Black Flag's Mike Vallely on Former Singer: "He Doomed the Reformation From Day One"
"It's not my imagination, there's a gun at my back." - "Revenge" from Black Flag's 1980 Jealous Again ep.
For fans and non-fans alike, there is no arguing the legacy of Black Flag. Angry, visceral, and a revolving door of singers and rhythm sections, lead guitarist Greg Ginn and the crew he's tabbed to rock with him at any given moment have always charged head first into the fray, playing whatever the hell they have wanted, and thumbing their collective noses at any type of mainstream success.
Let's just put it right out there: The last 18 months or so has not been the best era of storied Los Angeles punk legends Black Flag's history. In fact, there are probably not a lot of unknown bands out there that would have traded places with these dudes given the media and fan backlash that has recently occurred, and that says a lot. If there has been a time in recent years where there might be a feeling of desperation within the Black Flag camp, it's probably now.
If you haven't been keeping score at home, there have been lawsuits, questionable record covers, alleged public firings of band members, undeniably the weakest record of their career, misuse (and possible abuse) of a Theremin, and massive amounts mudslinging in the media that marred one of the more exciting comebacks in punk rock.
Over the past month or so, Up On The Sun has had the opportunity to catch up with the new members of Black Flag, primarily new singer, skateboard legend and longtime musician, Mike Vallely. Joining Ginn and Vallely for this incarnation of Black Flag are Texas based rhythm section, bassist Tyler Smith and drummer Brandon Pertzborn. Greg Ginn doesn't do interviews, so it was up to these three to field all of the questions, tough and otherwise. Black Flag, Hor, and Cinema Cinema will exercise some demons on this Saturday, May 17, at Pub Rock Live. If the show is half as good as their answers, it's going be killer.
Up on the Sun: Thanks for taking the time to chat, Mike. For full disclosure, I am a fan. I'm older, so I actually did get to see the band "in the day." I'm also an old skater and completely appreciate the way you ride and have put yourself out there over the years.
Mike Vallely: Very cool. Thank you.
I'm an old fan too, and I also got to see the band "back in the day" as they say. I was 14 years old and it had a very profound effect upon me and how I viewed myself and my life and it was all very much so for the better. To become the vocalist for the band almost exactly 30 years later would seem to be some crazy twist of fate, but for me it really is at this point just a natural evolution of my friendship and working relationship with Greg Ginn. The reformation of Black Flag did not go quite as planned and instead of letting it fizzle out or end on a bad note, Greg and I have decided to forge forward with strength and cohesion.