Next Thursday is Rocks Off's maiden voyage of Redux-ion, a night we created for local bands to pay homage to some of their biggest influences. Along with Young Girls trotting out Kinks songs, and HPMA threepeater Fat Tony doing his best Too $hort, The Burden will be playing their favorite Black Flag songs.
Black Flag is one of a small handful of early punk/hardcore bands that latch into the minds of young impressionable punkers and plants a flag as it were into you for the rest of your life. The Clash and the Sex Pistols are two of the others.
Black Flag had a million facets in their sound that you learn something new or find nuisances you didn't recognize in them with each year that passes. Plus with Black Flag you have so many distinct periods you can pull from to investigate, the feral pre-Henry Rollins era, and the shaggy times right before the band's implosion in 1986. We're big fans so our favorite album changes with the wind. This week it's In My Head.
We talked to Ryan Taylor, lead singer of The Burden, about the legacy of Black Flag, growing up listening to the band, and why all of us punk guys have the band's iconic black bars tattooed on our bodies.
Rocks Off: What was your first exposure to Black Flag? Ours was probably seeing "TV Party" on Headbangers Ball or something and the older kids on the school bus listening to Damaged.
RT: My introduction to Black Flag was in the 6th grade. This skate-punk kid had just moved to La Porte where I was living and made me a mixtape, an actual cassette mixtape with a bunch of bands on it like D.I., The Germs, and Black Flag. I think the song he put on it was "Nervous Breakdown." I immediately fell in love, it was dangerous, intelligent, and barbaric.
RO: Of all the era of Black Flag, different singers and styles, which era is your favorite?
RT: Man that's a tough one, and I can't pick one, so I'll just go with my two favorite albums by them: the Jealous Again EP and Slip It In.
RO: When you think of Black Flag, what memories instantly pop up?
RT: Being 13 and buying King Cobra from a Shell station that would sell to us, stealing my mom's cigarettes and my dad's spray paint and skating around writing ridiculous shit on businesses in my friends neighborhood and throwing rocks at cars. Just really being young and confused.
RO: If you could think of a dream scenario to see Black Flag, what songs would they play? What's on your dream set list?
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RT: "Revenge", "Spray Paint", "Police Story", "White Minority", "Slip It In", "Damaged I, "Padded Cell", "Room 13", "Jealous Again", "Wasted, "Nervous Breakdown", "Thirsty And Miserable", "TV Party", "My War", "Annihilate This Week", "I Love You", "Loose Nut"....
Fuck this question, I know I'm leaving a lot out!
RO: Almost every tattooed guy I know has a Black Flag tattoo, like even we do. Why do you think that is?
RT: Punk rock prerequisite? No really, I don't know. I think maybe because it's fucking Black Flag, an extremely influential band. That and they have a bold symbol. When you see the bars, you know what it is. Unless you're a douchebag.