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Black Flag is an American punk rock band formed in 1976 in Hermosa Beach, California. Initially called Panic, the band was established by Greg Ginn, the guitarist, primary songwriter, and sole continuous member through multiple personnel changes in the band. They are widely considered to be one of the first hardcore punk bands, as well as one of the pioneers of post-hardcore. After breaking up in 1986, Black Flag reunited in 2003 and again in 2013. The second reunion lasted well over a year, during which they released their first studio album in over two decades, What The… (2013). The band announced their third reunion in January 2019. Brandon Pertzborn was replaced by Isaias Gil on drums and Tyler Smith was replaced by Joseph Noval on bass.
Black Flag's sound mixed the raw simplicity of the Ramones with atonal guitar solos and, in later years, frequent tempo shifts. The lyrics were written mostly by Ginn, and like other punk bands of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Black Flag voiced an anti-authoritarian and nonconformist message, in songs punctuated with descriptions of social isolation, neurosis, poverty, and paranoia. These themes were explored further when Henry Rollins joined the band as lead singer in 1981. Most of the band's material was released on Ginn's independent record label SST Records.
Over the course of the 1980s, Black Flag's sound, as well as their notoriety, evolved in ways that both embraced and alienated much of their early audience. 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. Along with being among the earliest punk rock groups to incorporate elements and the influence of heavy metal melodies and rhythm, there were often overt freestyles, free jazz, breakbeat and contemporary classical elements in their sound, especially in Ginn's guitar playing, and the band interspersed records and performances with instrumentals throughout their career. They also played longer, slower, and more complex songs at a time when other bands in their milieu performed a raw, fast, three-chord format. As a result, their extensive discography is more stylistically varied than many of their punk rock contemporaries.
Black Flag has been well-respected within the punk subculture, primarily for their tireless promotion of an autonomous DIY punk ethic and aesthetic. They are often regarded as pioneers in the movement of underground do-it-yourself record labels that flourished among 1980s punk rock bands. Through constant touring throughout the United States and Canada, and occasionally Europe, Black Flag established a dedicated cult following.
On January 25, 2013, it was announced that guitarist Greg Ginn and vocalist Ron Reyes would reform Black Flag, joined by Gregory Moore on drums, and 'Dale Nixon' on bass (Dale Nixon is a pseudonym sometimes used by Ginn, most prominently as the bassist on My War). The band would tour as well as release a new album, their first since 1985's In My Head. In March, it was announced that Screeching Weasel bassist Dave Klein had joined the band. On May 2, 2013, the band released a new song entitled "Down in the Dirt" through their website. After releasing two more singles ("The Chase" and "Wallow in Despair"), What The... was released on December 3, and was poorly received by critics and fans.
Around the same time, it was announced that the lineup that played at GV 30, Morris, Dukowski, Stevenson and Egerton, would tour performing Black Flag songs, under the name Flag. It was later announced that the lineup would be joined by Dez Cadena.
On August 2, 2013, SST Records and Greg Ginn brought a trademark infringement action in Los Angeles federal court against Morris, Dukowski, Stevenson, Cadena, and Egerton, with regard to their use of the name Black Flag and the Black Flag logo on the 2013 Flag tour. In the same action, SST and Ginn also sued Henry Rollins and Keith Morris to oppose and cancel the trademark applications filed in September 2012 by Rollins and Morris. SST and Ginn alleged that Rollins and Morris lied to the Patent and Trademark Office on their trademark applications regarding claimed use of the Black Flag name and logo by Rollins and Morris on records, T-shirts, and with regard to live performances.
In October 2013, a federal judge denied the motion for a preliminary injunction, brought by Ginn and SST against Morris, Dukowski, Stevenson, Cadena, and Egerton. The court ruled that it was possible that the logo had fallen into "generic use," but did not rule specifically that it had done so. The court also ruled that Ginn and SST could not prevent the use of the band name "Flag," as it was likely that fans would know the difference between the two acts, because of widespread publicity.
During a show in November 2013 on Black Flag's Australian tour, pro skater and band manager Mike Vallely, who previously sang with the band in 2003, came on stage, took Reyes' microphone, ousted him from Black Flag and sang the band's last two songs, Reyes said he was relieved to be removed from the band citing difficulties working with Ginn. In January 2014, Vallely was named the band's new lead singer. Vallely apologized for the band's antics in 2013 and revealed that the band had begun working on material for a new album with a tour to tentatively begin in May. Shortly after the announcement, Dave Klein announced he too was leaving the band. In 2014, Ginn filled out the line up with adding new members Tyler Smith on bass, and Brandon Pertzborn on drums.
On January 28, 2019, it was announced that Black Flag will play their first show in five years at the Sabroso Craft Beer, Taco & Music Festival in Dana Point, California on April 7. The show will be the start of a U.S. tour. The band's first U.K. tour in 35 years will follow in October. The new lineup consists of Greg Ginn on guitar, Mike Vallely on vocals, Tyler Smith on bass, and Isaias Gil on drums.
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