“We came to bring a war.”
Freak Flag began in 2008 when Charlottesville, VA resident / indie filmmaker / strange bastard Abrill Macbeth decided to create some old-school punk rock to counter-balance the folky hippie fodder of his hometown. “Our goal, if nothing else, is to make a little bit of noise, cause a little bit of chaos, maybe even inspire people to follow in our footsteps…bring a little more rock to Charlottesville,” says Macbeth. “REAL rock. Not the watered-down, radio-friendly, bull crap rock.”
Long-time friend / guitar shredder / nightly unabomber Hunter Crossfire joined Macbeth, and together, their first batch of songs became the Rejects Unite EP. But it wasn’t until the duo found local drummer / Wisconsin-born UVA boy / Magic gamer Shaver, and Goth punk / music phile / David Bowie worshipper Dami Maddoc that the band’s chemistry was complete. The combined creative output of the four, along with the best songs from Rejects Unite, became the group’s debut full-length, Graffiti Renaissance.
“I wanna make people think,” says Maddoc, co-lead singer and co-bassist. “I wanna wake them up from their stupor.”
The band’s desire to wake people up is evident in the more aggressive material off of Renaissance, such as the title track “Graffiti Renaissance Part 1” and “Anthem of a School Shooter”. “Charlotte Is Vile”, an obvious pun on the name of the band’s stomping grounds, serves as a hymn for anyone feeling disenfranchised and alienated by the city. “Suspicious Prescriptions” is a forceful poem delivered almost like a rap-rock version of Henry Rollins, expressing the ubiquitous punk theme of dissatisfaction with the status quo.
But the subject matter on the album isn’t all about revolution and punk angst. Both Maddoc and Macbeth explore personal subjects as well. Each penned songs inspired by relationship turmoil (Maddoc’s “Two Rings”, and Macbeth’s “The Crimson Muse Conflict”) and relationship whimsy (Macbeth’s “Pickless” and Maddoc’s “Red Face Howls”).
As a complete package, Renaissance is a diverse collection of songs that reveals Freak Flag’s desire to stretch their songwriting muscles as wide as possible. “We never want to get locked into sounding like one thing,” says Macbeth. “We don’t want all of our songs to sound the same.”
“The band started off as a punk band, and we still carry a lot of the punk roots,” Maddoc continues. “We love T.S.O.L., Minor Threat, and The Germs are a huge influence. But the band also has separate influences. Abrill’s very into metalcore and screamy stuff. I have a fond love for Goth music. Rozz Williams, Bauhaus…all that stuff. David Bowie is my god, though.”
Essentially, a punk band with this wide a range of influences equals one with no rules…which was the point of punk rock when it first began, before there was an unwritten rulebook of what is and isn’t punk.
“We list ourselves as punk because we have the mindset of anyone could do it, and also the open-mindedness. You look at bands like Public Image Limited, The Clash, The Damned…those are the bands that survived. And the reason they survived is because they got outside the three chord thing that The Ramones and The Misfits did.”
A nod to the three-chord style is still made in the form of “Fat and Delusional”, a Minor Threat-esque, minute and thirty second rant from Macbeth directed toward the jealous ex of his girlfriend.
On the other side of the spectrum is the experimental, scream-laden “Graffiti Renaissance Part 2”, a sequel to the fists-in-the-air first part with a tragic conclusion. Macbeth and Maddoc repeatedly belt, “Every rebellion fails!” over a blast of drums and distorted bass, which recalls memories of old Killing Joke tracks.
At the end of the disc is a search for meaning and truth in the form of “Rage Against The Dying Of The Light”, a track that takes its title from the Dylan Thomas poem. While Freak Flag’s name is a statement of how proud they are to be different, “Rage” expresses a sentiment anyone with a pulse should be able to relate to. “Guiding light that can’t be seen / I want the end but don’t know the means,” Macbeth croons at the song’s open, reaching out for a lost sense of purpose. But by the song’s conclusion, it sounds as if Macbeth and Maddoc know where they want, and indeed need, to be. “Escape and rise to purpose,” Maddoc whispers as Macbeth states, “This is my place, and I’m not leaving.”
Indeed, Freak Flag have no intentions of deviating from the course they have set for themselves. As they set out to find their fan base and establish themselves in a local (and possibly national) music scene lacking anything close to their sound, they will do so never losing sight of why they came in the first place.
“We came to bring a war.”
released March 30, 2009
Freak Flag is:
Abrill Macbeth - mediocre monotone singer / screamer / bass commander
Dami Maddoc - snotty punk with a goth complex / bass lieutenant
Shaver - bang that shit, drummer boy!!
Hunter Crossfire - guitar shredder by day, unibomber by night / a little bit of
every other instrument when needed. He’s a fucking machine!
Produced and Engineered by David Dillehunt
Recorded at Untouchable Studios, Charlottesville, Virginia
Mixed by David Dillehunt
Mastered by Channel Fuse Media
All songs written and performed by Freak Flag
All lyrics by Abrill Macbeth and Dami Maddoc
Art Direction and Design by Abrill Macbeth
Songs and sporadic moments of insanity are trademarked!
If you steal our stuff, we WILL find you!