Eighties electronic duo Red Flag performed for the first time in San Diego since 2002 on April 22 at the House of Blues. Originally a project of siblings Chris and Mark Reynolds, the show marked the first local date since the latter’s suicide on April 7, 2003.
The Reynolds family relocated to the U.S. in the mid-’60s from Liverpool, arriving in San Diego in 1970. Chris Reynolds admits there was culture shock. “I remember being picked on at school because of my accent,” he laughed. It was Mark Reynolds’s purchase of a synthesizer in 1982 that got the ball rolling for the pair. Originally named Shades of May, in 1984 the two contributed their track “Distant Memories” to a 91X-sponsored compilation album, Local Heroes.
The brothers changed their name to Red Flag and signed to Enigma Records in 1989. Their debut album, Naïve Art, scored them two dance hits on the Billboard charts with “Russian Radio” (#11) and “If I Ever” (#12). The band appeared on ABC’s American Bandstand and MTV’s 120 Minutes, but following the release of a remix album, Naïve Dance, internal label strife brought their connection with Enigma to an end. The brothers moved to IRS Records in 1992 for the release of Machines. They founded their own label, Plan B Records, in 1996, releasing 11 albums and two box sets to date.
Mark’s death brought operations to a halt until 2007, when Chris released Born Again. Since then, he has played a handful of shows and is now looking to return to music full time.
For Reynolds the decision to use the Red Flag name wasn’t taken lightly. “It’s something I still think about; it was a hard choice. But, I was Red Flag too, and in the long run, I think it would be a disservice to the music and all that we’d built up to use something else.”
A change in the current edition of Red Flag is the use of live musicians. “It’s an electronic band, so using computers I could do it all alone, but I get lonely by myself up there,” he joked. “Besides, there’s no way that a bass player, for example, could play what’s on the records without computers involved, as some tracks have three simultaneous lines interlinked. But having live musicians adds something that’s both visually appealing and makes the sound more epic.”
Plans include a new album later this year (Nemesis), a package tour next summer with ’80s-era artists, and a move toward producing and remixing other performers. “In starting over, I’m being very selective about the shows I’ll play. I have a family, and touring is grueling.”