Black Flag / X / Big Time

December 1979 Los Angeles punk poster

All kinds of dreams again about reports to FBI saying I’d been places I’ve never been and done things I’ve never done, with the strong sense this is linked to Black Flag. That Black Flag are strongly tied to false reports made to the FBI in return for record deals and other favors linked to the recording industry.

This would fit a pattern I’ve already seen with punk rock in general, which is that it now looks to me like it was always a front for string-pullings of the recording industry, CIA, drug trafficking, etc. This doesn’t mean everyone involved in punk rock was involved in that that – but probably anyone who was anyone in their scene was linked into the back room deals. It sounds like a lot of these back room deals involved filing defamatory (untrue and harmful) reports with the FBI in return for favors.

As someone who was enamored with punk music in the early 1980s I guess that I’d observe – even back then I questioned this – how did X end up getting to where they got, signed to Warner Brothers? That was a pretty unique position for a band with the look and sound they had at that time. And I believe it’s fallacy to say that punk bands didn’t want some level of commerical success. I think most people who are seriously into their music and art want to be as successful as they can be, without making terrible compromises. But if you weren’t let in the door, you weren’t going to let that stop you – is how I saw the punk rock attitude.

Ramones were not shy about saying they wanted success. They even had a song called “We Want The Airwaves.” X wasn’t shy about it either. There was a 1986 movie called The Unheard Music in which, to my recollection, they admitted they were seeking commercial success. I myself only started to hear this stuff about deliberately eschewing commercial success as a matter of principle in the 1990s. I’m not sure when Chris first heard it; if it was a concept in the 1960s underground (another CIA op) – but it was pushed pretty solidly by Greg Sage and the Wipers in Portland and by K Records in Olympia.

Did X get a contract with Warner Brothers because they were such a stand out band, quality wise, or was there another reason?