Thursday, January 20, 2011

Band that had the biggest impact on hardcore poll results

Greg and Henry with Black Flag

We let this recent poll wrap up linger a little bit, but it was worth the wait, because we got Jon Roa to come in here and recap this in a way only he could. Minor Threat won (and as a SE dude that makes me happy), and there's no real wrong answer...but like Roa, I also voted for Black Flag. Roa's reasoning further solidifies my answer and is one of the most cohesive arguments for the impact of that band that I have heard in recent memory.

We love The Misfits, we love Black Flag, we love Bad Brains, we love Minor Threat, and we love Roa. Have at it! -Gordo DCXX

I shout that all four bands have had a severe impact on punk rock (although one must try hard to see more than a couple of bands copying the sound or horror image of Misfits prior to 1991), but the heaviness and easiness of so many people copying Minor Threat, Black Flag or Bad Brains is undeniable.

That having been said, my choice is for Black Flag.

Minor Threat, Photo: Cindi Micheau

Now, although a strong argument may be presented for Minor Threat or Bad Brains (and to a lesser extent, Misfits), I respectfully offer the following answers to the anticipated variations of “Why the heck would you choose THEM?!”

First and foremost is the chronological factor. Black Flag released their first record a staggering 18 months prior to Bad Brains and an unmentionable 5.5 years before the Minor Threat EP. Yes, Misfits Cough/Cool came out 6 months prior but the sound, lyrics or attitude were not influential toward anything that followed…including the band themselves as they changed their sound drastically on the next release Bullet which came six months post-Nervous Breakdown. While the Misfits were more prolific, Black Flag stayed around much longer than the rest of them (maybe too long some might say) battling the normal folks both in court and on stage. Heck they served time in jail for putting out their music. Not a bad story to tell if you are fighting an artistic fight.

Ian with Minor Threat, Photo: Cindi Micheau

Next point: Black Flag seemed to be the first do something in the arena of punk rock. Minor Threat cites Black Flag as an influence on their mere approach to music (DIY, touring, etc) let alone musical influence. Ian has said (paraphrasing here) that he was a bit jealous when Hank was chosen for the vocal slot of Black Flag due because they were his favorite band. Both Minor Threat and Bad Brains' first tours came in 1982 two years after Black Flag blazed them a trail to follow. Underlining Flag’s leadership role was that Bad Brains released their most heralded record on Black Flag’s label SST (while the inverse happening seems almost impossible).

The above are the big points, but how about the seemingly small and random points? Most notably, Minor Threat added a second guitarist and got rid of their second guitarist damn near the exact same time as Black Flag. Coincidence? Perhaps. Noticeable? Definitely. Also, Black Flag successfully toured Europe before anyone (Misfits? I don’t think a few shows and a great song, London Dungeon, trump the planning of Greg Ginn). Also, Black Flag made the papers in the METRO section (not musical) quite regularly for their notorious gig/riots.

Bad Brains at 9:30 Club, Washington, DC, Photo: Malco23

Now, I know some people might bring up money and that is a point which I tried to side step but here it goes: Black Flag are popular now, right? But back then? Oy, Vey! They were bigger than both Minor Threat and Misfits combined (actually, Misfits were not all that huge; hard to believe but true). They sold more tickets to more shows and more merch in more countries than the other three combined. Also, Black Flag’s SST records’ leadership also had the foresight to release many future successful bands who actually made it in the “real world” of music finding themselves in the Billboard Top 200 albums: Soundgarden, Meat Puppets, Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr., (I feel dirty after making those last couple of points).

Sure, Minor Threat started a great sub genre that we all enjoy but their fantastic music existed in the parameters that Black Flag set up. Sure, Bad Brains were great but their huge influence in music stops at music alone (well, maybe a tinge of religion as well). Misfits? They had it all - work ethic, fan club, a ton of releases, cool logo, etc. but many would attest that when around, they did not have the same impact as Black Flag.

Black Flag

Black Flag we loved (and hated as well) but all the while they just refused to stop touring and just die.

Yes, Minor Thr
eat wins the battle of artistic integrity (by staying broken up for good) but Black Flag wins the war.

Black Flag had the biggest impact on the hardcore scene.

Then again, I may be wrong and so the debate goes on…

From the man with too many parentheticals, -ROA XXX

Minor Threat - 157
Bad Brains - 134
Black Flag - 124
Misfits - 12

Misfits, Photo courtesy of: Misfits Central


John Cowell said...

One point that wasn't made is the fact that Black Flag established the whole aspect of the punk rock US Tour. No band toured nearly as extensively as they did and especially, and arguably most importantly, they were the *first* hardcore band to play most of the venues they played at across the US. What hardcore bands played in New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, Georgia, etc prior to Black Flag? They pretty much created the US touring map of venues across the US and for this reason alone, the impact of their relevance is undeniable.

Drew Stone said...

If it wasn't for Black Flag none of us would even be reading this right now. They created the road map that everyone else followed.

Ben Edge said...

I get the impression that a lot of people just voted for their favorite band.

ShayKM said...

ROA's points are on the money. Hard to disagree with much of the reasoning. But one thing does stick out... the musical element. I voted for the Bad Brains largely for the sound on the ROIR recording. The speed, power and urgency on that recording blows the other bands away. I love Flag. In fact for much of my youth they were almost a religion for me. Side B of 'My War' is flat out the scariest shit to come out of CA in the 80's. But the question here was impact (influence) on Hardcore. I still think the Brains take this on the merit of that first album. Again, it is a fool's gambit because all of these bands were great. However, if we all sat down together today and listened to ten tracks from each of these bands we would be crushed by the sonic power of the Brains. Nothing compares.

Anonymous said...

as much as i love the misfits, i don't think they belong on this list. they were more of a melodic punk band until earth a.d. came out. i think it would have been better to have negative approach or 7 seconds on there. they were very influential on later bands.

Anonymous said...

Black Flag put out a record in 1976?

ShayKM said...

'Nervous Breakdown' EP in 1978. Maybe there were earlier recordings, but no releases in '76.

Anonymous said...

Couldn´t vote as DOA were not listed, who, by the way did the hardcore kind of touring a la Black Flag even earlier than Black Flag. All hail to Chuck Biscuits, Randy Rampage, Dave Gregg & Joey Shithead!
Cheers, Robo.

world's greatest DAD said...

MisFits were a great rock band, but i have a hard time calling them hardcore. they're too silly! "werewolves and aliens eat my brains, i fuck corpses, etc." too jokey. For me hardcore defined itself as being essentially serious, or about serious things, or mostly serious about itself. sense of humor is fine, of course, but i think the essential difference between punk and hardcore is that punk wanted to piss people off and hard core was about being pissed off already. The music of Misfits was not really that pissed off. That being said, i listened to Walk Among Us every single day for at least all of 1990, usually right after the Minor Threat s/t.

this is a great blog btw.

Anonymous said...

"i think the essential difference between punk and hardcore is that punk wanted to piss people off and hard core was about being pissed off already"

never thought of it like that but you hit the nail on the head! for 25 years i've been trying to figure out the difference...and there you go.

incredible blog. keep up the great work.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know where I can get a boot Justice League shirt?

Smitty said...

Am sure we all agree, all these bands are great. I think Bad Brains did have the greatest musical influence - without them no Minor Threat, no DC hardcore and no New York Hardcore not to mention crossover and (GASP!) funk-metal, rap-metal, etc. - but when you consider not only Flag's musical contributions (hardcore punk, bringing in metal influences, crossover, grunge, stoner rock, even math core when you think of some of the later shit) AND the touring trailblazing - essentially any band in their wake up to the present day follows the path they first cut AND the importance of SST Records - not only it's DIY nature but the staggering amount of truly important 80s rock records and bands they released, and how successful they were at it, they are clearly the most important. Minor Threat also totally important for straight edge, for their enduring integrity - something the other 3 all fail at - and creating the codified hardcore formula that most bands still imitate but again, compare it to Flag, and they are in 2nd place. And I mean, The Misfits were just fucking great. Not sure I think they were "important" in anyway other then quality but since when is punk rock about being important and I think they were the most classically punk rock of the bands in the poll though also think they were a real bridge to the new thing IE: hardcore.

ROA said...

ShayKM said...
'Nervous Breakdown' EP in 1978. Maybe there were earlier recordings, but no releases in '76.

Correct. Pay to Cum ws released (as far as I know) in early 1980.' Nervous Breakdown' EP in mid 1978.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

wow, did freaking robo just post here? awesome.

Anonymous said...

Musically, for intensity, originality, inspiration and influence , Bad Brains wins.
Black Flag had an amazing work ethic, but even Rollins was inspired by Bad Brains.

Anonymous said...

Plus Black Flag sound angry and intense but Bad Brains are on a complete different trip (lights a joint)/

Anonymous said...

this is all chicken/egg type of stuff.........but here's the reality:

these 4 bands maybe had more of an impact then any other combo of bands ANYWHERE at ANYTIME. i love the 2nd wave stuff as well, but the truth is that nobody later on would ever have as much of an impact (sure youth of today had a big impact but not on the scale of any of these 4 bands).

awesome poll.

Ben Edge said...

"Black Flag had an amazing work ethic, but even Rollins was inspired by Bad Brains."

Moot point. Rollins was Black Flag's fourth singer (or fifth depending on how you count).

Nervous Breakdown was recorded in '78, but released in '79. That still doesn't change Roa's original point.

Isn't it funny that the first hardcore record (Out of Vogue by the Middle Class) hardly influenced anyone?

Mike said...

Ben where did you get your source?

Released October 1978
Recorded January, 1978 at Media Art Studios

Anonymous said...

"Misfits?.... they did not have the same impact as Black Flag."

Pretty ironic that they had a HUGE impact on the lead singer of Black Flag. Enough so that he got two separate tattoos of The Misfits logo.

Anonymous said...

Flag had the most overall impact- Bad Brains had the most musical impact. Minor Threat's main contribution was the idea of "straight edge".

I know it's a minority opinion around here, but I don't think Minor Threat's stuff holds up nearly as well as the other three bands listed.

The Misfits had the most perfect body of work out of these bands, but didn't directly influence many.

The Dead Kennedys had a huge impact in the 80s but these days people see them as high school "starter punk". Which might be why they had such a impact.

mel said...

Although I prefer Minor Threat to all of them. I do think Black Flag had the biggest impact. (i don't know why people keeping going on about such and such a band influencing Rollins, Flag were trailblazing before he joined, so pointless comments).
Misfits really only impacted how much people were prepared to pay for records.

Dave said...

Black Flag trailblazed in so many areas. Lyrical content and musical style (incredibly, they *grew* as a band... how many can say that now?!?) Touring and merchandising. Breaking the 'record company' model and putting out their own music. And on and on.

Minor Threat followed in the mold, and had their impact. I've often thought it sad that their greatest contribution has been adding some kind of weird suburban men's club to hardcore... I think their legacy stands up more than that. But they were just too short lived to have the same impact as Black Flag.

Misfits brought a new angle to punk and really elevated the marketing and merchandise - nods to them, but no where near as important as the other three bands.

Anonymous said...

Musically it's the Brains hands down. Most modern HC owes it all to the Bad Brains. MT was just an evolution of the sound the Brains created.

Overall it's Flag. They created the aesthetic and the structure of HC the still stands today.

Though Flag wins for me, the Brains stand on there own. They created the music we called HC. HC music today is more ROIR then Jealous Again or even Damaged. Flag on the other hand created everything else.

And why the hell is the Misfits on this! If anything it should be the Dead Kennedy's.

Ben Edge said...


My source is Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad, page 19:

"In January '79 Ginn released the four-song Nervous Breakdown EP, SST Records catalog #001."

Again, it doesn't change Roa's original point.

"I've often thought it sad that their greatest contribution has been adding some kind of weird suburban men's club to hardcore"

Dave, is that a swipe at straight edge? If so, that's really weak. Hardcore was already a suburban men's club to punk rock in the first place. Black Flag were from Hermosa Beach - a suburb. Middle Class were from Santa Ana - a suburb. The HB's, who invented skanking, stage diving (as audience members), and circle pitting, were from Huntington Beach - a suburb. This is all before Minor Threat existed. Minor Threat did nothing but bring something positive to what was already fast becoming a male-dominated scene, centered in the suburbs.

Mike said...

Ben, I'm not sure that's accurate, but I whole heartedly agree with Roa and you for that matter on this.

Tim (not McMahon) said...

"...Bad Brains were great but their huge influence in music stops at music alone (well, maybe a tinge of religion as well)."

Completely disagree with this point. Bad Brains were enormously influential to non-white youths of all shades who were intimidated by the largely white population in hardcore. Kids at the time (like myself) saw their inclusion and importance in hc as making it "safe" to be there as well. It was a chaotic time and you couldn't click through the internet to find out if the Circle Jerks, Sex Pistols or whoever else were wearing swastika armbands or singing "White Minority" at the time were really racist or not.

I'd also say that another enormous influence Bad Bains had was to hc's general philosophy. It turned from the more nihilistic ideology of punk and promoted positivity. Even Ian Mackaye said in All Ages that Bad Brains was in influence on the ideology of straight edge.

Dave said...

@Ben Edge

I shouldn't call it a swipe - it's that the band offered a lot more than the single point it's remembered for.. kickstarting "straight edge". In fact Gordo mentions he's "happy" Minor Threat won because he's a "SE dude".

They brought urgency and solidified the running of a DYI record label - one that is still chugging along as far as I know. Don't get your panties in a bunch over how I described the last 30 years of SE... it was more to draw contrast from what MT is remembered for vs. what MT brought to hardcore.

Marty said...

Ok, we all have our favorite bands. SXE or not, if it wasn't for Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys(who toured constantly and started that ball rolling by traveling year 'round), not to mention Husker Du, heck, the list could go on and on...etc. To me, that's significance.

Tom Brose said...

The correct answer is Discharge anyway...

Anonymous said...

Discharge may have been the most influential hardcore band of all time, but the main bulk of their influence wasn't on the hardcore that this blog focuses on. They were definitely an influence on Metallica and the speed metal scene, which sold millions and begat death metal, black metal etc.

Their influence is also more obvious when listening to the hundreds of non-US hardcore bands that borrowed more directly than most American bands did.

Anonymous said...

ok, Black flag were "the pioneers" not in the sense to be the first ones who started playing hardcore, but in the sense they extended it and I think we all agree, but I'm not sure they have had the biggest impact on hardcore. I voted for the Bad brains, why? because their sound has been influencing bands in some way until today. Without the bad brains there wouldn't be UNDERDOG,ABSOLUTION,BURN,VERBAL ASSAULT,SUPERTOUCH, RIGHTEOUS JAMS,MENTAL(and most of lockin'out rec. bands), JUSTICE.. just to name a few

Smitty said...

Actually Discharge was a pretty huge musical influence as the American hardcore bands as well. Necros, Negative Approach and Cro-Mags all cite them as an influence / borrowed a lot musically from them and their records really predate a lot of US stuff. Not Flag or Bad Brains, though pretty concurrent. And yes, were also a huge influence on speed metal, crossover and especially on European hardcore.