Oh wow. Chuck Dukowski, Black Flag’s original bassist (although fourth on the hair chart) has just recruited Eugene Robinson from Oxbow/Vice contribution to front a new band called Black Face.
They’ve just recorded four songs that were written around My War-era Flag but that nobody in the world apart from Chuck has ever heard before. The tracks are called “Monster,” “I Want To Kill You,” “Where Will We Run,” and “Leave Me Out to Rot.” The band, which features former Oxbow drummer Tom Dobrov and Insects vs. Robots guitarist Milo Gonzalez, are also going to start playing all the songs that Chuck wrote for Black Flag live.
All the kids out there wearing Black Flag shirts who've never actually heard the band would do well to go and track down Chuck’s Black Flag songs (preferably from a vinyl record store), which include a LOT of stuff from The First Four Years, the best Black Flag album next to My War and Damaged. See the set list at the end of this article for more.
Anyway, I just got off the phone with Eugene about it all and this is what we talked about.
VICE: Hi Eugene. How are you?
Eugene Robinson: I’m really great! Getting better every day.
I was joking. I meant things are getting worse. You see, currently, I see myself at the bottom of a big hole. And as I’ve always been very vocal about being in the bottom of this hole I sometimes get people yelling down to me saying, “What are you doing in that hole?” I say, “Well, it’s a long story but what I really need is somebody to pass that ladder down.” And then they usually say, “Well, I’d like to help you, man, but I gotta go.”
That sounds familiar.
The thing is, the hole is not a bad place to be. Just look at all it’s given me… all this… hole.
That was a fun intro to the conversation. Now what about this other thing? How did you form Black Face/kinda reform Black Flag.
Well, Chuck and I have known each other for a real long time. The first interview I did for my old zine, The Birth Of Tragedy, was with Black Flag, and later he got an issue I did on “Evil” and liked it, so they took out some SST ads and eventually SST put out an Oxbow record called Serenade In Red, and subsequently we became friends. Anyway, I think I was doing a show for A Long Slow Screw in LA
The book show? Where you do the readings?
Yeah but I started having people like Jamie from Xiu Xiu and Scott from Neurosis back me up so it wasn’t just a guy on stage reading.
And where does Chuck come in?
Oh, well he came to see the show and to play with me and I asked him jokingly, like I’d been doing for years, if he was ready to put Black Flag back together and have me sing. And he kinda laughed again but he never said “that’s ridiculous,” and eventually I guess he ended up talking to Robo and Dez (Cadena) and Greg (Ginn) about it and then it seemed like it all might happen.
Wow, so what happened?
Well, in true Black Flag fashion it evolved into a swelter of legal things between Chuck and Greg that made that lineup impossible.
And so you have these two other guys, which makes it not really a Black Flag reunion but something new.
I never really wanted to do a Chuck Berry Revue thing where there are a lot of guys onstage playing Chuck Berry songs but no Chuck Berry. We always said it’d be cool to do something new and forward-looking and then Chuck said, “Look, when I left Flag around My War there were a lot of songs we didn’t record, and when I left the band I took them with me. So I’ve kinda been waiting to do something new.
And now is the time. So what’s the plan?
We’ve finished recording and the stuff is being mastered. We’re going to release four songs on two different seven inches, only on vinyl. I know you can take a USB turntable and burn the songs, but I’m hoping the number of different steps involved in doing that will give people disincentive to do it. I mean, I’m close to living in my car. Which is to say: We spent money on this so you could spend some money on this.
And the live show will be…
The unreleased, unheard songs from that era and that set list that I included, these would be specifically Chuck-penned Black Flag tunes.
For me, the Chuck incarnation of Black Flag was the most potent incarnation of the band ever. And when you see us play, with this lineup and these new songs, you will see that this is a heavy fucking representation of a road not taken, of course, now taken.
And so let’s see the set list?
"Here you go:
"Leave Me Out to Rot"
"Where WIll We Run"
"Spray Paint the Walls"
"I've Heard It Before"
"I Love You"
"Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie"
"What I See"
"I've Had It"
"I Want to Kill You"
Wow. That sounds pretty good.
INTERVIEW BY ANDY CAPPER
PHOTOS BY RAYMOND AHNER