I’ve been writing for The Black Flag for just over a year – from Oct 2011 to present in fact- and, my how things have changed here at Black Flag towers in that time. So cast your mind back, if you will, to late 2011. It’s the year of riots both good and bad (Egypt and UK respectively), an extra bank holiday which coincided with some form of posh do and the death of Amy Winehouse. It was also, and slightly less newsworthy, when I realised I had no hobby. Gone were the days of running with the Sharks as we rumbled with those no good Jets, long gone were the days when I actually lived in reality. So I contemplated what should I turn my hand to next as a way to keep me out of mischief.
I’ve always had a love of music and found at school and college that English was one of the few subjects (that and a weird talent for all things textiles based) that I was actually half decent at. So with the question in my mind of how to turn these likes into a hobby, like many people before me and many more since, in my hourof questioning I turned to the internet. Using a generic search engine I typed in ‘music contributors wanted’ and lo and behold, what appeared? Yes, a Japanese website dedicated to a singing cat. It was asking for contributors to help publicise this musically ‘talented’ animal phenomenon. Now, my knowledge of cats is limited and my knowledge of Japanese is even more limited so I searched again but this time with ‘alternative’ in the word search…(Cue dramatic music)
You could almost hear the search engine say, as my finger pressed the enter key, “Singing cats not enough for you? Right, let’s see how you like this” as it unleashed its great power like a master unleashing his great dogs of war. It delved into the depths of its knowledge, searched the furthest corners of its expanse and returned a new list of results. Emerging from this list, riding high and way out in front, was the good ship The Black Flag. I clicked the link. It was black and shadowy and run by someone called Steve Kleenex (the editor in case you don’t know)….my mind raced…I wondered, “What if it was a front for a sect hell bent on world domination through the use of fire and brimstone?”………… (What exactly is Brimstone? answers on a postcard please)……….. But it featured some bands I knew and they were looking for writers…my mind wasn’t sure what to do…’meow’………”what was that? Oh jeez, it’s that f**king singing cat!” Quick as a flash I dashed off an email to them expressing my interest and pressed send. Now the waiting game…
About 30 minutes later I had a reply and after a swift exchange of emails I had managed, somehow and in no way due to the box of doughnuts I sent, to convince them to give me an article to write for them. The Flag had only come into existence in July of that year and I was one of the first people to contribute to it – a big responsibility! My first article was on Alternative models and I wasn’t really sure where to start. However with a bit of research, a fair bit of tequila and some good luck I wrote an article which the Flag felt was good enough to post. I am pretty sure, if you look hard enough, it is still floating around on this site somewhere. If you stumble over it be kind dear reader, I was young!
Since starting to write for The Black Flag I’ve listened to bands I’ve never heard off, reviewed albums I’ve loved since childhood, interviewed stars of the past and future and been asked to attend Antichrist gig nights – sacrifices not included. I’ve actually had positive feedback from readers on my articles – not lots admittedly but some and that, my friends, is better than none. I know, and in fact the others here at the Flag know, that I am not the most alternative of people. I don’t wear make-up, I try desperately hard not to slaughter any vestal virgins and my personal musical tastes rarely get any more current than 1998 but I’ve been welcomed with open arms .Sure at first, I’ll admit, I thought they were reaching for my wallet but the Flag has become a happy home for my writing. The site has changed to; it’s gone from its infancy to its teenage years in little over a year. It now regularly attracts 35,000 plus visitors a month, has a shop (it’s a boutique shop maybe but it’s a shop nonetheless) and put on its first gig night last October. Its army of contributors now numbers more than one (which is a good thing because I’m not really an army and I hate khaki) and the content has grown in volume and quality since. It’s not stopping there either. Its ‘adult’ years are ahead of it and the future for that looks just as good, with plans afoot left, right and indeed centre.
The point of this article, if there is one, is twofold. One, it’s to say that if you’re considering doing something for the first time – be it writing for a site (maybe us?), learning how to make brimstone (let me know!) or whatever you want to do – give it a go. The worse that can happen is that you create brimstone and in doing so become the most powerful person on earth with an army of bible wielding followers. The best is that you’ll actually enjoy your new hobby and alongside it find a new talent or skill you never knew you had. The second point? It’s that the Flag is flying high and proud and we thank you for your continued support………..and praise The Black Flag towers that I never had to write about that bas**rd cat……..
Words: Brian McKay
The Black Flag – Alternative Music & Culture is always on the look out for new contributors. Anyone interested should contact firstname.lastname@example.org