As the original singer in Black Flag (a post later occupied by Henry Rollins), Circle Jerks’ vocalist Keith Morris can lay claim to being an American punk pioneer.
Morris’s next band was an equally influential, and arguably even more noxious presence on the hardcore scene – the punk offshoot that valued speed and ferocity over anything else. While there were faster, angrier and more frantic bands in the L.A. punk scene of the early 80s, none could fuse politics and fun as well as the Circle Jerks.
Named after a nasty frat-house initiation rite, the band formed in 1980 when Morris teamed up with former Redd Kross guitarist Greg Hetson, Roger Rogerson on bass, and ‘Lucky’ Lehrer on drums. The quartet quickly earned a reputation as beer-swilling wild men who helped define the party punk scene of the time.
By turns brattish, brutal and funny, the bands’ 1980 debut album Group Sex contained 14 songs and buzzed by in as many minutes (the songs ranged in length from 1:35 to a mere 27 seconds), powered by some ‘special school’ drumming, and skirting suburban teen ennui, the Military-Industrial complex and a snotty contempt for the middle-class and middle-aged.
Like The Ramones running down a very steep hill . . .
Roger Rogerson (Dowding)