Music is My Life: Episode 068

Black Flag bassist Kira Roessler on being in a band with Rollins and Ginn, and her solo debut, at 60!

Kira Roessler of Black Flag by Jack Grisham

Kira Roessler played bass in a little band called Black Flag for about two years, during which time the hardcore punk outfit put out seven(!) records. It was the band’s most prolific period, and the band did all of this while Kira was attending college, full-time. Now Kira is promoting her first solo album, at the age of 60! 

The album—out now on Kitten Robot Records—is simply called Kira, as she says, “my last name is Roessler, though I don’t usually use it.” Kira is an intensely personal record, reflecting on a love and loss that she speaks about extensively in this interview. 

Her bass playing here has more of a liquid feel than the hard-driving bass lines that she was known for laying down in Black Flag, syncing up with drummer Bill Stevenson and providing a foundation for guitarist Greg Ginn to launch off of, and for Henry Rollins to deliver his genre-defining shouts. But playing outside of the constraints of hardcore punk is nothing new to Kira. Her playing in Dos saw her interweaving lines with Minuteman bassist Mike Watt, to whom she was married for a time. Kira also speaks extensively about Mike Watt in this interview, and how Dos functioned as a support system for him after the sudden death of Minuteman singer and guitarist D. Boon, before Watt founded fIREHOSE.

“Somebody told me that Greg said after he saw me play in Dos years later, ‘I never knew that Kira could do stuff like that.’” she says, with an incredulous laugh.

Kira also discusses her current career as a dialogue editor, for which she has won two Emmy awards; in 2012 for her work on Game of Thrones and in 2008 for her work on John Adams. She also won an Oscar in 2016 for her work on Mad Max: Fury Road, which won the award for Best Sound Editing. You can also see the name “Kira Roessler”during the credits of Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and the Twilight movie, New Moon

But don’t let all of these professional credits fool you. “I’m still a non-conformist punk rocker, and continue on to this day,” she says.

Kira also shares choice anecdotes about five-hour practices, going with Henry Rollins to get matching tattoos of the iconic Black Flag logo, and about living alone in Los Angeles with her brother, Paul Roessler, at the age of 16. Over the years, the siblings’ relationship evolved from combative to competitive to collaborative, and finally to co-producer, as the pair worked together to bring Kira into the world.