The Circle Jerks were an American hardcore punk band that was formed in the Los Angeles area of California in 1979. Keith Morris, the former singer and co-founder of punk band Black Flag (see January 28th 80’s Quest listing), formed the band with Red Kross guitarist Greg Hetson in Hawthorne, California. Other original members were Roger Rogerson (guitars) and Lucky Lehrer (drums). They became one of the key bands of the 80’s Southern California punk scene. This was a time when the aggressiveness and violence surrounding the music and shows of this genre were not supported by venues, and certainly not the record labels or the police. Recordings, booking and promotion of shows and albums were all done in a DIY manner.
The band recorded its first album, Group Sex, in 1980 and the following year appeared in the famed punk documentary film by director Penelope Spheeris, "The Decline of Western Civilization".
In late 1980 the band signed with Faulty Products which was a subsidiary of IRS Records (and also the label owned by the manager of English band The Police, Miles Copeland). They released their second album, Wild in the Streets. Faulty Products went under several months after the albums release and the band had to look for a new label.
They got the producer/manager of the band War, Jerry Goldstein, to sign them and record them on his own label called LAX. They released their third album, Golden Shower of Hits, in 1983 which contained a punk medley of 70’s songs from Starland Vocal Bands’ "Afternoon Delight", Paul Anka’s "You’re Having My Baby", Captain and Tenille’s "Love Will Keep Us Together" and other songs by The Association, The Carpenters and Tammy Wynette. The song "Coup D’Etat" was also released and included on the soundtrack of director Alex Cox’s underground cult hit film, "Repo Man". The band also makes a cameo appearance in the film performing "When The Shit Hits the Fan" (by this time with new members Chuck Biscuits on drums and Earl Liberty on bass). The band actually had many line-up changes, and many record label changes. They released 6 studio albums, one compilation and a live DVD.
The Circle Jerks were on hiatus from 1990 – 1993. By 1994 with the success of the band Green Day, record labels were looking to California for other punk bands. The Circle Jerks reunited and were signed to Mercury Records and began recording. Eighties pop songstress Deborah Gibson appeared on one of the tracks, a cover of The Soft Boys’ "I Wanna Destroy You". The recording became The Circle Jerks first album released in over in 8 years, Oddities, Abnormalities, and Curiosities. It also turned out to be the bands last album recorded. Four weeks into the tour for the album, the band broke up. Shortly thereafter singer Keith Morris announced he had been diagnosed with diabetes. Many punk bands held benefits to help him.
The core members: Morris, Hetson and Schloss continued to tour when not working on other projects. Hetson is also a member of the band Bad Religion, Schloss also plays bass for The Weirdos. Morris was an A&R director with V2 records until they went out of business in 2007. The original bass player, Roger Rogerson died of a drug overdose in 1996, and original drummer Lucky Lehrer lives in Southern California and sells sunglasses.
In 2010 the band went on hiatus again after Morris had a dispute with the rest of the band. Hetson wrote some songs. Morris worked with Dimitri Coats of The Burning Brides on some new songs and felt that Hetson’s songs weren’t up to par. The other members of the band weren’t feeling Coats at all, and wanted him fired. Morris disagreed. He and Coats got Steven Shane McDonald from Redd Kross and Mario Rubalcaba from Rocket From The Crypt to start a new band which they are calling OFF!
Coup D'Etat, Coup D'Etat
The government can't stop a throng
Let us through.
New comes in.
Give me a bomb.
It's a Coup D'Etat!
General Dictator gives the Law.
Get outta line,
Next neck on the block.
Armys marching through the streets.
Next run out the suffering.
A Push from the left
And a shout from the right.
All come out,
Let's do it tonight.
Take the President and His wife,
Deliver the ransom
Or we take their lives.
Trash their embassy.
They are our enemies!!!
The president just smokes cigars,
Anyone he does not like,
He shoots or puts behind bars.