Black Flag being awesome is as close to an objective truth as anything anyone could claim. The band spearheaded a movement, wherein shitty vans carried shitty dudes on journeys that made them men. The kids who want to get "lost in the romance" can have On the Road. The kids who seek to get found in the movement require Get in the Van — the memoir turned Grammy-winning spoken word album, written by infamous Black Flag front man Henry Rollins.
Four marvelous bands from Detroit decided to make a record. Since this particular group-of-groups has a marked homogeneous interest in dirty punk rock, a consensus was easily reached to cover Black Flag tunes. Child Bite frontman Shawn Knight breaks it all down like this: "Child Bite was asked to play the Hellmouth LP release show, back in November 2010. We were a little worried that our music wouldn't be well-received by the metal crowd, so we came up with the best offering we could muster to bridge the gap: a Black Flag cover. We had some studio time already booked the week prior to the show, so we figured, 'why not record our version?' After sitting on it for a while, [bassist] Sean [Clancy] and I finally came up with this plan." The record is called Family Men: Four Black Flag Songs Reinterpreted by Four Detroit Bands. The four bands are as follows.
Hellmouth: A veritable cult of Godless Detroit punk-rock legends. The fact that I just capitalized the "G" in "God" should set a few of them to wincing. The tough-but-tender hand of hardcore music raised these dudes, and they were proficient students. This band is a valedictorian speech for all us misanthropes who just wanted to hear someone say, "We're always running with nowhere to go, and the years — they'll pass us by, without a thing to show." Their recording of "Police Story" was actually done in their sleep.
Child Bite: A heavy-breathing anxious expression – set to manic musical depictions of stern absurdity. (Perhaps I got a little too prose-y with that description, but I've written about these boys so many times, I fear redundancy.) However, I will happily write good things about this band until every word in my thesaurus is crossed out. Their recording of "My War" became the catalyst for Family Men.
Old Gods: A band that is brutal enough to live up to its name — it slaps the face of the faithful, and demands attention. These elder deities pump rabid zombie life into Black Flag's "Depression." It is thick and fast, but not without its mood. When I asked bassist Derek Swanson why they chose this track he said, "It might have been [drummer] Tony [Wolski]'s idea. He usually gets his way. He's a charmer." He went on to say, "I know I wanted to do 'My War,' and when I found out Child Bite already did it, I stomped my feet and pouted a bunch."
Golden Torso: A collaboration of dudes who are kind of pissed off that things aren't awesome. They'll make you want to flip your bill upward, write "punk" on it, and go skateboarding. When I was talking to frontman Mike Durgan about this very phenomenon, he said, "It's funny you say that, man, because, you know... That's what Black Flag was to me. Fuckin' skateboarding, and beer-filled weekends. Nothing Rollins-related, though... never." Their rendition of "Thirsty and Miserable" embodies this spirit, as if it were the source of the spirit itself. | RDW
Hellmouth, Child Bite, Old Gods and Golden Torso • 1/26, 8 p.m. • Magic Stick Lounge • 4120 Woodward Ave, Detroit • 313.833.9700 • Majesticdetroit.com • $10