Black Flag is one of the first hardcore American punk bands. The band formed in 1976 in Hermosa Beach, California. Black Flag was established by Greg Ginn, the guitarist, primary songwriter, and sole continuous member through multiple personnel changes in the band. As well as being central to the creation of hardcore punk, they were innovators in the first wave of American West Coast punk rock and are considered a key influence on punk subculture in the United States and abroad.
Mike Vallely, the new frontman for Black Flag has quite the resume. Professional skateboarder, band manager, stuntman and FHL Hockey player are some of the highlights. We jumped at the chance to talk to Mike Vallely about the band, his background and the future for this iconic band.
Tell us about the new incarnation of Black Flag...
We are a leaner, meaner, more cohesive unit. I think for the first time in a long time Black Flag will be able to just put the music first and really move the band and music forward.
Pro skateboarder to band manager to lead singer, that is an impressive resume. Give us some more back story on Mike Vallely…
The first band I ever saw play live was Black Flag, that was in 1984. That night inspired the rest of my life — My skateboarding, my music and my approach to life. I never could have imagined that thirty years later I would be the band’s vocalist. But here we are and I welcome and embrace the opportunity. This music is in my DNA.
You have seen the backstage and now are on stage, what keeps Black Flag going after all these years?
Greg Ginn’s songwriting is truly timeless. Unlike a lot of his so called contemporaries, his songs aren’t trapped in the Reagan Era. He writes about things that are relatable to the individual experience and with an energy that has kept these songs, words and music, in regular rotation and relevant all along. When you get past the labels at the heart of it, it’s just really great songwriting.
Since joining the band, what has been a few of the most memorable experiences?
I’m not one to really hang my hat on some moment — I strive to always just live in the moment that I’m in — But still, I can’t help project forward a little and say that I can’t wait to be on stage night after night, giving this music the definiteness that it deserves. I’m looking forward to those moments — enjoying them thoroughly but then letting them go. Every night is a new night, every show a new show, every audience a new audience. There can be no cruise control. People pay their money, they take their time to come out and see us — They deserve a band that is completely present in the moment.
As far as fans tattooing band names on themselves, Black Flag has to be one of the most popular. What does the band think about this? Do you find a certain integrity to have to uphold to based on the history of the band?
Black Flag’s music means a lot to people. It has been there for them and with them for parts of five decades now. That’s a heavy thing. That’s how it is for me. Black Flag’s music and everything the band represents has always mattered to me in a very real way, and so I get that and respect it as it pertains to the fans. That’s a lot to live up to but I’m looking forward to the opportunity to make good on that.
What can fans expect to witness from Black Flag at The Southgate House Revival?
We will be playing a set list from the entire Black Flag catalog, from the Nervous Breakdown EP through to In My Head. It will be a fun night with plenty of opportunities to sing along and get crazy.
What advise do you have for local bands in Cincinnati as a band?
The courageous ones will venture out and forge their own path. That is what music needs. In Cincinnati… Or anywhere.
The Southgate House Revival
Thursday June 26th
7:30 Doors / 8p Show