Keith Morris Talks FYF Fest and the Future of FLAG

Categories: Q&A, Show Preview

Dimitri Coats
Last week, we published a segment of our interview with Keith Morris in response to Greg Ginn's lawsuit. The lawsuit talk only made up about five minutes of our 30-minute discussion. The main purpose of the interview was to discuss FLAG's presence at FYF Fest, a two day music festival in downtown Los Angeles, where FLAG will share the stage with the likes of My Bloody Valentine, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV on the Radio, The Melvins, and much more.

Check out Keith Morris' take on the early days of FYF Fest and the past, present, and future of FLAG after the jump.

See also: Keith Morris Responds to Greg Ginn's Black Flag Lawsuit: "We've Done Nothing Wrong"

Melissa Fossum
FLAG at Punk Rock Bowling

After explaining how his cell phone got turned off, Keith Morris launched right into FYF Fest talk.
The original name was the Fuck Yeah Fest. We had to change the name because when you're dealing with the LA city council, the business people of Chinatown, the LAPD, and the LA fire department, you can't go in and say 'we're doing this festival in the park and it's called the Fuck Yeah Fest.' That doesn't work, that's like going in in front of a judge and saying I'm guilty.

I hear you used to help organize the festival.
I'm the old guy in the picture. I'm the guy who says, 'why don't you get the Butthole Surfers on the bill? Why don't you have the Jesus and Mary Chain on the bill? Why don't you have the Pixies on the bill?' What's great about this year is that the majority of the bands that are playing, like all of the bigger names, are bands that I've been trying to get on the festival since I started working on the festival.

I go back about seven years. The first one that I was a part of, I was actually supposed to talk between bands-- do spoken word, tell jokes, introduce the bands, give a little bit of history about the bands. The first year that I worked with [FYF founder Sean Carlson] was at the Echo and the Echoplex in Echo Park and the rooms were so crowded that you couldn't move. First off, you had to go outside to smoke, so there were a lot of people out front on the sidewalk and in the courtyard smoking and drinking and carrying on.

There were so many people in the room that there was no way I was going to make it to the stage. I would have had to crowd surf and that wasn't going to happen because the people were facing the wrong direction. I was at the very back of the room, so I got on my hands and knees and thought, you know what, I'm going to crawl between their all of their legs to get to the stage, and that wasn't going to work either, because there was no room to move.

I went outside, I said 'I'm not going to be able to put up with any more of this, it's too much of a freak show.' As I was walking home, I noticed that Sean Carlson, who is the guy who puts it on, is drinking hard liquor out of a paper bag at a bus stop with a couple of girls. I looked at him and I said 'dude, it's your festival, you're supposed to be back there telling everybody what's going on' and telling the stage managers this and that and dealing with the people that own the venue and he was just like 'nah, I'm going to get drunk, it's too much of a clusterfuck.'

Do you still have a hand in organizing the festival?
Even though I manage a couple of bands and I've been in a few bands and I have some organizational skills, I don't do that. Like I said earlier on, I'm like the senior citizen. I'm the guy that everybody tells 'no.' I'm the guy that while I'm talking, everybody's talking to somebody else, like nobody's paying attention.

My role basically is at the beginning of rounding up the town for the festival. I'll have a list of bands that I think should play the festival. A lot of the bands that are playing this year like The Melvins, Thee Oh Sees, My Bloody Valentine, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and TV on the Radio, these were all bands that I've been in their corners and I've been rooting for them all the way through for all of these years. This is the year that my original list of bands to play actually are playing.

There's music for everybody. They punk rockers are like, they're butting heads and fighting over their territory and there's not a lot of that kind of music or hardcore music on the bill. The Melvins are on there, that will pacify some people who are into the heaviness. The fact of the matter is that I love music festivals because I love music, and I don't consider myself to be some sort of musical snob or cooler than thou or smarter than you because I'm familiar with more of these bands.

For one thing, it goes with the experience of being in a big place with a bunch of people with all of these different tribes gathering and being able to stumble upon something new. The problem that we have nowadays is everything's available to you on the little screen in front of you, so why get up and go and do something when you can stay at your desk and watch it on your computer. You fail to experience the vibe, the dirt, the smog, you fail to get out and see what's going on in the world or that little section of the world for that time of day. You don't get the vibe.

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