All photos courtesy of Yuichiro Tamaki
Every so often a band or artist comes along whose art becomes bigger than oneself, changing the landscape of music and culture for years to come. For many fans of hardcore, this band was Black Flag, an 80s band who developed a style of music and a way of living that would influence new generations of bands and fans. Black Flag was more than just a band. Their “get in the van” ethos created a blueprint for DIY artists beyond the bounds of punk and hardcore music. To fans, Black Flag is seen as the living testament of hardcore, creating a rabid fan base in which almost every member chooses in some form or another to live like the band itself.
For a band of this stature, it would be hard for them to fall from grace, but the past two years has seen been a change from the band's former self. Since 2013 Black Flag has lost immense credibility amongst their fans as original members of the band created two splinter reunion groups with each calling the other false. Their legacy tarnished with band infighting, a failed lawsuit, and an album cover that looks like it was made in Microsoft Paint. This was coming from a band whose artwork has influenced generations of hardcore fans to scribble their logos on everything from bathroom walls to their own skin. Even with their awkward downfall, Black Flag is still a big deal to some fans.
For example, take Yuichiro Tamaki, a Japanese man who has chosen to wear Black Flag's second album My War on a shirt everyday for 2015. Since starting his project on January 1st of this year, Yuichiro has gained a large following on his Instagram page from punk fans and onlookers alike, amassing over 3500 followers in the past year. We spoke to Yuichiro to see what his project was all about.
Noisey: When did you become interested in punk rock and hardcore?
Yuichiro Tamaki: I got to know punk and hardcore music when I was a student. I think skateboarding was a great influence on me. I got influences from a certain style of skateboarding that I liked. I used to go to shows of Japanese hardcore bands and saw a resemblance in their art style with skate companies like Thrasher, Powell-Peralta, Vision Skateboards, Zorlac, and Vans. The thing that prompted me most to creating artwork (paintings at the time) was the artist Pushead, who I got to know through skateboarding culture.
Where did you get the idea for your Instagram page?
I felt a necessity to show evidence of my project in real time so I took to social media. I think social media's fast speed of information spreading and transforming nature according to the age are all suitable for continuing my project. Currently, I post on Blogger, Twitter, and Instagram. Of those mediums, the most reactions I get is from Instagram so I reckon it’s most suitable for my work since Instagram is photo-based.
So when did the project begin?
The project started on the 1st of January, 2015.
And what exactly is the concept behind this project of yours?
The concept is to wear Black Flag's My War shirt every day and be ready to show it to others anytime and anywhere, as well as taking, at least one photo a day as evidence of wearing it (currently posting on Twitter and Instagram).The work is a fight against myself and the viewers. The work can be viewed as a projection of my ideal artist, will to create, or raison d'être. This is my fight. My War.
Why did you choose My War over any other Black Flag release?
No real reason, I just wanted to wear the My War shirt! As it happens, it relates to the concept of this project.
Is each shirt different or do you wear the same shirt everyday**?** I have about 75 shirts, so I wear a clean shirt everyday!
Do you make the shirts yourself?
Yes, I do.
Have people ever tried to buy any of your shirts?
I get offers quite often. However, this is an art project and it isn’t for sale or for trade so I don’t ever take up on any offers for the shirts.
What’s your end goal for this project?
1. To lose to myself. 2. Death.
Finally, what do you think of the current lineup of Black Flag?
Henry Rollins, please.
Reuben Corriea is a writer based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter.