Connect with us
OFF!, photo by Jeff Forney OFF!, photo by Jeff Forney


OFF!: “The kids have always been in revolt. And that’s just the way that it is.”

OFF! vocalist Keith Morris (one of punk’s most fervent frontmen) discusses youth in revolt, the Punk Rock Museum, and his upcoming film ‘Free LSD’ featuring the likes of D.H. Peligro (RIP), David Yow, and Jack Black.



Punk supergroup OFF! headed out on tour last month with support from Die Spitz, Upchuck, and Hong Kong Fuck You. It was a jam-packed ride from start to finish, and it was also a fresh outing for a group who have been cooking up something truly otherworldly for us – their upcoming movie, Free LSD.

We managed to grab a call with the group’s infamous frontman, Keith Morris, who led the likes of Black Flag and Circle Jerks before forming this group back in 2009 with bandmate Dimitri Coats (of ex-Burning Brides fame and who also directed and starred in the film), with recent lineup additions of drummer Justin Brown (Thundercat, Flying Lotus, Herbie Hancock) and bassist Autry Fulbright II (…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead) rounding out the band’s current lineup. More info of which can be found here:

Our write-up follows further down – for the full 40-minute conversation with Keith, you can watch the below video.

Keith Morris is a character.

I don’t mean he’s a caricature, or ‘whacky.’ I mean, he’s a character in the old-school sense of the word; the kind of character from the days when you might call people like him a card, or eccentric. As we begin our phone call, I pretend to ask a question, and without missing a beat, he offers, “Well, here’s a fake answer.” I begin to see why Nardwuar had his hands full when he interviewed him and his bandmates from OFF! in Vancouver last winter.

Yet despite the impressive catalogue of punk impact he carries over his back like a bindle bowing from the weight, Keith is an unassuming figure, albeit one with a razor-sharp shrewdness that instantly puts you on high alert. He speaks in a shifty, suspicious rhythm. His answers are staccato and furtive, like a chess player on a timer, keeping his fingers on the pieces until he’s absolutely certain he’s made his move. At times this comes off as thoughtful, even modest, like when we discuss good eats or supplements. At other times, it takes on a darker, more unhinged air: on the fringes of truth and conspiracy, he sounded (to my ears, at least), like a man who had opted out and turned his back on the world. Speaking on the phone, I imagined him talking into a receiver from a compound deep in the woods, or at a payphone on a long, forgotten stretch of road in the middle of nowhere.

Yet despite a daunting intellect and reputation for fierce remonstrations, Keith was downright cooperative. Settling into the rhythm of speaking with a complete stranger and answering their long-winded, stuttering questions, he was, dare I say, excited to discuss the upcoming project that OFF! has been working on: their full-length feature film, titled “Free LSD.”

The idea for the movie had been brewing for some time. The band’s label, Fat Possum, made them an offer to fund a set number of music videos. Morris and his bandmates saw this as an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone: why not make the movie while they were at it?

And they would have gotten away with it, too, if weren’t for these blasted pandemics. As lockdowns crippled the industry and put a stranglehold on projects, the world over, the funding for the project quickly evaporated.

We needed more funding for our movie,” Morris explains. “So we went to them, and talked them into giving us the money to help us finish making our movie.

V13 Cover Story 022 - Keith Morris - May 8, 2023

V13 Cover Story 022 – Keith Morris – May 8, 2023

The result is a series of music videos that double as promotion for the band’s upcoming movie. “So now, in our brilliant move, we’re not only promoting our record and our music and ourselves and our tours, but we’re also promoting and advertising our movie,” Morris said. “How brilliant is that? We’re just the smartest guys to ever walk the face of the earth,” he adds, with sarcasm dry enough to start a forest fire.

But as Morris recounted the process of making the movie, I sensed the hardships that came with such a bold endeavour. There were days when they didn’t have enough money to film. At one point, Morris had to rush to his credit union to transfer funds to make sure the crew was paid. But Morris and his bandmates persevered, creating a movie that he informed me he’s seen three times already.

The movie is done, and now they’re dealing with movie people,” Morris said. “Like, who’s gonna put it out? You know, is it going to Netflix, is it going to Hulu?” But despite the uncertainty, Morris remains hopeful that the movie will see the light of day at the end of the year, as planned.

We found our way into discussing his choice of lifestyle as the singer of a punk band. I asked him how he maintains the same intensity and energy, not just in songwriting but also in performance, after all these years. He said it was a difficult question to answer. He feels extremely fortunate to be doing what he’s doing, and he would be an idiot not to take advantage of what’s being presented to him.

There are a lot of guys who would kill to be in my position,” he offers carefully. And then adds, in his trademark caustic tone, “There are a lot of guys I would kill just for them not to be around.”

I pivot from music to museum – specifically, the new Punk Rock Museum, which opened earlier this year in Las Vegas. I ask him whether they approached him at all, about contributing or curating.

Both, as it turns out.

They hit me up for pieces all the time,” he confirms, “and I said, well, you’re gonna need to, uh, give me like half a wall.

But Keith didn’t end up handing over any of his prized possessions to the museum. Nor has he signed on to curate – yet.

They asked us very early on, and I was at a point where I needed to know more about this museum,” he explains. “When the Off! movie comes out, I will be more than happy to walk around [the museum] and point out certain things and explain certain things and tell stories.

When I ask him about his thoughts on punk rock and its history, Keith gets reflective.

Some of us are at an age where we have to step up and say, I listen to punk rock. I love punk rock, but it’s not the only music that I listen to.” He explains how hard it is to convey all the history of music that led to punk, especially to kids who’s only listened to bands like “NOFX and Pennywise and Rancid.” And, too, how hard it is for people to remember that rebellious youth have always been a cornerstone of culture.

Teenagers have always been in revolt. Against society, against the man, against the politicians. Against the police chief. Against the principal at their high school. The kids have always been in revolt. And that’s just the way that it is.

While he may not be a curator of the museum, Keith’s passion for punk rock and its history is palpable. Hearing him explain the history of youth in revolt, I’m convinced he’ll continue to be involved in preserving its legacy in any way he can.

OFF! ‘FLSD’ EP album artwork

OFF! ‘FLSD’ EP album artwork

Naturally, these discussions of legacy and history circle back to the realities of aging.

I’m 67 years old,” he says. “I’m supposed to be sitting here, and I’m not supposed to be talking to you. I’m supposed to be talking to some kind of financial big wig, you know, advisor saying, ‘Keith, you should invest in this,’ and ‘How many cars do you own?’”

I don’t get to do that. This is the path that we have chosen and we just continue on the path.

When I ask him outright whether he finds it strange to figure himself into the legacy of punk rock, having been an iconic figure throughout bands like Black Flag, Circle Jerks, and in recent memory with OFF!, he sounded indifferent.

You know, I don’t really dwell upon these things,” he shrugs. “In the beginning, when we were doing what we were doing, like in Black Flag, we didn’t think about any of this stuff. We were just excited to get in a room and make a bunch of noise.

When pressed on whether the motivations behind that noise are still as intense as when he started playing all those years ago though, there’s a familiar peril I can’t help but notice in his tone.

If you look at the times that we’re living in right now, our politicians are as bad, if not worse than they’ve ever been. Our US political structure? Some of the worst people in the history of the world. All of the greed, all of everybody on the take. Everybody should be even more angry than they are. And that’s my fuel.

It’s fuel that has kept him shrieking in his trademark castigating snarl for over four decades, but more than that, it’s informed his drive to continue advocating for the dispossessed and savaging a superstructure he sees through the shadowy lens of corruption and counterintelligence stemming from the Cold War. Attributing JFK’s assassination to his nuclear arms talks with the USSR and his plans to dissolve the CIA, I’m reminded that Keith belongs to the group of first-wave punks who valued active resistance over anything else.

As I thank Keith for his time, I can’t help but feel like there’s so much more to discover about him. I can’t shake the feeling that underneath his self-effacing demeanour, there are countless years’ worth of vitriol and rage just begging to be unleashed. And despite his reluctance to give up his prized possessions or take on the role of curator, there’s something about the museum that’s piqued his interest – I can’t help but wonder what secrets he may be keeping locked away.

You can catch OFF! while they’re on tour on certain dates through to the end of May. And of course, we will be sharing any news about their upcoming film “Free LSD” as soon as it becomes available.

Director of Communications @ V13. Lance Marwood is a music and entertainment writer who has been featured in both digital and print publications, including a foreword for the book "Toronto DIY: (2008-2013)" and The Continuist. He has been creating and coordinating content for V13 since 2015 (back when it was PureGrainAudio); before that he wrote and hosted a radio and online series called The Hard Stuff , featuring interviews with bands and insight into the Toronto DIY and wider hardcore punk scene. He has performed in bands and played shows alongside acts such as Expectorated Sequence, S.H.I.T., and Full of Hell.