Interview: Skate Legend Mike Vallely on Being Black Flag's New Vocalist
On the eve of Black Flag's latest tour--which kicks off tonight--Revolver caught up with the group's vocalist, pro-skateboarder Mike Vallely, to talk about being the newest singer of one of the most legendary hardcore bands.
For all tickets and tour dates, visit Black Flag's website.
REVOLVER Why did you feel you wanted to, or needed to, take the reins as the new vocalist of Black Flag?
MIKE VALLELY The opportunity presented itself. I mean, Greg [Ginn, Black Flag founding guitarist] asked me if I’d be open to do it. We both felt Black Flag couldn’t and shouldn’t just fizzle out with the whole deal with the previous singer [Ron Reyes]. I ultimately just felt that I could step in with strength.
What was the biggest failing of the previous lineup?
Philosophical differences. One guy wanted to lead the way to some sort of punk-rock Valhalla, and the other guy just wanted to play music.
You've performed with Ginn before in other bands and on the Black Flag stage. What's the biggest difference between those gigs and now being the group's official lead singer?
No difference for me. Same approach. Give it my all and live in the moment.
Some would say you have a big challenge ahead of you, considering both the band's legacy and its recent history. Do you find it to be a daunting task? What's your attitude and strategy as you take it on?
I’m just going to do the best I can for the songs, for the music. I’m not concerned about filling any shoes or any nonsense like that.
You first saw Black Flag perform in New Jersey back in the Rollins-era. What do you remember about that gig? Do you consider Henry Rollins to be the band's definitive frontman, as many do?
I think all the singers have made their own contributions and all of them have been significant. Rollins definitely made his mark. When I saw him fronting Black Flag in 1984, I was 14. It was life-changing.
What's your favorite Black Flag song/album and why?
Favorite album is My War. It was the first one I ever bought. Favorite song is "Can’t Decide" because I just related to that song so much…
What do you make of the lawsuit between Greg Ginn and FLAG?
Greg had to protect his trademark, his work and his music. When Rollins and Morris filed a fraudulent trade mark application for the Black Flag logo, his only option really was to protect himself legally. None of it had to happen. They forced that course of action.
Punk and early hardcore have always had a tie to the skateboarding scene. What do you think is the connection?
Expression and Aggression.