– this post is largely a reaction to episode three of the “Henry & Heidi” podcast wherein the titular Henry (Rollins) talks through the history of Rollins Band, a welcome discussion considering how often this group is neglected
– Rollins Band is a great example of how working hard and sticking to your guns always pays off in the long run, by which I mean you can play dissonant funk metal in your boxers and if you’re honest and don’t cop out eventually they’ll put you on MTV and the Grammys and Dennis Miller’s talk show
– during this oral recap Henry does not even give passing mention to the handful of years at the tail end of Rollins Band where Mother Superior was his backing group; this must mean the two albums from that period, Get Some Go Again and Nice, are to be considered non-canon
– re-evaluating the entire RB discography, End Of Silence has my favorite textures and moods, and overall it’s one of the most solid rock albums of its era, but when the urge to hear this unit strikes me the gut reaction is to reach for Drive By Shooting b/c it’s looser, darker, more “out there” (in filmspeak: Reservoir Dogs is masterful but the slapdash of Pulp Fiction is more fun)
– interesting to learn about the heavy stuff going on circa Come In And Burn; you’d never know it from their 1997 “SNL” appearance, which belongs in the pile of that show’s legendary musical performances; first time I saw them rip through “Starve” in 8H I thought they were gonna melt the studio’s walls
– surprise: Rollins Band didn’t even want to record “Liar,” their biggest hit; it was just some goof song they did at practices until some industry person heard it and said, “That’s your next single!”
– when I saw Rollins Band in ’02 they were in a period where they weren’t playing “Liar,” which bummed me out, but they did encore with a handful of Ramones songs; if you think Rollins is intense normally you should see the guy doing “Blitzkrieg Bop” (Henry’s preamble to “BB”: “If I’m ever elected president, this will be the new national anthem”)
– trigger warning: if you listen to the podcast ep linked above, before you hear anything about Rollins Band you’re gonna hafta endure a somewhat gross story about Rollins having a hernia and not realizing it
If I’m reading the latest in the Black Flag lawsuit kerfuffle correctly, Greg Ginn and his label SST Records do not own any copyright on Black Flag or its related trademarks, Henry Rollins and Keith Morris might own some kind of copyright, Greg Ginn never quit Black Flag despite not performing with or as that band between 1986 and 2013 (save the one-off charity concert he played in 2003 with the robot bass player)*, and Henry Rollins also never quit Black Flag because he literally never said in writing or verbally “I quit.”
If this donnybrook goes to court (which “they” say is unlikely at this point) I hope it yields a diagram or chart outlining each member of Black Flag and whether or not they ever quit. Maybe everybody’s still in Black Flag! You hear that, Emil Johnson? YOU MAY ALREADY BE A MEMBER STILL.
Interesting to see the judge note “no likelihood” of consumer confusion between Black Flag and FLAG. I’m very confused whenever my friends talk about these bands because they all have a habit of calling the latter “Black Flag.” I think this stems from the fact eighty guys from Black Flag are in FLAG. Thus I am always forced to ask, “Are you talking about Black Flag featuring Greg Ginn and Ron Reyes or are you talking about FLAG, all caps, featuring Keith Morris and all those other rockin’ dude-meisters?”
Of course, consumer confusion is a moot point since Joe Law has decided Greg Ginn doesn’t own the trademarks. Kinda seems like nobody owns ’em right now. So don’t worry, guy who is currently Photoshopping the four bars logo into a handful of tampons captioned “KOTEX FLAG”—nobody from the band is gonna sue you. At least not today.
* – I am acutely aware Henry Rollins ends his Black Flag tour diary Get In The Van with an entry recounting a phone call between Ginn and himself during which Ginn quit the band; although Ginn’s never challenged this story he’s also never confirmed it as 100% truth (as far as I know). Not that I’m taking his side. Motherfucker tried to reunite Black Flag with a robot.
This question courtesy of my own nagging subconscious.
As a teenager / young adult who clung to Everything Went Black like it was the Rosetta Stone, I never imagined the powerful, no nonsense unit that called itself Black Flag would ever exist as two separate factions on the punk rock reunion circuit a la Ratt or Steppenwolf. Yet here we are, staring down a festival season where “Flag” (founding members Keith Morris and Chuck Dukowski plus drummer Bill Stevenson plus Stephen Egerton from the Descendents) will perform at a Las Vegas bowling party in May while “Black Flag” (founding guitarist Greg Ginn plus second BF singer Ron Reyes plus nobody knows yet) is set to play the U.K.’s Hevy Fest in August. The sad part is this is not the first time this has happened.
In 2002 Henry Rollins (BF singer #4) assembled the benefit album Rise Above to help raise funds for the West Memphis Three, and it was a big deal in part because several former Flaggers—Morris, Dukowski, mid-period bassist Kira Roessler—agreed to participate. Noticeably absent was Greg Ginn; It’s unclear (at least from preliminary Google searches) if Hank reached out to him for the album, but I’d be surprised if he did considering the well-documented glacier that formed between the pair following Black Flag’s 1986 disbanding. What can be confirmed is Ginn’s lack of immunity to the nostalgia bug. The guitarist also had his own charity to champion. Thus, in 2003 Greg Ginn reformed his version of Black Flag, with a robot, for a one-time concert to benefit wayward cats. It didn’t go so well.
These previous situations both benefitted worthy causes, so it was hard to be very angry at what was going on generally. Now, however, it looks like a different ball game. I don’t fault these guys for doing their separate things with the members they still get along with because, hey, we all like to have fun and get paid if we can, but as a fan it’s just the worst. I want to believe Black Flag was at some point a sacred order, the one thing upon which all its varied members could agree—let’s do the band this way or not do it all—and that maybe one day in the near future they’ll go back to this mindset. Of course, I suppose you want to believe that about every musical group you see. The hard truth is none of these people are monks and they’re all on the wrong side of fifty. So what shall be shall be.
It could be worse. The Ramones could be reforming with the Geico lizard on vocals. It’s all about perspective.
Image swiped from blackflaglogo.tumblr.com.
Dig this nutty vision: I went to see what I’m guessing was some kind of cult movie—numerous members of the audience were in costume. They all looked to be wearing Sherlock Holmes / Jack the Ripper garb. I don’t remember what the movie was, but I do know they showed a set of trailers both before and after the film. In the latter set, there was an ad for the re-release of some non-existent Dan Aykroyd movie in which the lovable comedian plays a private investigator whose twin brother accidentally turns him into E.T.
Literally: Aykroyd 1 & 2 are on top of a train going full speed, they jump off, Aykroyd 2 (who has blonde hair like Dan’s character in Neighbors) pushes Aykroyd 1, there’s some big messy ecto-plasmic explosion, and the next thing we see is E.T. in Aykroyd 1’s place. Debra Winger plays the woman who falls for E.T. Aykroyd. I remember feeling let down about this trailer in my dream, because it looked like the special effects had been updated a la the Star Wars Special Editions.
Cut to the parking lot outside the theater. I’m wandering around. Suddenly it becomes apparent that we’re at some kind of early eighties California punk hangout. A young Henry Rollins is sitting at a bench going off about the usual kind of crap he’d go off about. I focus my attention on Steve “Stevo” Jensen, the original lead singer of the Vandals. He seems a bit lost and depressed. He makes me promise him I won’t ruin the Vandals by letting them go on without him (which, in real life, they did). I’m a little weirded out, so I leave.
The last part of this dream involved a thrift shop, but I can barely remember what went on.
Some mornings, you wake up and feel fantastic. The sun in shining, the birds are chirping, your slippers are warm, and it feels great to be alive. Maybe you’ll have some orange juice. Maybe you’ll go for a walk. The possibilities are endless, you feel. You’re going to have a great day and you know it.
Other mornings, you wake up and you just want Henry Rollins to yell at you.
Today was such a morning for me. All the Folgers and blueberry muffins in the world weren’t going to get me going. I needed the big guns. I needed the unnecessarily intense, testosterone-charged bellow of the only man who owns less shirts than Iggy Pop. I’m talkin’ ’bout Rollins.
Nowadays, you got all these fancy wake-up juices and elixers. Pshaw. I remember a time when all a man needed was a splash of water, a piece of toast, and the tortured screams of Mr. Henry Garfield Rollins. Why, even the youngin’s enjoyed rising to the twisted emotions and angry venting what spewed outta ol’ Hank’s mouth.
Yessir, with the weather acting up and stocks the way they are, it was a three alarm Rollins morning today. After all that hollerin’, I feel reborn. I’m more than ready to go plow those fields, milk those cows, and verbally berate the next child or old person I see. Saints alive! Let’s do this thing called life!