BLACK FLAG LINE UP 2015
Veteran Pro Skateboarder, Company Owner, Mike Vallely, Lead Vocalist
Legendary SST, Black Flag Founder Greg Ginn Lead Guitar, Vocals
Maty’s Corner #33
I Was Wasted and Became Damaged!
Starting in 1976 Hermosa Beach, CA was Black Flag. That’s right; the most influential hard core band predates most punk. Though from 76 to late 78 they were known as Panic. This amazing unit has burned through more people than an urban wild fire and their influence on both punk rock and skate boarding has had the same effect and intensity. Their ranks have included some of the South Bay scene’s heaviest hitters, including the Descendent’s Bill Stevenson on drums for five years. So drop in and learn or review a thing or two about these guys.
Black Flag’s first releases are best summed up by The First 4 Years comp. This came out in 1983 and collects all the tracks for Nervous Breakdown, Jealous Again, and Six Pack) arguably the best EPs by any band ever). This covers the first three vocalists. That was Keith Morris who would go on to front Circle Jerks and OFF! Chavo who would return and professionally wound this band a few decades later. And Dez Cadena who would move to guitar for some of the band’s best material.
1981 gave us Black Flag’s first full album. This was the beginning of the Rollins era. One of the most power house front men in punk and most of rock. This is opens with Rise Above which is a song that has a life of its own. Off of this we also got Six Pack and T.V. Party. This is one of the most influential albums in music itself.
1984 gave us My War. Instead of trying to re-create Damaged, they chose to evolve creatively. This was much to the chagrin of many punks. It’s part hard core album, part doom metal. I don’t care what anyone says, it’s fucking amazing. This album was influential for many sludge artists, such as Long Beach’s Dystopia, check ‘em out if you want some heavy sounding shit.
1984 gave us the strangest album, Family Man. It’s part amazing spoken word by Rollins and part weird instrumental stuff. It has one of the creepiest Ray Pettibon (Black Flag’s artist, Ginn’s younger brother and founding bassist) artwork. I’ll admit he Greg Ginn instrumentals on this album seemed a bit self indulgent, but it’s still a pretty cool album.
1984 (yes they managed to record and release 3 albums in a year) brought us Slip It In. It opens with the gnarly sex song title track. The other stand out is an all time favorite of mine, Black Coffee. This went back to what Black Flag was doing on My War. Which was a good thing after the avante whatever on Family Man.
1985 brought out Loose Nut. The best track off of this was Annihilate This Week. This album saw further experimentation of the Black Flag sound and Rollins continuing to deliver everything the only way he can, amazing. There are a couple other great tracks off of this. Despite all the complaints, I give the band props for never trying to re-create an older album.
1985 also busted out with what would be their final album for 28 years, In My Head. Notable tracks off of this are Drinking and Driving and Retired at 21. This had a few more straight up songs than some of the previous albums. Still as good as anything Black Flag had been putting out.
2013 Black Flag had returned with a new album that I have no kind words for. Chavo was back on vocals and the delivery was an absolute abortion. What The.. is an apt title for this thing. Chavo was so bad that then manager Mike Vallely shit canned him mid show on the tour and took the mic to finish the tour out. So now skate boarding’s bad ass of Mike V is the voice of Black Flag. I am hopeful for the next album and subsequent tour. So Check out those other Black Flag releases if you’ve not given them a chance before. And don’t let Greg Ginn’s legal drama cloud how awesome this band is.
Let It Burn marked Greg Ginn’s third solo release in less than a year, following an extended period away from the spotlight to run his SST, Cruz, and New Alliance labels. (Only figures like Frank Zappa approach such prolific drive.) As is true of his other solo albums (Getting Even, Dick), the emphasis is on raw, angular noise that sneaks up and steps on your expectations. Ginn’s songwriting remains preoccupied with personal freedom and the ways people betray each other. A resigned misanthropy hangs over tracks like “Drifting Away” (“If you want the truth, you’ll have to wait for that”), and “I Don’t Want It” (“I can’t stand the waiting anymore/I need you like a hole in the head”). “On a Roll” fires off an edgy declaration of intent, while the guitars sputter and snarl underneath the rhythm (“I don’t wanna think I’m wasting away”). There’s no love or escapism here. Ginn naturally vents his paint-peeling instrumental side. “Lame Hollywood Cop” is punked-out hip-hop driven by shuddering guitars and ferociously slapped bass. Ginn plays with a similarly percussive slant on “Military Destroys Mind/Body.” “Exiled From Lame Street,” on the other hand, effectively flicks between low rider-style funk and a stoner’s crawl to make its mournful point — with plenty of squawking leads to match. On the minus side, this album’s not as distinctive as other Ginn offerings. A nagging sameness dogs the arrangements — “Lame” pops up in three titles — and Ginn’s vocals are workmanlike at best (when you can hear them). Students of the rapid-fire, dirty-bottomed guitar chunk that characterized his Black Flag days will probably appreciate Let It Burn most; otherwise, stick with Getting Even.
Unquestionably the most influential guitarist to emerge from the late-’70s/early-’80s U.S. hardcore/punk movement was Black Flag’s Greg Ginn. Never afraid to incorporate other musical styles into his playing (namely jazz fusion and Black Sabbathy heavy metal), as well as squealing feedback from his amplifier, Ginn’s guitar also served as a major ingredient to the Black Flag sound as he was the only original member to remain in the group from its formation until its demise. Influenced equally by the Grateful Dead and the Stooges, Ginn formed Black Flag in 1977, but the group didn’t really start to make a name for itself until Ginn set up shop in Hermosa Beach, California in early 1979, where he began running an electronics supply business. It was during this time that the phrase “SST” was coined (an abbreviation for Solid State Transmitter), which would eventually be used for the name of Black Flag’s record label. Although members came and went at a steady rate (including singers Keith Morris, Ron Reyes, and Dez Cadena), Black Flag prevailed, building a large and loyal following on the strength of their explosive live show, EPs/singles (including such classics as Nervous Breakdown and Jealous Again), and an appearance in the cult classic L.A. punk documentary The Decline of Western Civilization. Ginn also began to favor a Plexiglas “Dan Armstrong” guitar, which would soon become a trademark of sorts for both him and the band (despite eventually becoming covered with black tape).
Black Flag began to make a nationwide impact when big-time Flag fan Henry Rollins signed on as the group’s fourth vocalist, which resulted in the group’s first-ever full-length album, 1981’s Damaged, considered by many as one of the greatest hardcore albums of all time. Although legal red tape would keep Black Flag from issuing a follow-up as quickly as they would have liked (which included Ginn being sent to jail for five days), the band returned more ferocious then ever, with such releases as My War and In My Head, among others. Black Flag also managed to issue a completely instrumental release, Process of Weeding Out, which inspired Ginn to launch his own instrumental project, Gone, resulting in a pair of releases around this time as well, Let’s Get Real, Real Gone for a Change, and Gone II: But Never Too Gone. Additionally, Ginn launched another side project around this time, October Faction, which included contributions from many other SST artists. Black Flag broke up after a final U.S. tour in 1986, and while many assumed that Ginn would simply play with Gone full-time, he decided to focus on record company work, forming an all-new label, Cruz, while running the Minutemen’s former label, New Alliance, as well as SST.
The early ’90s saw Ginn return from his exile as he began issuing solo albums, including such titles as Getting Even, Payday, Dick, and Let It Burn, as well as surprisingly relaunching Gone. Ginn has also performed alongside other acts (Mojack, Hor, Killer Tweaker Bees, etc.), briefly operated a coffeehouse, The Idea Room, and has been known to appear under an alias, Poindexter Stewart, on his own radio program, Screw Radio. In 2003, Ginn put together a new version of Black Flag (he and Cadena were the only recognizable names) to perform benefit shows for several different cat rescues. Ginn moved to Taylor, Texas in 2004 and created a new instrumental band called the Texas Corrugators; he played everything but drums, which were handled by Steve DeLollis.
They recorded two albums, Bent Edge in 2007 and Goof Off Experts in 2008. (Live outings included different personnel, with Ginn on bass and guitar, with guitarist Gary Piazza and New Monsoon’s Sean Hutchinson on drums.) Ginn describes their live sets as being 100-percent live improvisation incorporating rock, jazz, Latin, psychedelia, and country. In 2010 he changed the name of the band to the Taylor Texas Corrugators and released the album Legends of Williamson County on SST. Meanwhile, he continued to release experimental albums under his own name, including 2011’s We Are Amused and 2013’s.
Album: VinylTitle: Greg Ginn – Let It Burn (Because I Don’t Live There Anymore)
Label: Cruz RecordsYear: 1994
|A1||On A Roll||2:33|
|A2||Taking The Other Side||2:31|
|A3||Lame Hollywood Cop||3:50|
|A5||In Your Face Motherfucker||2:55|
|A6||Hey, Stupid Face||2:46|
|B1||Let It Burn||3:07|
|B3||Military Destroys Mind/Body||1:47|
|B4||I Don’t Want It||3:28|
|B5||Destroy My Mind||3:29|
|B6||Exiled From Lame Street||3:22|
Recorded and mastered at Casa Destroy Studios, Long Beach, CA.
Greg Ginn And SST History In The Making
Born in Tucson, Arizona. Greg Ginn was an American guitarist, songwriter, and singer and business owner. He is best known for being the leader of and primary songwriter for the hardcore punk band Black Flag, which he founded and led from 1976 to 1986, and again in 2003. The band announced another reunion on January 25, 2013.
Since breaking up Black Flag, Ginn has recorded a few solo albums, and has performed with the bands HOR, Fastgato, October Faction, Gone, Killer Tweeker Bees, Confront James, EL BAD, Mojack, The Texas Corrugators, Jambang, Mexican Lions, and he also played bass with Tom Troccoli’s Dog. He also owns the Texas-based independent record label, SST, originally begun as an electronics company called Solid State Transmitters when he was a teenager in Hermosa Beach, California.
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Maty’s Corner #12
Keith Burned a Black Flag, Got a Midget Handjob, Won The Circle Jerk and Got OFF!
This well known voice of our scene came screaming in 1976 as a co-founder of Black Flag. Before all this though, he had gone to high school with Greg Ginn and Raymond (Pettibon) Ginn. Also worked in his dad’s bait shop with Bill Stevenson of Black Flag and ALL. In ’76 Black Flag was known as Panic, thankfully that changed. Keith’s time in Black Flag was short lived but did garner the seminal Nervous Breakdown Ep. In ’79 he split off citing creative differences and his intense use of stimulating drugs.
From here he formed the Circle Jerks with Red Kross members Greg Hetson and Lucky Leher. This original line up also included Roger Rogerson on bass. The first Jerks shows were where a lot of the stage dives and slam pits that are now commonplace started up. Their beginnings were at a place called The Curch which was a burned out shut down church in Hermosa Beach. This is also were Black Flag and The Descendents started out of. The Circle Jerks would go on to release 3 seminal albums. Being Group Sex (1980); Wild In the Streets (1982) and Golden Shower Of Hits (1983). Shortly after they released Wonderful (1985) and VI (1987). They weren’t as great, but pretty good. Then they released their absolute abortion known as Oddities, Abnormalities and Curiosities. In all fairness I feel the same way about Black Flags most recent offering. Outside of their releases, the Jerks were in Decline of Western Civilization and Repo Man where they met Zander Schloss who would become a later bassist of the band. After more than 30 years the Circle Jerks are “on Hiatus” as of 2010.
In 2000 Keith had a project called Midget Handjob. They released one album named Midnight Snack at the Poodle Factory. It was a strange mix of jazz with really weird spoken word by Keith. I think it’s pretty cool and worth a listen.
As of 2010 Keith has been active with OFF! This band is a bit of a super group as it consists of Keith along with members of Redd Kross, Rocket From the Crypt and Burning Brides. They have released 2 albums to date with a third on the way 08 April 2014. These guys are a hard core kick in the teeth like the Jerks old days. Definitely worth getting to know if you haven’t already done so.
Outside of OFF, Keith has teamed with some prior members of Black Flag to form Flag. This presently is a strictly touring unit that plays old Black Flag songs. I don’t know that they’ll ever record as they do not currently illustrate any intention of doing so. Flag spent most of last year in some strange legal conflict with Greg Ginn. That issue is currently dead in the water. So to those who read this not knowing about this unstoppable scream of the scene, get to know the recordings and turn others on to this favorite of mine.
Ron Reyes the former/new/now former Black Flag singer revealed he’s been booted out of the long standing iconic hardcore band Black Flag. Reyes tells reporters, the ousting happened on November 24 while the band was performing a gig in Australia. Mike Vallely, the professional skateboarder who fronted a short-lived Black Flag reunion in 2003, reportedly walked onstage, snatched the microphone away from Reyes, and ordered him off the stage.
Reyes’ departure from Black Flag ended in Australia, but anybody who has followed Mike Vallley’s career knows it was destiny calling. Mike has been caught on tape in many fights over his legendary skateboard career and is known to be hard as nails against any opposition. So what a perfect job for the then Black Flag manager to hand Reyes his walking papers.
Reyes shared through a Facebook post, explaining that Vallely, who is also a professional skateboarder, walked onstage, grabbed the microphone from him, and sang the rest of the set himself. “I would not be surprised if Mike V becomes the new singer for Black Flag,” Reyes wrote in November. “It is my opinion that they have been planning this for some time.”
Reyes flew home and posted to Facebook almost immediately.
You can read his entire Facebook post below:
“On November 24th 2013 the last night of the Australian Hits and Pits tour with two songs left in the set Mike V comes on stage stares me down, takes my mic and says “You’re done, party’s over get off it’s over…” He said something else to me but it was a lie so I won’t repeat it here. So with a sense of great relief that it was finally over I left the stage and walked to the hotel room. They finished the set with Mike V on vocals. There is much more that can and perhaps should be said. But for now I will spare you the gory details. The writing was on the wall since before we played our first show. So many things went wrong from the start. I was into things like having a good drummer, rehearsing and spending time on things like beginnings and endings of songs, being a little less distracted with tour life and a little more on the ball. You know things that would make our efforts worthy of the name Black Flag… Yes it is my opinion that we fell very short indeed and the diminishing ticket sales and crowds are a testament to that. However It was made clear to me that raising these issues was tantamount to a blasphemous stab in the back to Greg. How could I question him, his efforts and hard work? How could I dare be a fan of OFF! And or be friends and a fan of Flag? I was told that I had to choose sides. But I refuse to treat someone like an infallible Pope figure. No guitarist deserves such unquestioning blind devotion. And so I have been excommunicated in a very strange fashion. I truly feel sorry for anyone who had to witness the infantile behavior and the relentless provocation I was subjected to both on and off the stage. I regret that under such fierce provocation and taunting I sometimes responded in manners bellow my standard. I am grateful for the opportunities Greg gave me. There were some magical moments at first. I was naive enough to believe in the promise of potential. But in the end the good was no match for the overwhelming bad. It am proud of my contributions including the new album and its cover. Come on folks it’s only rock n roll. I would not be surprised if Mike V becomes the new singer for Black Flag. It is my opinion that they have been planning this for some time. I wish them well. Mike is a true disciple of Greg and so they have a good working relationship. And ironically the tension over the last weeks has brought out some of Greg’s best playing. So it could be interesting. I will miss playing with Dave Klein. He is a great kid and truly an outstanding bass player. Dave was an anchor that kept me from losing my place on a nightly basis. Trust me that was no easy task for either of us. I truly apologize for being in or more accurately “appearing” to be in competition with “Flag”. They know my heart on this matter. From the beginning I was happy for them and fully supported and understood why they would want to rock those songs and have a good time with friends and family. Yes I questioned their use of the name and logo but in no way questioned their motivation or right to do their thing. I envy them for they have succeeded in ways that were never possible with “Black Flag”. And once again for the record, I agreed to do Black Flag before I knew there was a Flag. I mean no malice towards Greg or Mike although they will most likely see things very differently. I wish them luck and prosperity. I have learned many valuable lessons this year. And these lessons will enrich my personal and musical endeavors. Cheers. Ron Reyes.”
Vallely denies that the personnel change was planned ahead of the Australian gig. Vallely claims that Reyes — who originally handled vocals for Black Flag on 1980’s Jealous Again EP — became “disgruntled” and “combative” throughout the tour, noting that he and Greg Ginn, the only consistent member of Black Flag, had different opinions about the group’s future.
“We feel that, generally, the band fell short in 2013 because of a difference in the philosophies of Ron and Greg — it just led to dysfunction,” says Vallely who previously fronted a short-lived Black Flag reunion in 2003 and teamed up with Ginn last year for a project called Good for You. “Greg just felt like, ‘I don’t want the Black Flag name to fizzle out with this or be tainted with this record that’s proven to be sub-par compared to what the expectations for it were.'” Vallely explained further, saying, “He told me he made a mistake by working with Ron and trying to pander to a sort of old-school thing. He just thought that I was the guy for the job… I’m not gonna say no to that.”
According to the new/old Black Flag singer, Reyes was more interested in playing the band’s classic material, while Ginn wanted to focus on writing new music. Vallely also alleges that Reyes tried to leave the group before he was fired, and insists that the only reason Reyes was given the ax onstage was because it looked as though he was going to quit in the middle of the concert.
“I did not threaten him or physically remove him from the stage,” Vallely says. “I just told him very plainly, very simply, that it was over. And he looked at me and he almost seemed relieved. Then he walked off the stage.”
Looking to the future, Black Flag are hoping to redeem their less-than-stellar 2013. “It could have been better,” Vallely admits. “Black Flag can be a stronger, more cohesive, tighter band. We want to prove that.”
The singer says that the elder punks are already working on new material, and are gearing up for a “pretty extensive” tour that is expected to begin in May. As for the reception to last year’s What The…, Vallely said, “I talked to Greg about the legacy of Black Flag” and he said, ‘I write a lot of music, and I’ll write a lot more music. I’m not gonna cry over one fucking record.'”
Guitarist Greg Ginn formed the group in 1977, two years after he graduated from UCLA with a degree in economics and founded SST Records, an affiliate of the SST company he started originally at the age of 12 yrs. old. The label quickly grew with a loaded roster of other critically acclaimed punk rock bands, including Minutemen, Hüsker Dü, Sonic Youth, and Meat Puppets.
When the bands original singer Keith Morris left Black Flag to form the “Circle Jerks,” Black Flag went through several vocalists before discovering Henry Rollins, a Washington, DC, punk kid, who gained the bands attention when he jumped onstage with the band and began slam dancing during a live song at a New York performance.
From 1984 to 1986, Black Flag released more than one LP per year, in addition to a continuous touring schedule world wide. In 1986 Ginn dissolved Black Flag and focused on his popular hardcore label SST and composed several solo releases using various guest performers in his one man band releases. He has since focused his time and attention on running SST as a leader in the hardcore label industry and his involvement in the soon to be announced, return of “Black Flag,” with a new album release full of new tracks and a tour scheduled with North America and Europe show dates, to be announced in 2013.
While it was Ginn who composed all of Black Flag’s music and the majority of its lyrics, Rollins’ career got the greatest boost from his former band’s momentum,when he formed the popular hardcore band, simply called the “Rollins Band.” The Rollins Band recorded several albums and gained a world wide following that intensified after its appearance on the 1991 Lollapalooza Tour. By the release of 2000’s Get Some, Go Again, the original Rollins Band had moved on and replaced by the members of Mother Superior, an L.A.-based trio, which provided a more straight-ahead hard-rock canvas for Rollins’ hardcore lyrics and shouted vocals. In 1998, Rollins collaborated with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Flesh-N-Bone, Flea, and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine on a remake of the 1970 Edwin Starr hit “War” for the soundtrack to , “Small Soldiers.”