Punk gods return to their roots.
Photos from Riot Fest Chicago by Scott Murry
When Black Flag comes up in conversation, you’re getting into more than just a band: they’re an institution that’s defined punk rock for over 30 years. This legendary family tree branches out with the Descendents, the Misfits, ALL, the Circle Jerks, and OFF to name just a few. FLAG brings these Black Flag legends together. Keith Morris, Bill Stevenson, Dez Cadena, Chuck Dukowski and new inductee Stephen Egerton deliver the classics as an unflinching rabid assault.
Fresh off their Riot Fest Chicago performance, the Dig spoke with Stevenson, Egerton, and Dukowski about their multi-generation reach and their power to make people lose their shit.
The crew has a history of getting in the van and causing havoc, playing venues that span from small lodges to festival settings with legions of fans. “They all have their merit,” said Stevenson. “The idea of us playing to crowds of five- to ten-thousand makes it exciting to know that that many people have been affected by your work, but I like the small, sweaty shows too.
Though already beloved, their base continues to grow as younger fans discover them. “There used to be an exclusionary attitude to never trust anyone over 30,” said Dukowski. “I like that anyone can get into it the music now.”
“That ‘Don’t Trust anyone over 30′ thing doesn’t work,” added Stevenson. “I’m 50! You gotta keep pushing back the age.”
“Yeah, you should trust a 50 year old,” Egerton concluded.
FLAG are a trustworthy bunch playing for all the right reasons. “Keith is my oldest friend, I’ve known him since I was eight or nine,” said Stevenson. “If we’re to make an album with this new group, it would have to come naturally. We knew this would be fun, we knew there would be a new band chemistry, but as far as writing new material, we haven’t gotten to that yet.
That’s what’s so bitchin’ about doing this:
there’s no agenda.
We’re just enjoying doing this together.”
Long-time listener, first-time FLAGer, Egerton falls into the fan category as far as the Black Flag logo is concerned. He rolled up his jeans to show his calf: “I’ve had my bars a long time. I come at it from a different angle, not originally being in the band. I was one of those deepest fans, and felt compelled to carry that with me.”
The punk scene has gone through a lot of changes through the years. So what does “punk” mean to them in modern day? “I associate it with being an outsider, socially, and finding ways to walk down the street and hold my head proud, even if I don’t fit into the normal culture,” said Stevenson. “So whether that’s a blue mohawk, nine-foot long dreadlocks, Sex Pistols or some hippie jam, all of those things are punk rock to me.
It’s about finding your own way.
Not following the norm, but doing what you feel you have to do.”
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