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Formed in the small town of Sunnymead, California, White Flag became a puzzling and occasional legend in punk history. The band was formed in 1982, including core members Pat Fear, Trace Element, Doug Graves, and El Fee. They released their self-produced debut LP S Is for Space, also in 1982. The album got rave reviews and sold over 25,000 copies. The band soon developed a large following, and began including members of other punk groups in the L.A. area, several of which made guest appearances on their 1984 LP Third Strike. The album sold more than 30,000 copies. In 1987, White Flag released their most popular LP, Wild Kingdom, which also produced the band's most popular single, "Face Down."
Over the years, many musicians have passed through the ranks of White Flag. The band's recordings or live performances have at one time featured both Ken Stringfellow (who appears under the name Kim Crimson) and Jon Auer of the Posies, Kim Shattuck and Ronnie Barnett of the Muffs, Jeff McDonald and Steve McDonald of Redd Kross, Greg Hetson from Bad Religion, Dale Crover from the Melvins, and Eric Erlandson from Hole, to name only a few.
Mostly inactive during the '90s, White Flag released their 11th full-length Eternally Undone on Houston Party Records in 1999, the first from the band since 1989. Occasional touring during the 2000s included several jaunts to Europe, but another ten years passed before the group came together again for a full-length LP, 2010's Benefit for Cats. Pat Fear died from natural causes in 2013, but the band continued with Trace Element, Jello B. Afro, and Mike Mess.