The history of New York hardcore band the Cro-Mags is littered with turbulence and, yes, inter-band stabbings. Indeed, there are currently two versions of the band on the road, through founding member Harley Flanagan has the sole rights to use the name Cro-Mags as is. But beyond all of that crap, the band has released some incredible music, including recent EP Don’t Give In. They play the Roxy this week, so we chatted…
L.A. WEEKLY: The recent history of the Cro-Mags has been pretty turbulent, but the current lineup is tight — how settled does it feel?
HARLEY FLANAGAN: When you have seen and been through as much as I have, I don’t know if you feel “settled” or you feel ” in the moment.” I am very aware of what is going on in my life in the moment, literally appreciating everything as it is happening, the friendships, the relationships, the fans of the music, just breathing and being alive, being present to the moment.
You just put out the Don’t Give In EP a couple of months ago — have you been pleased with the response?
Oh, hell yeah, it’s been almost overwhelming; and the rest of the songs on the forthcoming 2020 album are not going to disappoint. There is another single dropping Friday the 11th with guitar legend Phil Campbell of Motorhead who I have known and been friends with since I toured with him in the ’80s. He plays some amazing slide guitar and lead on a song that was kind of about the inspiration for taking my name [Cro-MAGS] back. It’s called “From The Grave” Lemmy spoke to me in a dream and said “Take it back mate, it’s yours, you started it,” and well …here we are.
What do you think of the state of hardcore in 2019?
I can’t tell you; I don’t really go to shows unless I’m playing. I haven’t really since the ’80s, so I couldn’t tell you much about the bands. I still listen to the old stuff. I only know a few new bands, mostly ones I have played with. I have seen a bunch of good ones, but it’s hard for me to keep track of them all. I do think it’s time for HC to lose all the fake gang wannabe tough guy BS, and I think that it is. I think that really killed it in a lot of ways, and people are starting to realize that. As far as I’m concerned, real tough guys fight in cages for money and/or fight Isis or struggle to make positive changes in the world; they don’t bully people at shows and jump people. I think that shit is cowardly and weak, but fortunately I’m seeing it less and less.
What can we expect from your L.A. set?
We have been mixing it up a lot. We have been doing songs from just about every Cro-Mags album as well as new stuff, so you’ll get a little bit of everything.
When that’s done, what’s next for the band?
By the time this story is at press the single with Phil Campbell will be out, the vinyl EP with 3 tracks will be out in early December, and the full length LP will be out in early 2020; I was just in a movie called Between Wars directed and produced by Tom Phillips, featuring Michael Imperioli which will hopefully be out in 2020, and I am also working with some amazing people on a documentary and scripted series about my history. And that is just some of it; there are so many things going on my head is kind of spinning.
Cro-Mags plays with Dead 77 and Amygdala at 9 p.m. on Friday, October 18 at the Roxy.