Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Nothing Left Inside: The Rise, Fall, and Disunion of Black Flag

Posted by on Tue, May 27, 2014 at 4:02 PM

The many faces of Greg Ginn.
  • The many facets of Greg Ginn.

It's not your imagination: Hardcore's most iconic band (and brand) spent 2013 in a not-so-cold war with itself—its suddenly reunited factions competing for the hearts of fans and its own considerable legacy. Born rabid and wasted in sleepy Hermosa Beach in 1976, put to rest weary and dour in 1986, Black Flag (after a few titillating tribute hookups here and there between its former membership) had, unbelievably, respawned. Twice.

Last month, Billboard reported that a lawsuit filed by Black Flag's notorious guitarist/founder/Svengali Greg Ginn against his former bandmates—vocalist Keith Morris, vocalist/guitarist Dez Cadena, minister of information Chuck Dukowski, and drummer Bill Stevenson—was settled out of court. The result: The four former members (along with Descendents' guitarist Stephen Egerton) could continue to tour as the band FLAG, as they had since last April—their "secret" debut was at the Redondo Beach Moose Lodge where Black Flag had played their first show in 1979.

The indelible Black Flag logo, however—the "bars," said by some to be the most-tattooed symbol of all time, designed by Ginn's brother, artist Raymond Pettibon—was determined to belong exclusively to Ginn and his label, SST, and thus to his own official reunion lineup. This Black Flag™ had been official since January of last year, when it was announced not only that they'd be headlining the UK's Hevy Fest in August, but that they'd also be putting out their seventh full-length album. Called What The..., the album's vomitous cartoon cover and completely unmemorable singles all gave the sinking, paranoid feeling of a cruel joke no one would admit to playing on you...

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