Let me take you back in time to April 2013. I’m on Groezrock looking forward to see an American hardcore band called FLAG play. Seeing these guys killing it on stage almost made me forget that they were already around when hardcore punk emerged in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Back then the band was called BLACK FLAG and, like me, probably most of you weren’t even born yet or still shitting your diapers. If you consider yourself a hardcore and punk fan you need to check out BLACK FLAG, that’s hardcore punk as it was meant to be.
“I’m crazy and I’m hurt, head on my shoulders, it’s going… Berserk!”
BLACK FLAG, with probably one of the most iconic hardcore logos, are hardcore pioneers from the era when hardcore wasn’t a fashion show seen on MTV and bands had to play shitty venues, sell vinyl EP’s out of the back of their vans, were the subject of cutandpaste zines, ….
BLACK FLAG was formed in 1976 by guitarist Greg Ginn but really start kicking ass under the name ‘BLACK FLAG’ in 1978.
Like most bands they had some turbulent first years and their first somehow steady line-up at the end of 1978 was with Greg Ginn (guitar), Chuck Dukowski (bass), Keith Morris (vocals) and Robo (drums).
Their line-up changed a lot over the years and some of their most famous members were Henry Rollins and Descendents drummer Bill Stevenson.
BLACK FLAG broke up in 1986, got briefly back together in 2003 but is playing again since 2013.
If you want to know more about the history of BLACK FLAG, read ‘Spray Paint the Walls: The Story of Black Flag’ by Chick Stevie.
“Jealous cowards try to control, rise above, we’re gonna rise above”
BLACK FLAG’s initial sound was raw and simple with atonal guitar solos and tempo shifts voicing an anti authoritarian and nonconformist message. They were innovators and had (and probably still have) a big influence on punk subculture in the United States and abroad. Over the years their sound evolved resulting in a discography more varied than many of their punk rock contemporaries. 2013 brought us two BLACK FLAG reunions: BLACK FLAG (with Greg Ginn, Ron Reyes, Dave Klein and Gregory Amoore) and FLAG (with Keith Morris, Chuck Dukowski, Bill Stevenson, Dez Cadena and Stephen Egerton).
I really don’t give a fuck which one is considered to be the real BLACK FLAG and which one isn’t. I can only advise you to go and see both bands play and pick up the music of the early BLACK FLAG.