Black Flag's Mike Vallely on Former Singer: "He Doomed the Reformation From Day One"

Categories: Interview

Courtesy of SST Records

"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.

Rob Wallace

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"Ron being Ron" - I've know Ron Reyes for over 30 years and the comments made here are .... impossible to credit.

Ron has always been a gracious, thoughtful and hugely supportive person, to the extent that the massive birthday party that kicked off the whole BF reunion, was organized without his knowledge by a city and scene that simply love the man.

People and bands who wanted to show their love had to be turned away or it would still be going on.

This is a massive PR snowjob by Ginn and his new frontman.

 Interesting term, that, isn't it?


Yeah let it go Ginn...douchebag


Every time I think these guys are moving on they come out and throw me under the bus again and blame shit on me. It is indeed very laughable. Regrettable yes, but hugely entertaining none the less.

Tell me; where are the great multitudes of fans and critics of last year’s tour that can honestly say Ginn was anywhere near able to play these songs with the honor and respect they deserve on a consistent basis? Where are all the reviews that praise that opening act “Good For You” for being so vital and entertaining (in a good way). And remember if you loved Good For you then you will also love the new Black Flag. However if you were one of the great masses who were outside smoking and complaining during their set (I overheard the laughter on a nightly basis as I was out in the crowd every night) then you will be wasting your time. Lets see a significant show of hands of those who believe just how dynamic Mike Vallely is as a performer and lyricist? And how he doesn’t at all sound or pose like a cheap Rollins wanna-be… Where are all the sober people who can honestly tell you with a straight face that the drummer was worthy of the task at hand? Where are all the fans that hated it when Greg would reluctantly cut off one of his 10 minute self-indulging and ridiculously repetitive and uninspired jams on guitar or Theremin? Shall I go on?

Oh yes but it’s all Ron’s fault… And now that he is gone we will be a stronger and more cohesive “band”… I am laughing at the absurdity of them referring to me as a victim. However I guess I should be honoured that they have named their upcoming tour the “victomology” tour. After me? Awwww you shouldn't have…

Yes Mike is right about one thing. This “band” was doomed from the beginning. And yes I was the one who stood up to Greg and addressed the humongous elephants in the room. And oh boy did I receive a lashing for such abhorrent behaviour... But people trust me this NEVER EVER was a “band”. It was always Greg and Ron and a couple hired hands. In fact Greg was so insulted by “that bass player” and how he dared to have the disrespectful audacity to question the drummer’s ability… Early on when I wanted to promote Dave and drummer on our web pages Mike said no way man this is about you and Greg and those two guys will have to prove their worth.

These guys are sooooo full of hypocrisy it must hurt.

The Album Cover???? They LOVED the album cover. Of course they did BECAUSE they were the bloody art directors (do we all know what an art director is???) who not only approved that cover but directed the evolution of that particular doodle.  In fact they rejected other submissions and chose and directed that specific doddle of mine to its completion.

The singing on the album???? Mike told me over and over how he absolutely LOVED the new album and in particular my singing. Greg praised my performances during recordings and said I was the only one who could have sung those songs. He was sooooooo happy with the outcome especially the last song on the album (one of my faves as well). Mike said that record held up in the Black Flag CANON!!! Hell I’m not even that delusional. But people know this one thing. It was NEVER written to be a Black Flag Album. I wrote the lyrics before there was ever any mention of Black Flag. It was meant to be a Greg and Ron rock n roll album project. And yes I take my rock n roll very lightly with tongue in cheek. I am not an emotional tortured soul like Mike V who cries about failed relationships, knives in his face or preferring death over compromise (oh such nobility...) 

So ya wanna know why it doesn’t sound like a Black Flag album? Because it is NOT a Black Flag Album. Is that clear? It is a Dale Nixon and Ron Reyes solo project album with a last minute Raymond Pettibon logo slapped on it for better sales. The music was recorded back in the 80’s or 90’s and was cut and pasted together with protools in an embarrassing manner. There was never any band recording that stuff people it was our beloved Dale Nixon playing with himself. So Tell me does this all sound like a band? Mike says I never took being in the band serious. WHAT BAND? When I asked Greg if we could ever record as a band his response was “why the hell would I do that? I have tons of stuff recorded already…” Does this all sound like a band folks? Yet as bad at things were, night after night I went out there and ran circles around both Mike and Greg.

I never quit the band: I did make some ultimatums about increased performance and replacing the drummer but who wouldn’t!?!?! Up until the end I was willing to fight it out if Greg was willing to take care of things. But after an incident in Australia it was clear to EVERYONE that the end was near. They operate out of fear as illustrated by their relentless control and censoring of their facebook and web pages. So out of fear they preemptively fired my ass on stage. Because they were scared I may say some things to hurt their feelings….. Wah wah wah cry me a river.

Good luck guys on your EMO Victomology Tour. Will Greg be better prepared and more able to pull this off on guitar?  God let’s hope so. It was embarrassing watching him struggle night after night and resorting to weak shakes of the head and hips to distract people from his inability to be the guitar player we all knew and loved. Will the rhythm section be better? Tell me please HOW COULD IT BE ANY WORSE? And Dave was Freaking Awesome. However a rhythm section MUST be anchored by a serious drummer. Will Mike be able to hold a candle to any of the four Black Flag singers that came before him? You guys can be the judge of that. I will not be paying one red cent to support them and their lawyers. Like I said before, you can believe whoever ya want but consider the source…

Until the next batch of lies…


@reyesx6 By the way, is it really true that Ginn wrote What The... by taking decades-old recordings and Pro-Tooling them? How strange...


@reyesx6 Hi Ron, I just wanted to say that I have really liked What The... and your contributions to it. Apparently I'm in the total minority here, but I find it to be a lively, infectious, and overall enjoyable record (obvious Pro-Tooling and monotempos notwithstanding). This past year for me has been a personally transformative one marked by countless visits to the gym, during which What The... featured quite prominently. That album, particularly your gnarly singing and words, were a good source of strength and energy for working out both my muscles and my life. It has easily been my most listened-to album since its release, and I probably know all the words by heart now (or at least those that I've been able to make out by ear -- where are the lyric sheets? :3). I think everyone did a good job on it in spite of -- if not partially BECAUSE of -- whatever inner tensions were going on. Yes, even the much-maligned drummer (regardless of his live performances).

This whole situation is odd and a bit saddening, albeit morbidly interesting at the same time. I won't take sides since I lack the knowledge to make an informed judgment, but in any case, rock on all you estranged mofos! :3


@reyesx6- - Doesn't sound very emo to me Ron ?? Write some more shitty comments it won't change the fact that Greg and Mike are fucking killing it every night and you're on facebook still crying about yesteryear.


@76575646 @reyesx6  How could they NOT improve? hell maybe Greg chose to practice this time. And I tip my hat to the rhythm section. they rock just fine! If you like Mike's presentation then Good For You. Look man Im not even crying. but if these guys are spewing lies then I just wanted to respond with the parts that they have left out. Believe who you want. I was there . Were you?


@76575646 @reyesx6  How could they NOT improve over last year!?!? I predicted that they would come out strong. The drummer is killing it and that is great. I think Greg is mailing it in but that is just me I guess. And if you like Mike's presentation then Good For You.

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