Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Interview with Kira Roessler of Black Flag
Photo from www.alicebag.com
By Chris Carlton
EDITOR'S NOTE: I would like to state that I do not do interviews with the purpose of being confrontational or mean-spirited to the artist. This is a hobby for me, and a fun one at that. I send out many interview requests and get very few back considering. So the ones I do get, I appreciate. I would never go out of my way to be rude or hurtful of anyone's feelings. That being said, here is my interview with Kira Roessler.
Squid Pro Quo: Thank you for taking the time to talk with Squid Pro Quo, Kira. A lot of people may remember you as a former member of the legendary band, Black Flag. Can you give us a little history as to what you were doing before, and how you got involved with the band?
Kira Roessler: "I played piano from 6 to 11. I started playing bass at 14 to join my brother's prog-rock band. I was never good enough to do that. My brother and I got into punk rock and we started playing together in my first band, Waxx. I played in several other bands in the Los Angeles area for 7 years before I joined BF. I knew the guys in BF from shows and stuff, they were my favorite band when I was playing in DC3 with Dez Cadena and Henry (Rollins) called and asked if I wanted to stay after DC3 practice and jam with Bill and Greg (we practiced at the same place). After we jammed, they asked me to join.
SPQ: During your time in Black Flag did you find it difficult being a female in a predominately male, and I'm sure ignorant, punk world?
KR: "Um...ignorant? You mean that a woman might be able to play? I guess I disagree with the premise. And as to it being difficult to be a woman, I have no real frame of reference. As I mentioned, I played bass for years before BF, so I never felt that it was significant that I was a woman; I knew I could do whatever I set my mind to. That being said, it was an extremely difficult physical challenge to be in BF."
SPQ: How do you feel punk and hardcore in general has changed since the early '80s? Do you feel it's gotten better or worse?
KR: "I have no idea. I do not participate enough to have an opinion. As for 'punk' and 'hardcore,' what is the difference? I mean, hardcore is more punk than punk? We (in BF) never called ourselves 'hardcore;' that was others and after the fact." Punk was supposed to be about going against what was (I thought) so I am not attracted to bands who are following some rules about what they think they should play or look like. So hopefully it has changed in the sense that it doesn't sound anything like it did then."
SPQ: What's your relationship with your former band mates? Do you still keep in touch?
KR: "Not really. I have had minimal contact with them."
SPQ: Do you think there will be a Black Flag reunion, and would you be interested in playing if it happened?
KR: "Greg did play a gig with some former members. I have no idea but if I had to guess, I would say that he doesn't want to do a re-hash and I would tend to agree. As to whether I would do it, the opportunity to play with those guys would be very tempting."
SPQ: Post-Black Flag, you were in the band, dos, with Mike Watt. Over the years, you both recorded a few albums, the last being the '96 album, Justamente Tres. Are there any plans for a new dos album or possible tour?
KR: "Dos has a fourth record coming out in July. As for tours, Mike is a busy guy and I work for a living, so the most likely thing is that we do some gigs here and there like we have for 25 years."
SPQ: Do you have any favorite albums or songs that you've played on?
KR: "Because you didn't mention them, I will mention that I played on Twisted Roots recordings and with a band called Approximation. Dos is probably the sentimental favorite because I express myself the most in that format and happen to really like the bass. I also have come to appreciate writing material that breathes and where there are spaces, as supposed to more of the 'wall of sound' effect."
SPQ: You're an Emmy-winning dialogue editor who's worked on television as well as such feature films as Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and more recently, Twilight: New Moon. How did you get started in the editing field?
KR: "Actually, through playing bass. My brother was working on composing some music for a student film that a guy named Bryan Franklin was editing/mixing. Bryan was running a small company that specialized in sound editing. We became friends and after a couple of years, I twisted his arm into hiring me. I started just answering phones and doing office work as I learned to be an editor."
SPQ: What's more fun for you: playing music or working on TV and films in the editing department?
KR: "There's that 'fun' word; always trips me up. OK, here we go. If I have to use that word, the most 'fun' is writing songs or bass lines in my room. Playing live has so many elements to it aside from the actual playing that it is therefore, less 'fun.' And work is challenging, at times creative, at times exhausting and demanding. I get paid well, so there are perhaps 'fun' moments, but they can be fleeting. I would use the word 'satisfying' for all these things."
SPQ: I know recently your home was burglarized and your custom-made bass was stolen, only to be retrieved about a week or so later, and the thief arrested. What's happened to this guy since then? Has be been prosecuted?
KR: "I have no idea whether he was even arrested. The last thing I knew was that the police had a copy of his driver's license. Remember they probably couldn't even prove he was in my house, just that he was in possession of stolen goods. They would only have followed up with me if they had come across other stolen items from my home, which they did not."
SPQ: What was it like getting that call saying your bass was found? You must have been ecstatic.
KR: "I was. I rushed to the police station and the officer said he usually makes the person explain how they know the item is theirs, but the look on my face said it all."
SPQ: Well, us fans are very happy you were reunited with your bass. Is there a website that you would like to plug where fans can get in touch with you and find out what you're up to these days?
KR: I have a Facebook page and post to it pretty regularly. Won't be long before I hit my 5,000 friends and then I will have to create another site, but I will and there is a dos Facebook page too.
SPQ: I can't thank you enough for taking the time to talk with Squid Pro Quo, Kira. It's such an honor and a pleasure. Thanks again.
EDITORS NOTE: Upon receiving Miss Roessler's answers, I realized maybe I should have worded my second question differently, as to not confuse what my intentions were. Below is an open letter to Miss Roessler, and her response.
SPQ: Thank you very much for the interview and your time.
I want to apologize for any misunderstanding on question 2. What I meant by "ignorant" was the fact that there were so many guys playing in punk bands that they seemed quite macho and ignorant to a certain degree; too much machismo going on, it seemed to me. It wasn't until I heard "Not Just Boys Fun" by 7 Seconds that I actually heard a band stick up for women in punk rock. And Kevin saying that women are just as talented and strong as the guys. So, I am sorry. I should have rephrased that question.
But again I want to thank you for your time. I really do appreciate it.
All the best,
KR: "And I am standing by my disagreement. In Hollywood when punk was starting, there were lots of girls in bands and not in bands who were key parts of the movement. The faces gracing the covers of the fanzines were as likely to be female as male. A little later, the Orange County effect occurred and the scene did skew a little more male, but the women defined the fashion, for example. And again, I never really caught shit for being a girl."