't want to be like that, I don't want to be like you"...which is what we say to our parents, what, starting at three or four years old? You know, there's always going to be that kid jumping up and down on the bed because he didn't get his ice cream after dinner, there's always going to be some kid, some guy somewhere, some gal somewhere, who are like, "I hate my boss", "I don't like the police", "Why the fuck did I get this parking ticket?", there is always going to be....a lot of this has to do with anger, a lot of it has to do with this scenario, the haves and have nots, there's the "us against them", there's the kid versus his parent or parents....that's always gonna happen...it's always happened throughout time...so what makes now any different? Cause, some punk rock band is on a major label? That's not how it works, it's always going to happen, there's always going to be some punk rock band out there somewhere, there's always going to be a James Dean "Rebel Without A Cause", there's always going to be some Marlon Brando "Wild One", there's always going to be that.
ThrashHead: Going back to what just said now, that "us against them" mentality... you have always been outspoken and articulate on various issues, I was wondering, with the current social upheavals that we're seeing around the world, from the middle east to the occupy movement, people are striving to rid themselves of tyrannical governments, political systems dominated by corporate political corruption; what's your take on what you see in the streets? I mean, without sounding too cliché, I guess you could say that's a punk rock attitude, people saying....this is bullshit, fuck the system.
Keith: You could call it a punk rock kind of stance, but the fact of the matter is...let's go back to what I just said, it's a human thing, it's human to be angry and want to throw a rock through a window...
ThrashHead: It's part of the human condition then?
Keith: Yes, it's like we all...everybody, I don't care who you are...has the capability of doing that at some point. The occupy movement, I am totally behind it, what I am not behind are some of the characters who showed up at the occupy movement in Oakland where they began spray painting on things that maybe...you know, there is a certain line that has to be drawn, there's a certain way to go about certain things. Beating people up, is not one of them...even though a lot of these people who are being beaten up deserve that kind of treatment.
The situation with all of this is, I back the majority of it, you know the 99% versus the 1%... which I think, the 1%, is a little bit larger than that if you took out maybe 45% who wouldn't know how to spell the word "occupy", and who see it as an affront to what they think is the right way for things to be done. So it's maybe larger if you include that 45% who sides with the other 1 or 2%, you know, that would be the Tea Party, I can't think of a more ignorant, fucking movement. They take probably the most important event in our history, I mean the United States, one of the events that triggered the American Revolution where a group of white guys, disguised as Native Americans, boarded ships and threw the Tea for Englishmen who needed their tea three or four times a day, overboard, that was very important to them, ...the statement to throw the tea over the side of the boats in Boston harbor. I would say the majority of the tea party people live in red states and if you look at a map of the political boundaries in the United States, the blue states show were the majority of intelligent people reside and the blue states are the ones which pay the most taxes, which covers all the stupidity from the majority of the tea party, so they really don't get it, they're the ones that can be put on a leash and led around. It's just a big dog park for them.
But the occupy movement, we needed, it needed to happen, we just have too many people who have fallen into this, malaise, where everybody is kinda like "well, maybe I should just worry about myself, I've got all these bills to pay, I really don't care what happens to them", we pride ourselves on being this country that tries to be aware of what's going on in the rest of the world, we pride ourselves of having been able to pull certain people and certain countries out of their doldrums or forced them into certain situations where these nations are doing what we want them to do...like what's happening in the Middle East.
The thing with the Occupy movement, is that it opened some eyes; not all of us want to be led around like than that, we're smarter than that, we're better than that. All of these people who have made all this money...in Japan it would be profit sharing, the wealth would be distributed amongst all of the workers, the guy who was the mastermind, would keep whatever they needed to pay their bills and live comfortably...there's a certain point, how much money do you need? How much money are you going to leave your kids? You're going to leave money to your kids, who are just shit? Your kids have done absolutely nothing to deserve all of this money. Hoarding all of this money.
ThrashHead: No social responsibility whatsoever, where they just make their billions and billions and use as their power base, people who might be blue collar folks who don't even realize the first martyr of the American Revolution was an African American by the name of Crispus Attucks. They look at something like national healthcare as an abomination and compare it to German concentration camps rather than an opportunity to be able to take your child to the hospital without having to pay one or two thousand dollars for a sore throat or other programs which allow them the opportunity to have their children educated so they don't have to continue to be living in a trailer in the backwoods somewhere...I hear what you're saying, there is a lot more than one percent here, there's the sheeple who will listen and believe to whatever is fed to them through the media, while other people are willing to say "this is not right and whether or not I am comfortable, is not a reason enough to be apathetic in insuring that at least my children have a future."
I would really like to hear your point of view on this; but not long ago the authorities in Aceh, Indonesia rounded up punks and forcibly detained them for re-education; the whole world was in an uproar, lots of support for these kids poured out from around the gobe and even a punk rock compilation called PunkAid: Aceh Calling was organized by Mike from Evacuate. What were your first thoughts when you heard about what was going on in Indo with all these kids, who aren't criminals, being rounded up and quote unquote re-educated?
Keith: Well, they certainly stuck out like a sore thumb in Indonesia with their mohawks, tattoos and piercings...I think they should have the freedom to do whatever they want to do, look how they want to look, it should be a given human right! But, maybe there's a thread between Occupy and these kids in Indonesia.
I didn't get to finish what I wanted to say about Oakland which is, Oakland is a very ugly town...in Indonesia, there are very beautiful parts, but a lot of these countries in Asia, the South Pacific, etc, etc, follow along with the Chinese, we have not even began to see the tip of the ecological disaster that China has placed upon itself. I mean, you can see the smog, you can see the dust, the dirt, and the ash from burning a lot of coal, burning a lot of oil....I am trying to make an analogy or tie a line between Occupy Oakland, I am saying when you go to the bay area you've got Berkeley, you've got San Francisco which are beautiful cities and then you have Oakland which is the, I guess, the Detroit, the industrial Pittsburgh, the Cleveland of the west coast, they're not beautiful cities, they have their pockets of beauty, their gardens, nice homes, but for the most part, they are just beaten down cities.
Indonesia probably pulls the same thing that China pulls, lots of pollution, you probably can't' drink the water unless you boil it and then filter it, or you have to drink it from a bottle shipped in from some other place. You are paying two to three dollars for a bottle of water which should only be fifty cents, etc, etc.
During Occupy in Oakland there were a handful of people that fucked it up for the peaceful Occupy protestors. It was supposed to be a peaceful organization, we're supposed to do it on a political level, we aren't supposed to do it by turning cars over and setting them on fire, confronting the riot police, when they come in by throwing rocks at them, that's not going to get you anywhere other than beaten down and then you are going to go to court and you are going to end up losing, that's the way it is. And so, people need to be able to latch onto that reality. Us versus the man, you look at the history of us versus the man and the man pretty much wins like 80% of the time, I'm not going to confront the police officer, I'm not going to confront the guy with the gun or the grenade, I'm not going to confront the guy who is going to beat me over the head...I am going to do my march, I am going to make my point and hope that other people get it and go along with it.
Now, in Oakland there were guys who were coming and spray painting walls in the neighborhoods, why would you do that in that neighborhood? It's the equivalent of the Watts riots, people were rioting in Watts; nobody fucking cares about Watts, it's an African-American neighborhood, you think some rich guy in Beverly Hills cares about fucking Watts? You're outta your mind! You think some white guy living on top of a hill cares about what's going on in South Central? He doesn't give a fuck! Never has and never will. There's certain people that need to be touched, there's certain people that need to see this with the proper light shining down on it and the guy coming in spray painting and bashing out windows and setting fires to cars that's really unintelligent, that's primitive, that really works in a negative way.
ThrashHead: Well, there are those who say that those types of creeps that went in there were like those at the WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999 in Seattle where a handful of Anarchists went in and fucked it up, but on the other side, people have also said that the government is actually behind putting people in there to do these actions, to distract, what do you say about those...?
Keith: That's our government, that's police organizations, that's the FBI 's and the CIA's, that's the type of dipshittery which they are capable of doing, they do it all the time...when it comes to that, what can you say? Getting back to the thread between Occupy Oakland, the city of Oakland and Indonesia, there's a lot of similarities...maybe they're beaten down, maybe the kids over in Indonesia could've been like the Occupy movement there...see, the United States of America, the people over here, we're not the only people that are involved in Occupy, it's a world-wide event, when we talk about the 1%, we aren't talking about the 1% that controls the country's wealth, we're not talking about the Tea Party, they certainly don't control all of the money in the United States, they just side, for some stupid, ridiculous reason or reasons, they side with these people, the 1, 2 or 5%, they are the people who control the world, they don't just control the oil companies or the food companies like Monsanto, ultra mega evil corporations like that, there's a whole group of them and this Occupy movement... it's not just the white worker whose lost his job, it's not just Caucasian guy who lost all of his money on dot coms when the dot coms fell through, it's not just the hard working white couple that placed all of their money and got burned in a Ponzi scheme...there's a whole spectrum of people all around the world, on all kinds of levels who have been fucked over or used or being led along or placed on their leashes by certain group of people, and maybe these kids in Indonesia, they certainly, to those people over there, to the authoritative class, didn't look right, looked outta of place, and looked threatening and nobody wants to be threatened. I'm not condoning what the Indonesian police did to those kids, because what they did to those kids was totally wrong! What happened in Indonesia, is happening all over the world!
ThrashHead: I understand exactly what you're saying, it's a very conservative society, primarily Muslim, by these kids being punks they were a target because they represented freedom and were a threat to a ruling class which wants to maintain a certain order to their rule, and it's not just the punks who are threatening the status quo of world's ruling elite.
Do you think there is anything we can do to help to not only free those kids, but anyone oppressed around the world? How do we educate those who continue to live life with their blinders on and help them realize that the majority of the world's population is being shit upon, abused, manipulated, enslaved...?
Keith: Let's look at that group of people you just described, those people with the "blinders", maybe they are going to remain blind or closed minded to all of the things that they shouldn't be...and maybe, rather than then free their minds, or try to steer them in another direction, maybe it's just a waste of time, maybe those people are going to remain that way, maybe they are set in their ways...now, this is a long shot, but perhaps we need those people, we need those people as an example of what not to be. I don't want to be like that, I am more intelligent than that, I'm going to do everything that I can do...as Henry Rollins would say "Rise Above". Maybe, and this is kind of fucked up thing to say, but maybe they are there for a reason...maybe they're purpose is to show everybody else that whatever they are doing, however they go about doing it, whatever they adhere to, whatever their political beliefs, look at them, look at what they've become, look at what they do, look at what they are, who they are...do you want to be like that? I don't! Perhaps this is an arrogant remark, but I know that I am better than that. I may not be the most intelligent person, I might not be the most well read person, I might be the guy who just got average grades in school, but I know better. Basically, it comes down to probably one of the most basic things that we, as human beings, are supposed to learn as we are growing up. And maybe we don't learn it early on, maybe our parents don't teach us, maybe our grandparents don't teach us, maybe our teachers don't teach us, but it's a basic quality, it's a basic thing for a human being and that is knowing the difference between right and wrong.
ThrashHead: So, essentially, just each one of us should be aware and be the best people we can...and perhaps the only people we could help change is our family and our children....
Keith: No, no, no, it's not about changing other people, it's about you being the best person that you can be, if you're a good, kind-hearted person, you continue to be who you are and people will look at you as an example.
You're world starts with you, it doesn't start with your boss, it doesn't start with the guy who sells you gas at the service station, it doesn't start with the guy who cooks you dinner at the Wienerschnitzel or Del Taco drive-through, whatever, the world doesn't start with the guy who collects your garbage on Thursday, Wednesday, or whatever day they come to collect your garbage, your world starts with you.
ThrashHead: That makes a hell of a lot of sense, we are living within our own world in which we should be the best people we can be and hopefully someone else will pick up on that without the need to not forcibly convert...there is no difference between someone trying to convert another to their way of thinking and a religious zealot trying to convert someone into becoming a Baptist. Just be the best person you can, and be aware of the world around...and because of that you're own existence will be better.
I have a question here which is close to my heart, but I have a sister in law who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes not too long ago, she almost lost her foot due to an infection not too long ago , I had get a lot of money together in order to get her special skin grafting treatments, I also have other family members who have type 2, the type you were diagnosed with in '99, I believe. How did you confront the disease and are there some things a person should know on how to best prevent type 2 or to live healthily with either type?
Keith: Well, when I was diagnosed with diabetes, I was getting all of the wrong information, they wanted to put me on the diabetic diet, which is supposedly one of the best diets you can be on, but it's also a diet to keep you slim and trim and if you're obese, to lose weight. I had lost weight, I was 85 pounds when I found out that I was a diabetic, I lost like 40 pounds. So, I had to dive into all the food that I wouldn't normally eat; a lot of butter, a lot of cheese, a lot of eggs, I eat all that stuff, I eat it sparingly.
Anyway, I gained my weight and I'm still dealing with trying to find a place where I'm supposed to be with my glucose. I've had certain people within the medical-healthcare field, who've said you can turn diabetes around...and I was like "Wow, this is great", it's all about eating raw foods, raw fruits, raw vegetables, thinking "well, I'm going to dive into this wholeheartedly" and I'm told by my doctor "you don't get to turn your diabetes around because you crushed your pancreas, your pancreas is making insulin, but the insulin that it's producing doesn't do the work that it's supposed to do, which means you have to take insulin twice a day". So, I don't get to turn my diabetes around, I have to live with it. Your sister in law, coming close to losing a foot, it was probably because her glucose level was so high, she's lucky there wasn't more damage than what had already caused. As for people who could possibly get diabetes, or on the cusp of getting diabetes, a lot of it has to do with not being stressed out, which is extremely important, paying attention to your diet, which is also extremely important, and living a good, healthy lifestyle.
ThrashHead: It's completely manageable then as long as you pay attention.
Keith: Yes! There are a lot of people who have diabetics in their family, that don't have diabetes, but could develop diabetes, and it is avoidable, it's just you have to stay on top of it.
ThrashHead: Healthy life style, before you even get it.
ThrashHead: Last question, very basic. What are some of the things that bring you the most joy in life?
Keith: Well, I love listening and playing music, love hanging out with my friends....love hanging out, and having a great meal. In the last few nights, I've seen some really amazing movies, I don't normally go to the movies and I am looking at a theater from my front window. I finally broke down and went over there the other night, I took a friend over there and she and I saw "The Artist"...
ThrashHead: The silent film right?
ThrashHead: How was that?
Keith: It was fantastic!
ThrashHead: It hasn't arrived in this country, it kinda reminds me... I really like old movies, especially those of the early 30's, before there was the PCA censorship, there was a movie called "The Little Giant" with Edward G. Robinson, where he's a gangster who goes out to the west coast and there's this part where he had just bought an early cubist period Picasso and asks one of his thugs; "You ever see anything like that before?", this must have been '32 or something like that, and this thug says: "Not since I been off cocaine." , Robinson screams back: "No, dumb head! I suppose you think that's a cat having a fit in a bucket of tomato ketchup. Well, it ain't! That's art!" ...it was just a great period of filmmaking. The trailers I've seen of "The Artist" with the little dog reminds me of the old William Powell "Thin Man" series...I really dig those.
Keith: It's kinda got that kind of that vibe.
ThrashHead: Cool, will check it out. When's the album coming out?
Keith: The new album comes out May 8th
ThrashHead: Alright, May 8th, the title?
Keith: Yeah it's called OFF! (Laughs heartily) We weren't clever and creative enough to come up with a name for our second album.
ThrashHead: You're at SXSW, I believe I saw that FEAR is going to be there, Ving and his new crew, you know Tim Leitch is up in Portland playing with Nasalrod and Lickity, I think he might be happy to know we had a chance to talk to you. Like I said, you're one of the first guys he remembers from the old days, man.
Keith: Spit is one of my heroes!