Sunday, March 18, 2012


While the glory days of punk and hardcore maybe dead or a memory of the past. In 2009 a supergroup of sorts formed with the idea and esthetics of punks prime, that band was OFF! Featuring Circle Jerks / Black Flag member Keith Morris, Burning Brides guitarist Dimitri Coats, Redd Kross bassist Steven Shane McDonald and Hot Snakes / Rocket From the Crypt drummer Mario Rubalcaba. The band quickly turned heads to those who may have thought that what was in the past would be locked away in memory for good. The band released their debut album, a compilation of their first four EP's entitled, The First Four EP's. Taking to the early days of punk and hardcore OFF! stuck to the basic DIY principles that made the genre grow and gain respect. As the band is set to release a new record this Spring and head back out on the road, we spoke with Dimitri Coats about the bands formation, acclaim and if punk is dead.

The band formed with each of you having similar ideals and backgrounds, how did the initial set up and formation go for OFF!? How did the ball get rolling?

Keith and I started writing songs for a Circle Jerks album I was producing. The whole thing crumbled and we decided the material was too good to go to waste so we started talking about who we'd wanted to form a band. Steven and Mario were the first choices and luckily they wanted in. Everything happened pretty organically and fast after that.

Do you consider yourselves a supergroup?

I consider us a group that's super. I guess we look pretty good on paper. Not a bad pedigree but ultimately it comes down to the album and the live show. The proof is in the pudding.

The past year has been a whirlwind for the band, how does everything feel?

Pretty insane. For whatever reason we've been accepted by a wide audience. At our age it's a hoot being a buzz band.

With each of you being in the music business for so long, does this feel like starting all over again?

Not really. It's more of an extension of what we've all been doing for years but it feels pretty badass to make this kind of music at this point in our lives. It's for sure a reinvention for all four of us that's somewhat unexpected.

One thing that has caught the buzz of the band again is your use of social networking and using the internet to speak to fans. Do you feel it is necessary in today’s world to do so?

Absolutely. Instead of pasting flyers all over town like the old days, you now post information online. It's a great way to get the word out. Some would argue Twitter isn't very punk but if more people find out about what we're up to and spread the word because of it then great. That's the point.

Your music has a sound of frustration and anger. When playing it – whether it is recording or performing feel therapeutic because you are releasing those emotions?

There's a physical commitment to what we're doing that you can't fake. It's intense. You have to grab the bull by the horns and go for it. The music is stripped down to the bare essentials. Less is more. There's a lot to be pissed off about. We're not interested in writing love songs. That being said, there's joy in expressing anger. You can dance to a few of our tunes.

With those high emotions, playing the songs night in and night out, is it tiring to take yourselves back to that place of pain and anger?

Not really because the fans go apeshit and have a blast when we play. It's a dark party and those who can relate are gonna have a great time. It's a high for us and for them.

You seem to be having a pure blast doing this, will OFF! stick around for while?

That's the plan. We just started writing a new album. There's a demand for it now so we might as well see how much we can get away with.

With each member of the band coming from very strong punk backgrounds and ideals, given the current state of music, how do you feel about the music industry crumbling?

I feel bad for my friends who work in the music business. A lot of them aren't landing on their feet the way they used to. As for bands, there are just so many these days. It's harder to get noticed. We had an advantage because we weren't coming out of nowhere but we worked hard at telling our story our way. DIY has been key for us and that's where the industry has headed. Labels aren't going to hold your hand and throw money around like they used to.

Your political stance is also very strong and hailing from California, did the economic downfall of the Golden State influence your writing?

It's where we live but the issues we address are more worldwide. We just got back from Europe and those kids can totally relate to the same problems and social issues. We seem to have hit a nerve with people that are fed up.

The genre of music you are playing has changed so much and you have brought it back to its raw roots, do you feel you are a wake up call to bands today because there is a ton of crap without substance around?

Punk has changed over the years. Most of it we can't relate to. It's either too commercial and watered down or too metallic with little regard to melody. We're about getting back to basics and relying on earlier influences that are more rock than punk. Keith helped invent early hardcore but he'd probably take Blue Oyster Cult over the Dead Kennedys.

Recently Anthony Kiedis has been wearing your merch and really supporting the band. Has the idea of a collaboration between OFF! and Anthony ever been discussed?

We wouldn't be surprised if they offered us a support slot at some point. Flea was in the Circle Jerks and all those dudes go way back to the LA party days. It makes sense because of the history.

Do you feel that punk is dead?

Yes but you can summon ghosts to do your bidding.