Circle Jerks

1979-1990,1994-1995, 2001-2010
Keith MorrisVocals1979-2010
Greg HetsonGuitar1979-2010
Roger Rogerson Bass1979–1983
Earl Liberty Bass1983–1984
Zander Schloss Bass1984–2010
Lucky LehrerDrums1979–1983
Chuck Biscuits Drums1983–1984
Keith Clark Drums1984–1995
Kevin Fitzgerald Drums2001-2010

Circle Jerks Artistfacts

  • Circle Jerks were formed in 1979, by former Black Flag vocalist, Keith Morris, Red Kross guitarist, Greg Hetson, bassist, Roger Rogerson and drummer, Lucky Lehrer. Alongside Morris' former band, Black Flag, Circle Jerks were one of the first hardcore punk groups to emerge from the pioneering LA punk scene.
  • Circle Jerks were one of the bands to feature in Penelope Spheeris' legendary documentary, The Decline of Western Civilization. The documentary, which was filmed between 1979 and 1980, focuses on the LA punk scene. Black Flag, Germs and Fear were among the other artists featured. Keith Morris told The Dumbing of America that Spheeris wanted him to reunite with Black Flag for the doc: "The film gave people in other places the chance to see/hear what was going on in LA at that time and opened doors that might have never been opened. The whole process was amazing as Penelope was not only a fan of the Circle Jerks but also a fan of Keith Morris. She asked me if she could film Black Flag with me as the vocalist and of course when I approached Greg Ginn about this he laughed in my face."
  • Circle Jerks cameo as a cheesy lounge band, playing an acoustic version of "When the Sh*t Hits the Fan" in director Alex Cox's 1984 cult classic, Repo Man.
  • Circle Jerks' first disbanded in 1990. During this initial hiatus, Greg Hetson focused on his other band, the highly successful Bad Religion, while Keith Morris fronted Midget Handjob.

    In 1995, Circle Jerks reunited, signed with the major label, Mercury Records, and released their sixth album, Oddities, Abnormalities and Curiosities. The band were criticized by many punk fans for 'selling-out' to a major label, but Keith Clark slammed the cynics, telling Billboard at the time: "This doesn't sound like a major-label album. We made an album as loud as any other we did, and it's one of the best things we've ever done." Keith Morris added to Rad Cyberzine that he was enjoying the major label experience: "They've treated us really well, the people are really friendly. They're not doing all of the work that we had hoped they would do for us, but the album has only been out for a month and a half, so it's still early. I mean we're not out there blowin' the doors out sale wise, but I hope this is one of those albums that gains momentum."

    Despite the band's optimism, Oddities, Abnormalities and Curiosities ultimately failed to propel Circle Jerks' into the alt-rock big time, leading to Mercury dropping the band and deleting the album from their catalogue.
  • Having been dropped by Mercury, Circle Jerks entered another period of inactivity. During this time, in 1999, Keith Morris was diagnosed with diabetes. Morris spoke to Mark Prindle about how he reacted to the diagnosis: "When I found out, I was really depressed. In tears. Cuz I'm scared of needles. But I've been using them now for about two years, and the needle you use is such a fine short needle that its like a pinch, it's really not that bad. So you get used to it."

    Several bands held benefit concerts for Morris, who was struggling to pay his mounting health bills. Morris told Rolling Stone: "I started mounting these ridiculous medical bills because I didn't have health insurance when all this sh*t was going on. I still don't because it's so damn expensive. But I was really lucky last year when all these great bands did a benefit on my behalf. Maynard Keenan from Tool played with A Perfect Circle, Pennywise and Fishbone also played, and there was a jazzy Circle Jerks cover band. I still owe a lot of money, but it was really reaffirming to me that people cared."
  • In 2010, Circle Jerks announced their indefinite hiatus, with Keith Morris leaving to form OFF!, a punk supergroup featuring Dimitri Coats (Burning Bridges), Steven Shane McDonald (Redd Kross) and Mario Rubalcaba (Rocket From The Crypt/Hot Snakes).

    Dimitri Coats was originally going to produce a new Circle Jerks' album, but Coats disliked the material the band were putting forward to record. Morris told Punknews.org: "Well, Dimitri Coats, who is in OFF! and is also a producer, came to me and said 'it's time for the Circle Jerks to record a new album.' We decided that we were gonna record a punk record... I mean, I was foaming at the mouth - I hadn't been this excited in 14 years. Dimitri said, 'look guys, bring your stuff to the rehearsal space,' but he was pretty much shooting down most of the new Circle Jerks material. I don't blame him, because I would have shot down most of the material myself...He wasn't mincing words and not being polite. He wasn't being the sympathetic producer."

    Morris admitted the rest of Circle Jerks did not take too well to the outspoken Coats: "Two weeks before recording time, everyone starts panicking. People start hemming and hawing and get flaky about things. They are like, 'We don't know if we want to work with Dimitri... he's not punk rock.' All of these other excuses come up like, 'He's arrogant, overbearing, egotistical.'"

    Coats was ultimately fired from his producing role. Morris consequently left Circle Jerks in protest, instead teaming up with Coats to form OFF!: "Finally, the rest of the band decides to fire Dimitri. But Dimitri and I wrote the bulk of the album. If you fire one of the guys who writes the bulk of the album, it means you might be plotting a swoop of his material. That's just not cool. Greg Hetson calls me up and says, 'I know you're gonna quit the band on the decision we're making, but we have to make it.' So, I said to Greg, 'You are 100% correct. I quit!' Well, after that, I decided that 'I started the Circle Jerks, so why do I need them? I'll start a new band!'"

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