Part 3 of Henry’s 2009 Interviews
To me, your creative output represents growing up really well, you start out super pissed off, everything was black and white back then. Your early writing is the angriest stuff ever and it’s like you hate everything, even yourself. Then as you get older it becomes self effacing and humorous etc, are there any things you would tell your 19/20/21 year old self, that might have made his ride a little easier?
==== Not really. I think one should process all this stuff, learn all the lessons and make ones own way. Making the ride easier would have been the wrong thing to do. Those were some good times. Advice isn’t always a good thing.
What were your 5 favourite records when you were 21 and what your five favourites now?
==== The Black Album by The Damned, Diminished Responsibility by the UK Subs, Generation X by Generation X, Fun House by The Stooges, Psychedlic Jungle by The Cramps. It is impossible to make a definitive top anything. I like all kinds of music so I really can’t do it. Those were records I played a lot in those days. I still listen to all of them. Some of my favorites now are Here Come The Warm Jets by Eno, Primary Colours by The Horrors, Beyond by Dinosaur Jr., The Devil You Know by Heaven & Hell and Et Cetera by Flin Flon.
Tell us a bit about the Fanatic book series, have you read 31 songs by Nick Hornby? I like how a life can be mapped by the records listened to during that life.
==== The Fanatic! books are just a middle aged man making a fanzine. They were fun to write and many people have written me and said they liked them. They are endless collections of annotations of songs. I have never read the Hornby book. I read one of his books many years ago and really liked it.
What attracted you to punk rock, as prep school kid?
==== That someone was angry and on a record. Nothing unique there. I was relieved that there was someone awake out there. It was the music I had been waiting for all my life.
What is private school like in America? I went to a strict all boys boarding school here and was once asked to remove a Metal Hammer poster of the Rollins Band from my wall, as it was considered to send out the wrong message to perspective pupils that often toured the boarding house.
=== My private school experience wasn’t all that bad. I went to a prep school where they had me in a uniform. Most of my instructors were ex military but cool enough. Basically, if you did your homework, they left you alone. I kid of ghosted through school. Never really a part of the place.
Where you an awkward teen/bad with girls/arguing with parents/pimply face and all that?
==== I was unable to connect with women but my skin was clear and didn’t fight with my parents. I spent a good deal of time away from them. I would work after school and on the weekends. I had my own life very early on. I wasn’t part of their lives and they weren’t part of mine. I was incredibly awkward, that hasn’t changed much.
Why did you drop out of college?
==== I went for a single semester. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like being around my fellow students and their love of beer, pot and parties, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to pay for four years of it either. Just the one semester cleaned me out. I don’t think I even showed up for some of the exams. I knew it wasn’t me.
A lot of people, authority figures and such, would have considered punk rock to be a bad influence, but to you it was clearly a motivator and an inspiration for a killer work ethic, why do you think it inspired you and continues to inspire kids? I kind of feel sorry for kids today (myself included!) who weren’t there from the start
===== I think the music allows you to work things out. You can really bring things to a boil. It’s a place to go with all that anger. Better than crime, better than drugs. I already had the work ethic. I don’t think it matters when you were born or when you got into the music. You missed some good shows but there’s good shows happening next week so it’s cool.
What was it like to be involved in something like the DC scene? Did you know it was the start of something so important?
==== I can tell you what it was like to be in the DC scene. When I was there, things were small and that was pretty cool. You could walk up to the front of the stage and be close up on the band. I used to watch the Bad Brains and The Cramps, bands like that, from a few feet away, get sweated on by Dee Dee Ramone, etc. Those were really good times. Also, I had a feeling that we were really onto something. I was at the first Minor Threat show and knew that this was more than a band and some fans. I was right about that. It was a great thing to be in and a small part of.
What made you take the leap from listening to records in your room to deciding to get out there and do it yourself?
==== A true desire to be that guy with the microphone onstage. I wanted to yell and go nuts. Punk Rock made me think that was possible.
What do you think of today’s hardcore bands? Are there any bands, hardcore or otherwise, around today that you think come close to the spirit/energy of the earlier eighties? What do you think sits in the place of hardcore for the kids today? Surely there’s always going to have to be a space for pissed off smart kids to vent?
===== I don’t think it’s right to compare and contrast really. I think it’s best to let bands be in their own time. I was lucky to be young at a time when great bands were all around. There are great bands now. I think the one thing that has changed over the years is that a lot of the music form and behavior has become ritualized and formulaic. This leads to stagnation and a lack of spontaneity. I think young people find their way no matter what though and there’s some great, innovative music happening now. I am not well versed in what is considered Hardcore these days. The stuff I have been checking out by young people is more on the strange and noisey side of things.
What was touring like back then in those unenlightened times? One of my favourite stories in American Hardcore is about Teen Idles visiting Disney Land and haggling with the guard there about your Mohawk… You got any other good ones? No one eats dogfood anymore…
===== It was Jeff and Nathan who had the hair that set off the guards. Those times were very challenging. The path wasn’t cleared so many bands had to go into a sometimes hostile envionment to do their thing. Venue owners who hated the bands, the police who didn’t get it, the locals who wanted to kick some ass, all of this made for some eventful nights to say the least. I didn’t enjoy that aspect of it very much. I got in a lot of fights, got banged up pretty good, hurt some men pretty badly as well.
Why did you feel you wanted to start 2.13.61? What made you want to write as a younger man?
=== I wanted my own little company to put out my dumb little books. I wasn’t looking for approval from anyone so I started it myself. I was inspired to write by Henry Miller and his book Black Spring. That one had a big effect on me. I was writing purposfully before I read that one but he really gave me a shot in the arm.
You used to take a skateboard on tour, where you ever much good? What did you love about skateboarding?
===== I don’t believe I did. We had one at SST that Stacy Peralta gave me after mine was stolen but I don’t remember taking it on the road. I skated very intently from 14 to 18 and some after that. I was never any good at it though. I had a lot of fun. I liked the indepence the thing gave me. It was the way we hung out back in those days.
I read an interview in a skate zine with Ian Mackaye, who said he still skates occasionally, you ever get tempted?
Do you have any advice for DIY zine makers today? Do you write a blog?
==== I don’t have any advice besides to just write as much as you can. I write for VanityFair.com and on my own site.
How is your relationship with the police these days? It used not to be so great.
==== I am not a criminal so if all things are right, they have no reason to give me any special attention. I am left alone by law enforcement.
You’ve done a lot of stuff for the West Memphis 3, what’s their current status? Do you have a good relationship with those guys and what are they like as people?
==== They are still in prison. They are good people and in my opinion, totally innocent of the charges.
What’s up with gay rights in America? How are you involved?
==== I am an American who believes in The Constitution. If you are gay and want to be married to a person of the same sex, I don’t see what the problem with that is. That’s what’s up. I am involved basically as a straight male who thinks it’s unfair that people are discriminated against because of something that is out of their control and no harm at all.
What is the work you are most proud of?
=== I don’t do pride.
I just read the transcript of your speech you gave a few days ago at Sonoma State (wikipedia is great), it’s stirring stuff! You got any general messages for the kids of today?
===== Be part of the solution, think globally. Get out there.
01. How are you?
==== I am over budget, behind schedule, underachieving, a little stressed. Past that, pretty good.
02. We hear you’re doing some kind of sitcom called Sons Of Anarchy, how’s that?
======= It’s going well. We’re about 5 episodes into the 13. I am not in every one of them and I never know if I am in the next one until I see the script a few days before they shoot. I never know when my last week is. It is a very good show and the cast and crew are all very cool people and extremely talented. It’s hard to keep up with them.
03. You may have noticed while in Australia that we don’t get the most comprehensive news down here so can you give us an idea what the political climate over there is like after Obama’s first hundred days of presidency?
====== It seems that president Obama can’t satisfy anyone. The people who voted for him are mad that he’s not doing this or that enough, spending too much here, not moving fast enough there, etc. Personally, I don’t understand his bailout of the automotive industry. I am sorry to see all those good men and women hit the streets unemployed but if these companies can’t keep up, then they should go under, like mine would if it didn’t earn out. I wish he wouldn’t devote so much troop strength and money to Afghanistan, I see that as a long time loser for every one who has fought there. I do think he has good ideas. Now, the people who didn’t vote for him are awfully angry. For all kinds of reasons. If we are to believe the things people say online, he’s black, that’s a problem. His wife is as well and constantly gets compared to a gorilla or someone from the film Plant Of the Apes. Nice. These are the people I share a land mass with. They call the president a socialist, communist, Marxist, etc. They seem to have short and selective memories. They don’t remember that they had their guy in office for 8 years and a lot of people died and many are now broke. President Obama is somehow magically at fault for this. Apparently his speech in Cairo was a failure and we’re all unsafe now. This is what I have to listen to all the time. The very loud minority in America are quite an embarrassment to those of us who are not addicted to pain pills and who actually read.
04. I’ve heard you speak a lot about your musical heroes like Iggy, Paul Fox, Coltrane and Hubert Selby Junior in regards to writing but is there anyone you looked up to for the strength of character and the serious zero bullshit tolerance that you’ve always had going on?
==== Ian MacKaye and Muhammad Ali.
05. I went to your (awesome, Melbourne three and a half hour) Provoked show last year, and spent the afternoon before hand checking out old interviews with you online. I was so struck by the vast difference between the younger Henry and the benevolent, optimistic force you were on stage – Is it okay to ask what might have changed?
===== Perhaps some more laps around the track, more experience, more interaction with the world. That would be my guess, seems logical. It’s not a conscious decision on my part to end up a certain way. I have noticed that ever since I started earning enough money to sustain myself, I have been able to do more for others.
06. Do you get to see much live music these days? Is there anyone you recommend we look out for?
===== I see shows when I can. I just saw The Meat Puppets play the other night, they were very good. I have tickets to see Dinosaur Jr. play two nights next week. Sleepy Sun is a new band that is getting a lot of notice. I imagine they will be on your shore at some point.
07. When are you coming back to Melbourne?
===== I believe it’s next year, near the time of the Melbourne Comedy Festival.
You can download photos at http://www.threeam.net/rollins/. Photo credit: Maura Lanahan.
1) What first made me a fan of yours was the anger and intensity of the music. You could hear that this wasn’t fake. Was punk just in you?
==== I was a very angry person and that music helped my scream find a mouth, so to speak. I think you will find that in a lot of people no matter what kind of music they gravitate to. When I first heard The Ramones, The Clash and bands like that, I knew my boat had come in. Before that, it was all Ted Nugent and Van Halen. They weren’t bad but they weren’t mad like I was.
2) What motivated you then? And what motivated and influences you now?
===== I am motivated now by the same things I have always been. Anger, curiosity. When I was younger, there was a lot more me me me and as an older person, I think more of we we we.
3) You’re a very physical performer. After seeing you live I couldn’t believe how much you put into every performance. What is the live performance to you?
===== Live performance is everything. It’s what you practice for, train for, etc. It’s an obsession for me, always has been. Black Flag had a very strong emphasis on the live show, that was all we were about. That’s what I know to do. That’s the thing that will keep you out there, you have to be able to deliver over and over, year after year, no matter what. It takes a good deal of my time.
4) Can you tell me a little about your publishing company 21361? Is literature a big thing in your life?
====== My publishing company is very small and at this point, just puts out my stuff and takes care of keeping my stuff in circulation. I used to publish other people’s stuff but I don’t anymore. I would rather work with less people and work harder on less things. Literature is a big part of my life although I don’t read a great deal of it anymore. I read mostly nonfiction but most of my heroes are writers of literature, F Scott Fitzgerald, Henry Miller, Camus, people like that.
5) Black Flag and Rollins band always had great artwork going on. Are there any artists that you like and why?
==== It’s not a world I know much about really. I can’t list ten contemporary artists. It’s just not a direction that I ever looked in. I don’t go to many museums and when I do, it’s usually to see something ancient, like in Cairo or somewhere like that. My favorite painter is Francis Bacon because I think he paints people very clearly.
6) Reading your notes about touring it seems real intense. How does touring take it out of you?
===== It’s pretty much my life so it’s how I relate to the world and to my life. I know who I know and live how I do on and off the road because of my life on the road. When I am not touring, I feel like I am on shore leave. It’s not good. Touring has its effects. It can limit your view of things and it can lead to stagnation. It’s a ritual and it doesn’t change all that much day to day, year to year. My tours often go almost a year and a half. There are breaks between legs of the tour and usuallly I go somewhere for awhile to recharge, like last year, I spent a lot of time in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Burma.
7) Do you think you’ve mellowed at all with time. Or have you just learnt to direct your intensity and drive?
===== I think I come at all things with a wider lens from having been around the track a few more times since I was young. I still work every day but some things that used to get me angry don’t any more. Like if someone tears me a new one in a review or something, I don’t care but when I was younger, I would all mad about it.
8) What does punk rock mean to you?
======= Thinking for yourself. That’s the main thing I learned from all that.
9) Finally, as this is Good vs Evil, can you tell me what for you is Heaven and what is Hell?
==== Heaven is sleep and as Jean-Paul Sartre said, Hell is other people.
Also, if it’s okay, can I send you a paper copy of my magazine?
1. You are committed, what is not really surprising in the hardcore scene, you supported the “West Memphis 3” and released an album (‘Rise Above’) with covers of black flags songs with several artists, why supporting these three teenagers?
Could you tell me more about the making of this album and how the choice of artists came to you?
======= I believe that Jason, Jesse and Damien are innocent. I wanted to be of help. We made the record with the help of a lot of people. I called up people who I thought would either know about the case and want to help or want to learn about the case and want to help. Thankfully, many of the people we called already knew about it and threw in quickly. The album was a lot of work as the singers had to come in from everywhere. Sometimes we sent the tapes to them. It was more time spent on the phone than I have ever experienced. I think we made a good album and we raised a lot of money and gave it to the WM3.
2. How did you decide to tour with the United Service Organization and join the IAVA, while you seem to be all but patriotic?
========== You are wrong. I am patriotic. The American military got used as employees for corporations under Bush. I was glad to be able to visit the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. I learned a lot from those trips that helped me refine my views on the Bush administration. IAVA is doing the work that the VA isn’t doing, they are a very good organization working to make things better for these kids when they come home with their heads screwed up. So, now that we have your error cleared up, my decision to work with these two organizations was immediate as it’s the right thing to do.
3. Being French I was wondering what your opinion is on our French president Nicolas Sarkozy, how do you feel about Barack Obama, do you have any expectations?
==== I have no opinion on Sarkozy. I think president Obama has inherited a nightmare and will have to work very hard to neutralize the harm done by the past administration. That might very well be all he gets done in the 4 or 8 years he has. I have no expectations. The path he is on is very steep.
4. You are at the moment touring with your spoken words, did you to choose to perform on stage because you missed it or is it a different way of voicing your beliefs?
===== I have been doing talking shows since 1983. It is a great way to be very current and it corresponds very closely to how I live my life at this point.
5. You will be playing in Belgium for the Werchter festival on July 3rd, why did the singer of Black Flag accept to be part of such a festival, knowing it’s not really underground but very popular?
====== That is a stupid question. Are you stupid? Here’s a smart answer to your stupid question: it’s a great opportunity to perform and to be heard.
6. I saw you will appear in “Sons of Saturn” for their second season, you are playing a neo nazi, why did you accept the role and what did you do to fit it?
======= I don’t know about that but I will be in a show called Sons Of Anarchy. I took the role because the guy is very conflicted and interesting and it’s fun to be a bad guy. I didn’t really do much to fit the part but get a haircut.
7. “A preferred blur” will be released in september, could you tell us a bit more about it?
==== It is travel journals of mine from the year of 2008.
I would really like to see Deathdealer: A Documentary. I searched for it in some movie webshops, the only result I’ve got was a book about Rudolf Hoss, that nazi-dude… We want to see Deathdealer in a Swedish theater soon. Can you fix that?
===== I was told the thing is on I-Tunes. It’s only 12 minutes or so. It’s pretty cool.
I haven’t been able to find out if the movie Suck will be distributed to Swedish theaters. Let’s hope for the best. But it seems to be nice a nice mix of fun and horror. And I can think of a lot more boring colleagues to work with than Iggy Pop and Alice Cooper. Do you have any anecdotes to share with us?
====== I was on the set very briefly. I am in one short scene that takes place in a radio station. It’s not much but it was a lot of fun to do. I think it will be good when it comes out. I didn’t see any of the famous rockstar cast though.
In the movie Feast your character Coach really deliver some funny lines. Have you always considered yourself to be a funny guy?
===== No. Humor finds me now and then. It’s nothing I try all that hard to do because I think it wouldn’t work too well if I was reaching for it. Sometimes, if I can see the humor in a situation, I can get it to work. The character in that film was such a jerk, it was pretty easy.
If Coach is a very soft guy, your character Dale Murphy in Wrong turn 2: Dead end is a little tougher. Cannibalism seems to be a nice ingredient in horror movies, that’s understandable for obvious reasons. What else do you think a horror movie must contain?
======= Some level of believability, something that makes sense to suspend my disbelief and allow me to go along for the ride.
In the movie mentioned above, did you perform stunts yourself? Not many spoken words in that movie…
======= Yes. We worked really hard on all that and it hurt plenty.
What are your favorite horror movies, and why?
========== I am not an expert on the genre by any means but I like Night Of The Living Dead because of the black and white low budget-ness of it. I have seen it a few times and the night shots are really creepy.
I think one of the memorable episodes of The Henry Rollins Show is the interview with Prince of Darkness, the lovely Ozzy Osbourne. You seem to be well prepared for everything; do you ever feel insecure when being the interviewer instead of the other way around?
======== No. But only because I prepare a lot. I have known Ozzy for a long time and he’s one of the better people you will ever meet. Interviewing people like Werner Herzog had me a little stressed beforehand but like I said, I had prepared and was good to go when he walked in.
H for Hunger is in post-production, is that correct? And Under the Radar: Burma? I get a feeling this might be a project of several films about the repressive regimes of The Third World? I can imagine that it can be pretty difficult to make those films… I’d like to know about your work here.
======= The one about Burma may very well come out some day but I won’t be in it. As far as H For Hunger, we shot that about a year ago in Thailand. It’s a lecture on work famine, delivered by me. It’s a good piece of work. The director wrote it, so it’s his good writing that makes it happen. I was just the mouthpiece. I was glad to have been a part of it as I think it’s a good thing.
Finally, I have so many more questions for you. Your Spoken Word Show of course. I’m looking forward to see it in just a few days. I hope I can get back to you sometimes. It would be nice to get an interview with another approach and perspective.
===== Sure, further on down the road, we can do something, thanks for the interest.
1. How important do you think it is for a young person to develop a political opinion?
======= I think that with the world facing an ever decreasing amount of natural resources, like drinkable water in Australia, that young people should understand how the world works, how their food comes to them, what the expense is of other countries and peoples, etc. Young people don’t stay young all that long and they will be of voting age sooner than later, they should have an opinion. It’s no big deal, it’s only the future of the country they’re living in, you know, the small stuff.
2. Apathy is a large problem in America, and in Australia we are seeing a decline in voting enrollments amongst young people, explain your thoughts on this issue and why youth appear to be so disassociated from politics?
======= That may be true in Australia but in the last two presidential elections in America, I don’t think that is the case. I believe that the last election had a profound spike in young people voting. Obama’s sweeping victory is in large part, due to that. I think that political matters might not appeal to young people because at that time, they are busy being young and enjoying life, as they should. Politics has always been sold as an adult’s thing, not for the youth. I think this is good marketing but the wrong way to go. Many of these matters, the way they’re pitched, don’t seem to be relevant to a young person but the fact is, they are very relevant and should be paid attention to. It’s a bunch of self-serving adults dictating your future, you don’t want to have an opinion about that? When you think about it in that way, it’s all very different.
3. Do you see political satire as having importance within a democracy? i.e.. ‘Freedom of opinion and expression.’
======== Absolutely. It keeps things fair and in the light of day. It allows for perspectives to come through without anyone losing their heads or their jobs.
4. Statistics reveal that more American youths gain information from the satire program, “Late Show with Jon Stewart” as opposed to other new outlets. Through primary research I have conducted, I have see parallels of behavior occurring in Australia. What implications does this have on the information gained by youth?
===== Well, I guess they like to laugh. I think Jon quite often gets to more of the truth than actual news outlets. With comedy, he is allowed to be very honest and direct. I don’t think Jon Stewart should be your only place to get information and I am sure he would agree emphatically with that. It’s certainly a venue but it’s a short show and there are things happening all over the world and some really good writers out there who are putting out a lot of things worth reading and learning from. I get most of my news in written form.
5. Many youth do use satire as an alternative news source. Do you think that political satire provides, accurate accounts / information or is a good foundation for youths to base their opinions on?
====== Ultimately, no. I think you should base your opinions on the clearest versions of the events you can. Past that, you can have a good time intellectually with satire and comedy but it’s not the do all and end all of information gathering.
6. Do you think that it is important for youth to view political satire and receive multiple viewpoints on issues other than mainstream news? What advantages would come from this?
====== I think young people, any people, should get perspectives from every possible angle. The advantage is to know where everyone is coming from, at least trying. A neo-nazi has a point of view. I am sure I don’t agree with it but I need to hear his way of thinking to be sure. Also, it’s interesting to see that in many cases the frustration is very real, but the way of dealing with it is skewed. “These Pakistanis come into our country and take all of our jobs.” The guy is saying that there is an unemployment problem. Blaming it on immigrants is really not the answer. Why is this my opinion? Because I do the reading.
7. Do you see any effects being brought about youths who rely on political satire as an only means of accessing information. Eg. development of cynicism towards politics or possibly the development of an interest in politics, (as in my case).
======== I think relying on any one source for information can only lead to cynicism and a limited view.
8. How do you see the future of satire? What new forms will it take? What audiences will it appeal to? etc.
========== It has been with us since the Romans at least and will always be there in every barber shop, pub and anywhere else.
1. You’ve gone through two seasons of your talk show—with a third season hanging in the balance.
a). Do you think you’ll get picked up for a third season?
==== We did not.
b). Many guests seem to be acquaintances from over the years. Assuming you enjoyed everyone’s presence, who do you feel you learned the most from and why?
======= I can’t say there was any one person who I learned the most from. Everyone was, in my opinion, informative and interesting in their own way. I really enjoyed speaking to Werner Herzog. He’s one of my heroes and he was not a let down at all. Also, speaking with Gore Vidal was a highpoint.
c). What’s your criteria for the guests you choose? I’d assume it’s interesting personalities, doing interesting things with something to say. Anything else?
==== I prefer to speak with someone I am basically a fan of or at least tolerant of. That is one of the aspects of the show that came under attack, why wouldn’t I take on guests with opposing points of view, etc. I really didn’t think that our format permitted the time for such exchanges. Perhaps if we had more time, we could have done something like that.
2. You mentioned Yahoo selling out in China during one of your segments. How much do you keep up with what’s taking place in China? Have you been there and do you see beyond America’s involvement in the country? for instance, does the culture interest you?
===== I have not yet been there. I read up on things, go to sites every day and get news and updates. I think that one of the major disconnects that westerners have with China, myself included, is in the differences in Confucian thought and Western thought. In America, we see and event like Tiananmen Square and take the side of the students and the powers that be would say that the brutal suppression of the protestors was for the security and future of China. That China is the largest automobile buying block at present isn’t all that surprising but will cause things to change in America.
3. From Twitter reports I’ve received, you’ve been to Thailand. What are your impressions of Asia, where have you been and where do you hope to go?
==== I have been going to Thailand for many years. I was there for weeks last year. I have been to Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Burma and Thailand. It’s an amazing part of the world and the friendliness of the people there, despite the events in recent history is quite something.
4. You’ve also been to Iraq and are reportedly involved with the group called the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans of America. What were your impressions when you visited the troops in Iraq and how appreciative do you feel they were?
==== I was in Iraq years ago. The soldiers were very happy to have someone there who was a little different. I have been all over the world on behalf of the troops. It’s been an eye-opening string of experiences. Every base I went to in Iraq had suffered the loss of a soldier very recently so the mood was heavy but like I said, they were happy to have me on the base.
5. You’re obviously pro-American yet highly critical of the Republican party. During your travels, what places really impress you aesthetically, culturally or otherwise? And, what places could the U.S. learn from?
====== Americans could do well by visiting parts of Africa and seeing what hunger really looks like. It would make the right wing dipshit talking points harder to defend.
6. During your current tour, what’s your main focus?
a). For the record, what are your thoughts on Michael Jackson’s untimely death?
======== The next tour’s material will be determined by what I see when do some traveling later this year. As it is now, I have been in Los Angeles most of the year.
7. You’re going to be in the FX show “Son of Anarchy” and even had your own film show at one point. Can you talk about each?
===== I am working away in SOA and it’s been going very well. It’s a great group of people and the writing is fantastic. Since it’s not my show, I would suggest that people find out what they can online. The film show was on IFC, we reviewed film and talked to actors. It wasn’t all that different from the show I did with IFC afterwards. The David Fincher interview was really interesting.
8. Black Flag reissues—what’s the status? Is it going to happen, if so when?
======== That’s all with SST Records and I have nothing to do with any of that.
9. We’ll be highlighting the best albums of the decade soon. What are some of your favorites and why?
====== I think the new album by The Horrors called Primary Colours is really great. It’s my favorite album of the year so far. I think they have made a really deep and interesting dark, somewhat pop album Sonically, it’s really something. I really liked PJ Harvey’s album White Chalk as well, it was her early foray into piano playing and the hesitation on some of the tracks is very evocative. Throughout the decade, Nick Cave continues to be vital and interesting.
10. You’ve certainly been an inspiration to many. What are some of your greatest life lessons and mottos that you live by?
===== I don’t really have any mottos I live by, perhaps “The victor does not believe in chance,” has served me well. That’s Nietzsche. I learned a long time ago that one must work hard and have the ability to stick it out no matter what.
11. And, have you been to Hong Kong? If not, what would it take for you to get here to put on a show?
====== I think it might be interesting although I don’t know what the interest level would be. I have only been to the airport as I waited to go to the next place. I would like to check the place out sometime though.
You have been involved in making music since you joined Black Flag 1981. In what ways has the music industry changed since then and what is your opinion of the music industry today?
====== I think the music industry has at least two major shifts since I have been involved. The first was in the early 90’s when small bands like the one I was in started getting attention from radio and more mainstream outlets. This is the time when Nirvana fairly broke things open and a lot of bands I knew were getting some much deserved recognition. It was good for about ten years. Then things changed and big labels started shedding employees and sales were not as consistent. I think this was a product of greed and the companies thinking they could sell anything. It moved not to be true as you know. Basically, there was a time of boom and then a time of bust. That’s where we are now I think. Doesn’t mean that there’s not good music/labels/bands. I think there are plenty of each. I think it’s the big money music that is feeling the pain. The small bands are where they have always been and had nowhere to fall. Sometimes it’s good to be small. I also think the DIY ethic is back in full force and from it, there are some really good bands happening.
I see that you have been cast to appear in six episodes on one of my favorite shows on television Sons of Anarchy. How has work for the show been going?
==== It would be hard to imagine a better working environment. Everyone is cool and very talented. The writing is really great. I am very happy to be involved with the small part I have. I think it’s going to be a great season of television. It’s been an interesting chapter in my life, showing up to a set week after week and then going home again, it’s like two different worlds. I like it a lot. I see why people do this kind of work.
CXP: I saw you play with the band in Chicago on August 13, 2006. Your stage presence is without question one of the most intense I have ever seen. Do you have any plans on touring musically in the not so distant future? Also have you been working on any new songs?
======= I have no band or band plans. I miss it sometimes but I don’t think I should do any more music. I just don’t know what more I could do with the medium. Another album, another tour, it just says, “You’ve got nothing else going on.” I want to see what else there is to do out there.
CXP: The book A Dull Roar - What I Did On My Summer Deracination 2006 gives a lot of insight as to what you did to train for the 2006 music tour. You stated that it was a lot of high repetition weight training, running, and abdominal work. Would you change it up at all for another music tour in the future or keep it the same? Also what role did stretching, if any, play for you both leading up to the tour and on tour?
====== I would do more running, more calisthenics, change up the diet somewhat. Stretching is key for optimum results from getting lactic acid out of the muscle tissue to remaining loose and not tearing anything.
CXP: You have done an immense amount of world traveling. Have you found any universal truths about human society that are world wide? Could you share some positive and negative aspects of society which are cross cultural that you have noticed?
======== I have found almost all groups to want mostly the same things: safety, a future without war, food and water, adequate housing, etc. It’s real simple stuff I have found. Nowhere is all that different than any other place in that if there’s people there, they have the same basic needs. The positive part is that science and kindness are coming to aid some people in need. The negative part is that it never seems to be enough.
CXP: It is no secret that you were not a fan of the Bush administration. How do you feel the Obama administration has been doing so far?
====== I think it’s much too soon to tell. I think you will know more in about a year. I think some people were hoping for some kind of Hollywood ending where everything is better soon. Won’t happen. I think the man is doing the best he can with the heap he inherited. I am not happy with all the decisions he makes but I bet he and his team are many more times informed than I’ll ever be.
CXP: As well as a prolific writer you are also an avid reader. Could you please recommend some books that in your opinion are an interesting read?
===== I can tell you some book titles that were interesting to me. I can’t say what they’ll do for anyone else. Recent reads that I liked were:
Torture Team – Philippe Sands
Takeover – Charlie Savage
The Forever War – Dexter Filkins
Open Up and Bleed - Paul Trynka
Rip It Up and Start Again – Simon Reynolds
The Great Derangement - Matt Taibbi
1. How do you feel about Obama’s decision to send troops to Afghanistan?
======= I think it is a catastrophic mistake.
2. So far in Obama’s presidency, do you believe he has followed through with his campaign promises?
======= Overall, no.
3. If fellow punk rocker, Jello Biafra, ran for president again would you vote for him? Why?
====== It depends who else is running. Would I rather vote for Jello over Obama? No. I don’t think Jello would make a bad politician though.
4. Is there anything you strongly believe needs to be worked on in our country at this time?
1. Could you please give me a brief overview of your new book A Mad Dash?
====== The book is travel stories and journals from 2008.
2. What will you be doing in your upcoming tour?
==== It’s all speaking dates. There will be no band stuff.
3. What got you interested to play the new antagonist on the TV series “Sons of Anarchy”?
======= I was offered the part and I took it. What interested me was the opportunity to work and I am a fan of the show and of the executive director Kurt Sutter.
4. Do you plan on traveling in the near future?
==== I will be going all over the world later in the year into next.
5. Is there any chance of seeing Henry Rollins Show again?
===== No, unfortunately. I really liked that show.
6. What factors in a script make you choose to play a particular role in a movie or TV show?
========= I pass on things that I think are too lame but I am really not in a position to pick and choose all that much. I take what I can get and stay active. I hope for something I can deal with and be good at. As the years go by, I am getting better offers.
7. In the several forms of entertainment that you have done, what are you primarily focusing on right now?
===== I am working hard on the speaking shows and on the radio show. Past that, I trying to write clearly.
8. What are some goals you are planning on accomplishing though out the rest of 2009.
===== I need to get to all the destinations I am prepping for now. Some of them will be a little difficult to deal with so I am trying to get ready for it.
1. Currently, what kind of music are you interested in?
===== I am very interested in Noise music and all the small labels that put this stuff out like American Tapes and Gods Of Tundra.
2. What do you do in your spare time?
==== I don’t really do spare time but when I am not all over all the time, I spend time the girlfriend, listening to music, things like that.
3. Genre hardcore punk that is said to be strongly influenced by you. How do you think hardcore punk has evolved over the years after you left Black Flag?
===== I don’t think I was an influence in any kind of music. I was definitely a part of it but I don’t know about an influence. Black Flag was certainly an inspiration to some bands and people but that is the creation of Greg Ginn and Chuck Dukowski and the other founding members. I think Ian MacKaye and Minor Threat was as large if not a larger influence on hardcore music.
4. Why do you work in so many different areas of entertainment?
===== Keep things a little off balance and interesting.
5. Who are some of the authors that you enjoy reading? Why?
==== I read by subject more than author these days. I read a lot of history and political stuff and if one writer wrote more than one book and I have read one, I will most likely check out more books by the person. As far as reading for an author, that’s more in the line of literature and I am not reading much of that anymore. Books I have read lately include Eamon Fingleton’s In The Jaws Of The Dragon, Space Is The Place which is about Sun Ra, Torture Team, The Dark Side.
6. What book has inspired you?
====== As to one book, that would be Henry Miller’s Black Spring.
7. Do you have a current program that you plan on supporting/working with in the near future?
=== I guess you mean some kind of organization? USO, IAVA. There are other organizations that I have done benefits for in the last few years as well but am not currently working with them.
8. What are the names of some bands you have seen/heard recently that you would recommend?
============ Dax Riggs, Marnie Stern, Vieux Farka Toure, Tinariwen, Tarakaft.
Part 3 of Henry’s 2009 Interviews
so how are things going for you this new year? what have you been up to?
===== I spent the beginning of the year in Mali. I went to a music festival there called the Desert Festival. It’s held in Essakane. Since then, we have been getting two books of mine ready for release this year. The first one just came out and the other one will come out later in the year. I am getting ready to start work in a TV series called Sons Of Anarchy, that will take up a lot of the summer.
-what made you decide to do this stretch of spoken word shows in May and June?
==== I wanted to get some shows happening when I wasn’t working on the TV show and that was the time the production could cut me loose so we went for the dates.
-what is it about these spoken word engagements that keeps you interested? is it the storytelling, the art, and/or just feeding off an audience and their reaction?
==== All of that, certainly. I think it’s a great way to communicate and express. I just finished a 208 show tour but am glad for the shows I have this summer. I don’t have many so I am happy for the few I’ve got. This TV thing will take a good bit of time.
-is there something special about returning to the East Coast for you? Do you get excited about coming back and do youfind time to look up old friends while here?
===== It’s always great to be on the east coast for me. I won’t have any time to do anything but the shows and then back to the airport this time around though. I wish there was more time but perhaps later in the year I can get out there and not have to hurry. I am usually busy enough in LA to be distracted from that fact that I’m in LA. I get a lot done here although I have never felt all that “at home” here. It’s not a big deal as like I said, I am all about the work and one of the reasons I can get a lot done here is that I feel more like I am on location than anything else.
-following these dates, you head to Sweden for the Peace & Love festival and Belgium for Rock Werchter. What are those all about?
==== They are festivals that I am doing. They were booked before I got the TV stuff happening. There are about six shows on that run. It will be a fairly sleepless week.
-I saw your doing some hits for KCRW internet public radio station. How did you get hooked up with this and what’s it all about?
==== I have a weekly show, 6-8 pm Saturday nights. The station I was at for many years, Indie 103 went down and KCRW called and asked if I wanted to work there and I said sure. It’s been great. It’s the station I started learning about radio many years ago so it’s great to be back there. I am live on the radio, it’s not an internet only station. It’s NPR for southern CA. You can find my past shows archived on the site but it’s a very live thing.
-Following the summer, any future plans for the remainder of the year?
===== As soon as Sons Of Anarchy wraps in late September, I will be out in the world traveling into next year. I have some plans that I think are very interesting but don’t want to talk about any of it until it’s booked. I will be out and about until January I think. If all goes according to plan, I should end up in Africa in mid January and go from there to England and start the next tour, which should go about 12-15 months.
-Lastly, following likely one of the most historic elections in our nations, how do you feel about the results and the future? Also, how do you feel about Americans coming out in record numbers to have their voices heard?
==== I think America made an interesting decision. I am not happy about all the bailouts and the whole “too big to fail” thing. I don’t like the idea of upping the ante in Afghanistan. I think no good will come of more troop strength in that region. The Russians lost mightily there as did may others. As they say, it’s where empires go to die. I think it’s great that Americans are finding their voice. The more people voting the better. It’s their country so it’s about time more people got involved with their future.
-Do you enjoy DJ-ing…and is this just another way to extend yourself as an artist?
=== I like playing records for people and turning them onto cool music.
So, it must have been a big decision to move away from DC to join Black Flag, and I’m sure you were met with different responces from friends, however it’s very possible had you not made the move you wouldn’t be where you are today. Do you ever wonder where your life may have ended up had you stayed in DC? Were you ever worried during that time you were making the wrong decision?
===== I don’t wonder where I would be had I not left DC. I left DC and went out into the world. I really don’t see the point in wondering what would have been, etc. No, I never worried if I was making the right choice. Another day at 3.50 an hour scooping ice cream or singing for Black Flag. Those were my choices. I made my choice and went for it. Balls.
We have read you words in lyrics and books, seen you on T.v. and movies, and heard your voice oin spoken word and in song. These are all quiteimpressive, however, at the end of the day, when all is said and done, is there anything you want to be known for, a specific area you want to be remembered in?
====== I never think about that really. I don’t care about what I am remembered for. I will just go until I can’t go on from there. What people make of it at the end of the day is up to them, not me.
I always wondering with a lot of the early hardcore singers (Danzig, Mackaye, Biafra, yourself), So many of them seemed to be mainly acknowledged for their early career, despite the massive accomplishments that have come after. Is this ever frustrating? Was/is is hard to shed the “Henry from Black Flag” label?
====== People don’t really talk to me about Black Flag nearly as much as they talk to me about what I am doing now. So, no, I have no frustration in that area. I just go forward, year after year. I don’t shed anything, I just go. Black Flag is certainly part of my history but it was a long time ago and I have covered a lot of ground since 1986.
What current bands do you find yourself listening to currently? Biggest musical guilty Pleasure?
====== I have been listening to the new Flin Flon album Et Cetera. There’s been some cool releases on American Tapes that I have been digging. The new Deerhoof album is great. Early Man has a new EP which is really cool too. Guilty pleasures? I don’t feel guilty about anything I listen to.
What do you view as your biggest accomplishment/is there anything you have done/been apart of that you’re most proud of?
======= I think my biggest accomplishment is that I am still able to tour and do my thing at almost thirty years in. I have no sense of pride about anything I do. I have a sense of duty though.
Have you ever gotten offers from companies asking you to push their product in a way that was so laughable you weren’t sure if it was for real?
What do you think the biggest danger facing America/American politics is right now?
===== Neocons and republicans.
Gay marriage is seeming to be making headlines more and more. I’d like to think that as more and More states embrace it, that the surrounding states will be forced to follow as well. Do you see this becoming a heated issue in the future? what is your stance on it?
==== I am sure some states will still be stuck in the murky cowardice of christian hypocrisy but perhaps more and more states will come ahead and face the fact that the world is full of gay people and it’s all going to be ok. I obviously have no problem with Bill and Bob getting married. It’s not like their having their honeymoon in my bed and wiping off their cocks on my curtains and besides that, if two people want to get married, what business is it of anyone else’s? God people can be such a pain in the ass.
I believe a lot of who I am comes from my lineage; my name is a part of that. What are your feelings on this? What made you want to change your name?
====== Lineage, mine at least, means nothing at all to me. “Where are your people from?” I don’t have that. I am homo sapiens, that’s all there is for me. All of who I am is due to my parent’s influence and my own thoughts, not where their ancestors climbed out of. Name change is for distance.
You have said several times that you do not want a wife. Is it just the marriage part, or are you opposed to whole notion?
===== I am opposed to the whole notion. That I need paperwork to seal a deal between two humans because we love each other is asinine. It’s a sucker contract. Someone gets half of all the money I have earned by slamming my guts against the wall? Fuck that. Never happening here. I’m free, it’s great.
When was the first time a stranger recognized you as a celebrity, and was that a big adjustment?
===== It was probably the first show I ever did with Black Flag. I got asked for autographs, offered drugs, sex, etc. It was definitely an adjustment. Now I don’t remember what it’s like to not have constant recognizability as a factor in my life. It definitely makes things complicated at times. Camera wielding men turn up in some strange places.
I imagine you get request for interviews frequently, what made you say yes to this one?
====== I think it’s the right thing to do, to be accessible. I would rather not do them though.
Is it uncomfortable to be told you are someone’s hero? Do you become numb to it over time?
===== It’s not uncomfortable nor is it a numbing experience. It makes me remember to be responsible for my actions, for what I say and do because it’s obvious that someone is paying attention. This isn’t anything that has a censoring effect, just a reality check on consequences of action in the public arena.
In all the interviews I have read and seen, I don’t remember anyone asking you about religion. What are your thoughts on organized religion, and are you a member of any particular faith?
===== I was never raised with religion and have always thought it was made to control a whole lot of people at once so they can do what the power structure needs them to do, fight, breed, etc. It is pathetic. Islam, Christianity, it’s all the same to me—cults for people who can’t think for themselves. It is interesting how many intelligent people go for this kind of thing, Obama for one, it’s one of the things I don’t understand, how intelligent people can go for fairy tales. I certainly understand how the average do, but not the smart ones. The manipulation is amazing. However many virgins await you in heaven? Who the fuck wants to spend a night with a virgin? Too much fear of death in religion for me. The homophobia, hatred and hypocrisy is too much for any rational person.
1) Can you offer some insight into the fearmongering by the American media in regards to universal health care, a world class public school system, and social programs for every American citizen? What are the cons when it comes to America investing in itself? And why can’t we get a straight answer from the media to that question?
2) Not since the depression or even the early days of settlement when the early pioneers were blazing trails through the country has there been a better time for the American people to put all differences aside and rebuild struggling communities. With all the divisions between people from religion to politics are you witnessing any signs that make you feel optimistic about that possibility?
3) The current economic crisis seems to have opened up and maybe even sparked other fires burning at the moment, from the mexican drug wars to pirates off the coast of Africa and crooked bankers, it seems that a lot of people are taking advantage of the situation. Other than the drug cartels, illegal immigration and ‘sexting’ what other issues are lurking in the dark that might see the light of day for the media and public to be up in arms about?
4) The election of Barack Obama and his foreign policy of open dialogue suggests that the country turning a social corner. We already see how most of the world percieves this new American way of thinking. What benefits can the U.S. citizens expect from a new peception of one time enemies and rival nations.
5) In thinking about your own community, which one of the administration’s policies do you hope will have an immediate and direct impact?
1. X has had a tremendous (positive) impact on you and your career. What was/is it about X that you found yourself drawn to?
======= I always admired X because of how many memorable songs they wrote and how well they are able to render them live. They are easily one of the best live bands I have ever seen. If you are in a band and aspire to be good live, you are very aware when a band is able to deliver the goods live and as many times as I have seen X, I have never seen a bad X show. Also, the timelessness of their music is remarkable. Those records sound great now like they sounded when they were first released.
2. I remember reading that one of the reasons you were drawn to X was because of their anti-violence stance. Is that correct?
3. If not, could you clarify?
==== I never thought of the band as being pointedly anti-violence. I never saw any violence at their shows, just people having a good time.
3. In what aspects does the band influence you and how?
===== I admire the songwriting and the performance value. As a unit and as four individuals, they are all very good at what they do. They are also very unique. No one sounds like Billy Zoom, etc.
4. Why is X so important to you?
===== They are one of those bands I have been listening to and seeing live over half my life. When you have listened to a band that long, you can attach certain points in your life to songs and albums of a band and that’s when the music attains a real resonance in your life. In a way, their songs become yours, that’s one of the great things about music.
5. What is your favorite memory of/moment with X?
===== I remember seeing them once at the Avalon in Los Angeles 26 years ago. I was talking to John Doe before the show and he was sick as a dog. I felt bad for him, he should have been in bed but the show must go on. He went out there and played and sang so well that night even though he must have been feeling awful. That was inspiring.
6. Three years ago, you revived Rollins Band and toured with X? How did that tour go?
======== It was cool to get to go to an X show whenever you wanted to for six weeks.
7. Have you worked with X on other projects before that tour?
8. Were you present at X’s Hollywood Rock Walk induction?
==== Yes I was. I inducted them. Hello!
You said that you’re on set. What are you working on?
====== I am working in a television show called The Sons of Anarchy.
I read that you’re filming a series of documentary specials for the IFC network. What are they about and when will they air?
===== They aired last year. They were set in New Orleans, South Africa and Northern Ireland. They are a mix of interviews and travel stuff tied in with a show onstage in the cities we shot in. New Orleans, Belfast and Cape Town.
Do you have any plans to appear in movies or on television shows anytime soon?
===== I have this one TV thing. I went for some auditions for other stuff but didn’t make the cut.
What does spoken word do for you? What do you like about it?
==== I like that the shows correspond to where I am at these days. I can travel all over and take those stores and thoughts right to the stage very quickly.
What do you have to say to your critics?
===== They have a right to say whatever they want. To me it’s a checked swing as far as a livelihood. I could never live that safely.
You’re an activist and very vocal when it comes to supporting gay rights. What do you have to say to people who think that gays should not have the right to legally marry?
==== Well, it’s sad that that’s the conclusion they have come to. When you hear their justification for their stance, it usually doesn’t amount to much more than simple prejudice. They might tell you otherwise but at the end of the day, that’s what it is. It’s very simple to me at least; homosexuality isn’t a choice, homophobia is. There’s no gay marriage, just marriage.
You’re outspoken about many things. What’s one thing that really pisses you off?
===== That America has so many solutions staring it in the face and won’t grab them. This is everything from alternative energy sources, education, science, environmental issues, foreign policy, etc.
Is there anything else you’re working on that readers would find interesting?
====== Hell, I don’t know. I have two books coming out this year, the first one is out already, it’s called A Preferred Blue and the other, A Mad Dash, will be out in the fall. They are journal/travel stories from 2007 and 2008. I am working on a photo/essay book I plan to release in two years. Past that, I have some interesting travel plans for after the Sons wraps in September.
For people who have never seen you live, what kind of show can they expect?
========= I am going to talk about where I have been lately, what I saw, how I feel about it, etc. That’s what those shows are about. I travel far and wide and hopefully, the stories dragged back make for worthwhile listening.
Your spoken word material has gone through some evolution. At first your works were more poetically structured and now all of your performances are basically you speaking your mind about your experiences, travels, and career.
When did you make the decision to not perform your old work anymore, and what attracted you to the more storyteller format you work in now?
======= I thought reading things off paper was too easy and had to be boring as hell to watch and listen to so I discarded the paper and went for something much more difficult. Reading from paper in front of a bunch of people is cool for a few minutes but then it drags and I didn’t want to do it any more.
Your work on ‘Family Man’, differs very much from what was seen in ‘Watch A Grown Man Cry’, was this intentional or just an evolution in your writing style?
===== I just write it how I feel it. I don’t ever try for anything but clarity. I don’t know if I have evolved, that means I got better. I think I just go where the thing takes me.
Rollins band did some amazing music, I had the pleasure of seeing you perform twice and I wanted to know why did you choose to stop playing music? Do you ever miss it?
===== I don’t want to go out and sing old songs like a human jukebox. I don’t know what I can do with music that I have not done many times before, especially live. I miss it sometimes but there’s other things to do in this short life.
‘Family Man’ was released as a Black Flag album and a spoken word record never really surfaced from that era under your name. Is there any unreleased spoken word from that era that you plan on releasing?
My favorite album from the Flag is ‘In My Head’, when writing the lyrics for that album, where were you in your head? Where was your head?
====== I only wrote a couple of songs on that one I think. I can’t remember where I was mentally then. I remember being depressed seeing Greg Ginn’s talent start to wane, that was hard to take.
1. You are author, musician, moderator, actor and frequently on tour with spoken word performances … so you’re a modern days workaholic. When will you take your time to record a new album with the Rollins Band?
===== I have no band or band plans. At this point, I really don’t want to take the better part of a year to make a record. I want to make trouble in other areas and see what else is happening out there in the world.
2. Many people in the United States feel the squeeze of the symptoms of the economic and financial crisis. After two legislative periods of G.W. Bush the new President Obama is confronted with complex and difficult political challenges. What can artists do – possibly with social engagement – to help the people to get back on track?
========= In my opinion, not much. When people are broke, I don’t think they run to Lenny Kravitz for advice. I don’t think anyone looks at Obama’s troop surge into Afghanistan and wonders what the guy in Green Day thinks of the situation, in order to get some clarity on the matter. I am in no way trying to put these people down, I just don’t think artists have much to do with the way people shape their opinions. If all those cool Dylan and Marley songs couldn’t stop wars then no song or artist can. Bono is a very powerful voice but he’s nothing compared to a board member at Union Carbide, unfortunately.
3. In an older press conference – I guess it was Roskilde – you said that you didn’t want to become a politician. So, has your attitude changed yet, can’t you imagine to become the mayor of a bigger city or even … or even governor like Arnold Schwarzenegger?
(regarding the appearance that symbolizes strength)
===== No. I am not cut out for that kind of thing. I would rather have the mobility I am afforded in the private sector.
4. On the one hand many people complain about the global political interventions of the USA, on the other hand lots of people expect the US Army to control democratic developments in repressed countries. What do you think? Is it still a desirable intention to bring democracy to the people, even in the Middle East or should the USA concentrate upon domestic problems?
===== I think America’s attempts to spread democracy are merely campaigns to spread capitalism. USA goes into places, softens them up and takes all their stuff. I think USA should try to get along with the world and be a part of it, not run it.
5. What’s the biggest advantage to be American?
====== We have been taking everyone else’s stuff for so long, we have a lot of everything and don’t understand shortages of any kind, for now. I think ultimately that this is a disadvantage and the beginning of the end of America. Americans are afforded a good deal of freedom and comfort but again, it often comes at the expense of vast numbers of other people and is not sustainable.
6. Thanks for the interview. But here’s one last and a little more profane question: Which role in a big movie would be a great challenge for you?
===== One that required me to have to act.
1. How did you make the transition into spoken word?
===== I started opening for poets in 1983 at the behest of a local promoter in Los Angeles. By 1985 I was touring America, by 1987, Europe and then on from there. So, it’s been a long path but it basically started in LA in 1983.
2. Do you notice a different crowd for the spoken word than when you play with the band?
==== They always seem to be about 50-50 male female for the talking shows, a little more male heavy for the band shows. Younger, narrower demographic for the band shows, much wider for the talking shows. That’s about all the difference I see. That’s a bit clinical but past that, I am working on getting something across onstage and don’t really notice much else.
3. Record companies are reporting Cd sales at an all time low, major players in music are making there own labels, What do you think this means for the record industry and music culture itself?
==== It’s bad if you’re Sony but really good for the fan of music. You will have more bands doing the record they want more often. You can go to their site, get the jams and you’re all set. I think the majors are getting what they have been asking for. I am sorry that all those people are losing their jobs.
4. When you perform, who do you perform for?
===== The people there that night. It’s very much an in-the-moment thing for me.
5. Whats the best advice you can give to “starving musicians”
===== Stay with it for as long as you can. You might look back at those times and remember them far more fondly than you may imagine.
6. With the rise of “emo” bands and culture in America it seems everyone going to a live show is there to be seen and not to listen to the actual musician, do you have any thoughts on this?
========= I think that people go to shows for all kinds of reasons. I went to shows to be seen, to connect, to check out the bands, all at the same time. Now I just go to see the bands. I don’t think we should be too hard on young people finding their way into the world. If they go to the show to be seen, I don’t see the real harm in that. They’ll get the music no matter what they’re there for.
7. Do you want to people to leave your shows with something to think about the rest of there lives, or do you want them to leave blank minded and thinking that what they saw was just another form of entertainment?
======== Hopefully there will be something lasting from the show, even if it’s just some form of inspiration. I don’t think I am doing anything life changing up there but at the same time, I don’t think it’s mere entertainment.
8. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
===== I would make war obsolete.
9. Ever been in a dangerous situation with an animal?
10. Music styles are constantly changing. In the last 5 years it seems as if all the new bands that are coming out are just riding the tails of the bands from the past. Do you think there will be a music revolution with fresh music that will blow our minds away?
===== I don’t know what you’re listening to. There’s great bands happening right now. Crystal Castles, Dax Riggs, XBXRX, The Horrors, Pepi Ginsberg, The Mae Shi, The Amazements, Fake Shark Real Zombie, etc.
11. Pop songs and rap dominate the top 40, what effect will this have on rock and roll?
===== Pop songs have always dominated the top 40. Rock survives just fine. Ask High On Fire, Heaven and Hell, Om, Sunn 0))), Earth, Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Mother Superior, etc.
12. What do you think about the bands and musicians that are charging $120-$500 for less than perfect seats at their shows? Will this effect how live music is performed or viewed.
==== I think it’s sad they would do that but at least no one’s making you go. Eventually, those bands tap their fans out and it’s over for them. I can’t understand why a band would do that to their fans.
13. Any last thoughts?
==== The real torture stuff hasn’t hit the fan yet. I think this thing will be with us for a long time.
1 - Hey Henry. First of all i´d like you to introduce yourself as singer, actor, author, publisher, performance artist, record company owner and radio presenter. (this question is because we´re in a far away country and I think many people must know about you and your history)
============ I do all these different things to try and keep myself busy and a little off balance. So far, things have been pretty interesting. I come from the normal working world of minimum wage work and went into music from there. All the other stuff I do has been me just persuing my interests.
2 - What made you start your own publishing company? I was browsing your site and I was surprised how you manage everything.
===== I knew early on that no one would want to publish me and I wasn’t going to waste my time with a bunch of rejection notices, so taking what I learned from Dischord Records and SST, I started my own small company. It is a lot of work doing things this way but it’s rewarding in that you have control over your output and you’re calling the shots. It’s good but like I said, it’s a lot of work.
3 - By the last years you´ve been touring with talking shows. What´s the connection you see about talking, writing and singing in a band? What are the issues you talk about in the newer gigs?
====== Well, it’s all words and communication. Lyrics for me, can be a bit restricting at this point. Band shows are almost like poetry recitals, you do those words and thoughts every night and that’s cool but it kind of locks you into those words every night. I like the talking shows because I can move with events at the speed at which the world and my life is going. The talking shows are very much about where I travel and what I see. I go fairly far and wide. Iran, Syria, parts of Africa, Burma, Pakistan, Laos, etc. I see a lot of things and bring all that to the stage. A lot of people where I come from don’t travel.
4 - I´m a big fan of David Lynch, and I know you worked with him in the classic “Lost Highway” (1997). How it was? Tell us about the other movies you worked, your recent movie appearances and the best experiences you had as a movie actor. Just to mention, Night Visions was on TV here in Brazil some years ago an I liked so much watching you as the presenter.
===== David Lynch is as cool a guy as you would ever want to meet. He is all you would hope he would be. He’s very friendly and way out there in a cool way. I didn’t do much in the film but it was a good time. I did it because he asked me to. I get small parts in film now and then. It is for me, work I get between tours. I like to work so when the acting thing comes up, I take the work if I can. I have done a lot of films now and I guess I am getting the hang of it. I am in the middle of shooting a television show now called The Sons Of Anarchy, where I have a small part.
5 - I gotta ask this. I saw my friends in the van playing Rollins at Def Jam!!! I know it´s a stupid question but how do you feel as a video game character?
====== I really don’t have any feeling about it. It was a voice over job for me. It took me 90 minutes and then I went to soundcheck. Sometimes I get work like that and I take it because I work for a living. I have never seen or played the game. I wish I could get more work like that.
6 - Black Flag was one of the most influential bands ever in the hardcore history. Then you have all this lifetime history which inspired generations of singers, writers and DIY publishers. Tell us what inspires YOU?
======= I am inspired by current events. I think we live in very tense and interesting times. The human struggle is very inspiring to me. As far as people who inspire me, one of them is someone I have known for over 30 years, Ian MacKaye. As the years go on, he continues to impress.
7 - Your last recordings with Rollins Band were released by 2001. Are you guys still playing or the Rollins Band is over? Do you remember that classic gig at the beach, free for all, here in Brazil by January 2004? I was there and it was awesome, blood in the face, lots of energy…
===== I have no band or band plans. I like music but honestly, got tired of all the rituals. All the people in the band, soundcheck, practice, etc. I had done so much of it for so many years, I wanted to do other things and so that’s what I have been doing, other things. Music was a good time though.
8 - Well Henry thanks a lot for your time and for the fast reply. Please leave a message for all your brazilian fans.
====== Thank you for the interest and kind letters I have gotten over the years.
1.) At this stage in history, I think no sentient person person can possibly be shocked, shaken or surprised by the foul venom or hollow rhetoric spewing from the mouths of politicians on both sides of the fence. They’re entertainers, and this is the dance they do for $$$. Lately though, I find myself being offended by, and taking extremely personally, the right-wing’s attempts to commandeer the “blue-collar, man’s man” ideal. As somebody who I’ve always looked up to as the “thinking man’s man,” do you find it at all offensive that a select group of puffy, pampered Republicans are trying preaching to the public (many of whom are listening) about what it means to be a man (clutch your cash, wave your flag and fear our god)?
========== Well, as far as all politicians being entertainers, I see your frustration but I can’t paint with a brush that wide. I don’t think you can ascribe that epithet to Russ Feingold and countless others on both sides. I think that by nature of the job, there’s a lot of preaching and huckster activity. As to the overpaid telling the broke ass that they are the ones looking out for them, it’s a good strategy. The tough talk plays into the very real toughness of a. the actual toughness of that demographic and b. the actual toughness of the situation millions of them are in. It’s too bad that with only a modicum amount of searching, you can find out that it’s the republicans who are the ones who put these people in the straits they are now. To get someone to vote out of their best interest is an amazing strategy to actually pull off. They do it over and over in broad daylight. Perhaps that’s how you do it.
2.) While I’m more optimistic about Barack Obama than I’ve ever been in regards a president before, it makes me a little nervous when I see people my age (and younger) walking around, free of any cynicism, with his face on their t-shirts, Jim Morrision style. The guy is definitely smooth, but he’s still a suit, right? I come from the “never trust authority” school, regardless of how it’s dressed. Isn’t it not only our right to not only stick it to those in those in power, but our obligation as well? Isn’t maintaining a jaundiced eye a good thing? Is a mass, open-armed embrace of our president—or any politician for that matter—a cause of any concern for you?
======== I voted for Obama. I think he inherited a mess and is doing the best he can. I am not happy with every choice he has made but I think we are better off by having him in office rather than McCain. I think the blissful nature of some people on the subject of our new president has a degree of naïveté but also it’s a reaction to the last eight years. It’s like the laps a dog makes around the backyard when you let him out after he’s been cooped up all day. Things will calm down and the real grinding work will start. I think that will be happening about now. He could very well be a 4 year president.
3.)These days, with the rising percentage of people who don’t believe in God and the falling percentage of Republican voters, is it possible that, in the wake of the debacle that was the last eight years, that Americans are actually getting wiser, evolving toward something better?
========== I think they are moving. I am not sure if it’s for the better, I think that remains to be seen. I think organized religion is losing traction because of the nature of how it works, what it currently represents and what it gets caught saying and doing. I want religion to be available to those who want it, I just want it out of the classroom and the laboratory. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. I think this is perhaps what some people are moving towards, a break from the hypocrisy and the negation of science.
4.) I’ve often likened you to Carlin, particularly in the way you lament the emasculating of society. I don’t mean that swaggering machismo b.s .. but simply how important it is to never let our fire (physical and mental) go black. I’ve always wondered if this state of apparent womb envy something you see as a genuine social concern, or is it simply an annoyance/observation that you like to call out in your writing/performances? And considering the state of what passes for “modern rock ‘n’ roll” these days, is it possible that the pap sounding through our airwaves has something to do with that?
====== I think it’s more of an annoyance rather than something to be overly concerned about. There are certainly bigger fish to fry. As far as the weak rock music, that might be on big radio but I never listen to that and the hard albums I am buying are plenty hard and those bands are selling tickets. I think there will always be a market for soft rock music and thankfully, there will always be maniacs wailing away. The new Heaven & Hell album is awesome.
5.) In “Talking from the Box,” you said you’ve always believed in leaving “poetry for the poets ... sniveling, clammy-handed poets.” I’ve held on to that as a tremendously powerful line that never left me (I’ve actually stolen it a few times), epitomizing the sort “writing from life’s trenches” that contemporary art is so badly need of. Do you agree? How has the philosophy of “great writing is ugly” evolved for you in the 17 years since that recording?
=========== There can be a lot of beauty in the ugliness because there is often a lot of good truth to be found there. It’s all in the eye of the beholder. It’s how you want to render what you see and how you feel about it. I think as far as writing, there’s a lot of good writers who are tacking hard topics. I am talking about writing from Africa, the Middle East, Chechnya, etc. This is investigative journalism and reportage I am talking about. I think there will always be good writers and something to inspire them. I just think you have to look in the right places. As to my writing, I have moved more towards the reportage angle.
6.) You’re a world traveler. Given how every experience in life leaves us altered in some way, is there anywhere you have recently visited for the first time that had a profound change on your personal outlook?
====== I have been to Africa eight times. It’s always an education. I was in Mali earlier this year. The southern part of the country is very sad to travel through. A lot of hungry people there. Two places that moved me last year was Cambodia and Burma. Walking through the Choeng Ek killing field, picking up teeth, ribs, jawbones of people executed there had an effect on me. Going into the interior of Burma and seeing the farmers and how hard their lives are and how dysfunctional their government is.
7.) Lastly, would you mind giving us an update on your current and upcoming endeavors (other than the spoken-word tour), something that fans can cut their teeth on?
===== I am working on and off all summer on a TV show called The Sons Of Anarchy. After that I will be doing some travel until tour starts in January. That’s pretty much it.
The only thing I’m going to ask for beyond these questions is the standard journalism info: your current age (48?) and where you’re currently residing (Los Angeles?).
48, live in LA.
I have read you come from a broken home and being raised by your mother, how did this particular situation make you originally see the world and human interaction?
==== Very early on, I came to the conclusion that I had myself to count on and that I was very much on my own. That has all proven to be true, perhaps for the most part because that’s how I choose to go about things. Not having a family background has its upsides. To be self-reliant is no bad thing. Of course, there are many things you miss out on as well, I know that. Bascially it made me see that civilization is a hustle and one of the only things that can keep it sane is art.
I also read read you are a big fan of Rimbaud (as am I). Both of you were raised and educated by your mothers, was this why you fell in love with his work? What is your favorite work of Rimbaud’s?
===== I checked out Rimbaud because I read that Jim Morrison did and it made me curious. Of all Rimbaud’s writing, I like his writing on war and his letters. He is inspiring to read even now that I am older and much of that kind of thing no longer resonates with me, Rimbaud still does.
You admitted in a previous interview that your writings at school were mainly about “blowing up my school and murdering all the teachers.” It seems these days kids have such a difficult time venting this way rather than resorting to violence, what would you say is different between you and the kids of today?
====== I would write things like that on my own time, never to be handed in as an assignment. It was a way t vent frustration. Kids don’t change, their surroundings do, the technology around them does, morality shift occur, trends, marketing, etc. Young people are the targeted demographic for every advertising campaign besides insurance and Viagra. The difference between my youth and yours is the internet, cell phones, things like that. These things allow you to go further, faster, get into bigger trouble and debt. There are many upsides as well, mostly upsides but there are some bad parts too. In my youth, you didn’t think about getting shot at a school dance, etc.
On to the music, I read that a moment of “revelation” hit when you and Ian MacKaye bought your first Sex Pistols album. What was that revelation and how did it change your world?
==== When I heard that music, I realized that my scream had found a mouth. I had found my tribe, my ship had come in. I was sure of it. That was a huge turning point for me. I felt like my feet had hit the ground and I was now operational. Punk Rock made me look at authority and government differently, made me look at everything differently. I am who I am in large part due to all that.
Your notoriety for being an up and coming front man must have grown fast, as you were even being pulled on stage by H.R. from Bad Brains. What led up to this? What did it feel like, your first time on stage?
========== The first time I was ever singing or whatever in front of an audience felt normal. There was no nervousness or hesitation, it was where I was supposed to be I reckoned. Until you find that stage, you treat everywhere you are as a stage, the breakroom, the elevator, anywhere there’s people. Ian and I were both like that. HR used to tell me I was going to be a singer. One night he dragged me up onstage to sing with the Bad Brains, it was pretty cool. Perhaps he was just trying to get out of some work!
One of my favorite pictures to this day is you and Glen Danzig helping to push a tour van, which Jerry Only had shared with me that it was taken outside of his house, what do you remember of that moment?
======= Honestly, I have no memory of that at all. It was probably either in the winter of 1981 or the summer of 1982. In summer 1982, we were hanging out there and the Misfits were having practice and Danzig didn’t show so I sang instead, that was really fun.
Aside from the music your spoken word has always been nothing short of inspirational, how did you find yourself starting to shift from music to it? Was the first time you did it at all intimidating?
===== I started doing the talking shows in 1983 and it felt like a natural extension of being in a band. It was and still is, a great way to connect, communicate, express, etc. I like it more the older I get. It allows me to report to an audience right after I have been somewhere and I can react to current events. It’s a great medium in times like the ones we’re in now.
One of the most inspirational moments I saw for your spoken word was the special you did in Israel. Being an Israelie myself, what did you think of your time there and how has it impacted your life since you were there?
====== I have been there twice. I thought the country was beautiful, the people were great, the food was fantastic. I have been there a couple of times and both times, the audiences were really amazing. I don’t think I’ll be going back there though. I don’t agree with their treatment of Palestine. I hope they get it together, both territories. Too many people are dying.
It would seem the people of the 60s were not the only activists; you are a strong one for the tragic case of the West Memphis Three. What sparked your interest in the case? Have you kept in touch with any of the accused boys?
==== I saw the documentaries on them and called their people and got involved. That lead to the benefit album and tour and other stuff. I think they got a raw deal and it will take the private sector to help out and so chose to be a part of that. I keep in touch with Damien’s wife Lorri mostly.
Rafi: What are you currently working on?
===== I am in the middle of a show that shoots until Sept. called The Sons Of Anarchy, I have talking shows here and there when not doing that. I am working on two books, I have two coming out this year as well. I have the radio show and company stuff as well. I am always up to something, or at least trying to be.
Rafi: Out of all the paths you have travelled; singer, writer, actor, writer, and activist, which one do you enjoy the most and why?
==== The radio work is the funnest because it’s the only one that doesn’t stress me out. It’s low impact and I don’t have to memorize anything or be seen. It makes weekends in LA good for me. I like all the other things I do and I am lucky to have those avenues but they are stressful and come with a price.
You witnessed the birth of hardcore punk scene in the US. What are your dearest memories of that age and what for? When you fast forward from that time to the present, what are the biggest differences between now and then, musically speaking? Do you think anything like that, which I mean the really strong DIY-spirit, will ever happen again? And I have to ask you if anyone tried to give you hard time because of your military school backround?
==== Well, I can’t possibly list all the good parts. It was a good time to be young and going to shows though. Seeing bands like the Cramps and the Bad Brains in small clubs were some of the better nights of my life. I was at the first Minor Threat show, that one will always stay with me. It was a time when you knew you were on the ground floor of something that was very important and you knew that you were in the right place and time. These days, there are still lots of great bands of course but with things being the way they are, you don’t really have to do so many things in such a primitive manner. It’s easier to make records, they can sound really good and are very cheap to make, the internet is a huge help. All of that feeds into the DIY thing, which I think is very alive and well. I went to a military prep school. It’s not like we were drilling with rifles, we were just yelled at a lot. I got sent there because I was a problem in other schools, fighting and whatnot. The school I got sent to promised my parents that they would deal with me hard if I got out of line. It was an adjustment.
I read that you used to work as a roadie for some of the Washington area bands. What are your memories of that era?
==== The scene was extremely small. I used to carry my friend’s gear into the venue with them. I would show up with them and load in. With the gear they had, we were done in a few minutes. You have to remember that these were very small venues, etc. It was a good time, of course.
When you moved to the LA, you’ve said that you got harassed by the police. What was that all about? How different was it compared to the intense situations you encountered during Black Flag show’s, where things were really getting crazy with you and the audience? And to add: how difficult such situations with the audience were for you?
======== Black Flag had many ordeals with the police in Los Angels and in any beach town we lived in. They didn’t like us, our music, our audience and their lack of control of the situation as they saw it. I always thought they made things more dangerous when they chased kids around and beat up on people. At our shows, sometimes, you had people acting out, taking out their frustrations on the singer. I dealt with it as best I could but some nights it was the only memorable thing of the show, was how well broke some guy’s nose.
You began your spoken word career in the 1980’s. Were there any other artists doing spoken word albums and shows at that time? Were there anyone you look up to? I’m asking because I know you’ve influenced a lot of people yourself as a spoken word artist. And when did you started to add humorous aspects to your spoken word acts? I’ve seen a couple of your stand up / spoken word shows and enjoyed them a lot.
===== I just started opening for local poets in LA and it went from there. The humor aspect just found itself as I got more into a story telling mode. It’s nothing I try for, it just happens. Humor follows me home, like a dog. It’s almost an accident. I always admired Lenny Bruce. I never tried to copy the guy, I don’t know how you could. He’s just always someone who went onstage by himself that I always thought did the right thing.
When the big audiences found you, and your music was started to been played at the MTV (my English is horrible) and such, what were your first impressions of those people at the MTV?
===== The people who work there are incredibly nice. They are working for a living, they are not much different than anyone else. It’s in the higher echelons of the MTV structure where you might find some people who are without a soul. All the people I met there, the presenters, etc., were all really cool.
You’ve been collaborating with many bands during years. Can you say which of them has gave you the most? Has there been any collaborating that you did not like that much after all?
===== I have not really done all that much with other bands. Here and there, I have added a vocal on something when I am asked and have the time and interest. None of it really sticks out in my mind as being bad. At worst, the song was not all that memorable but not horrible.
You’ve done a lot of TV-work. Has it been everything you thought it would be? Do you prefer doing radio than TV? I have to ask because I personally love doing radio a lot more than TV.
==== For me, TV is work. I work for a living and so, it’s work I am happy to get when I can. I am in a TV show at the moment and it’s really great. From the cast to the crew, everyone is really cool and great at what they do. I am grateful to have the opportunity. Of all the things I do, I like radio the best. It’s the least nerve wracking of all the things I do.
And how about movies? There’s a lot of movies where you’ve been. What’s been the most memorable thing to do with movies? Was it fun to meet David Lynch, who happens to be a big fan of coffee also?
==== It was great to be in a David Lynch film. I had an extremely small part but that was fine with me, just to be on the set for a week was a blast. He’s a really good guy. I saw him a few months ago, he’s doing very well.
What does it mean for you personally that Obama became the president of the United States of America? Are you afraid that he may become a disappointment after all?
======= I voted for the man. I think we have a very good man in office. I think it’s an amazing time for America. He has an incredibly difficult set of challenges ahead of him. I don’t think he will be a disappointment, I think he might not get all the stuff he wants to get done finished as there are so many things America has to clean up from the last eight years of Bush, he might spend all his time doing that.
You’re coming to Finland this summer to perform a spoken word show. What can we expect to happen, and how big is your tour?
===== I will be on my own, onstage with a microphone. I will tell the audience about where I have been, what I saw, etc. There are not many shows this year as I am busy with TV and other stuff. The big tour starts in January of next year.
And oh, I almost forgot: what is your favourite coffee, and how do you like it?
===== French roast. Black.
1) You’ve been a member of bands including Black Flag and the Henry Rollins Band. You’ve acted in several features. You’ve gone on several speaking tours and had shows on IFC. You have written books and you also have your own radio show. You’re a media renaissance man. What was your favorite part and least favorite part of each and if you could only do one, which would it be?
====== The best part of all of them is that you get to do different things and break up your work detail. It keeps you sharp and a little off balance, which I like. It snaps me out of whatever rut I can get in. Also, I think doing the one thing makes you better at doing the other, etc. They feed into each other I have found. The not-so-good part is that there’s a lot of work and obligation attached to all this fun and merriment and sometimes, you really don’t want to be all that responsible all the time but it’s what you signed up for, so you do it. If I could only do one, I guess it would be writing. As much as I like being onstage, it’s the writing that is the hardest to do and the thing I would like to be good at. Radio is the funnest as it’s a very low stress environment. I feel lucky that I get to do any of it.
2) Having been a VIP of no less than three influential bands to developing metalheads, at what point did you feel that your art and your talent were at the same level and most reflective of what you were trying to say? What’s the album/song that defines Henry Rollins at his most pure?
======= I think where I was in sync with the overall was with the End Of Silence album. I was basically the same age as the audience and felt really in the pocket of things. As to being reflective of where I am/was at, I think that’s everything I do as I call it as I see it. I think everyone has “their time” or whatever it is you want to call it. Doesn’t mean that what comes before or after isn’t good, it’s just that there’s a moment and you know it and nothing is the same again for better or for worse. Fun House for the Stooges, Rocket To Russia for the Ramones, etc.
3) This is a question from my subscriber zakryan79: Due to the current trends in music today and what is being listened to the most in our society as “popular genre”, where do you see music going say 5 or 10 years from now, And what kind of music “in your opinion” will be the next big thing?
===== I have no idea as to what’s happening in mainstream music. It’s not a world I spend any time in. Where it is and where it’s going are of no concern to me. As to music from the fringe as it were, I think that’s getting very interesting. I think the future is more bands recording and releasing their music from their own sites and establishing an entire network that is quite free from the more normal outlets and routes. This is very interesting and exciting to me.
4) Even though you’re most known for being involved with hardcore bands and music, you have spoken at length about other great artists that are no where near the rock music scene. I remember seeing a video of you talking at the celebration of Miles Davis’ album Kind of Blue. What would people be surprised to find in your record collection and what type of music would you have loved to try playing?
====== If you have ever heard my radio show or read any of the books I have written on music, I don’t think you would be surprised at anything you would find on my shelves, really. I don’t have any Brittany Spears albums or a great deal of mainstream music but there’s a lot of records here from all over the world from pre-war stuff to what is coming out next month. I am not a musician really so I am quite limited in what I can bring to the table. What you heard is what I got basically.
5) Do you have any upcoming music projects now?
6) Your speaking tours are great because people get to hear about social issues from someone who refuses to hold back and is completely blunt and honest about situations. How do audiences react to your specific commentary on life and why do you feel that your tours draw so many people?
===== The reaction is generally good. I am sure there are those who don’t agree with what I say and that’s fine. It’s not like I am advocating rape and abduction. I perhaps have ideas of where tax money should go that make some to the right of me bristle but it’s not like it’s fighting words or anything, just fundamental disagreements. I think that’s fine. Why do the tours do so well? I don’t know, but they do and I am grateful because I really like doing those shows and engaging with the audience in that way. I like it more as I get older.
7) I remember watching you on TV when you did a speaking tour in Israel and you told the audience that the way to solve the arab/israeli conflict was to drop two different Ramones records on the warring factions and have them swap records. What are the major issues you’re getting at on this particular tour and could you give us an example as to how you would solve one of them?
====== Due to the travel I have done in the last several months, I have seen a lot of hunger and thirst, poverty, results of war, mines, etc. That is a part of what I will talk about. As to solutions, well, we as a species have to be better stewards of the planet. As we’re going now, there will be a lot of have-nots all over the world. If you’re cool with that, then go have a nice life. If you’re not, then there’s work to be done. How to fix things? It’s a top-to-bottom overhaul in my opinion, a re-set, new ways of going about old things.
8) Having done so many things in your life and having been a part of different scenes/lifestyles and succeeding in almost every type of media outlet available (from radio to video games), what other goals do you wish to accomplish? What have you not conquered yet?
9) Many people also consider you to be the ultimate badass. Here’s a question from my subscriber Euthanize Religion. How did you become such a badass? Also are there any lessons in badassery that you could give to the readers of this interview?
==== I am not a badass. I can’t shoot a gun or ride a motorcycle, fix an engine. I don’t know what a halfback does in any sport and don’t want to know. Mohammad Ali is a badass in my way of thinking.
10) And the final question comes from my younger brother who noticed you had a barcode tattoo. If someone scanned Henry Rollins how much would he go for?
=== Your younger brother, like Rush Limbaugh, needs to get better material.
Part 2 of Henry’s 2009 Interviews
Thanks Man!!! well my name is Hernan Montenegro I am from Mar Del Plata a city in Argentina. I am very happy of have this chance to meet you, well there is ten questions answer the questions you want, Thank you very much man for this chance
Ok I start with my questions:
1) You are a very important figure in the HxC history, later of the disintegration of black flag you still working in your bands, books, and your talks. what motivate you to follow your own way in the pass of the years
===== Well, this is what I do. After Black Flag broke up, that was abut 22 years ago, I just went onto other things, more music, film, etc. One thing lead to another and it was a basic curiosity and desire to work and get things done that got me into all the non music stuff. I have nothing else going on but the work so it’s not like I spend much time on anything else.
2) What do you think about president Obama?
===== He’s not exactly president yet. That is to say, he’s not sitting in the White House. He will be soon enough though. As to what he’ll do, I don’t know exactly but I bet we will see some change in what’s happening in Iraq and something will have to happen in the American economy one way or the other. I think he’s a good man and I think it’s amazing that America showed it’s ready for an African American president. I don’t think anyone alive 60 years ago would have told you this could happen. It’s great and all but the bottom line is there’s a lot of work to be done.
3) What are you working right now? a new book a new record?
==== I am in final edit of a book called A Preferred Blur. That will be out early next year. I am working on a book called A Mad Dash that will be out later next year, about a year from right now. I have no band or band plans at this time.
4) In the another number of the zine Kontrakorriente we select Damaged of Black Flag like a Classic record in the history of the Punk, what do you fell about this record.
==== I think it’s a good record. I have little to do with it. Greg Ginn and Chuck Dukowski wrote it all. I just came in at the end of all their hard work and sang on it. It’s cool to have been a part of it though.
5) What do you think about the punk rock scene there in America?
==== I think there are different levels of it. There’s the version you see selling out arenas and then there’s the smaller scenes that there’s not always a great deal of attention given to. It’s the smaller scenes that interest me more. I think the punk rock scene alive and well here. I think it always will be.
6) Bad Brains come here to Argentina in this year, Circle Jerks maybe come the next year, there is a chance of see Henry Rollins here in Argentina again?
===== I don’t think I would go there to do music as I have no band, I don’t know about some of these bands who stick around so long, I don’t know if the music doesn’t suffer a bit.
7) in the DVD “American Hardcore” you talk about the shows and your youth in America what was the bests moments in your life in the 80-85 period.
===== I don’t know about any single moment but the overall was very good. You could go see Minor Threat and the Bad Brains and The Misfits all in one month. It was like a tree with a lot of fruit on the lower branches. It was all happening at one moment and you could be up to your eyeballs in it. It was quite a time of great music and discovery.
8) I fell very influenced by you and Ian MacKaye because when you have my age you do a lot of stuff and you have a lot of ideas, when you was a teenager and join to black flag what motivates you to always go on, because in the American hardcore DVD they you us the violence of the people against your first you.
===== It’s what you do, you go onto the next thing. That’s what it’s all about. If someone has a problem with that, you can’t just stop because someone doesn’t like you or you’re not playing the songs that they want to hear that night. It’s the opposite of selling out, you do what you want and that’s that. I don’t know what else you would do anyway.
9) Right now in my country there is a lot of violence in the schools, I think what happened in columbine is closer for us why do you think about the violence in the kids?
======== I think it’s the worst thing. It’s the last thing that should be happening, that kids are hurting each other. I think it’s part of the state of fear that humans live in all over the world these days. There’s a lot of reasons for this kind of thing. Lack of education, money, natural resources, etc. It all makes for desperation and that leads to all this negative action.
10) How do you define yourself?
===== I’m just a man, near 50, trying to do my work and tell the truth as best I can.
1) Do you think DIY publications like zines, or more traditional forms of protest have a place in the modern world, where blogs/forums/internet sites in general, seem to be the main form of expression for the average person?
======= Sure. They have a place when you make them. None of this kind of thing is always welcomed so you have to make it welcome by just doing it. A lot of Punk Rock stuff was never welcomed but you just put it out there. I do think that the online version of things is a more efficient way to reach more people. If it were me, I wouldn’t waste money on paper at this point. I would put my zine online and make it available all over the world right now for free. If your object is to be heard/read, then that to me is the way to go.
2) What achievement in your life would you say you are most proud of? In terms of your work, where is the best place it has lead you to?
======= I don’t have a sense of pride with anything I have done. I just do the work and give it all I have and move onto the next thing. The best thing all of this had lead to is the next thing. I do something and then it allows me to do something else. There’s a lot to be said for that. I am almost 50 and have more work and offers than ever before, it’s not a bad place to be in the business I am in. As far as a good place, in the last few years, I have been doing a lot of work for charities and causes and being asked to be part of all this is great, to be asked to be the host or keynote speaker at event, which I have done a few times now, is a really great thing.
3) If you could change one thing about the world in which we live, what would it be?
===== Better food distribution.
4) How do you feel about the recent election over there? Do you think Obama will wave a magic wand like many people, from my perspective anyway, seem to think he will, or do you remain more cautious?
==== I think you would be wrong to go with the magic wand idea and those who really pay attention to all this know that there’s nothing but a ton of work to be done. A tornado came through for 8 years and wrecked the joint and it needs to be cleaned up, that’s Obama’s legacy. He has said it many times though that this will be a lot of work. That’s all there is, really, so much work foreign and domestically. I think his first four years will be assessment, maintenance, neutralization and reconnection. I don’t think America has been this cut in half since the Civil War.
5) What do you feel the main issues affecting ordinary Americans or the world in general are at the moment, both short term and long term?
==== What Americans, ordinary and otherwise are focusing on is what they have always focused on—their wallets, which seemed to be on the endangered species list as of late. I think all other issues are in line behind this one.
6) You have your radio show over there, do you find you still get as excited by music now as when you were a teenager, or more so? What bands are you listening to at the moment? Do you still feel an affinity with the hardcore scene? It seems that many bands around today gain inspiration from your work, do you agree? How do you react to that?
===== I am actually more excited by music these days. It’s an obsession with me and it costs me a lot of time and money to pursue it in the way that I think is best. I am very sure there’s great music all over all the time so I do my best to hear a lot of it. As to what is called Hardcore, that has always seemed to me at least to be all the CBGB’s matinee shows, Murphy’s Law, Sick Of It All, etc. I never felt any affinity to that scene at all. Some of those people, they come from a mindset that I don’t want to be around, given the choice. Some people may cite Black Flag as an inspiration, sure. I have heard that a few times but what they’re making reference to is Greg Ginn and Chuck Dukowski, they were the songwriters main members of the band. There were four singers in Black Flag. Their best songs were written and recorded well before I got there. I was a member of the band absolutely but not really a part of it.
7) Do you think the often nostalgic/legendary viewpoint with which the 80’s hardcore scene is described accurately reflects what it was like? To many kids around today it seems like an amazing time to grow up. Can you see something like that happening in the modern world, or is it just that youth movements are often glorified once they are put into a context in terms of history?
====== I think it’s a mixture of some really good music as well as some mythologizing. I was at the first Minor Threat show. There are well less than 50 people who can say that. Watching the start of Dischord and seeing the Bad Brains play house parties, these were easily some great times and it was indeed an amazing time to be young and to be part of something. I don’t know if you would see anything that low to the ground and unaware of itself happen now. I think too many lights are on now. Doesn’t mean there’s no more great music to be made though.
8) How often do you get recognised when you are going about your daily life? Are there any stock phrases or jokes people say to you that’s amusing to them, but you have heard hundreds of times before?
======= I get recognized about minimum one time when I leave the house. It’s never never, not at least in the west. In Africa I can get around but in America and most major cities all over the world, I am a public meeting place on two feet. “Hey! I’m a liar!” I have heard variants of that a few times.
9) Do you ever feel a responsibility that comes from being a public figure? How do you deal with the negativity that somewhat inevitably surrounds anyone in music, spoken word, literature etc.?
==== Honestly, I don’t care. I am very sure that I am on the right side of things. If someone doesn’t like the music I do, that person and I have something in common as I feel the same way about Nickleback. If the person has anger towards me politically, he voted for Bush twice and again, I am sure I am coming out on top of that one. So, it really doesn’t put me off my game.
10) What are your plans for 2009 and beyond?
==== I will be out in the world a lot in 2009, one way or the other. By the 2nd day of 2009, I will be in Mali, which suits me fine. On this day last year, I was flying to Pakistan. I wish I was there right now.
11) What was the last book/film or record that you were affected by?
====== A book by Naomi Klein called The Shock Doctrine really knocked me out.
1- Let’s start with what you’re best known for (at least round here) : singing in a hard rockin’ punk band. The Rollins Band seems in limbo for quite some time (if I’m not
- Is it over ?
===== I guess it is for now at least. I have no band and no band plans.
- Has « speaking words » replace « singing lyrics » ?
==== I am doing a lot of talking shows these days so I guess it has.
- If so, for what reasons?
===== The talking shows are more where I am at these days. I go to a lot of places and it’s a good format to report on all the stuff I see. I went out with the band in 2006 and it was cool but it felt like I had been there before and the talking shows allow me to keep things very current where the music is always a repeat of old material. I can’t write enough songs to keep up with the need to have new information. Also, I like being alone onstage, it’s not easy and I enjoy that challenge. I like doing music though but I don’t want to play old stuff over and ove.r
- Could you tell us what _ spoken wordy speaking _ an « evening with Henry Rollins » looks like ?
=== I go onstage on my own and talk for a couple of hours. That’s about it. There’s a lot of stuff on YouTube you can look at I bet.
2 - So, on to politics… Obama’s the new president of the USA.
- Do you think changes are gonna come ?
===== I think there will be changes as there will be so many different people running the show but I don’t know how much he’ll achieve in his time. I think the Bush administration really wrecked the place and Obama will have to clean it up so it very well could be that a lot of his time will be sweeping through the rubble just to see what color the rug is underneath all the wreckage.
- What kind of changes people in the USA need most?
===== We have to stop sending so much employment out of America and we need to overhaul our energy usage and energy production. I think we need to reconnect to the world. We have been away for 8 years.
- Is the system about to collapse under this own weight, considering we’re in the middle of one huge crisis right now ?
====== It fell years ago, we’re just now seeing what it looks like .
- Do you think it’s just the beginning of it ?
====== Yes, I think this is just the start of all the fun. It’s too bad that it’s going to get worse.
- How do you see it evolving ?
====== More forclosures, more businesses big and small going under and a TON of jobs being cut in every sector of labor.
3 – What is your take on the Iraqui war ?
======== It was an invasion and it was illegal and the ones who started it need to go to jail right now.
4 – Back to music… You’re doing a radio show, looks like a cool thing to do…
- What do you get out of it ?
===== It’s fun for me to play other people’s music and talk about it and hopefully spread it around and create some interest for the bands so they can keep going. It’s a fun thing to do, it’s the best part of my week when I am off the road.
5 – You’ve been exposed to (and be part of) punk rock since the 70’s,
- How have you seen it evolved ?
======= I think it came to an end relatively quickly but from it came a lot of inspired music and that’s what we’re with now. As far as what would be called Punk Rock, there’s a bit of a ritualistic element about it, kind of like in Rock music. I don’t see anything wrong with that though, it’s an established form and so people will mold themselves to it.
- At what point are we right now?
====== I think there are some really great bands around these days that are really amazing so when people say that music sucks now or whatever, I feel bad for them. They should listen to my radio show.
- How do you see the future of this medium, if you think there’s one ?
===== I think there will always be bands and inspired people picking up instruments so the future of music will always be fine.
6 – Seeing it from now,
- What would you say about the bands you’ve been part of :
====== Those bands are very old and have been over for decades so honestly, I don’t think of them all that much. It’s not that I am trying to forget them, it’s just that I live in the present and am not all that interested in my past. I can’t undo it or redo it so I might as well move onto something else.
7 – We’re told, through the drowning of sales from major labels, that the end of the support for music (Cds, Vinyls…) is near… You, being a music collector,
- What do you think of it ?
==== I think vinyl sales are up, small labels can’t keep their vinyl in stock. I think things are going great for small labels. I don’t care if the majors go under, pigs get slaughtered.
- What place do you think pirate downloading plays in the drowning of sales ?
===== I don’t think pirating is hurting music sales. I think Mariah Carey is probably not missing any meals.
- Your take on it ?
- If you were to release music right now, what shape would it take ?
===== I don’t know. I have no ideas for music at this point.
8 – What are you lately grooving to ?
=== I think the new Deerhoof album is great, the new Hawnay Troof, Tinariwen and Mae Shi albums are really good as well.
9 – You also publish books through 2.13.61. The guy at the core of this very zine has also start putting out books through Libertalia (http://www.editionslibertalia.com).
- What advices could you give him ?
==== Keep it interesting.
- What to avoid ?
==== Don’t print too many copies. You may be sitting on them longer than you think.
10 – What are your next releases ?
===== I have some book, DVD and CDs planned for next year. There will be some re-issues of out of print stuff as well.
- Plans for the future ?
== in 2009 I will be doing a lot of travel all over the world. I will be in Mali for the first two weeks of next year.
11 - You love books, which are considered by some in the punk scene as an upper class media. According to them, books are not part of the working class culture, too intellectual and with no links with the reality of daily life. What would you say to them in order to encourage them to read books ?
======= I would say that is incredibly fucking stupid. The for thing your oprssor wants is for you to be stupid. Why you would want to encourage that to maintain some kind of cool is really sad. George W Bush doesn’t read. You want to be like him? You go have fun with that.
12 - Some in the punk scene (sometimes the same like the ones above), have a moderate use, or a heavy abuse, of drugs. You have already been through all that, but decided a long time ago to quit completely what you consider just as a self destruction. What is your opinion about drugs in punk-rock or rock’n'roll culture, and what would you say to discourage their use amongst it ?
===== Actually, I never started. I watched a lot of people sleep their lives away or just die or get arrested. Never seemed like something I had time to do. I would say that no one can make up your little mind for you. Drugs are death, you make your choice and you live and die by them.
1.) What was it like being apart of the beginning of hardcore?
===== It was a very exciting time as people knew that this was something really different. There was a very real feeling that we were all at the start of something. I feel lucky to have seen what I did.
2.) What do you think of the state of the music industry these days?
===== It depends on what you consider it to be. If it’s Brittany Spears and Nickleback, then that’s a hell to cook in but out here in the free world, I think music is doing great. I think indie labels are more interesting than they have been in decades.
3.) What is your opinion about the current American education system?
===== It’s built to keep people from learning what they need to know so they will keep walking into wars and prison cells.
4.) How has being straightedge effected your life in the music industry?
====== I guess I was the last man standing at parties. I don’t know. I don’t think it had any factor at all.
5.) Do you have any advice for younger hardcore bands that are just starting out?
======== Make your songs and get out there. What else is there to do, wait for permission?
What are your current project?
======= I am finishing up two books. One that will hopefully be coming in April and another in November. They are travel/journal type books.
You are a man with many hats, punck rocker, actor, tv presenter and poet. Nontheless you are well know as an outspoken political punk-poet.
======= Yes. I have a big mouth.
The Rollin Band performed as guess artist in your show on ifc.com. How’s the band? is it still active?
====== Band not active.
Obama is one subject we can’t avoid talking these days. What are your views about him and his policies?
===== The rubber has yet to meet the road there. I think he will do good things and I am behind him all the way and very relieved that he won. I hope we get the work done and get America in a better situation. I am liking where things going so far.
Your show on IFC.com have been on my playlist since day one. Do you have any offer to do your own show on any major network?
======== No. I think such a project would fail in that arena.
What do you feel when people credited Blag Flag as one of the most influncial bands of all time?
===== Well, if someone wants to say that, it’s for them to do so. If you’re asking if I take from that some sense of achievement, the answer is no. Black Flag is Greg Ginn and Chuck Dukowski. They wrote all the songs that the band is known for. I had little to nothing to do with any of the reasons why the band might be relevant today. So, you might as well be talking about the Rolling Stones to me.
Would you ever thought of running for office? Do you think you make a good president?
====== I have no interest there. I have nowhere near the level of intelligence needed for such a task.
So, 1) Are you doing what you thought you wanted to do when you grew up?
====== Actually, I had no idea what I would do when I got out of high school. I had no astronaut / fireman aspirations. I went into the minimum wage working world, only pausing to try a semester at college but it wasn’t me. So, when the music thing came my way, I reckoned it was as good as anything else. I was ready for a life of standing behind a counter. It’s not a bad way to go but I prefer what I do now.
2) Did you have an interest in journalism before your IFC show (and other interviewing outlets) or is your interest more in the human-interest aspects of the job?
====== My interest has always been in the human-interest aspect. People are interesting to me. I am not trying to break a story as much as trying to get my curiosity satisfied.
3) The death of Indie 103.1 as a terrestrial radio station is very sad. Now that you’re doing your show as an internet-only show, do you think that you’ll start podcasting?
======= I think I will stay at Indie for at least awhile and then see if something else comes my way.
4) A local musician was in the National Guard and saw you perform overseas. Were you approached about performing for the soldiers or did you approach them?
======== The USO approached me in 2004 and I said sure. I went out on 7 tours with them. It was very interesting and sad in places. The hospital visits in America were the hardest things to do. Some of those men are damaged.
5) You have two books coming out this year. Should fans expect journal entries, poetry, or something different?
====== They are both travel / journal books. One from 2007 and one from 2008. This is what I am doing at present.
6) The engagement you have at Humboldt State University on Feb. 7 is booked as a “lecture tour.” What kind of topics might you be covering?
========= It is? I hope I don’t lecture. Who needs one of those? I will be up there talking about where I’ve been lately, what I saw, etc. It’s what I usually do. These shows get called all kinds of things. It’s confusing for people. A “lecture” sounds a little overwrought.
7) Last night, my best friend and I watched “Talking From the Box,” (which he can pretty much recite, word-for-word) and you talk about jazz music a lot, especially John Coltrane. Have you always had a love for jazz? Did you play in school bands when you were younger?
====== My mother used to see Coltrane and Miles play. I was raised with that kind of music in the apartment but it only captivated me later on. I can’t play any instruments.
Originally being from DC area- a hot spot for lacrosse - what do you know about the sport? have you ever played?
========= No one I know considers anywhere that lacrosse played as “hot.” Never tried it or followed it.
You could be called a modern day renaissance man: musician, writer, publisher, actor, activist, etc. Did you set out to exist in each discipline or was this a progression over time?
======= It was availability and survival. As emplyment came, I took it. I saw in the 80’s that there were truly talented people who were having a very hard time because they had nothing else they could do so I realized I better get some other things to work at. I was lucky, things came my way and I went for them and things worked out. It was never a matter of thinking I was going to be an actor or anything. I can’t act but I can act enough like an actor to get work in that field now and then. I am a survivalist, not an artist.
Steve Jobs often quotes the Picasso line, “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” What’s your take on this thought process?
====== Glad I’m not an artist.
When you’re creating something new (music, words, standup), what inspires you?
===== I react more than anything. I see something, confront something, etc., and then it leads to something writing wise sometimes. Certainly leads to a lot of thinking. I use extreme locations to get these juices flowing. I need something very different than what I am used to in order to get this going. That’s one of the reasons I travel the way I do.
In the past you’ve talked quite a bit about weightlifting. What originally drew you to this over other physical activities? Has your regime changed over time?
===== In highschool, the appeal was that I could do it alone in my basement. I lived far away from school and couldn’t do a team sport really without missing the bus and also, I worked after school. Later on, it was good traning for tours, etc. I don’t lift heavy anymore, I need my joints. I do much more cardio now.
It seems a majority of athletes use music to build the right mindset during practice or before hitting the field. What gets you ready for training or performing?
===== Almost any loud / fast music will do. Running to Slayer has been very good.
Like any organized sport, players in the MCLA are regularly practicing the basics: running drills, shooting, (AO fill in more here). Do your “practice” your craft? If so, how?
===== I look over notes and go through ideas for talking shows and band practice for band tours but nothing really past that.
You’re a busy guy. IFC, Huffington Post, internet radio, a recent spoken word tour, a new book in April. For our readers - who might be new to the world of Henry Rollins - where should they start?
======= Good question. I really can’t recommend anything I have ever done. Perhaps the Get In The Van book, people seem to like that one.
The MCLA Lax Mag staff is a big fan of your work, especially “Rollins Band” era music. Is making new music still in your veins?
===== I don’t think so. I can’t see it as anything I have not done a lot so I am not able to convince myself that I need to do more of it. I think some people might look a little silly up there onstage with a band, I could be one of them. If it occurs to me to go back into it, I will but at the moment, it’s not moving me. I can’t do anything that’s not very urgent to me.
In the middle of the song Bottom by Tool, you do a spoken word piece. How did that come about and I assume you wrote those words?
==== Maynard asked me and I wrote the words.
This section of the magazine (Vamanos, Vamanos) regularly includes movie and music recommendation from our staff. We’re trying to expand our readers horizons beyond the “junk rock, hit of the week” on the radio and the “multi-million dollar, shoot ‘em up” movies. We’ve recently recommended Deliverance, The Great Escape, and the original Planet of the Apes. Any film recommendations?
====== I thought The Wrestler was really strong.
If you had to recommend the body of work of one artist, who would that be?
===== John Coltrane
Normally, when interviewing via telephone, we get some random one liner that finds its way into print. Last month, Neil Fallon called Pittsburgh the “land of rust and bricks”. The team that we are featuring in this section is Texas Tech, from Lubbock, TX. Anything you can say about that town?
=== I remember being there once, 1985. It was almost dark and the sides of buildings were still almost too hot to touch. I was really amazed at the intensity of that heat.
You’ve been traveling quite a bit to some of the less-than-popular destinations around the world, where have you been lately?
====== The last interesting place I have been to was a few weeks ago. I was in Mali for two weeks. Africa is always an interesting and intense time for me. I try to go once a year to some part of the continent. I always learn something. It’s very informative and also very sad in parts. I am hoping to get back to Mali next year.
How has experiencing the people, places, and cultures first hand changed the way you think?
======= I have come to the conclusion that the world is very small and people all over are basically heading in the same direction, at least they want to. I think they all want the same basic stuff you and I want. You don’t have to travel to come to this conclusion of course but this is what I have seen. People want respect and a shot at a future and they often don’t have it in the bag like so many of us do in America.
Your show on IFC has proved to be one of the best, most engaging shows on TV. How did the show come about into being? What are the plans for it in the coming season?
===== Some producers and I shopped it around and IFC wanted to do it. It was good work, I thought. They didn’t want the show anymore so I am without a show.
Recently your radio show, “Harmony In My Head” went from being aired on Indie 103FM in California to being broadcast on the net. What are your thoughts on the move, and in the trends in terrestrial radio’s future in general?
====== I start at KCRW FM on March 7th. I will be on from 6-8 pm. I am glad for the break. I am looking forward to being back on live radio. I don’t know what will happen to Indie. I really liked it there but doing only pre-taped shows wasn’t any fun at all.
A little while ago, I saw you perform spoken word on a triple-bill with Janine Garafolo and Marc Maron, which was a great show. Do you have any plans to work with others again in your spoken performances?
====== Thanks. If I can ever avoid it, I will never be on a multiple person bill ever again. I really didn’t like it. I liked Marc and Janeane but not how it works.
You’ve been doing quite a bit of spoken word, writing, and other projects since the “Rise Above” compilation to benefit the West Memphis Three, what among the myriad of projects you tackle has been the most interesting to you lately?
====== It’s all pretty interesting and it’s all kind of an obsession with me so it’s all one big world I live in. I don’t know a life outside of all these little tasks I have set up to do. It’s how I keep myself busy. I have nothing else going on. I am in the middle of working on the 2nd draft of one of two books I am putting out this year. One is at the printer and this one is about 20K words in as far as scrutinized. There’s only another 110K to go. It never ends. I am starting work on another book, that’s pretty interesting actually.
What is going on with Rollins Band right now? Do you still play with the guys from Mother Superior, or are you looking for a new lineup?
=== I have no band or band plans.
You’ve never been shy when it comes to offering your criticism of the former administration, now that Barack Obama has been sworn into office, do you see this as a new beginning, or is your view closer to that of Noam Chomsky’s, that Barack will only serve as a gatekeeper for corporate interests similar to the shortcomings of the Clinton administration?
====== I don’t know what the hell president Obama thinks he will achieve in Afghanistan. It really bugs me that he wants to go in there. I think it’s a bad idea. I also know he’s quite a bit more intelligent than I will ever be so perhaps I’m not seeing it. What I’m seeing is a thing called Vietnam.
Though much of radio and MTV have little to offer in the way of quality music, there are a lot of great bands still out there. What emerging artists caught your attention last year?
====== Dax Rigs, Jaguar Love, Marnie Stern, Pepi Ginsberg, Sleepy Sun. I think these are good bands.
January is usually a time when a lot of people make a new-year’s resolution, is there anything in the new year you’re striving to accomplish that you’ve been remiss in getting done?
======== I’m just trying to meet my deadlines and get my workouts in.
01. You have traveled to so many fascinating places, where haven’t you been that would like to visit? Why?
==== I would like to get to North Korea. I think it would be a fascinating trip. I don’t think it will happen though. I would like to get to Saudi Arabia as well. I don’t know about one either. I want to go to more of the ‘stans. Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, etc. I am basically a curious person and feel better when I am on the road, on my own and on the move.
02. What’s your favorite traveling food. Food you can only get in a certain place and why?
==== Old Dutch white cheddar cheese popcorn. The Canadian version. You can get it in the Midwest of America but it’s a different recipe and doesn’t taste as good as the Canadian version.
03. If musicians were chess pieces who, in your opinion, would be the kings and queens of both sides?
=== I don’t see musics in opposition so I honestly know how to answer that one.
04. Who do you feel is the greatest female voice in Rock N Roll
==== Janis Joplin.
05. Why the USO tour? (On behalf of all of us military folk, Thank you)
==== I like the troops and admire their skill and bravery. I think the last president disrespected them. For this, he needs to go to prison.
06. What made you want to cover a Grateful Dead tune?
====== We thought it would sound good with a go-go beat
where/how did you first find out about wolf eyes/american tapes?
=== Years ago someone at the radio station I work at loaned me one of their records and that was it, I was immediately very curious and so I waded in.
do you consider noise to be more “punk” than (current) punk? In that noise challenges the status quo and is always pushing boundaries whereas “punk” has become so tame and acceptable.
====== That’s exactly where I’m coming from. It impresses me because this music, or whatever you want to call it is so completely uncompromising. From the limited accesability to the zero interest in MTV or other conventional outlets, it’s what punk rock should have done. It’s the purity of the overall that is very attractive to me. Also, there is a lot of real talent and vision in some of this stuff. It could be the new be bop.
other than the american tapes/etc. related stuff what music have you had in the rotation lately?
==== I am liking the new Mae Shi, Deerhoof, Marnie Stern, Terakaft are all getting plays at my place.
will you be listening to noise when you’re 70? I don’t know how this question comes out through email..but I mean it lightheartedly..do you think you’ll be able to handle LOUD music on into old age?
===== The older I get, the less well I can hear so I might have to have things loud just to hear them at all. I’ll be 27 next month.
having survived the early D.C. punk/hardcore scene and then L.A.‘s. as well as early industrial/noise such as Swans, Trobbing Gristle, Non, etc. And then so on and so forth, how do you feel the current underground music scene differs from those of the past?
===== I think it’s taking advantage of the technology and kicking the status quo in the ass. I think there’s so much great music these days, you’re spoiled for choice. That vinyl is making such a comeback tells you all you need to know. Music survived the Reagan administration, Creed and Nickleback so it can survive anything else thrown at it I reckon.
What event/person in your childhood do you think set your path, if any?
==== I don’t think there was one single event or person that set me in any particular direction. My parents were a huge influence on me. Perhaps not in the most conventional ways. My father was a racist. That was very informative and shaped me at an early age to be very aware of racism and fight against it. I didn’t like living with my mother so I was out of the apartment as much as possible. I would work. I wanted nothing from her. This lead to the formation of my work ethic, which has taken me quite far. Also, the time I was young, the sixties, were highly formative years for me. I saw DC burn. I remember MLK’s death and the fallout from it. Basically, all of this made me very independent and self-reliant.
When you do nothing what are your thoughts?
====== My thoughts usually go to tasks I have to do, schedule, how many hours before I have to do whatever is next. At this point, I am kind of a walking itinerary.
When you first set out to work on something what do you do to get yourself prepared?
======= I think long distance. My last tour, which ended in November, was 15 months, 208 shows in about 20 countries. You have to set yourself up for a very long road. I toughen myself. I reduce comfort, increase treadmill workouts, get up very early, narrow diet, etc. I am preparing for some TV work at the moment. I am working out hard, sleeping in a sleeping bag and have been getting by on 4-6 hrs of sleep a night for several days.
Where there any pivotal moments in your life and if so what were they?
====== When my friend Joe was murdered next to me and the guy nearly took me out as well, that was a corner I turned. It changed the way I think about things and became a filter that everything goes through.
What inspires you?
====== Confrontation. Challenge. Travel. Defiance.
When your down or upset what makes you feel better?
======= Working out is the best thing.
What, if anything, do you want leave behind when you’re gone?
Do you chew gum?
Whats your definition of art?
========= It’s what you call art. It’s a very subjective thing in my opinion. One person’s art is another’s eyesore.
What does your work mean to you?
===== Actually, it’s just what I do to pass time. I really have nothing I am living for. I see no purpose to anything I do. I am just doing stuff. By not trying to hold onto it, I get a lot done. I have nothing else going on but the work.
Any advice for aspiring speakers or musicians?
====== There are far more talented people who came before you who got smashed to pieces because they were black or gay or insane or otherwise seen as less than. They gave more than you will ever have to, they paid a price you will. You owe it to them to tell the truth.
As a Fitzgerald fan, what do you make of his line “There are no second acts in American lives” in relation to yourself? For over 20 years you’ve been able to maintain creativity through some medium; whether in writing or performance. How do you get from hardcore to what you’re doing now (specifically: politics and activism)?
======= I come from the minimum wage working world. I went into the music with Black Flag because I was really lucky. Everything that’s come since has been from curiosity and a desire to do things. I don’t understand about the second act thing, really. I just go where opportunity and my interest take me basically. I don’t have much else going on so I just work.
On the same tip, how have you been able to manage the sort of visibility you have? You can be found on IFC, Vanity Fair, and The Huffington Post - always using what is public as a platform towards constructive ends. How does this affect your personal life?
======== I don’t understand a personal life. I have been signing autographs for 28 years. Being recognized is all I remember. I am not someone who gets followed around by crazy people with cameras, well, a little but I am too boring for those types. Past that, I work and that’s about it. I don’t know many people and don’t do much else than work and travel so I have a personal life when I am sleeping.
You’ve said that your life is your material. Where does the stage persona intersect with the private? For that matter, is anything off-limits? I mean, I know about your masturbation habits!
====== I draw a line where I could compromise someone else. No need to drag your girlfriend through the coals by issuing details of adult interaction, etc. If it’s something about me and I am the one who will take the fall, then that’s fair game.
James Brown! Herzog! Some of my favorite anecdotes concern you meeting your own heroes. Does this kind of thing still trip you out?
===== Sure. I am a fan of a lot of people. There many, many people I greatly admire, so it’s always an honor to meet one of them. I never understood people who played that “too cool” thing when they meet others. To be succinct, I am a fan.
What about the hero worship surrounding you? I imagine one of the problems of having such a varied career is that people still assess you according to things you did decades ago - be it positive or negative.
===== There are a lot of people knocking at the door, as it were. I take it case by case. I know what I am. There’s nothing like being nearly 50 to remind you of your mere mortal-ness.
After a shoot for GQ, alongside Keith Morris, you posted a dispatch wherein you declared Morris to be the best Flag vocalist. Where do you fall on the list? Don’t be modest.
==== I like us (?) in this order: Keith, Dez, Ron, me.
You were recruited into Black Flag partly because of an eclectic music taste. Not many are aware of your reissue labels, but you helped turn people onto bands like the Monks, the Contortions, and Trouble Funk. You’ve even published other peoples’ books. Is this something you’ll continue in the future or will the sharing spirit have to live on in your radio show?
========= I think at this point, it will mostly live on the radio show. Putting out other people’s stuff is a lot of weight, I have come to learn. I am busy to the point now where it’s taking about 16 hours a day just meeting my own deadlines.
How has the transition to KCRW been so far? Are there any bands or albums you’ve been excited by recently?
====== KCRW has been great so far. I have only done two broadcasts so far. It’s weekly. I am really liking the new Marnie Stern album, also the Pepi Ginsberg album. The new Deerhoof album is great as well as the new Hawnay Troof album.
A Preferred Blur, your book of journal entries and travel stories, is set to come out in April.. Will it focus on your recent trip to Africa? Can you share any information concerning A Mad Dash or any of your other upcoming projects?
======= APB is journal and travel stories from some of 2006 and all of 2007. Travel to Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon and other places is covered. AMD will cover travel to South Africa, Burma, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, all the places I was on tour, on location, etc. That one will be out in November. It’s been quite a lot of work getting two manuscripts prepared. It’s almost all we have been doing here every day. I am working on two other books, another travel one and a photo-essay book.
You’re always reliable for recommendations. What have you been illuminated by lately? (For me, it’s been a lot of Borges.)
======= Besides those records I listed, I liked that film Tokyo! that I saw last week.
Traveling abroad has endowed you with an arsenal of stories. Though comparatively minor to where you’ve been, do you have any spiels about New Jersey? Perhaps a show at City Gardens or Maxwell’s?
======= I really came to appreciate New Jersey when I started living in Trenton on and off for years. There is something about NJ people, a great sense of humor and a real identity and integrity. Also, they are one of the better audiences. I think some of those City Gardens shows were the best one I’ve ever done. I really liked that place.
Finally - What steams your pipe?
======= People who get in the way of progress.
1. Mr. Rollins, I haven´t heard anything about you here in the Czech Republic for a long time and that is why i would like to ask you what´s the news? Do you think of any new record of Rollins Band and in which arrangement? Any concert tour or movie role?
===== I will be working in a tv show over the summer in Los Angeles called The Sons Of Anarchy. I have two books coming out this year as well, they took a long time to finish. I have no band and no band plans at this time.
2. I also like your books (three of them were published in the Czech Republic:
1. The Solipsist
2.,3. Black Coffee Blues 1, 2
And why do I like them? Because they are deuced good. Aggressive books fool of ideas. I know, aggression is a defence against people who cvan not never understand this. Do you prepare any other book of this kind? I personaly like the passage from the book “The Solipsist”:
“I will never put my banana in a strange fruit bowl.”
===== There is a book I did a few years ago that is kind of like Solipsist called Roomanitarian. Thanks for reading the books.
3. Is it true that you don´t go after concerts to any parties or even to a bar with the band? Is it from that reason that you became older?
====== After a show, I am usually back on a tour bus and driving to the next place or trying to get a little bit of sleep before I have to go to the airport. The reason I became older is I kept having these damned birthdays every year. I asked if I could get younger instead and was told that no, you have to get older. So, I became older.
4. I like travelling to Africa in order for me to “Recharge my bateries” for other days in the future. Everywhere deserts, there´s only a moped or a yellow cab (Peugeot) going by. It is a beautiful escape from the civilization. The worst thing is to come back to Prague and the ordinary hurried life. Where do you travel to fill your positive energy? I herd you also like travelling.
====== I go fairly far and wide. In the last few years: Iran, Pakistan, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, South Africa, Mali, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and all the regular places I go for shows. I don’t know if I get anything positive out of it but I do learn a lot so I guess that’s good.
5. Did you find on present american music scene any interessting band or a new personality, who gripped you?
======= Sure. Mi Ami, Dax Riggs, The Mae Shi, Jaguar Love, Crystal Castles, Marnie Stern, there’s lots of good music out there now.
6. I also heard that your “Talk shows” are very funny. Do you do this kind of shows also in Europe? I am asking just in case that i would like to invite you to the Czech Republic. What would it amount?
======= That’s not a conversation I am going to have with you.
From this reason Iwould like to kindly ask you to send us for Czech fans Henry´s commentary to the Rollins Band NICE album (2001). It could be an oficial comment of the album. Would Henry be so kind and could briefly discribe in 2 or 3 sentences particular songs?
UP FOR IT -
GONE INSIDE THE ZERO -
WHAT´S THE MATTER MAN -
YOUR NUMBER IS ONE -
STOP LOOK AND LISTEN -
I EANT SO MUCH MORE -
HANGIN´ AROUND -
GOING OUT STRANGE -
WE WALK ALONE -
LET THAT DEVIL OUT -
Street Team Interviews - Henry Rollins - Spring, ‘09 - 10 Questions
Q What can you tell us about A Preferred Blur, A Mad Dash and the one you recently alluded to that will be out years from now?
==== APB and AMD are travel/journal books from 2007 and 2008 respectivley. The other book is photos and essays and is in early stages of production. APB will be out in April 2009 and AMD will be out in November of 2009 if all goes to plan.
Q If you had your way, what books would you make mandatory in high school or college curriculums?
===== George Orwell’s 1984, The Stranger by Albert Camus, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, Dostoyevsky’s Crime And Punishment. Those would be good for highschool. For college, hell, I don’t know what to do with college students. The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein and Nemisis by Chalmers Johnson maybe.
Q The music industry blames file sharing and/or piracy for declining sales. Do you see that as a major contributor, or is the current music business model simply not adapting to the times and technology fast enough? What other factors do you see contributing to its decline?
====== I think the major factor in the couldn’t come soon enough decline of the major label industry is greed. Greed and underestimating the intelligence of their patrons.File sharing has had an effect, certainly. Why do people share files? Maybe because you put out a CD for 19.99 and two songs on it are good and the rest is so-so because you told the band to hurry up already. When you make art into an industry, everyone will suffer. I am sorry about all the people who lost their jobs but this thing had to end.
Q Vinyl has risen from the dead in a major way over the past few years. In 2008, sales of LPs were up by 89%, from 990,000 in ‘07 to 1.88 million this year. What do you think has sparked this resurrection? What albums do you think sound better on vinyl than CD or digital medium?
==== I think a lot of people enjoy the hands on aspect of an LP. The artwork is more visible as well, always cool. That could be a part of it. What albums sound better on vinyl? ALL OF THEM.
Q Are you still working with Paul Rieckhoff and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America? On a related note, have you recently been on any USO tours and are you scheduled for any upcoming visits this year?
====== I am waiting for IAVA to finalize a video they are doing as I will be supplying voice over for it. USO has asked if I will do a tour later in the year. I will check schedule and see if I can accommodate.
Q If there was only one thing you could make the American people understand about what you’ve seen on your many tours to visit the troops, what would it be?
===== That these are fantastic men and women and that Iraq and Afghanistan are a fool’s mission.
Q When visiting other countries, what’s the most common thing people express to you now that Barack Obama is in office and the reign of the Bush Regime is over?
==== An incredible amount of happiness and relief. I was just in Mali and people were very excited about president. This is the only country I have been to since Obama won the election though. I will be doing some travel this year and will find out more when I get on the road. I was out and about in the world quite a bit leading up to the election though and people were very hopeful about Obama winning.
Q Some say President Obama’s biggest challenge over the coming years will be the economy, others say universal health care, some claim our foreign policy. What do you think his biggest challenge over the next four years will be?
====== The economy. Its state will dictate what happens in all other areas.
Q If nothing else, what do you think he should absolutely accomplish during his first term?
==== Out of Iraq, out of Afghanistan, close Gitmo, close black site prisons, stop all torture of “detainees.” Talks with Iran, China, North Korea, Cuba.
Q You cover America’s dependency on foreign oil and relying on countries that “hate our guts” quite a bit as well as getting off our collective asses and doing something about it, ie. solar panels, electric cars, wind energy, etc. Is it fair to ask what Henry Rollins is doing for his part? For example, do you and Heidi kick it in a solar-powered office or does the Bon JoviMobile run on second-hand fryer grease like Willy Nelson’s tour bus?
===== Of course it’s fair. I mostly do all the normal things, I light the room I am in, rarely use heat, never use ac, drive as little as possible. I shower with the water off except for soaping up and rinsing off. I am in process of moving and have not considered putting solar panels on a place I am hoping to leave. If I can get somewhere else to live, I will persue that. I have never pursued an alt. energy tourbus. I pay my carbon offset, although I don’t know for sure what good it does, I am hopeful.
1. After Indie 103 folded, you undoubtedly had a lot of other options and demands for your time, and I am excited to see you back on the air at SMC’s own KCRW. Listeners like me get a lot out of your show, and not just all the rare, new, and eclectic music. It’s clear you put a lot of time and energy into your radio shows, but what do you get out of it on a personal level, and why come to KCRW?
======== To be honest, I only got the one offer and it was from KCRW. It’s where I started learning radio in the early 80’s so I was fairly stunned to be asked to work there. I enjoy the fact that the show is low-impact on me. I don’t have to memorize anything, be onstage or in front of a camera. It’s one of the only low stress jobs I have. All the rest are far more nerve wracking. I am a born ham and radio is perfect for that and I think I have pretty good taste in music and it’s a blast to bring in all kinds of cool stuff every week and lay it on people. It’s one of the highpoints of the last few years to be on KCRW. I take it very seriously.
2. SMC spent a lot of money in recent years expanding and modernizing the campus. Have you had a chance to explore the new SMC?
3. I love KCRW, but I wonder if Thom Yorke might view its playlist as verging on “lifestyle music”, a charge he once leveled at Coldplay. You play a lot of early punk on your show, but also some experimental and world music that can challenge listeners (to your credit). Do you anticipate altering your playlist or approach at KCRW?
4. Where were you on November 4 and how did you celebrate?
====== I was in Washington DC. I watched the results with members of the MacKaye family. At midnight, I had to leave town for the next show, so I walked through the old newighborhood and thought about the changes in America and thought about all the people I knew who died too soon to be around for this.
5. A famous philosopher said that once you choose your profession, you have chosen your death. Your life has been anything but that, as you have been a singer, songwriter, actor, poet, comedian, political activist, and an author. You released your ninth spoken word DVD this past year, and in addition to KCRW, you release two books, and appear in FX’s Sons of Anarchy this year. You must love the variety of work, but is there one aspect that you could see yourself pursuing all the time?
========== I hope I can keep the radio show going for a good while. All the other stuff, I do my work and now and then, something like SOA comes around. I’m just doing stuff. I come from the minimum wage working world, so the last 28 years has been a bit of a wild ride for me. I’m tripping on it all as much as I’m steering it.
6. You play a lot of world music on your radio show, particularly stuff not available on CD or the internet. There are a lot of international students here at SMC, and they bring a lot of their respective cultures with them, including music. Is there any rare music from other countries that you are looking for? Perhaps we have students who can help with your search.
======= I’ll know when I hear it. I am not really looking speciciually for anything in particular. When it sounds good, I go after it. I am always looking for something else to check out. There’s a lot of amazing music coming from Africa, obviously. I know nothing about it in comparison to what’s out there, so I just buy records that look interesting and see what happens when I play them. I also go to Africa about once a year, so I get exposed to a lot. I saw a lot of bands in Mali this year.
7. In your TV show, you often deconstruct the rhetoric of politicians and pundits, but in your radio show and spoken word pieces, you seem to love the playful nature of rhetoric (alliteration and double entendres to name a few). Granted that the examples above can be very different forms of language, but in broad terms, how do you approach language: to reify or to deify?
======== I am an English practioner. I admire those who can speak it like someone speaks French, those who can make it do things, Twain, Fitzgerald, Naomi Klein. English isn’t dead no matter how many texting right now are trying to kill it. Bush tried to kill English with his education policies but I think it might well survive. I am trying to get my learner’s permit for English. It’s hard.
8. Many students at SMC are chasing dreams in music, film/TV, and art, and you’ve done it all. Any words of advice?
===== Sure. Be really good. Work really hard. Want it more than anything else.
9. Your travel schedule is extensive, including several trips to the Middle East in recent years, which can be seen in a lot of the Middle Eastern music in your radio show. Where would you like to go next, and is there a musical connection to it?
========= I will be in India later in the year, probably Indonesia and Malaysia as well. The latter two hold a great deal of interest for me musically. The trip to India, the mission while classified at this time, will have nothing to do with music.
10. Some pundits asserted that a potential offshoot of America’s post 9/11 confrontations might be a more international worldview or at least more curiosity among Americans. While Obama is amping up U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, it appears his foreign policy will be less confrontational, and the economy will inevitably require a more domestic focus. This should not exclude us from learning about the outside world, but lets suppose we took a snapshot of where we stand today as a country. What one thing did we learn about the world that we didn’t already know, and what one thing did we not learn?
========= What did we learn in the post 9-11 world? That we anger countries, peoples and cultures with our policies, second by second. The facts have been there for decades of course but many Americans don’t seem to be all that interested in checking out history or what war looks like years later, like in SE Asia, where people are still getting blown up from UXO’s. People will tell you that America won the “war” in Vietnam. Nah. We bombed a bunch of farmers with over 600 million tons of ordinance and they’re still there. Ho Chi Minh’s face is everywhere. Perhaps some Americans can now think critically about their country and its history. Perhaps Democracy has a different meaning in Afghanistan, where it might feel like something that has been rammed down one’s throat. Something we didn’t learn? That countries all over the world have been around for centuries and did whacky things like invent language and mathematics and they don’t always appreciate an American military base in their town or a bunch of men in sunglasses who don’t speak their language who kick their doors down. They do things that Americans would do if they were invaded and occupied. All those American militia jack offs are nothing but an unorganized, cowardly, unserious version of Hamas. They both call themselves patriots. If you pitted them against each other, Ted Nugent, Chuck Norris and all their fellow “patriots” would be dead. America is not the world. We are part of the world. As the world’s largest debtor nation, we better learn to get along.
E-MAIL INTERVIEWS 2009
The only thing I have removed is the e-mail addresses of the interviewers. I figured that someone may find some of this interesting so, here they are in all their unedited, typo-ridden glory. If I did it correctly, the interviews should be from the beginning of the year to the end. The interviews are separated by a
Have fun, or something.
Can you call yourself a workaholic? Where does this strong working ethos of yours come from?
==== I think I get it from my parents. At an early age, I wanted to get away from them and knew that I was alone in the world and needed to be self-sufficient. So, I started working jobs at an early age. I learned a lot from all that, how to stick with it. All the Black Flag guys were the same way but more so. I learned a lot from Ginn and Dukowski.
Why did you decide to take a break from making music a couple of years ago and instead concentrate on other activities, such as acting, doing the “talking” (as far as I know, you hate the term “spoken word”) and having your own TV and radio shows? Was music limiting your expression in some way?
===== I didn’t see what more I could do with it. Another tour, another album, for what? It wasn’t risky, it wasn’t taking the same place it used to in my life so I looked to do other things. I thought it was the brave thing to do, to get into other things and see what that’s all about and to see where it all would take me. I wasn’t feeling limited by the music, just wanting to see and do other things.
On your radio show, you play many musical genres. You also own a big record collection, but I was wondering what happened and what’s more important when, that an artist still somehow perceived by his punk and hardcore past calls Miles Davis one of his heroes? Has it always been like that?
===== I don’t think that since you are known for one genre of music that you couldn’t be into other stuff. It’s nothing I ever paid any attention to, as far as limits. You’re into what you’re into and that’s good. Being cornered by soemthing you’re associated with is you allowing that to happen.
Is there a thing that you feel most comfortable at doing?
======= the most comfortable is radio as it’s low impact. You let the records do the work. As far as everything else, I am probably best on my own onstage.
Do you experience stage fright before your shows? What’s the main difference between performing with a band and doing the “talking”?
====== Not nerves, I really want to be onstage. I can’t wait. It’s anticipation more than anything. I look forward to it. The band shows are much easier to do. You’re part of a larger thing, you don’t have to be responsible for the whole thing. The lyric is the lyric pretty much. The talking shows are much harder, it’s only you up there and if you get it wrong, everyone knows. It’s a lot more concentration to get throgh it all.
Will you still be acting in movies? What are your thoughts on the showbiz side of Hollywood?
==== I just signed on for another film starting soon. I like the work. I don’t know the showbiz side. I don’t hang out with actors or make any kind of scene. I do the work and leave pretty much.
You once said that you hate writing, yet you can’t stop it. What’s the problem?
====== Real writing hurts. I wish I could stop but it’s the itch that won’t stop.
You traveled to Iraq and Honduras to entertain American soldiers. What was the thing that you remembered most from those trips?
=== Also Afghanistan, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, Djibouti, UAE, Bahrain, etc. There’ a lot to comment upon but mostly, I remember the youth of the soldiers and how old they seemed at such a young age.
Now, that United States are just before the presidential elections, you went on the “Recountdown Tour”. What is your main aim behind this tour? Do you think that you can influence people before the elections?
====== I just want ot be out on the road doing shows. I don’t have a real objection past that. I never tell anyone to vote for anyone, I just beg them to vote. I don’t care who they vote for, it’s none of my business really.
Which candidate and why do you support, if there is one?
======= I won’t say but I think he might win and I am very excited for a change in America.
Do you feel comfortable with your past?
Who is Henry Rollins? How would you describe yourself now?
===== I just work for a living and try to go where my curiosity takes me.
Can we expect that Rollins Band will continue to perform and record?
===== I have no plans for music at this point.
That paragraph is basically a reiteration of everything everyone says about you every time you are interviewed. These things are true, but what do you see yourself as?
=== A workaholic who has little else to do but act on my curiosity and interests. This can sometimes border on obsession, which I think is one of the many ways one can achieve something of worth. It does however, take a toll.
From the very inception of punk music it has always had a “stand up”, and “make your own rules” message, which bands specifically do you think have this ideology today?
======= I don’t think that’s a small amount of bands. I think there’s too many to mention. There are plenty of small labels who do their own thing and the bands that are on them are only concerned with the music and little else like image or sales. I think that there’s a lot of people like Bob Dylan and Neil Young who do their own thing as well.
Aware of the days at The Outhouse in Kansas, I wonder if you miss the attitude and atmosphere of your youth, and the music scene back then? What is your perspective of the changes in the audience over the last few decades over the years?
======== I sometimes miss the relative simplicity of my past as it compares to what I deal with now. I think youth is time of rapid development and discovery, things are often more poignant as they are unfamiliar and untried. Once those rituals are exhausted, many people don’t move onto other things, they think they have come to the end of something and allow that to define them. You can also do something else, like find new things to discover and by doing so, nostalgia becomes useless. The audiences, as I see them, have grown in size and diversity.
Punk music in general has a tremendously powerful message for people to not take what is being force-fed to them. Why do you think it incited so much violence with in the scene during its zenith, instead of us lashing back at society with the revelations that came with the music?
========= I think there were some poorly aimed missiles in punk music, in that people sometimes fought each other when the true enemy gathered its strength and watched. I don’t know what caused that really, perhaps petty power squabbles, growing pains, or something like that as a form seeks to define itself.
I know you are a very politically motivated person, and are opposed to the current administration. What given the seemingly preoccupation with tribal war, and the excuse ridden reasoning for destruction of our civil liberties, do you think the outcome has had on the face of art and music today?
====== If I understand your question, I think since at least the Reagan administration, there has been a war on art and freedoms that Americans should enjoy easily. Some people want others to just shut up and not make any noise or think differently, etc. I think this comes from administrations who basically hate and fear those who elected them.
You have been all over the world, and from most of what I have read about your travels, people have been very gracious hosts. I am sure you have discussed our country, and now the worlds current situation, what is their reaction to the mess our administration has gotten us all in?
======= It will take many years to get us out of it. I don’t know if all those bridges can be mended. Imagine forgiving a country that rocketed your home town and killed your friends. How cool would you be with that? The many people I have spoken to all over the world have expressed great interest and affection for America and Americans. By and large, they seem not to judge the many by the actions of the few. Let’s hope that’s the case.
Knowing that you are not a man who likes to speak about your body of work, but would much rather be working, what is one of your biggest motivations at the moment?
======== The bright future of America and the world.
fanatic! volume 3
what inspired you to put this collection together?
===== It was the last of the three volumes of the book. It was the last of the radio show annotations that I had been writing for years. It’s a kind of writing that I like to do but it’s really time intensive so I can’t do it any more.
what inspired you to put the fanatic! collection together?
==== It’s an outgrowth of me being a fan of all this music and wanting to spread the word. The Fanatic! books are basically large fanzines, nothing more.
did these works come together quickly, or did you really need to plug away at
==== It was hours a day, that’s why I can’t do it any more. Most of the time, I was working on the books 4 hours a day, from five am to nine am.
what was the most challenging part of piecing them together?
===== Maintaining a level of quality and not blowing through a broadcast and not writing well.
what was the most rewarding part?
====== The letters I get from people who really get something out of the books, that’s really cool.
what has the response been like (critical, readers, family/friends?)
====== People seem to like the books. I don’t care what critics think but people who actually read the books, if they bother to write me about them, seem to like them ok. It’s low impact writing, it’s not a life altering experience, hopefully the books are taken on the spirit in which they were written.
do these opinions matter to you?
===== Not really. I am going to do the work but it’s great if someone likes what you do.
what made you want to be a writer?
======= Writing is something I have always done, sue to my solitary nature, it always seemed to be the thing to do.
how have you grown as a writer over the years?
===== I have no idea. I would like to think that I can aim a little better with words. It’s never easy but I think I am getting better at being clearer. I have found that it’s all about the re-write more than the writing. I spend a lot of time re-writing if I can.
in your opinion, what makes a good book?
===== For me, it’s always been that connection where I think I have finally found the book that took reading all those other books to get to. that’s the way I always felt when I read Of Time And The River by Thomas Wolfe.
the creative process: inspiration or perspiration?
===== The idea just comes and then I have to hammer it out. I guess it’s inspiration and then perspiration to get it done.
San Francisco, CA: Has the social and political stage become just another arena for those in the entertainment industry to perform on or do you believe the actions to be earnest?
===== I am sure there’s a fair bit of both. I think it’s more a matter of people who have opinions as we all do but have a forum with which they can broadcast their point of view. I am always very careful not to endorse anyone. By and large, I am betting that it is quite sincere what these people are putting across.
Malvern, PA: Hi Henry, I was wondering why you no longer post song writeups on your Harmony In My Head playlist postings, are you growing less fanatical?
==== No, just busier. It’s fun writing to do but it’s also very time consuming and I just can’t keep it up. It’s a blast to do that kind of work though but like I said, it takes time I can’t give at the moment. Thanks for checking the writing out.
Allendale, Mich.: Henry,
As a film student at Grand Valley State University and fan of yours, I was wondering what/who some of you current favorite films and or filmmakers are?
====== I am always up for PT Anderson, Cohen Brothers and names like that. I have not seen many new films in the last 12 months as I have been touring so much. I am very behind. I have watched Michael Clayton three times. I really like how that film works on a lot of levels. I will try and catch up with things in 2009.
Charlotte, Mich.: I have a personal question. Have you ever done a guy’s dishes in the city of Chicago? I have a friend that CLAIMS that you have done his dishes after a night of partying.
Erfurt, Germany: Henry, thanks for taking the time and doing this chat interview…
Do you think the need to register yourself in order to exercise your right to vote has some influence on the amount of the electorate? Do you think, some people might see it as some kind of obstacle they don’t want to overcome, some kind of obstacle they don’t want to invest their time in?
====== It’s not all that hard to do but I think it’s perhaps in place to keep a certain kind of person away from voting. I have absolutely no hard facts on that but seeing how some of these people are, it seems that the last thing they want is the opiions of others. Erfut’s a great place.
Washington, DC: 1978, Bethesda, Finnegan and Roberts Sunshine House. I would come in after school to stare at skateboards my mother wouldn’t let me buy. 1982, Yesterday and Today Records, Rockville, MD. I see the face of the skateboard clerk on the cover of… Ink Disease or Flipside or MRR and literally could not contain myself. The skateboard clerk was in a band.
======== Wel, what can I say. Humble beginnings.
Boston, MA: Hi Henry, I know you’ve done many great things with the USO over the years, and made visits to Walter Reed, is there anything you’ve learned about the make-up and spirit of our troops that sets us apart from other countries’?
======= I bet there are millions of able bodied and ready-to-go men and women all over the world. I have not met enough military in other countries to make a comparison. I can say that our men and women in the Military are damn impressive.
Battle Creek, MI.: Love all your stuff Henry. Thanks! I was wondering what you think 20-year-old Henry would think of 47-year-old Henry, everything from his accomplishments to his clothes, ethics, and being in major motion pictures?
========= He would probably say, “Good work if you can get it.”
Arizona Bay, Az: What was it like coming into the studio and helping out on “Bottom” during Tool’s younger days? Where you there in the studio they day they were shooting the piano with shotguns?
======== It was a very short session. I did the vocal once I think and that was it. I was not there for the shotgun thing.
Fairfax VA: When you were a young angry high school student, could you have ever pictured yourself hosting a chat for the Washington Post about your spoken word show at the Birchmere?
===== No. I have been extremely fortunate.
Hartford, CT: Do you think Obama will actually win and that the election won’t results won’t be tampered with to favor the Republicans? Do you still have faith in our “system”?
======= I can’t answer this all that fairly as the election is over. I can say that up until Obama was elected, I thought the thing was going to be stolen. I have faith in the system but I am afraid that there are those who want to ruin it. People like Tom DeLay.
San Diego, CA: If given the opportunity, would you sit down with President Bush and interview him?
==== If I were allowed, sure. He wouldn’t like my questions though.
Philadelphia, Pa: Your spoken-word description of recording a song, and later having an interesting seafood dinner, with William Shatner is one of my all-time favorites. Any chances of a reunion with Shatner, or is there another person on your wish-list to work/collaborate with?
======= I would do whatever Bill wanted to do pretty much. I have no plans to work with anyone or have any thoughts as to who to work with.
Detroit, MI: Henry, I saw you at the Fillmore this past Sunday in Detroit. You think you are getting “older”, I think you are like fine wine. You are aging with a gracefulness and becoming much more of a humanitarian than you have ever been. I admire your recent contribution to help end world hunger, and would like to know how I can help to donate to YOUR cause. May goodness always come your way.
========= Thanks. It’s easy, you can always donate to the World Food Programme. They can use all the help they can get.
Harrisburg, Pa.: What are your thoughts on Sarah Palin?
======= I think she’s very depressing. I am afraid I have not seen the last of her.
Mike, Lorton, VA: Can you comment on the difference between how punk rock in the 80’s expressed thier discontent with politics (BYO album circa 1982- Let’em eat jellybeans) and now.
======= I don’t know if there is much of a difference. Bands have always written songs against what they see as wrong. I think it’s perhaps not as a cohesive scene on that front. Ronald Reagan really made for a lot of songs. For some reason, Bush didn’t seem to generate the same kind of sentiment. I don’t know why there would be a difference. I imagine there are several reasons.
Virginia Beach, VA: I’m your age and a music fanatic, I try and listen to as much music, in general, as possible. Thing is, I’m not finding much to inspire me like those bands that emerged during the Black Flag days. What bands - type of music—is inspiring you these days?
======== Wolf Eyes, Yellow Swans, The Mae Shi, Deerhoof, Dax Riggs, The Evens, Edie Sedgwick, there’s a lot of good bands these days I think.
Glover Park, DC: Sorry, but I’m going to bombard you with a bunch of stuff…
Just want to say thanks…I saw you on the street one day recently at Calvert and Tunlaw, said hello, and you were quite nice. Since I’m a fan and look like a dweeb, it was especially nice.
Also wanted to say how much I like the “Franklin’s Tower” Dead cover you did with Wartime.
On the topic of eclectic music…is there a Webcast of HIMH? I really liked the video of you on your site talking about your record collection, musical tastes, etc. I’d love to hear you play the “Nesum Dorme” aria from Turandot, followed by Zappa’s “Joe’s Garage” and then Trane and Ellington doing “In a Sentimental Mood” or something like that…talk about eclectic!
====== Thanks. I think there’s a site that has all the broadcasts if you type in Rollins Archive into your browser.
Los Angeles: I saw you in San Diego a few weeks ago, it was awesome and inspiring as usual. Thank you. My friend saw Ian Makaye talk the other night at Hollywood High, and he jokingly said you would move to Canada if McCain won. Would you do it?
========== No. I would stay and fight. Sometimes frustration does set in though.
San Francisco: Rollins, you are by far one of the most intelligent, honest and strongest voices in the media and the “celebrity” world today. Who do you look to for real, honest and unbiased reporting in the news media?
=== Print media and online stuff. Daily Kos, Raw Story, Media Matters, Common Dreams, HuffPost, stuff like that. Corporate media to me is like chain restaurant food.
Detroit: You’ve traveled all over the world, seen so many amazing places and been able to meet the people who live in horrible conditions. Which destination has had the most profound effect on you and why?
======= It would have to be India. Spending time in Calcutta really did a number on me. The way life and death are almost the same thing, the way poverty is dealt with, the sheer number of dead bodies you see, it’s all pretty overwhelming. I will be back there soon.
Arizona by way of California: Hi Henry. I respect your work a great deal and everything that I’ve seen that you have done I have enjoyed. I have 3 questions for you. First, what are your top 5 recommended books of all time, any genre, your own books can be included. And second, what do you think of the current music scene and the direction it seems to be heading? What would you suggest to someone trying to break into the music business in LA? Thanks for your time, Henry.
======== I don’t know about single book but writers I admire include Leautreamont, Camus, Wolfe (Thomas, Look Homeward Angel, etc.), Fitzgerald, Selby, Hamsun, Miller, Fante, Vian, Jarry, Breton, Celine, Kapuscinski, Klein, Miller (Henry), Twain, Poe, Kharms, Dostoievsky, Bulgakov, Gogol, Kafka, Proust. There’s a lot of good writers. I listen to a lot of noisy indie music, I don’t know the direction it’s in. I just like it. It’s very low budget stuff and it’s really good. I have no idea how to break into the music scene, never had to.
Philadelphia: Isn’t a problem you are hearing from our all-volunteer military is that many are learning that the volunteers have now been drafted into service beyond which they thought they were volunteering for?
===== I think they will probably say what they have to at this point, to get young meat into the grinder.
St. Louis: I’m looking forward to next Thursday.
This question leans more toward the FANATIC section of your life. What is your favorite Black Sabbath record ?
========= Master Of Reality.
Seattle: Henry, I’ve really enjoyed your acting work. Some of my favorite roles have been the cop in “The Chase” and the motivational speaker in “Feast.” Do you plan on doing more acting in the future and if so what might you be working on at the moment? Furthermore have you thought about writing your own screenplay or possibly experiment with directing? Keep doing what you do brother. We need you on the front lines. Peace
======== I will take the acting work when I can get it. I am not really an actor, that’s always apparent but it’s work and I’ll take it and am always glad for it. I have no desire to write anything for screen. That’s a great talent.
D.C.: Do you think too many of the world’s woes have been heaped on poor old ‘Dubya, to the point that the expectations for Obama’s “change” message are totally out of touch with reality? I ask this question of you because much of the denigration has come from the entertainment community, to the point of ludicrousness. I didn’t vote for Bush, but I do recall very serious problems existing in the world before the year 2000. Who will we blame for every freakin’ thing wrong with this country/world if Obama is elected?
========= No. The “denigration” as you call it didn’t come from the entertainment community. What, fucking Susan Sarandon caused Wall St. to fall over? Please. You never have to listen to a famous person, it’s an elective. You want to know the root of our problems of the last several years? You’re fucking right it’s on Bush. The deregulation, the war without end, the waste, etc. Bush. Sounds to me like Obama really wants to make things work. Get on or don’t. I’m not waiting for you.
Richmond, Va.: How long do you think it will take for Obama’s economic plan to turn things around for our economy?
====== I think there’s a good chance he can’t get it done in a term. There’s a lot of damage that has been done.
Seattle: Henry, Do you agree a new 9/11 investigation should be immediately conducted?
Do you agree that 9/11 is by far the biggest unresolved issue affecting America’s psyche? And finally, who did 9/11?
======== You know, all those are good questions. As to an investigation, I think there should be some committee but it shouldn’t get in the way of 2009 and all the work that needs to be done. It is a very unresolved bit of business and I can’t tell you anything more than what I think and that is that the White House knew something was coming and they stood down knowing it was the green light for all the stuff they wanted to do. Past that, I don’t know but I sure do want to.
Boston: Do you mind telling us who your first choice for President was before he/she was eliminated for the race?
===== Dennis Kucinich
Hertfordshire, United Kingdom: Hey Henry,
First off, thank you for the two insightful, funny, and thought provoking shows that I saw over the summer, at the Reading Festival and the IndigO2. Three questions in one here, one completely unrelated to the other two. Firstly, how do you feel about playing sanitized corporate sponsored venues, such as the O2 complex?Secondly, as someone who travels the world extensively where else do you want to visit, that you have not yet gone to? Finally, I’m currently mid-way through my degree at university, and am looking to go traveling once I have finished, in order to experience and learn more about the world we all live in, and experience other cultures. Where would you recomend that I go?
Thanks very much.
========= I didn’t like the 02 venue. Too sterile. Never again. I want to go to the “Stans” as they are called. Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, etc. You should check out India, parts of Africa. There’s lots to learn in these places.
Ohio: Hi Henry, I was wondering if you knew much about Ralph Nader’s presidential platform, and if so what do you like and dislike about him as a candidate?
===== I think he’s a pain in the ass for coming in at the end when everyone else has been working their asses off.
Burbank, Calif.: How do you feel about the political campaigns appropriating popular music for their events, without the consent of the recording artists?
======== They’re politicians, they just do stuff. I think it’s lame.
Los Angeles: Hi Henry. If you have to give guys any advice about women, what would it be?
===== Bring a lawyer on the first 30 dates.
Dallas: Henry, I’ll start by saying I’m a loyal fan and revere your intellectual work. I’m an Obama supporter surrounded by overbearing McCain fans. If, and let us pray when, Obama is elected what area of Washington politics should he target first for reform?...never relent.
========== Well, he is at this point, our new president. I think by the fact that he will be bringing in a ton of new people into the scene, that will be a good shake up that will be healthy. For the last 8 years, our government has been hammered by the Bush administration.
San Rafael, Calif.: Henry, can you speak to the growth and progression we’ve seen in your spoken word shows over the decades?
========== They probably have taken on a wider scope as my life has become more widened. Hopefully they are a reflection of where I am at.
Dan, E Fallowfield, PA: Henry, I love you, man. Silly question: Do you ever get tired of talking, or hearing your own voice? ps- I dont.
========= Thanks. I like the sound of my voice, doesn’t mean it’s any good but I like it. The joke is that “all good singers like the sound of their own voice” so we’ll go with that. Thanks for the kind words.
Zeitgeist, USA: Henry, your energy during your spoken word shows is amazing. The last 5 minutes of your performances are as intense as the first 5. How much do you attribute your energy to choosing subjects you are passionate about, how much of it is your normal intensity level, and how much of it is performance?
Thanks for your time. —another Henry out there
========= When I am out there, I am very unaware of the energy level. I am in the present tense and just going for it. I am into it, I guess. I am pretty tired afterwards, so I must be throwing fastballs all night. I don’t know any other way to do it.
Portland, OR: I’m sure you are familiar with this Twain quote: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Bush and Palin - not big travelers, and proud of it.
How do you think we can encourage Americans to take a more active role as global citizens? Europeans follow our politics closely, but many Americans know little about what is happening in Europe.
======== I agree. I think Americans really need to start thinking globally. As resources become more dear, we will be pulled closer to the rest of the world anyway. I think Americans suffer for their lack of travel, awareness of the world. It has horribly warped our sense of place in the scheme of things. I beg people to get out there and see how other countries have to deal day to day with a fraction of what we throw out daily. Maybe they’ll never get it.
FreeTheWM3, CO: Sorry to have missed this- my question is if, dear Henry, you would you ever consider doing this hour long live chat format on a regular basis(even once a quarter?)—I love considering your thoughts.
========== Sure. Sounds good to me. I like these question and all the sharp and energized ones here, it’s a hell of a great compliment to think that such switched on people give a damn what I think.
Milw, WI: What do you think of the possibility that Zeppelin tours without Robert Plant?
====== They should not do that.
Arlington, VA: Why is your opinion any more relevant than mine?
========= It’s not. Isn’t that a bitch?
somewhere in Europe: Obama is in a way America’s saviour when it comes to pr. Democrat,enigmatic,young,afro-american… Do you think,if hes elected as president,that he would be able to clean up the mess concerning the economy? Would america be ready to see that it needs to change when it comes to Capitalism versus enviroment versus liberalism? Something else..What are your favourite artists?
========== I think he will adopt one screwed up country. I don’t know if he can even neutralize the damage in one term. I think in order to bring the jakals of big business under control, you will need a miracle. You rememeber the last time a president got in the way of big business. Artists, as in painters? Cunis, Bacon.
Germantown, MD: Dez, Chavo, or Keith? Who was the best?
======= Not up for debate. Keith.
Brooklyn, NY: I agree that the choice is clear, at the same time there’s nothing wrong with choosing the lesser of 2 evils, Chomsky says it’s clear with Democrats in the poor and middle class end up doing better. I think if Palin gets in it’s the end of the world. By the way ever consider working with an improv band a la John Zorn instead of the usual hard rock guys? guys I jam with are quite original and intense and totally spontaneous…
======== I’m not much of an improv guy. That’s a talent I don’t have.
SFV, CA: How goes it Henry? In your opinion, with all the recent exclusivity and censorship be it media, Internet, religion, or politics, how do you feel it pertains to the ancient term Free Speech in today’s world?
======= I think we are in fact, losing free speech. We don’t seem to care though. Many of us don’t seem to notice. We will have to do a lot of work to bring back the American wat to America.
Self education.: Henry as an inspiration to people who have been awake enough to educate themselves and question a lot of things. Is it possible that you could ever write out a list of books that you find enjoyable, for example I really enjoyed “the physic soviet, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, henry miller , gore vidal, you have mentioned all of these…I want more.
======== I think several questions ago, I listed a bunch of writers I like. Of all art/work, what have you, it’s always been writers who are my favorites, more than music and anything else.
As far as one band that really nails it down for yours truly, it wold be the Clash, and their first album. : Amen. I said that at work the other day and the guy said “yeah, my mom likes the Clash too.” weird feeling
========= I warn people, your 40’s will require massive amounts of humor and humility.
washington, dc: Do you consider yourself a celebrity, or still a punk? What do you and William Shatner have in common?
====== I’m just a guy. I get treated like I’m famous but I don’t take it seriously. I take the time people take out to check me out very, very seriously. This is why I am answering all these “leftover” questions. You asked, I can’t leave you hanging. It’s 0439 hrs. and I am tired. I don’t think Shatner and I have anything in common really. I just like the guy.
West Milford, New Jersey: Hey Henry, wanna start a band? Any kind of band, something original like Fugazi, well not the Fugazi sound, but as original as them. Punk, Hardcore, Indie, Folk, whatever.
========= Thanks but I’m busy.
Western, NY: Hi Henry, I’m really looking forward to your show tomorrow. I hope you brought a parka though. You do hundreds of interviews every year. What is one question that you would dearly love never to be asked or having to answer again? (other than “Are you Gay?”)
===== What do your tattoos mean.
Dallas, TX: Henry, have you any new information on the West Memphis Three?
======== Best to check the site for updates.
Alexandria, VA: In the current campaign, we’ve heard a lot about first time voters, especially younger voters who haven’t historically been a reliable bloc come election day. Do you think they’ll turn out this year?
========= I think they did.
washington, dc: Have you and Ian ever made music together, or talked about it?
======== No. It has never really crossed my mind believe it or not.
Chicago, Il: You once mentioned a recording you made w/ Hubert Selby jr & Don Bajema at your home, of a round table type reading/spoken word. What ever came of that? Also, great show saturday night. Come back to Chicago soon.
====== Thanks. It’s still sitting on a DAT. I should saftey that thing.
Glover Park: Hello Henry - We’ll miss seeing you at the Bad Brains show at the 9:30 on Nov. 4th. Have a great tour…
===== I was there. That was a weird one!
Converse: Hey Henry. Have you always been a converse shoe fan? Just a random question..
======= The Misfits gave me a pair once. I wore them until they wore out.
Newport News: If I ask you really, really nicely and tell you how much I adore you and want my daughter to bring home someone just like you, will you indulge me and say hi?
======= HI. I hope that did the trick and boy, do I hope your daugher has better taste in men . . .
Frierson, Louisiana: First off, I have to say that I was just recently introduced to your spoken word albums and instantly feel in love with your wit and ability to amazingly and honestly articulate what most of America is thinking. Thank you so much for making us feel like we are not alone in our plight to put a voice to some of the unfair and backwards ideas that seem to be running oh so very rampant in society, politics in general. Being an African American in the south, I am very used to the racism and redneck ideas as a constant reminder of what we as a society have to overcome to grow and move forward, but do you believe that the US has made any real steps towards coming together and standing against the oppression and suppression of our natural growth as a society or is it just another ruse to placate and stifle the loudest voices until they are permanently subdued?
======= I think we have come a great way. Think of the 50’s and 60’s and how things were for people on the racial level. We have a long way to go but we’re going. Imagine a black candidate 20 years ago.
San Francisco: Hello Henry! I will be attending your show in Santa Rosa on 020609. Will you be doing the usual post show meet & greet? Also, would it be inappropriate to hand you a CD? Cheers, Tim
======== Tim. I am always around post show and it’s no problem to bring the CD.
Ithaca, NY: You mentioned speaking to US troops dissatisfied about the war ... are their gripes mostly over ineffective war strategy or more about the war overall as being unnecessary?
======== All of that and more. Many of them are damned tired of this. How many roatations do these men and women have to do?
Washington, DC: Polling frenzy aside, I hope most of the votes get counted. Since 2000 I kind of feel like I’m living in a banana republic. Yes, the Bush Administration has been corrupt, morally bankrupt, incompentent to an astounding degree, but all of that pales in view of the fact that it’s quite simply illegitimate.
Alec Sacramento, Ca: Henry,
Your my hero, I just wanted to ask since your kind of the voice of the punk/alternative way of thinking in politics. Any political aspirations? I think you could really shake up Washington, and maybe begin a trend of our type of people running for office.
======== I really enjoy the lattitude I have with being a private citizen. I can get a lot done. I am good with that.
Orange County,NY: Dear Henry,
Out of all of the candidates running in the presidential election, which one do you believe would be best for this country. Also is Rollins Band tour within the next year or so? -Colin
======== I think he won. No band plans.
secret location: Henry, what do you make of all of these secret ogranizations (Council on Foreign Relations/Bilderberg Group/etc.) who seem to be running America and the world for financial gain, oblivious to the people of the world who are suffering and dying in the name of greed? How can we put an end to this type of gangstalking behavior?
====== I have never spent much time in the Bilderberg shadow world. I am woefully caught out there on that topic so I can’t give you anything on that. I am sorry.
a fellow fanatic: Greetings! Just finished reading Fanatic vol 3, and am curious as to what you’re listening to at the moment - noticed an awful lot of Damned and Brian Eno in this one, and have been listening to a lot of Damned myself in preparation for their Black Cat show in December. Looking forward to seeing you on Monday!
======= Best to go to the site and check the last several playlists, there’s a ton of new stuff that I’ve played this year. Thanks for checking out the show in VA.
England UK: hey henry, glad your doing this, been a huge fan for years, and was able to see you a few times this year - manchester, leeds festival, and liverpool (home). Your Travel experiences, are amazing, and have indeed made me get out and go to places ive never been before try new things and met new people. You must meet people who piss you off, who dont like you, or who are racist, homophobic and so on. how do you handle these people ? get mad, stay calm ? p.s next time your in liverpool you are welcome to pop over, chat and have some good real coffee. Matthew. L.
======= People like that certainly get me going. I don’t get confronted by people like that too often though. They are more people I see on television at McCain rallies or working on Fox News.
Mt. Kisco, NY: As an avid collector, does Ebay feel like cheating to you?
====== Absolutely not. What, I’m supposed to miss out on something because I need to find it in a record store?! Next!
lincoln, Maine: What was your favorite band that you have toured with?
====== The Minutemen.
Silver Spring, MD: Have you read Mark E. Smith’s autobiography?
==== Not yet. I have it though.
Anonymous: What do you think of Obama’s associations with people of radical thinking (Ayers, Rezko, Rev. WRight)? And now, there is news about a tape that the LA Times is holding that shows Obama relationship with Khalidi as being much stronger. DOes that bother you? and if not, if McCain had those relationships would they bother you then?
====== You have got to get better material! Sucks to see that millions of Americans didn’t fall for your bullshit doesn’t it? All you did was make sure you all will be out of the White House for at least 8 years. Nice going! Thanks!
Anonymous: While I am a DC lifelong resident of 40 years now and a strong Obama supporter, I am perplexed as how in theory that he could support a 700 billion bailout of tax-payer funds but also support another economic stimulus package for us cititzens? - It’s like saying “we need your money but in the meantime here is some money go spend. Can these ideas be reconciled?
===== That one’s way over my intellectual paygrade.
Dallas, TX: Henry, what’s the latest news on Damien Echols?
===== Best to go to the site.
Mt. Kisco, NY: Being such a Music, Film, Literature buff…how do you find the time?!?!?! Do you read with music playing?
====== I spend a lot of time alone so I get a lot done. I don’t do much else but work, check things out.
Europe: Do you have any plans for a spoken word tour in Europe in 2009?
=== Hopefully summer festivals if I am lucky.
Irbil, Iraq (Hometown: Tacoma, WA): I saw your show in Olympia back in March. Your story about the young boy with Asperger’s moved me. My son has Autism so it meant a lot to me. Did he ever email you? Do you still talk to him?
========== I sent him a bunch of music and books and we write often.
Tealaville, OR: Henry,
Do you believe in any form of afterlife or form of “God”? Also, what makes you get up out of bed every morning?
===== No. Curiosity/anger.
fredericksburg, Va: Dear henry, Are you sick of hearing about Sarah Palin as much as I am? Thanks again, been a fan for 16+ years…see you at the Birchmere!!
======== I was sick of her on day one. I can’t wait for that thing to cease. Thanks.
Palestine, TX: Now, tell the truth, after associating himself with less than American patriotic people, what can Obama do to create a positive influence on America?
========= I think he can run for office and then win by AN OVERWHELMING MAJORITY. Oh, wait, he just did that. Learn to say this: President Obama.
When I ask people in countries such as Iran, Syria and Pakistan, overwhelmingly, the opinion is America is great: That surprises me. I thought everyone hated us.
====== Some people hate us but I think they are a small group.
Siletz, OR: Do you agree that the Bush Administration are criminals and should be held accountable for their actions and put on trial? I appreciate everything you do. Justin
========= They are war criminals and need to be hauled into court, sworn in and questioned. Then they need to go to jail for the rest of their lives. It won’t happen of course but it is nice to think about it.
Phoenix, AZ: Henry, What are your thoughts on the most recent rulings in the West Memphis 3 case? It sounds like there is no hope of Echols getting out of jail, and a very slim chance for the other two - Is this really the end? On another note…any chance you can go back to playing a venue with seats in AZ next time around? Yeah, whiney, I know…Sitting is so much more enjoyable (especially for shorties like myself!) for your kind of performance. Just a thought. Thanks for all the wisdom and entertainment over the years. Tamara
====== I was told it was great news that Burnett threw the case out so now it can go into higher court. It’s actually starting to look better and better for them.
Detroit, Mich: Is overpopulation a problem in the United States yet? Should this start to become a discussion in America?
==== I don’t think anyone needs a Palin sized litter. I think as resources become more dear, we really need to consider population. I think people need to wake up ad start thinking about their actions.
Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Henry, how do you feel about the impact religion (more specifically, Christianity) has had in recent presidential elections. It seems almost as if the line between Church and State has become blurred to the point of irrelevance. Its as though both parties now have an “obligation” to court the religious right and has even led some politicians to remain quiet in regards to their pro-gay or evolutionary viewpoints. This strikes me as terrifying, how do you feel about it?
======= I can’t tell you how angry the erosion of the line between church and state makes me. Also, that the Bush administration let these psychos like Par Roberts have an in to policy making is obscene. They need to go back to the cult cave they crawled from. I this is going to change. That McCain and Obama had to hang out with Rick Warren was offensive as hell to me.
San Francisco: Obama voted for the FISA act. Obama voted for the bailout. Obama voted to RENEW the Patriot Act in March 2006. Why do you think people are so gullible to believe that there’s really any difference between Obama and Bush?
======= That’s a damn good question. I was very angry about his approval of FISA. I think though that there are huge differences between the two. Call me gullible, just don’t call me late for dinner. Hey now!
San Jose, Calif.: Do you think a McCain presidency would really bring on four more Bush-like years?
======= I guess we’ll never have to find out will we?!!!!!!!!!!!
Newport News: How do you feel the progress of “ending racism in our time” is coming along?
========= President Obama.
California’s Proposition 8 was a huge punch in the gut to those of us who believe in equality for homosexuals. As an outspoken advocate of gay rights, I don’t imagine your reaction was much different. How do you feel about the way homosexuals are treated in this country? Do you think this intolerance is a generation gap or something we’ll have to deal with for a long time?
====== I think things are getting better believe it or not. We have a way to go but compared to decades past, things are getting better. Prop 8 was certainly a disappointment but it ony shows that there’s work to be done. I think that those who voted for 8 need to see that it’s a civil rights issue and a constitutional issue. I also wish that there was a way to take unions out of the church’s hands. Some different language that allows people to be together and not allow the churches to have any traction.
On the positive side, Obama’s election seemed like a nice step forward. Having spent a good portion of your life on tour, what are some of the shifts you’ve seen in the way Americans in certain states think and act (in the political context)?
====== I think with progress on one hand and some things getting worse on the other hand, many people are choosing to be more progressive. I would like to think that it’s a sign of good things more than desperation but I’ll take it as I prefer progress to Reaganism any time. I think with advances in technology, more information gets around and that’s always a good thing.
Your latest speaking tour is a celebration of the end of the Bush era. How the hell was this guy President for 8 years?!?!?
======== Bad media, fear, Rove, cheating, more fear, etc.
One of the things I really liked about “Get In The Van” was the rare perspective you were able to put on things as a young man. Examining yourself for a second, what do you think helped develop that perspective? Do you think it’s helped keep your work relevant?
======== In Black Flag, I was able to get a unique perspective on things. I saw some extreme aspects of human nature. Not always all that kind but instructive. To have an understanding of humanity in some of its more intense forms helps keep me seeing things clearly I hope. As to my relavence, I don’t know.
Henry Rollins: Uncut has take you to 4 very different, very interesting places, all of which share the commonality of conflict. Was there anything during these travels that really floored you?
While we may not get the best coverage, American media does spend time on Israel, South Africa and the post-Katrina New Orleans. The conflict between Ireland and Northern Ireland is rarely publicized, and often misinterpreted by those who are privy to it. Why do you think this is, and what do you think is important for people to understand about the region?
=== I think it’s not covered all that much because it’s a fairly cold conflict compared to other places where things are blowing up all the time. I think what people should understand is that it’s time for people to cut the crap and come up with something better to do than blow each other up and hold stupid grudges all their lives.
Indie 103.1 in Los Angeles has gone from a small, eclectic station to one of the most well known radio outlets in the country. Unlike their competitors, they have strayed away from top 40 playlists and given people like you the power to play whatever you want. For so many years, radio stations across the country were taking their cues from KROQ, do you think more of them will take on Indie’s style now that it’s a proven commodity?
===== I don’t think Indie is all that proven for success. I think the station started to be one thing and ended up another. I think they had high hopes but reality took its place and things are very “normal” there compared to a few years ago. I have been moved to Saturday nights, basically no one hears me. My salary has been cut to gas fare. I am not in need of the money but it’s indicative of how cool things aren’t.
We’re a punk and hardcore magazine, so I have to ask one Black Flag question: you wake up, it’s 1982, you’re on stage shirtless in black basketball shorts and Greg Ginn is ringing in the introductory feedback on his guitar waiting for you to call out the next song. What song are you calling out?
===== They were all pretty good songs in those days.
Hello Henry. How could we qualify or resume what do you do in your life?
==== I persue my interests for a living.
You’re part of the Vans ICONoclasts, what does that mean for you? Is it a new way to touch people and especially young audience wordlwide that doesnt necessarly know your “career”, personnality and ideas?
===== Honestly, it was a short written piece and a brief photo session. Past that, I guess it’s a compliment or an endorsement of some kind. My life didn’t change nor has anyone mentioned the thing to me until you did just now. I am happy that I was recognized by Vans, I thought that was pretty cool.
Do you agree if we say that you personality (charism) played a huge part in the fact you did a lot of things, from singing (SOA, Black Flag, Rollins Band) to acting or storytelling, and also managing (for example, your own edition company and website) ?
======= Well, it certainly isn’t any talent that I posess. I think what it is, is work ethic and discipline that has allowed me to go the distance I have.
Back to where it has all begin for you. What were your early influences and opinions?
======= My early influences would be Washington DC, the place I grew up and my parents and how they raised me. I was influenced by divorce, street violence, racism, fear and alienation from many things. My early opinions were that people were dangerous and you had to be able to rely on yourself.
How did you become the singer of the Black Flag ? Was it by provocating things or did you always want to be a part of this emerging american d.i.y / hardcore-punk scene in 1980?
===== They were holding auditions for the singer slot and I went for it and got the job. It’s as simple as that. It very well could have been someone else.
What were the values and the lifestyle in those days?
====== We valued good playing, women and food. We lived the broke band lifestyle.
It seems like you never had a “plan” in your life (maybe). How the « magic happens », is that a question of philosophy of life ? What is yours ? A mix of passion and self-discipline?
===== I have been incredibly lucky most of the time and smart enough to know it when I had to. My philosophy of life can be summed up in two words: fuck it.
What are ther best memories and teaching you have from this time?
===== No good memories but I learned that you can always work harder than you thought and that was usually what it was going to take to get over.
What does mean to you to be « Hardcore » and can we qualify you as a “Hardcore person”?
===== I think it’s having to guts to act on what you think is the right thing to do with your life even when that means breaking with all you know. I am an extremely hardcore person.
You turned to the spoken word after being a singer… Is that to construct a closer link with your public ? to share you expèrience of life and express things ? Do you think it’s the most important thing in life?
======= It corresponds more to where I am in my life. I like to be able to go to all these places and report back to the stage with all the information I have gathered. Being in a band at this point, it’s not really working for me at this time. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just not where I am at.
We always feel a real anger in your words (as your show « Provoked » or “Shock & Awe” tour)… Where does it come from?
===== It’s from what I see and how I feel about it. It’s my reaction to many things I find wrong with the world and things around me. I’m one of those people.
Is that the same way for your acting carrer ? How did you deal with what from here we see really connected with the “stars” and Hollywood world ? What did you get from acting in movies?
==== For me, it’s just employment. It’s a job and I work for a living. I am not an actor so I just act like one when I am on a movie set and hope it gets me by.
You also had a character in a video game (“Def Jam: fight for NY”), how fun was that?
===== I read some lines from a script, they took some photos of me and I left. It took about 90 minutes. It was a show day and I had to get to the venue.
You’re a big worker, very curious and became an « extrem traveller », you’ve gone to Irak, Pakistan, Liban… What do you think of the state of USA and the worldwide geopolitical context nowadays ? Where do you see our world & people going from your point of view?
======== I think America has to re-connect with the world. It’s been 8 years we’ve been away. I don’t know if we can do it but I would like to think we can. I know I don’t want to be an enemy or a stranger to Earth.
You said « I don’t want to know. I don’t need it. I don’t want the information that millions of people have. I don’t want to be fed these boring facts and figures. Then you’ll become one of the masses. I’d rather starve my mind a bit and have to search out nutrition in stranger places.” Are you still scared with the conformism?
===== I think it’s a dead end. It’s that way of thinking that gets you into another endless war and a bad future so I would rather go on the paths less traveled.
What are your actuality (we just saw you were on this big Recountdown Tour to “celebrate the end of the Bush era”) and projects right now?
====== I just finished 15 months of touring and am looking forward to the next loard of work. I don’t know what that will be yet though.
Finally, what mean freedom for you?
==== To be able to go where I want and to not think if I will be allowed to do something. Basically, freedom of movement.
1. How was the environment where you grew up?
=== I grew up in Washington DC. I lived there from 1961 to 1981. It was at times, a very intense place to live. There was a lot of racial tension and that politicized me at an early age.
2. How did you get involved with punk rock and why hardcore?
====== I got involved in the music scene in my neighborhood. It was Punk Rock. It was the music I listened to and what I liked. For me, it was always music. I never called it Hardcore, that was done by others so it was never a direction or goal of mine.
3. You are involved with politics or at least are interested in social issues (I got that impression after listening to Police Story and also watched parts of your Rollins Show), at what age did it started and why did you get involved?
====== Like I said, it was from living in DC and seeing what I saw. Also, in Black Flag, we had quite a few run ins with the law and local governments and the press. All of this taught me a lot. In my opinion, to be American is to be political. The more aware you are of things, the better. So basically, I never chose it, it chose me.
4. What do you hope that Obama will do better and do you think that he is worth to trust?
==== I hope that Obama will reconnect America to the world at large. We have been away except for wars and I would like to see that change. I think he is definitely worth a go. I think the people he is picking to work with are a very good indicator that he is really ready to do some great things. I am very happy that he was elected.
5. What are your ideas of a more radical party in the US like the Green Party?
===== I am interested in the ideas of parties besides the big two but sometimes wonder if they are not at some levels, a bit unrealistic as to how they tie into the world economies. I only mean this in regards to the consistency of greed and corruption worldwide.
6. Are you vegetarian or vegan and what are your reasons for being that or not being that?
====== I don’t know if I am either. I eat fish, that’s about it for things that have a pulse. I don’t eat beef or whatever else has claws or hooves. I just don’t think it’s a good idea to put that stuff into my system. I seem to be able to live without it just fine so far.
7. Do you have any interests that you do when you don’t do music, TV, and so on?
==== I read and write a lot. I travel and take a lot of photographs when I go places. Pretty much of my time is spent on tour or getting ready for tour so that’s my life for the most part.
7. Do you have any future plans?
=== I will hopefully be out in the world a lot next year. Maybe I’ll get killed.
2016October July June March
- 03-28-16 Henry Rollins Announces Two New Zealand Shows
- 03-10-16 Henry Rollins at Largo (Los Angeles, CA) at the Coronet this December
- 03-08-16 Henry Rollins returns to Australia this September
- 03-20-15 Henry & Heidi Podcast: Henry & RuPaul
- 03-13-15 Henry & Heidi Podcast: Henry/Ian/Petshop
- 03-06-15 Henry & Heidi Podcast: Talking Shows
- 07-26-14 Double J Show #04 27–07–14
- 07-18-14 Double J Show #03 20–07–14
- 07-11-14 Double J Show #02 13–07–14
- 07-03-14 Double J Show #01 06–07–14
- 07-02-14 Henry Rollins ‘guest in residence’ Double J Radio in Australia info
2013May April January
- 01-23-13 THE LEGEND OF COOL “DISCO” DAN - World Premiere!
- 01-16-13 West of Memphis: Voices for Justice - Available Now
- 01-15-13 West of Memphis: Exclusive Movie Clip and Album Stream
- 11-29-11 No Fear of a Black Friday
- 11-27-11 Drop In The Bucket Benefit 11/30/11 @ THE AVALON IN LOS ANGELES!!!!!
- 09-10-11 9-11-01 – 9-11-11 TEN YEARS IN A DAY
- 09-05-11 STOOGES USA SHOWS POSTPONED DUE TO INJURY—- READ
- 03-23-11 World Water Day
- 03-22-11 Henry to perform at Reading and Leeds Fests this August
- 03-21-11 Comedy Above the Pub Interview
- 03-17-11 Who’s Afraid of Peter King’s Islamophobia Hearings?
- 03-08-11 Henry interviewed by Culture Brats
- 03-08-11 The Defense of Marriage Act Blues
- 03-08-11 Henry on Chelsea Lately tonight
- 02-28-11 Lithium Magazine Interviews Henry
- 02-24-11 Henry in Australia
- 02-23-11 ***CHECK OUT GRAY JOEL - LINK HERE***
- 02-15-11 Prefix Mag Interview Henry
- 02-12-11 *** RON ASHETON CELEBRATION W/ THE STOOGES ANN ARBOR MI 04-19-11 ***
- 02-11-11 Two new DC area interviews with Henry
- 02-02-11 HENRY NOW IN THE PRINT VERSION OF THE LA WEEKLY
- 02-02-11 20 Questions with Henry Rollins
- 02-02-11 FIVE HEIDI & HENRY BATTLING TOPS VIDEOS IN THE VIDEO SECTION. FREE CELLULITE.
- 02-02-11 *** FRESH LINKS FOR FREE DOWNLOAD SHOW #2 AVAILABLE HERE ***
- 01-31-11 Pop Matters Interviews Henry
- 01-24-11 New Tour Pre-sale
- 01-24-11 LA WEEKLY COLUMN #23
- 01-20-11 01-19-11: 12-25-10 DOWNLOAD RE-UP. COME AND GET YO JAMS!!
- 01-03-11 BIRTHDAY SHOW IN DC 2-13-11: SECOND SHOW ADDED
- 12-15-10 Born to Rage Interviews
- 12-12-10 GRINDERMAN ARTICLE FOR LA WEEKLY
- 12-06-10 National Geographic Channel’s “Born to Rage” Airs December 14th
- 12-01-10 Henry Rollins “50” Dates Announced