CIRCLE JERKS LOGO GOES HERE

KEITH MORRIS – VOCALS

GREG HETSON – GUITAR

ZANDER SCHLOSS – BASS

KEVIN FITZGERALD – DRUMS

TAKING THEIR NAME FROM WHAT MIGHT CHARITABLY BE DESCRIBED AS ”AN ADOLESCENT MALE BONDING RITUAL” THE CIRCLE JERKS CAME STRAIGHT OUTTA L.A.’S SURF ‘N’ ASTROTURF – SOAKED SOUTH BAY SUBURBS OF HERMOSA BEACH AND HAWTHORNE (PREVIOUSLY BEST KNOWN AS THE HOME OF THE BEACH BOYS) IN 1980.

THEY’VE SINCE BEEN: A) ASTONISHINGLY INVENTIVE — HARDCORE PUNK ALL BUT STARTS HERE; B) MAMMOTHLY INFLUENTIAL – NOT JUST THE ‘CORE CORPS, BUT A SURPRISINGLY NUMBER OF TODAY’S CHARTBUSTERS CLAIM TO HAVE LEARNED HOW TO PLAY GUITAR TO THE CIRCLE JERKS’ EARLY DISCS; C) RESOLUTELY HONEST – WRITING FROM ACTUAL EXPERIENCE AND PLAYING FROM THE HEART, ALBEIT WITH SIX TEEN TONGUES O’ SARCASM; D) ALL OF THE ABOVE.

PUNK – ROCK HISTORY 101: WHEN KEITH MORRIS EXITED SEMINAL SOUTH BAY PUNK OUTFIT BLACK FLAG – HE WAS THEIR ORIGINAL LEAD VOCALIST; HEARD ON THE 1978 “NERVOUS BREAKDOWN” EP – OVER ”PHILOSOPHICAL DIFFERENCES” (HE WAS INTO WILLIAM BLAKE, THEY WERE INTO JOHN CALVIN.), HE HOOKED UP WITH GUITARIST GREG HETSON, WHO MADE HIS FIRST RECORDED APPEARANCE ON A 1980 EP WITH THE BAND FORMERLY KNOWN AS RED CROSS.

WITH BASSIST ROGER ROGERSON AND DRUMMER LUCKY LEHRER COMPLETING THE LINE – UP, THE CIRCLE JERKS RECORDED THEIR DEBUT ALBUM – WHIPPING THROUGH 14 SONGS IN 15 MINUTES! — LATER THAT YEAR. “GROUP SEX”, ORIGINALLY ISSUED ON L.A. BASED INDIE FRONTIER RECORDS – FEATURED SUCH FUTURE CLASS – SICKS AS ”WORLD UP MY ASS”, ”BEVERLY HILLS”, AND ”I JUST WANT SOME SKANK” AS WELL AS A REPRISE OF BLACK FLAG’S ”WASTED” (MORRIS WAS THE TUNE’S ORIGINAL SINGER/CO – WRITER) AND THE TITLE TRACK, WHICH THE BAND CO – AUTHORED WITH NOW – DECEASED GUN CLUB FRONTMAN JEFFREY LEE PIERCE. ( MORRIS, INCIDENTALLY, GAVE PIERCE’S BAND THEIR NOM DE DISQUE).

AN ARCHTYPICAL SLASH ‘N’ BURN PERFORMANCE BY THIS EARLY EDITION OF THE CIRCLE JERKS WAS CAPTURED ON CELLULOID IN THE PENELOPE SPHERRIS – DIRECTED DOCUMENTARY, “THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION”. THE BAND CONTRIBUTED FOUR SONGS TO THE 1980’S FILM’S SLASH RECORDS SOUNDTRACK LP AS WELL.

A PUNISHING COVER OF AFRICAN – AMERICAN FOLK – ROCKER GARLAND JEFFRIES’ “WILD IN THE STREETS” PROVIDED THE TITLE TRACK FOR THE CIRCLE JERKS’ SECOND ALBUM, ORIGINALLY ISSUED BY FAULTY PRODUCTS IN 1982. THIS PARTICULAR TUNE ALSO APPEARED ON A TRIO OF NOW – HIGHLY COLLECTABLE (ENGLISH TRANSLATION: LONG OUT – OF – PRINT) 1981 COMPILATIONS: “RODNEY ON THE ROQ” (L.A.), “LET THEM EAT JELLYBEANS” (S.F.), AND “RAT MUSIC FOR RAT PEOPLE” (S.F.).

THE LEFT – RIGHT COMBINATION OF THIS CINEMATIC EXPOSURE AND RELENTLESS LOCAL GIGGING – THE BAND’S ”WE’LL PLAY ANYWHERE, ANYTIME” WORK ETHIC BUILT A FAN BASE AMONG SOUTH BAY AND ORANGE COUNTY SKATEBOARD KIDS, INCLUDING THE NOW – LEGENDARY DOGTOWN CREW, THAT ENABLED THEM TO HEADLINE SOLD – OUT SHOWS AT L.A.’S 5,000 SEAT OLYMPIC AUDITORIUM – QUICKLY LEAD TO INNUMERABLE NATIONAL TOURS.

THE BAND’S HYPER – ATHLETIC ONSTAGE HIJINKS – THEIR LIVE PERFORMANCES RIVALED THOSE IN THE NBA, WITH AT LEAST ONE MEMBER AIRBORNE AT ALL TIMES — PARALELLED THEIR AUDIENCE, WHICH EXPRESSED THEIR ENTHUSIASM VIA SUCH NOW TIME – HONORED TRADITIONS AS SLAM – DANCING AND MOSHING. THE SKANKING KID LOGO THAT GRAPHIC ARTIST SHAWN KERRI CREATED FOR CIRCLE JERKS BECAME ONE OF THE MOST – RECOGNIZED SYMBOLS IN PUNK – ROCK. ”NONE OF US LOOKED LIKE THAT KID”, SAYS MORRIS, BUT THAT KID LOOKED LIKE ALL THE KIDS THAT CAME TO OUR SHOWS.” THE BAND PAID A PRICE FOR THIS. MORRIS’S INJURIES ALONE INCLUDED BREAKING HIS NOSE TWICE, TORN LEG LIGAMENTS, A CRUSHED VERTEBRAE AND FRACTURED RIBS.

OVER THE YEARS, THE BAND SHARED STAGES WITH COUNTLESS CULT HEROES/FUTURE STARS, FROM MOTORHEAD, BAD BRAINS, MUDHONEY, THE GO – GO’S, MISFITS, SOCIAL DISTORTION, DEAD KENNEDYS, X, BLASTERS, JESUS LIZARD, BUTTHOLE SURFERS, MEAT PUPPETS, MINUTEMEN, FEAR, DESCENDENTS, PENNYWISE, ANGRY SAMOANS, AND THE ADOLESCENTS TO D.O.A., GERMS, WEIRDOS, THELONIOUS MONSTER, DICKIES, 999, DISCHARGE, GBH, TOURISTS, TSOL, MIDDLE CLASS, ALCATRAZZ, SPINAL TAP, SLAYER AND, OF COURSE, BAD RELIGION (WHICH GREG HETSON WOULD JOIN IN 1984, BUT WE’RE GETTING AHEAD OF OURSELVES).

ONE YEAR EARLIER, THE CIRCLE JERKS UNLEASHED ”GOLDEN SHOWER OF HITS” ON LAX/ALLEGIANCE RECORDS. ASIDE FROM THE TITLE TRACK — A PARODY OF THE THEN – POPULAR ”STARS ON 45” CONCEPT THAT CHEERFULLY COMPACTED SUCH POP HITS AS ”ALONG COMES MARY”, ”LOSE TO YOU”, ”AFTERNOON DELIGHT”, ”HAVING MY BABY” AND ”D – I – V – O – R – C – E” INTO THREE MINUTES AND 59 SECONDS – THE ALBUM SPOTLIGHTED THE ORIGINAL COMPOSITIONS ”COUP D’ ETAT” AND ”WHEN THE SHIT HITS THE FAN”.

BOTH OF THE LATTER CAN BE HEARD IN WILDLY DIFFERENT VERSIONS ON THE SAN ANDREAS/MCA SOUNDTRACK TO THE 1984 ”REPO MAN” FILM, IN WHICH THE CIRCLE JERKS HAVE A SCENE – STEALING CAMEO AS A COCKTAIL LOUNGE ACT, SPURRING ONE OF THE PUNKS IN THE AUDIENCE TO OFFER THIS ASSESSMENT: “I USED TO LIKE THESE GUYS!”.

MORRIS AND HETSON ASIDE, THE BAND WENT THROUGH A VARIETY OF LINE – UPS UNTIL ZANDER SCHLOSS — WHOSE PARTIAL RESUME EXTENDS FROM THE WEIRDOS, THELONIOUS MONSTER, JOE STRUMMER, AND THE LOW AND SWEET ORCHESTRA TO VARIOUS ACTING AND FILM SOUNDTRACK GIGS – CAME IN ON BASS AND NOW SEMI – LEGENDARY MUSIC BIZ ACCOUNTANT KEITH CLARK TOOK OVER THE DRUM STOOL.

IN 1985, THIS QUARTET RECORDED THE ”WONDERFUL” ALBUM, HIGHLIGHTED BY ”MAKING THE BOMBS”, ”MRS. JONES”, AND THE TITLE TRACK, FOR COMBAT CORE RECORDS; CONTRIBUTED ”LOVE KILLS” TO THE 1986 ”SID AND NANCY” FILM SOUNDTRACK ON MCA RECORDS; AND FOLLOWED THIS WITH ”VI”, SPORTING ”BEAT ME SENSELESS”, ”ALL WOUND UP”, AND ”CASUALTY VAMPIRES”, FOR RELATIVITY RECORDS IN 1987.

THE BAND IMPLODED IN 1991, WITH RELATIVITY’S 1992 ISSUE OF ”GIG’ FEATURING LIVE PERFORMANCES OF 19 SONGS FROM THEIR FORMIDABLE CATALOG – SERVING AS A SWAN SONG OF SORTS. MOSTLY BECAUSE THIS FEARSOME FOURSOME REGROUPED TWO YEARS LATER, CUTTING ”ODDITES, ABNORMALITIES AND CURIOSITIES” FOR MERCURY/POLYGRAM RECORDS IN 1995. RECORDED LIVE IN THE STUDIO, THIS DISC SURELY REMAINS ONE OF THE RAWEST ALBUMS EVER RELEASED ON A MAJOR LABEL. WHILE A SCORCHING COVER OF ROBYN HITCHCOCK’S SOFT BOYS – ERA COMPOSITION ”I WANNA DESTROY YOU” WITH L7’S SUZI GARDNER AND FORMER TEEN – POP TART DEBBIE GIBSON ON BACKING VOCALS, GOT MOST OF THE MEDIA ATTENTION, TRACKS SUCH AS ”TEENAGE ELECTRIC”, ”BRICK” AND THE LAIKA – INSPIRED ”DOG” ADDED WORTHY BALLS TO THE CIRCLE JERKS CANON.

THEN THE BAND SPLINTERED A SECOND TIME. SHORTLY THEREAFTER, MORRIS WOUND UP HOSPITALIZED WITH ADULT DIABETES. UPON HIS RECOVERY, THE CIRCLE JERKS REGROUPED WITH NEW DRUMMER KEVIN FITZGERALD (A VETERAN OF THE GERALDINE FIBBERS AND SHADOWLAND). IN MAY OF 2001, THEY HEADLINED A SHOW AT L.A.’S KEY CLUB THAT EVERYONE WHO WAS THERE – AND A WHOLE LOTTA PEOPLE WHO WEREN’T — IS STILL RAVING ABOUT. THEY PARLAYED THIS CRAZED ‘N’ DIFFUSED PERFORMANCE INTO SEVERAL DATES ON THE WARPED TOUR.

END OF HISTORY LESSON. AS FOR THE FUTURE? THE CIRCLE JERKS – AND THE 5,283 BANDS THEY INSPIRED – ARE STILL OUT THERE LIVING IT. PUT DOWN YOUR NO. 2 PENCILS AND PICK UP A GUITAR.