If you know underground hardcore then you probably know former Cro-Mags frontman, Harley Flanagan. Flanagan recently released his twelve track, 24 minute assault titled Cro-Mags. Flanagan began his career as a child prodigy, drumming for the Stimulators and bouncing around the lower east-side music scene experiencing the best and worst of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. The past few years have been difficult for Flanagan with various legal troubles, but he has persevered and is planning more writing and recording with a new album already almost completely written. We recently spoke with Harley via email to ask him about his new album, legal troubles and his writing and recording process.
You recently released your new album and it’s twelve tracks and 24 minutes of total craziness. How would you describe Cro-Mags to those who aren’t familiar with your work?
Flanagan: If you are familiar with other Cro-Mags or Harley’s War (music), it has a similar style. People keep telling me its the most The Age of Quarrel-sounding record since AOQ, if you are not familiar with Cro-Mags HW or AOQ, I would just say it’s fast, old-school hardcore type stuff with some heavy breakdown parts and the lyrics are raw.
There’s a lot of intensity built into this record. What song stands out for you as being your favorite or the one you feel is the best?
Flanagan: I like them all so it’s hard for me to pick.
What was the writing and recording like for Cro-Mags? From the beginning of writing to the finished product, how long did this record take to make?
Flanagan: I started writing it back in 2012 but then a lot of things happened that kind of got in the way of finishing it up (Webster Hall, Court etc. etc), so it took a bit longer than it should have.
You’ve experienced some legal troubles over the last few years which I’m sure have been difficult to deal with. How has your music helped inspire you to get through these tough times?
Flanagan: It wasn’t the type of inspiration I would want, but It gave me a place to vent, at the same time it kind of had me stuck in a place that wasn’t very positive; I was pissed, I was frustrated, I felt betrayed. All of these things can help you write an album, but not a very happy or positive one. I am in a much better place now, but it did help make a really aggressive record.
Photo credit: Fernando Godoy
Cro-Mags is really your first proper solo release. Did you record this album largely on your own or did you work with a band?
Flanagan: I did all the demos myself, I tracked everything on acoustic first, then me and drummer Pablo Silva went in and did bass and drums together. After that I had different guitarists come in and lay down tracks.
Will there be a Cro-Mags follow-up coming any time soon?
Flanagan: I am scheduled to go into the studio in the end of March. I have most of a new album written already.
Thanks for agreeing to speak to us. What touring plans do you have in store for the coming months?
Flanagan: Nothing planned as of right now, but I am looking forward to getting out and doing some shows soon. I have a book coming out soon as well, so it should be a busy year.
Check out the song “Guilty Until Proven Innocent” here.