Turbulent hardcore punk band Black Flag have apologised for their “subpar” 2013 reunion album What The … and disastrous tour, which culminated in the onstage firing of vocalist Ron Reyes mid-set at a Perth gig.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Mike Vallely, a pro skateboarder who spent 2013 managing Black Flag confirmed he has officially stepped into the role of the band’s frontman, its fifth overall, saying Black Flag’s mission in 2014 is to right the wrongs of the previous year. “It could have been better,” Vallely said. “[Black Flag] can be a stronger, more cohesive, tighter band. We want to prove that.”
Last year, guitarist and founding member Greg Ginn reactivated the legendary group with Ron Reyes, who was, for a few stints between 1979 -1982, one of the band’s lead singers. But the reunion did not go as planned and within a a month of releasing What The …, Black Flag fired Reyes.
Reyes took to Facebook last year, saying that his axing was the result of bad blood with guitarist Greg Ginn, faults in the new record and descried his exit as a “relief.” “Yes it is my opinion that we fell very short indeed and the diminishing ticket sales and crowds are a testament to that,” he wrote.
The problems should come as no surprise to anyone who’s followed the saga of the two competing reformations of the seminal outfit, Black Flag and FLAG, both of which feature original members. Reyes claimed those issues were the source of the tension with Ginn. “How could I question him, his efforts and hard work?” he wrote. “How could I dare be a fan of OFF! And or be friends and a fan of Flag? I was told that I had to choose sides.”
Interestingly Reyes also predicted that Vallely would likely to become his replacement, “It is my opinion that they have been planning this for some time,” he wrote. Adding, “I wish them well. Mike is a true disciple of Greg and so they have a good working relationship.”
Reyes told Rolling Stone the plan to fire Reyes wasn’t premeditated and that he intervened mid-set in Perth because he thought Reyes was going to “act out his grievances” and quit onstage. “I did not threaten him or physically remove him from the stage,” Vallely said. “I just told him very plainly, very simply, that it was over. And he looked at me and he almost seemed relieved. Then he walked off the stage.”
He said Ginn offered him the frontman spot immediately after Reyes’ dismissal. “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 subpar compared to what the expectations for it were,'” Vallely says. “He just thought that I was the guy for the job. I’m not gonna say no to that.”
He said the newly-newly-reformed Black Flag had already begun recording new material and is also planning a “pretty extensive” tour, which will likely start in May. Vallely also promised Black Flag will have more fun onstage in 2014. “There are a lot of songs like TV Party and Six Pack that are fun, fun songs,” he said. “You’re allowed to smile. It’s OK.”
He declined to comment on Black Flag’s ongoing lawsuit against against former bandmates Dez Cadena, Keith Morris, Bill Stevenson and Chuck Dukowski, who now move as FLAG, as well as former frontman Henry Rollins. Ginn sued that group in August for trademark infringement.