By Bobbi Stark
With legends from every genre, it’s no surprise that it’s taken less than four years for punk-rockers OFF! to become an unstoppable super group.
The band features Keith Morris (Black Flag and Circle Jerks) on vocals, Dimitri Coats (Burning Brides) on guitar, Steven McDonald (Redd Kross) on bass, and Mario “Ruby Mars” Rubalcaba (Earthless, Rocket from the Crypt, Hot Snakes) on drums, and in 2010 released The First Four EPs- a ferocious set of 16 songs less than 18 minutes long- that left listeners bewildered and asking for a punk-rock resurrection. In May 2012, the California-based renegades released a brutal follow up with their full-length self-titled album, OFF! The new album flaunts 16 new songs in about 16 minutes, each track saturated with rough vocals, restless instrumentals and raw nerves.
The album bleeds authenticity which hasn’t gone unnoticed; a fact that saw the album reach number six on the New York Times list of the top 10 albums of 2012. In a recent interview with The Marquee, Coats commented on their recent recognition. “It’s crazy because it’s pretty much a list of jazz musicians, quartets and gospel singers. There’s not anything that even remotely resembles a rock band [on the list] and we’re number six,” Coats exclaimed. “I really didn’t see that coming. The energy and the reaction has been really great since we decided to start the band, we’re really lucky that we’ve touched such a strong nerve in people. It’s also great that we’ve been able to cross out of the genre we’ve been labeled in and have been able to reach a broader crowd, it’s kind of a rare and lucky thing for us,” Coats said.
The new album pioneers dusky horizons in the punk-rock world without losing touch with the feral roots of what it’s all about. Songs like “Wiped Out” and “I’ve Got News for You” are vehement, hoarse and intense enough to have come straight out of 1988. Other tracks including “Feelings are Meant to be Hurt,” and “King Kong Brigade” stray from the mold; with slower tempos, disjunctive chord progressions and dramatic dissonance.
“I think we’re starting to take the blinders off a little bit, realizing that we can turn left and right and go downhill and climb up psychedelic ladders and experiment a little more with the foundation of what we do, which isn’t going to change, but you can dress a mannequin a lot of different ways,” Coats explained. “There’s a lot of guys that we admire who take chances and in doing so, they redefine the genre that they’re in – all of our heroes are those kinds of artists. Even though what we do is looked upon as a kind of street level art, it is still art to us and we want to experiment. Songs like ‘King Kong Brigade’ was a little bit of a surprise for our listeners, but at the same time it hits that same mark – when we play it people get excited, they jump around they form circle pits and all that,” Coats said.
Like seasoned veterans, they were able to record the new album in just two days; leaving extra time to make one of the raddest music videos to be seen in decades staring Jack Black and Dave Foley. “It was a blast– hanging out with Jack Black and eating Kung Pao chicken, passing around the garlic sauce, smelling each other’s farts. Dave Foley was a lot of fun too,” Coats remembered.
Vinyl lovers can rejoice as OFF! has decided to release the latest album as a full-length on Vice Records, rather than as a series of 7 inch vinyl. “[We decided] not to torture our fans and make them put on four separate 7 inches with each side lasting like two minutes. Now you can put the full-length on and not have to sit next to the stereo. Now you can wash the dishes maybe or walk away for a second,” Coats happily admitted.
OFF! will be hitting the road in early February, starting in New Zealand with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and finishing up in the U.S. with exemplary hooligans Negative Approach. “All of this is a ploy is a play the Super Bowl someday. If Tom Petty, Aerosmith and Prince can do it, why can’t we do it?”
:: OFF! ::
:: The Marquee Theatre :: February 17 ::