Everybody knows who Black Flag are right? For most of you it will be due to their music or Henry Rollins’ spoken word shows/books/massive neck. Unfortunately they have come to prominence for a lot of people because of little twats wearing their t-shirts. ‘The Ramones one is too commercial and soooo ten years ago , but I’ve heard Black Flag were bigger punk rockers and even more obscure and outspoken, I’ll show everyone how I too don’t give a shit by wearing this t-shirt.’ Dickheads.
Anyway I saw the other day on Twitter that Black Flag were getting back together and doing some reunion shows. Without looking too much into it, I pretty much dismissed it straight away, as I have done with nearly all punk rock reunion shows. Seeing bands get back together for a ‘final’ string of shows and earn some much-needed cash is becoming more frequent these days. However it seems the more it happens, the less of a toss people give. Including me.
But when I dug a little deeper I was kind of surprised and pleased to see that Black Flag’s founder and principal songwriter Greg Ginn was actually working on a new album of fresh material. Also involved was former singer Ron Reyes and Gregory Moore, a drummer in one of Ginn’s other bands Gone.
Then I found out that other previous members including original singer Keith Morris, original bassist Chuck Dukowski, former drummer Bill Stevenson, and Stephen Egerton – who was the guitarist in The Descendents – were also going to be part of a reunion, playing classics under the name ‘Flag’.
So now we have two bands, both reuniting as Black Flag but not at the same time or with each other. Confusing. And Henry Rollins isn’t even involved.
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Ginn has remained incredibly active with music throughout his life, continually creating and producing music well into his fifties. He even recently started a new band with skateboarder and musician Mike Vallely. So why the need to ‘reunite’ Black Flag featuring their third most notable singer and a new drummer? If he has the urge to create some new punk rock songs then that’s great. I look up to someone who continues to feel the need to express their thoughts, emotions and anguish at nearly 60 years old. But why under the Black Flag name? To relive the old days? To reignite the old passion? Or to gain more exposure?
Then we have Flag. Why are they getting together? To also reminisce, hang out with old friends again, play the songs that made a difference to so many people and continue to feel the same way as a disgruntled youth? I sincerely hope so and am resisting any mention of the word money. However when those songs were first created and released, they actually meant something. That’s why the whole movement worked and became so influential. The DIY attitude of recording songs and putting on shows, being independent from the crowd and resisting anything that got in the way. I’m sure the band members and fans alike can still relate to those ideologies in some way, but I have a feeling it will be a large dose of nostalgia and not much substance. Well there might be some substances going round somewhere, but that’s different. Keith Morris said he did elephant tranquillisers when he was younger. Elephant tranquilisers?! At first I thought this was actually something to knock out a goddamn elephant, but after looking it up it seems as thought this is slang for a mystery drug tested out on unfortunate or possibly fortunate volunteers.
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I remember going to see Bad Brains when their album Build A Nation came out in 2007 and they love the chronic, but that’s irrelevant. They are one of my favourite ever bands – I mean who doesn’t love four Rastafarians playing a bit of punk rock? Except on Sundays. I love I Jah and all that. For only reggae should be played on the day of Sabbath according to those dudes. However, when I got there, it was like watching a cover band. They played some of my favourite songs and it was great to see them live, but it wasn’t as fast, loud or engaging as I hoped. Fair enough they are older guys now and HR has had his fair share of problems but still, it was a strange experience and was as close to ‘never meet your heroes’ as I got. Although I met Ian Mackaye once and that was awesome, so maybe that phrase is bullshit.
Anyway I’m sure both bands will succeed with what they do this year and the fact they still love the music and want to perform is commendable. Young and old will attend to hear several seminal classics being played live by punk gods who still have the heart and desire to play the songs which shaped their lives so significantly and left so many incredible memories. But maybe that’s what they should be remembered as. Memories. Left untarnished for everyone to be influenced by. I don’t think a reunion blast from the past show 30 years after the band gained such notoriety is going to have much impact somehow. But maybe I’m just thinking about it too much and should let everyone enjoy themselves. Why shouldn’t they?
Expect more Black Flag t-shirts on the streets soon though; they’ll probably sell shit loads.
Here’s a video taken from a recent Black Flag reunion show, it’s the version with Keith Morris singing:
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