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Spray Paint the Walls: The Story of Black Flag
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Spray Paint the Walls: The Story of Black Flag

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  300 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
They were the pioneers of American hardcore, forming in California in 1878 and splitting up 8 years later leaving behind them a trail of blood, carnage and brutal, brilliant music. Throughout the years they fought with the police, record industry and their own fans. This is the band's story from the inside, drawing upon exclusive interviews with the group's members, their ...more
Paperback, 403 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Omnibus Press (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 832)
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Jan 27, 2010 Jessica rated it really liked it
An in-depth story through each of the Black Flag line-ups. Rollins does not become a member of the band until about page 220, which means there are a lot of new (to me) stories and information.

My favorite part about the product description for this book on Amazon is that it says, "They were the pioneers of American hardcore, forming in California in 1878." Like, literal American pioneers, dude. Little known fact: the original creepy crawls were in covered wagons.
Apr 08, 2015 Doug rated it really liked it
Though it doesn't unseat Henry Rollins' "Get In The Van" as the definitive work regarding Black Flag, Stevie Chick deserves considerable credit for swinging for the fences nonetheless. Clocking in at a whopping 403 pages, Chick doesn't leave many stones unturned documenting the wild and dysfunctional ride of Ginn & Co.

Ultimately, though, the sheer breadth of the book adheres to some tried-and-true rock journalism stereotypes. Backstories and histories are heaped on, even for very ancillary
Aug 21, 2010 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Did not even know about this book until a friend clued me in. As a huge Black Flag fan, I had to read it.

Author Steve Chick does a fine job of getting the as-complete-as-can-be BF story from most of the band members, road crew, SST label mates and peers. Oddly, there is no primary source information from BF's two most recognizable figures, Gregg Ginn and Henry Rollins, for reasons never stated. I guess they just did not want to cooperate with the project. However Chick does a good job filling i
Aug 12, 2010 Joseph rated it liked it
Okay, this has been sitting in the dock for a while (among a multitude of things/other books that I have indeed read but haven't reviewed)--but I actually read this in two days like four months ago. I took a personal day off from work to read it straight through. Here's the deal: I honestly was a little suspicious of a Limey writing about the history of one of Southern California's most important bands, but it makes sense in the fact that someone who lived here/lived through it might bring to it ...more
East Bay J
Jun 28, 2010 East Bay J rated it really liked it
Shelves: music-bios
I had said that I wished someone would do a proper Black Flag bio about two weeks before I found out one already existed. Ask and ye shall receive. Rollin’s Get In The Van and the chapter in Azzerad’s Our Band Could Be Your Life don’t quite cut it, as fun as both were to read, as far as telling the Flag story. Chick’s Spray Paint The Walls is a full on bio with lots of gory details.

Black Flag were absolute monsters. Their music and accomplishments made nearly every “hardcore” band that came afte
Mar 04, 2012 Candis rated it really liked it
What I loved about this book is that it provided a rich geography alongside many of the stories I had read (and many I had not!) about the band over the years. Chick also masterfully wrote in a web of race and class relations that played a large role in the making of Black Flag before Rollins came to stand in for the band in its entirely. It could have used an edit (some quotes were repeated twice in the book), but overall, great stuff.
Feb 20, 2015 Timothy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rockerers
Excellent insight into the mind boggling work ethic and ethos of a trail blazing band that shaped the future of independent music and also an interesting window into the history of Californian youth rebellion. That Black Flag existed, yet alone thrived, within it's oppressive time frame and meager resources is astounding. A group constantly at war: with authority, with the constraints of the stadium rock or cheesy cover band centered music business, with each other and even their own fans. The b ...more
James Doughty
A good read

A highly in depth history of one of America's most influential punk bands. Anyone who has enjoyed the music of Black Flag will appreciate this detailed account of the formation of the band and the creative process behind their albums in addition to stories from the road ending with the band's 1986 breakup. Greg Ginn, the aloof guitarist and main songwriter, remains a frustrating enigma, revealed mainly through contradictions that offer little insight into his motivations. This is in c
Jeremy Black
Jun 27, 2013 Jeremy Black rated it it was amazing
A fair, unadulterated chronicle of one of the most mis-understood bands that shaped American Hardcore. If you give a fuck, read it.
Nestor Rychtyckyj
Mar 10, 2013 Nestor Rychtyckyj rated it really liked it
2013 brings us two Black Flag reunions (Greg Ginn's Black Flag) and Flag, so it's time to revisitit one of the most influential bands of all time. I actually write this review last year for my blog, but it seems like a good time to revisit it.

Finally – a book on Black Flag and it took an author from the UK to write the definitive story of the most important American punk band. Actually, Black Flag was one of the most important bands of any genre. All of the many things that indie bands do today
Apr 21, 2012 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own, e-book
(strong 3.5 stars, which I'm rounding up to 4 just for my love of the subject.)

While I'm sure punk scholars and obsessive catalogers would be able to point out tons of discrepancies, incomplete stories, one-sided views of events, etc., I really enjoyed this end-to-end history of Black Flag. Pulling from loads of interviews and printed sources over the years, as well as the author's own interviews with most participants, this fills in a lot of gaps in the assumed history of the band -- things a f
Dave Anderson
Feb 08, 2015 Dave Anderson rated it it was amazing
I owned "Everything Went Black" on vinyl and "Damaged" on CD and heard "Black Flag" or seen the "4 Bars" almost weekly the past 20 years but I never really knew to much about the band. Well. That issue is over. I couldn't put this beast down. Finished in 1 week. One of the best books I have ever read !!! You will be a Black Flag pro after reading this. This book gave me motivation to order more books about bands as well.
G. Jason
Mar 31, 2010 G. Jason rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, music
A fantastic history of Black Flag as well as a great history lesson on the forefathers of american DIY punk rock. This book covers everything - from the beginning of Black Flag to the final days - and most everything in between. Granted, I'm a huge fan of Black Flag, and even have the Raymond Pettibon's iconic Black Flag bars logo inked on my arm - but I have even more respect for what Black Flag did after reading this.

While the author does a great job of interviewing a lot of people around Blac
Jan 03, 2010 Drew rated it it was amazing
Outstanding biography. Covered every era of Black Flag with equal depth and attention to detail. Stevie Chick did a great job of tracking down almost everyone who was ever in Black Flag, and if he couldn't interview them himself, he found enough interviews with them to give their take on every aspect of the band's lengthy career. I really enjoyed hearing about both the very early and very late lineups of the band, finally learning the truth about Ron Reyes's departure (and the nickname "Chavo Pe ...more
Mar 05, 2012 Ray rated it it was amazing
I admit some bias because I worked for SST from 85-88. I loved this book and found much inspiration in his telling of the early Black Flag years which I did not know in such detail. I also appreciate both the candor and reserve of the subjects in providing just enough information.
Ginn doesn't participate in this stuff anymore and Rollins covered it in his own books.
I think Greg's brother, Raymond Pettibon should write his version of the Black Flag or SST stories. My educated guess is that it w
Oct 23, 2013 Brandon rated it really liked it
Excellent history of the early punk scene in LA,with an obvious focus on Black Flag. It is impossible to talk just about the Flag without including all other bands that were springing up at the time, mainly because of the members fluidity amongst other bands. That included the bands that were being released on SST records, which the founding members of Black Flag started. It is funny to me that Henry Rollins became the face of Black Flag (and the face on the cover of the book) when more than 2/3 ...more
Nov 29, 2014 Jason rated it liked it
3.5 stars. I am rounding down instead of up.

Incredibly well researched and filled with hilarious stories.
Hugo Filipe
Jan 19, 2016 Hugo Filipe rated it really liked it
A black flag story that kinda reads as an history of punk, independent music and sst
Mar 08, 2014 Patrick rated it really liked it
Exhaustive. Written from the perspective that they and SST were the defining American independent outfit. Having been a part of that scene, it's hard to argue with that premise. We'll done.
Brian Crime
Jan 04, 2014 Brian Crime rated it really liked it
Obsessively we followed Black Flag up and down the eastern seaboard, from redneck empty Carolina bars to :30 DC to Baltimore dives to the Peppermint Lounge in NYCity ... This history fleshes the story out, as they say. Great supplement to other Black Flag tomes (Get in the van et al.) ...
Feb 05, 2015 catechism rated it really liked it
Considering he didn't interview Greg Ginn or Henry Rollins for this book, I thought it was surprisingly well done! Could have used a little more editing/fact-checking (maybe I am being unreasonable, but if you are writing a book on Black Flag, probably you should be able to date photographs of Rollins by looking at his tattoos. A no-tattoo photo was not taken in 1983, okay?), but that didn't really detract from my enjoyment of the book.
Pekka Pietikäinen
Dec 08, 2012 Pekka Pietikäinen rated it really liked it
In addition to being a well-rounded biography of a seminal band, "Spray Paint the Walls" also is an engaging account of the origins & heyday of what could be considered as the 1st wave of American hardcore punk scene, with war stories from such characters as Glen E. Friedman, Mike Watt and the Meat Puppets. Acts as a very nice companion piece to Henry Rollins' (absolutely essential) "Get in the Van".
Oct 06, 2011 Brendon rated it really liked it
As an overview Stevie Chick does a pretty good job of telling the story. While it lacks is the intensity of Rollin's 'Get In The Van', it did make me grab a bunch of Black Flag LP's and have my own anti-tv party, and that's a pretty great way to judge a piece of rock writing.
Feb 27, 2010 Dean rated it really liked it
Probably as close to the definitive history of Black Flag. Also a pretty good history of SST Records. Overall impression is this was not a fun band to be in & Greg Ginn is a dick. Still, they were a great band. influencial
Jun 10, 2013 Monica rated it really liked it
Chick's a pretty excellent writer. I found the book engaging despite not being a Black Flag fan. I hope to read Joe Carducci's "Enter Naomi" next. And perhaps reread "Rock and the Pop Narcotic" as well.
Julian Meanchoff
Dec 12, 2011 Julian Meanchoff rated it liked it
I skimmed this book. I can't really get into music bios but I thought I'd give this one a shot because of the subject matter. I'll just give it three stars because it's about Flag and move on.
Dave Naz
Aug 30, 2011 Dave Naz rated it liked it
Interesting stories, but interviews with Henry, Greg Ginn and Bill Stevenson would have been nice. The author sited Get in the Van, Rollins book that is worth reading too.
Jul 04, 2010 Ben rated it really liked it
thorough and compelling bio of the seminal orange county punk band black flag. writing style is a little repetitive, but on the whole, an enjoyable read.
Aug 08, 2011 Nate rated it liked it
It's the story, not the book itself. Chuck the Duke is the true hero of this book, though, despite that knucklhead on the cover. For superfans only.
Mar 27, 2012 Steve rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. I had a hard time putting this one down. This is a great chronicle of a fascinating period of music history.
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