AHG: I was surprised to see that video because I think that “hipster kids” love you. Did you hear The Dirty Projectors’ “reimaging” of Damaged, Rise Above? What did you think of it?
It’s not my record. I didn’t write anything on the Damaged record. I don’t think I was apart of that topic. I think you lose a little bit of traction when you make blanket statements like, “Don’t hipster kids like you?” I don’t know. Do you? No, you don’t. Watch yourself, unless you get caught out there.
Whoever likes me, I guess, are the ones showing up at the shows…Things change, real quick. All of a sudden, your roof leaks and it’s a $30,000 repair bill, or your girlfriend gets in a car wreck and she’s dead. Shit happens real fast. I tend to live my life with that “Chaos Factor.” On the road, I’ve been living 30 years with it never being a sure thing. I’ve been doing an improvised bongo riff for three decades. I don’t have a job at the bank. I have obligations, certainly (I have a tour), but I have to hope every night that people show up. There’s no guarantee. If they don’t show up, there’s nothing for me. There’s no buy out; no bail out; no nothing. There’s: “Sucks to be you.” And that’s fine! I knew all this walking in; I left the straight world for all of this. So, you swing from vines and hope that there’s another one waiting for your hand as you extend it. I don’t know who my audience is, but I hope to find them night to night.
AHG: You mentioned that you don’t consider the music on Damaged to be yours, what do you mean by that?
Well I didn’t write any of it. I sing on the record, but I didn’t write any of the lyrics. All of that music had already been written a long time before I joined the band. I was the fourth singer; all of Black Flag’s really great music had already been realized before I joined. I was there for the version that toured internationally and got noticed, but all the real groundwork had been done by the band and the three singers before me.
AHG: Is it weird to have that legacy of being in Black Flag when you didn’t write the music that people know the best?
No, because I’m very honest about it. They needed a singer, I auditioned for it, I got it. I was in the version that did all the road work–the touring–year after year. I was in the version that took it internationally. I was the one guy in the band who got all the “stuff” thrown at him–being the singer. I was the one who got hit all the time. Got cigars and cigarettes ground out into his legs; got his ballsack lit up by butane lighters. I’m the one who has that. But I’m not the one who wrote “Six Pack”–that’s Greg and Chuck.
The reason why you might like Black Flag is not the songs that I’m on–usually it’s all the stuff before me. I do my best, for clarity, to tell people this. When someone says, “Black Flag is cool!” I say, “Thanks! I was a fan too.” I never felt like all that much a member of the band; it was Greg’s band. You always knew. It was never your band. Greg went out of his way to really remind you who the boss was. I got it; it’s cool; it’s a job. I gave it everything I had, truly. All of us–every member of that band–really gave what he or she could give for as long as they could. There were times when I felt like I didn’t want anymore of it, but I had nothing to return to except minimum wage. While I would have made more money in the minimum wage working world, I would have had more security, that’s not really interesting to me. Black Flag was more interesting, so I went for it!
AHG: That was a really good answer
It’s the only one I’ve got.
Again, photo credit to Chapman Baehler (this picture’s my favorite)