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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

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  238 ratings  ·  30 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 618)
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Joseph
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
J
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
...more
Jessica
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.
Candis
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.
Jeremy Black
A fair, unadulterated chronicle of one of the most mis-understood bands that shaped American Hardcore. If you give a fuck, read it.
Bob
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
...more
Erin
Written in 2009, Stevie Chick’s Spray Paint the Walls provides a ridiculously comprehensive history of Black Flag. It does not, however, simply cover the formation, travels, trials, and death of the band in and of itself. Rather, using the history of Black Flag as a foundation, the book meanders into details about the lives and experiences of an array of individuals connected -- directly or indirectly -- to the band and its associated record label SST. It essentially feels like a primer on the L ...more
Nestor Rychtyckyj
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
...more
Nicholas Pell
Most rock biographies disappoint. Either the writer rushes through the story without capturing the personalities, or else the whole affair comes off as too fawning. Stevie Chick does a masterful job at telling the tale of Black Flag. Though the lack of involvement of Henry Rollins and Greg Ginn make the book suffer a bit, perhaps we're better off with a collection of quotes where they DON'T know they're giving the definitive history.

And it is the definitive history. Everything is here. The spray
...more
Chris
(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
...more
G. Jason
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
...more
Andrew
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
Ray
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
...more
Brandon
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
Jason
3.5 stars. I am rounding down instead of up.

Incredibly well researched and filled with hilarious stories.
Patrick
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
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.) ...
catechism
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
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".
Brendon
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.
Dean
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
Monica
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
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
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.
Ben
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.
Nate
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.
Steve
Fantastic. I had a hard time putting this one down. This is a great chronicle of a fascinating period of music history.
Matt
Can the story of Black Flag be made boring? Yes. Yes it can.
Myke
Good in depth biography of 80s hardcore legends Black Flag
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