Hard-core punk bands don't often say they're sorry. But L.A.'s legendary Black Flag is making amends for a pretty bad year.
The band has announced a new singer - its manager, Mike Vallely - after kicking out vocalist Ron Reyes mid-set during a show in Perth, Australia. In an interview addressing this new role, Vallely told Rolling Stone that Black Flag's founder, Greg Ginn, is well aware that the band's return has been less than hoped for.
"We feel that, generally, the band fell short in 2013 because of a difference in the philosophies of Ron and Greg – it just led to dysfunction," Vallely said. Reyes, who sang in Black Flag's early incarnation, was the vocalist behind Black Flag's "comeback" album, the poorly received but perhaps accurately titled LP "What the ... ."
"Greg just felt like, 'I don't want the Black Flag name to fizzle out with this or be tainted with this record that's proven to be sub-par compared to what the expectations for it were." Vallely also said that Ginn now regrets signing off on the combatively ugly album artwork that Reyes suggested.
Vallely has some experience in the new role of vocalist - he briefly sang for Black Flag in 2003 and led a similarly harsh Ginn side project, Good for You. In Reyes' version of events, he wrote that his dismissal has come as a "great relief" and suspected that Ginn had been planning this move for some time.
The move comes at a confusing time in Black Flag's legacy, with a second band of former members touring as Flag and playing songs from the group's catalog. Ginn sued the members of Flag for trademark infringement, though a judge recently denied Ginn a preliminary injunction that could have stopped Flag from touring and promoting itself as such.
The apology and lineup shift are a second new start for the band in just a year. Time will tell if fans still have an interest in Black Flag's return, but Vallely told the magazine it's going to try to make the tours more enjoyable for everyone: "There are a lot of songs like 'TV Party' and 'Six Pack' that are fun, fun songs. ... You're allowed to smile. It's OK."