Hardcore Legends OFF! Offer Punk Lovers Free LSD Down Under

OFF! tour Australia January 2024.
Tim is a Brisbane-based writer who loves noisy music, gorgeous pop, weird films, and ice cream.

In the short, fast, loud world of hardcore punk, where song lengths average less than two minutes, a decade would equate to several lifetimes.

In that spirit, it feels like lifetimes have passed since Californian hardcore supergroup OFF! thrashed across Australian stages in 2013 at the now defunct Big Day Out.

Now, the band will make their long-awaited return and rampage down under in 2024. Band co-founders Dimitri Coats and legendary hardcore frontman Keith Morris (Black Flag, Circle Jerks) spent that time feverishly working on the band's next phase.

Their near decade of work was finally unveiled in 2022 in the form of 'Free LSD' – the title of both their third album and psychedelic sci-fi film starring the band, as well as The Jesus Lizard's David Yow, the late D.H. Peligro of The Dead Kennedys, and actor Jack Black.

While delivering the face-melting hardcore that has won them fans since their earliest releases, 'Free LSD' expands the band's palette, with blasts of electronic noise, free jazz, and skronking saxophone to melt minds.

Alongside the new album, Keith and Dimitri are now joined by bassist Autry Fulbright II of …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, and Thundercat and Flying Lotus'
drummer-of-choice, Justin Brown.

With OFF! currently touring South America, Morris found the time to answer some burning questions about their new album, filmmaking, and a conspiracy theory about Australia.

Where are you right now?
OFF! is on a tour of South America and we're playing the Primavera Sound Festival [26 Nocember] in Buenos Aires, Argentina with Beck, The Pet Shop Boys and Blur. We'll go on in the late afternoon so as to not compete with any of the bands I mentioned. Apparently, they're scared and don't want us to steal any of their fans.

The new album, 'Free LSD', is a massive departure from your previous work. What influenced the new direction? Was it fun venturing into psychedelic-noise-jazz?
Psychedelic-noise-jazz is a pretty decent description of what we've created.

It's a departure but we didn't give up the aggressiveness and allowed ourselves to let some things fly. We're known for a certain thing, and we decided to move away from painting things in black and white and use some different colours.

Normally our listening palate would consist of Stiff Little Fingers, The Damned, Blue Oyster Cult, ZZ Top, Link Wray, Ramones, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, F Word, the Germs, Black Sabbath, Bad Brains and a small army of others.

This time we pointed our ears in different directions. . . Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, Throbbing Gristle, Blixa Bargeld's Einsturzende Neubauten, Sun Ra and other artists who are not where a band from the genre we're associated with would normally go for inspiration.

And to answer your question, it was a total mind f... to be able to go to where we did. It would've been easy to go back to the same places we've gone to on our first three records, but our mentality was, 'let's go somewhere else!'.

The new album is a companion to your long-laboured mental sci-fi film of the same name. What is it about? What led to venturing into film? Was it a fun/ stressful process? Any plans for a wider release or more films?
'Free LSD' is a love story with evil aliens and a group of musicians being pulled together to fight for the survival of the human race. Sci-fi bloodshed with twists and turns along the way.

It was our intention from the very beginning while we were creating songs to have our recording accompany a story and script that we would eventually film over a two-week period in a break from some of the other stuff we were doing.

It was crazy as there were too many detractors saying 'Free LSD' wasn't going to get made. The filmmaking process is the most difficult of all of the creative endeavours. Too many people involved with a bunch of ridiculous schedules!

Not only was it fun and exciting, but also way beyond hectic as our film budget would run out and we would scramble to be able to pay the film crew. We had about four or five days when we didn't know if we were going to be shooting or if we were cutting that scene from the movie.

At the end of the day or even at the beginning I wouldn't hesitate to do it again! Now that it's finished, there are a couple of people who are trying to find a home for it. All of this is out of my hands.

As for other movies, Dimitri has a script/ story for a movie that only has a handful of characters. I'm also sitting on five scripts, and I've been asked to play a role in a cowboy movie with John Doe (X) and Mike Watt (Minutemen, Firehose) and other guys from bands, along with one of my friend's ex-wife and daughter. I'll be playing a quick draw gunslinger and actually have to ride a horse. . . OUCH!

Dimitri and I have been approached to play characters in a movie based on a book, 'Flash And Filagree' by Terry Southern who wrote some other incredible books including 'The Magic Christian', 'Candy', and screenplays for 'Dr. Strangelove', 'Easy Rider' and 'The Loved One'.

I'm also going to scout locations for another movie based on everything in the beginning of 'My Damage', which is my autobiography written with my friend, Jim Ruland who is responsible for 'Corporate Rock Sucks: The Rise And Fall Of SST Records' and 'Do What You Want: The Story Of Bad Religion'.

The band's last visit was in 2013 on what would turn out to be the second-last Big Day Out. Any fond memories? Do you have any plans to make up for lost time?
Well, the Big Day Out was a great experience everyday because OFF! was sandwiched in between Jeff The Brotherhood – who played before us and had Jamin Orrall, who also played in Be Your Own Pet – and the awesome Alabama Shakes.

This touring festival occurred during one of the worst heat waves in Australia's history. Usually when you look at a coloured weather map, you'll see orange and red, but we were past brick-red and into some purple! IT WAS F...... HOT!

No plans for making up for a couple of years that pretty much disappeared and will not be making a special comeback. That's just the way it is. You lose something and it's not going to magically show up out of thin air. Poof! We're just going out there and play shows anywhere that'll let us make our noise and be happy about it.

Keith, I hear you're a fan of conspiracy theories. How do you feel about the conspiracy that Australia isn't real?
Our newest recording's lyrics are based on conspiracy theories – some of which have been proven true, and then there's the others that are giant question marks.

As for this one you've brought up in regards to Australia's nonexistence (which I've never read or heard of) I guess we'll consider it 'Fantasy Island' where all our dreams can become reality. . .

OFF! 2024 Tour Dates

Wed 10 Jan - Rosemount Hotel (Perth)
Fri 12 Jan - The Gov (Adelaide)
Sat 13 Jan - Republic Bar (Hobart)
Sun 14 Jan - The Corner Hotel (Melbourne)
Wed 17 Jan - The Basement (Canberra)
Fri 19 Jan - Metro Theatre (Sydney)
Sat 20 Jan - The Princess Theatre (Brisbane)
Sun 21 Jan - Vinnie's Dive Bar (Gold Coast)

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