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Won't Be A Casualty

9 April 2014 | 1:22 pm | Dan Condon

"I wasn’t feeling cool about the things that were going on and I finally found out I was going to be kicked out of the band anyways."

“I'm having the time of my life,” Keith Morris says in his rich Southern Californian inflection. “I'm going to be 59 years old in a few months, which means I'm approaching 60, which would usually mean I was trying to take care of the retirement fund and putting extra money aside in the bank to be able to drive in a Winnebago and see all of the wonderful sights in the United States.

“But I'm having a great time; I'm really seriously enjoying myself. Of course there's a few hang-ups, a few snags, we have a lot of scheduling conflicts; there's three dads, three of us play in about seven, eight other bands. I would love it for OFF! to be everyone's priority but it just doesn't work that way. So whenever we get together, we've got to cram as much action and adventure and music and camaraderie into two weeks here, three weeks there, whenever we get the opportunity.

“Consequently that spills over to the energy we put forth in the band. It also is part of the fuel for our performances and the type of material that Dimitri [Coats – guitarist and OFF! co-songwriter] and I write.”

The band's new record, Wasted Years, is classic OFF! - short, heavy, angry songs easy to understand, owing to the fact we are all going through the same shit, no matter where we live.

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“We go to all these different places and we see all these different things going on. The fact of the matter is that, ultimately, a lot of the stuff that we're writing lyrics [about] has become a little more universal. The handful of people who control everything, the billionaires, the haves and the have nots, us versus them – it's a neverending, ongoing, perpetual situation – us against the authoritative figures.”

Morris was the original vocalist in the legendary Californian punk band Black Flag, from 1976 to 1979, and recently joined forces with fellow Black Flag members Chuck Dukowski, Bill Stevenson and Dez Cadena and Descendents' Stephen Egerton to play the songs of that band as FLAG. Morris and Black Flag parted in acrimonious fashion and it sounds as if memories of those days are starting to irk him.

“One of the major things that I discovered was that there was a reason for me leaving [Black Flag] – I wasn't feeling cool about the things that were going on and I finally found out I was going to be kicked out of the band anyways.

“With FLAG, a lot of those same things started to come up. I don't want to diss on FLAG because when we're playing we're having a great time and it's undeniable that we love the songs. With Billy Stevenson we have a guy who is totally into quality control. What I mean by that is we're not just gonna stand up there and look like a bunch of guys in our mid-50s, late 50s, early 60s – it just doesn't work for this kind of music.”