Origin: Los Angeles, California
Genre: Punk rock
Years active: 1982–present
Jello B. Afro
R is for Rocket (1982)
S is for Space (1983)
Third Strike (1984)
Feeding Frenzy (1986)
Zero Hour (1986)
“Wild Kingdom” (1987)
Sgt. Pepper (1987)
Eternally Undone (2001)
Benefit For Cats (2010)
White Flag is an American punk rock band currently based in Los Angeles. Their current lineup consists of frontman Mike Mess (guitar), Jello B. Afro (bass), and Trace Element (drums). All of these members have been in the band since 1982, though many have rotated in and out. White Flag has an extensive discography that ranges from their 1982 debut R is for Rocket to 2010’s Benefit For Cats.
White Flag formed in 1982 in Sunnymead, an unincorporated area of California’s Inland Empire now called Moreno Valley. They played their first shows that year (the second and third of which were later included on their “S Is For Space – 25th Anniversary De Luxe Edition”). The band’s name is itself a play on the name of iconic hardcore band Black Flag and is meant as a parody on punk rock elitism. Similarly, the punk rock names of band members were chosen to resemble those of Jello Biafra, Mike Ness, and Pat Smear, each an icon of the California punk scene in their own right.
In a 1983 Flipside interview, guitarist Pat Fear noted:
“People give us a lot of shit for being called ‘White Flag’ and that we’re ripping off Black Flag and all the Black Flag bros in Long Beach want to kill us — but the truth is Black Flag are our friends, Henry is like our biggest fan. So why are these Black Flag people trying to kick our asses?
“The whole reason for the name is to reintroduce anarchy back into the musical aspect of punk, because when it started out it wasn’t political and it was not violent, like when Johnny Rotten said…he was not singing about anarchy, he wanted musical anarchy. Not social or government anarchy or violence and people blew it out of proportion…. So we’re trying to get back to an anarchistic state of music…”
The band recorded two albums in 1982, R is for Rocket and S is for Space, the latter being released in 1983. After playing numerous shows around California, the band toured Europe for their first time in 1986, and released a live EP from that tour titled “Bleedin’ in Sweden”.
In 2006 White Flag toured in Italy for the first time. As a souvenir of the group’s first visit, they band released a limited edition, hand numbered 8 song 10″ vinyl album, on Roma based RARO! Records, entitled “Piangi Con Me”, which is now out of print.
In 2008, the band toured Europe twice, first in March (Germany and Netherlands), and then in June–July they did 23 gigs, including 2 with NOFX and The Adolescents. Some rare gigs in the U.S. with The Germs and Adolescents followed.
In May 2010 the band released the 7″ e.p. “Keepers of The Purple Twilight” on Target Earth Records limited to 300 copies. 2010 also saw the release of “Benefit For Cats” on Cupcake Records.
In 2011 Strange Magic Records released White Flag and Tony Adolescent’s “Live At Bohemian Grove / White Flag & Tony” 7″ EP. That same year the band, who were big fans of 70’s seminal punk group The Runaways contributed the track “C’mon” to the controversial tribute album “Take It Or Leave It: A Tribute To The Original Queens of Noise: The Runaways”. The song featured Michael Lee Smith, lead singer of the band Starz on lead vocals.
The current line-up featured on the July 2010 vinyl only release “Benefit For Cats” will be performing their first ever Midwest live shows in July 2010, with exclusives shows in Detroit, Cleveland, and Chicago, on July 15,16, and 17 respectively. These shows will be record release parties for the new album, as well as the Russian release limited edition 7″ e.p. “Two Pack”, which is limited to only 100 copies, and is a split release with Russian band Citramons.
Pat Fear died on September 24, 2013.