Published on November 4th, 2021

Circle Jerks by Atiba Jefferson

Some bands exist to make art. Some seek political change. Some just vent. Circle Jerks, the pioneering L.A. hardcore punks, did and still do all of the above in advocating for a total abandonment of rules and societal regulations.

Guitarist Greg Hetson would never play songs like, say, “World Up my Ass,” in his other band, Bad Religion. But Circle Jerks founder and frontman Keith Morris is exactly that guy, and was from the start, bristling with outspoken views on, well, whatever. In his autobiography, “My Damage,” Morris explained himself:My vibe was to just move forward at a really cool pace.”

Morris and Hetson are joined on the band’s first tour since 2011 by a veteran rhythm section of bassist Zander Schloss (The Weirdos, Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros) and drummer Joey Castillo (The Bronx, QOTSA, Danzig, BL’AST!, Wasted Youth), making this an epic lineup of capable punk lifers. Municipal Waste and Negative Approach open the December 19 show at Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale, while Adolescents and Bouncing Souls provide backing on other dates.

All this fervor supports the newly reissued 40th anniversary edition of the album, “Group Sex,” which the band describes with name-checking exuberance: “[P]ackaging by Robert Fisher, designer of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind,’ a bonus recording of a 1980 rehearsal, a 20-page booklet including unreleased photos and anecdotes from Tony HawkMike PattonShepard Fairey, Ian MacKayeLars Frederiksen and many others.”

The official bio goes even farther: “The long list of those influenced by the legacy of the Circle Jerks ranges from Butthole Surfers to Red Hot Chili Peppers – with notable fans being Dogtown skateboarders, Chuck Berry, Alice Cooper, Elton John, Johnny Depp, Guns N’ Roses, and Philip K. Dick.”

With that kind of fandom it’s a wonder they ever went away. But the return timing is good: The world a decade later is not what it was, and hardcore punk makes more sense in a post-Trump pandemic society that can’t agree on anything. So let’s make slam dancing crucial again. Half of you will hate that and half of you won’t, and something tells me that’s totally fine with the Circle Jerks.

Circle Jerks with Municipal Waste and Negative Approach play 7pm Sunday December 19 at Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale. ~ Tim Moffatt