Henry Rollins Interview
Singer, writer, publisher, actor, journalist, activist, disc jockey… That’s 7, but I’m sure there are many other titles one can bestow upon Henry Rollins. You would be hard pressed to find a performer who has created and disseminated as much profound output as the former Black Flag singer, and it doesn’t look like he will be slowing down anytime soon. Mighty good work for a punker from D.C.
Regardless of how you may feel about the man, you can be assured that his highly subjective yet cogent opinions are well thought out and spoken with conviction, not to be taken lightly. Henry Rollins has never come across as the type of person to back down from an argument, but I’d wager a guess that even his complete polar opposite personality type would walk away from a rational conversation with the man with a handshake and a smile.
As a long time devoted fan, his work, and many of his ideas on society and politics, I am honored to be able to present this digital interview with Henry following the very recently announced tour that will see him hitting every capital in the United States. There are very few performers that I can say everyone should see at least once, but Mr. Rollins is definitely one on the list. Read along… It’ll be a fun, albeit brief, ride.
G- Hi Henry, and thank you very much for taking the time to speaking with Live High Five. How has everything been going with you lately?
H- I am on a brief break from tour. All is well on the road. 106 shows into the year with about 80 more to go.
G- On June 28th, there was an announcement that you would be embarking on a 50-city spoken word tour of all the capitals in the United States. How did this tour come about, and what was your reasoning for selecting all of the capitals as your venue locations? Are there any political foci or messages you will be conveying?
H- It was my agent’s idea and I thought it was really interesting. The tour won’t be any more politically dense as any other tour I have done. I reckon it will be an interesting time in America with the election being so close to happening.
G- How do you feel about our current presidential candidates? I can’t imagine you a big Romney supporter, but are there any issues or topics that you feel need to be addressed that haven’t been, or issues that are being addressed too much that shouldn’t have as much weight placed on them due to irrelevance?
H- It is obvious to me that the president is the adult in the room. I don’t think Romney enjoys as much support as much as he is merely the anti-Obama vote. It’s hard to win by voting against something and not for something. You never know though, America is an interesting place. A Romney administration would mean more money for some and perhaps military action in Iran. Big issues: America exports crude oil. I thought we were supposed to keep it and not be in need of OPEC. Colorado is on fire. One of the upsides of austerity measures. There are a lot of domestic issues that are not all that interesting to a 24/7 for profit media, so they don’t get mentioned.
G- Given the upcoming election, if Henry Rollins was on the presidential ballad, what would be the FIRST thing you would do to help improve America, and why?
H- America should not be ranked number forty-something in literacy. It’s a sad state of affairs. Jefferson said that the only way American Democracy would work is with an educated populace. If I were president, I would try to improve public educational delivery in America. A smarter America would be better on every possible level.
G- Let’s play “Henry Hates Who?” – Are there any people, places, bands, or public figures that burn your ass as much as Edie Brickell did back in the 90’s, and why?
H- It’s not a who that I hate. It’s a what. I hate ignorance, weakness, hunger, thirst.
G- I must have listened to “Get In The Van” everyday for 3 years while I went to sleep. Odd? Probably, but it plays like a how/to don’t/do fun manual for touring. I mean, Black Flag didn’t have iPhones. Do you feel that bands who tour and try to make music these days are missing out on some of the harsher aspects of the road, and some of the unexpected fun to be had, due to technology?
H- I am sure Black Flag was spared some of the harshness that previous generations of touring bands endured, so I think it’s relative. I think any touring band has challenges to face that a cell phone won’t solve. You still have to play the songs every night and get to the next place, never all that easy.
G- Is it true that you will not be performing music anymore, and what was the impetus behind your decision to stop performing? Was there a particular moment when it stopped making sense, or do you feel the path ran its course and you completed your musical mission?
H- When I no longer had new lyrics in my mind, I stopped making music. When I stopped making new music, I stopped touring. I didn’t want to be one of those bands who makes money with their past. That’s the long and short of it.
G- You have made appearances on all types of movies and TV shows… What was your most enjoyable working experience on a set, and do you have any upcoming roles we should be on the look out for? Any actors you are especially fond of or despise working with?
H- I don’t really enjoy it but it’s work and I’ll take it. I would rather work than not work. I was treated exceedingly well on the Sons Of Anarchy set by cast and crew. Exceptional and talented people.
G- What music are you currently listening to, and could you give our readers a few suggestions about new music they should check out?
H- I like the new High On Fire record a lot. The J Mascis solo project Heavy Blanket did an album, I like that one a lot. I have a weekly radio show. If you go to my site, you can see all the play lists as to what I am checking out. I try to listen to a lot of different music.
G- How do you feel about the state of punk and metal music? Are you still tight with Ian, and do you still keep in contact with many of your contemporaries like Glenn or Keith? How do you feel about their recent endeavors/headlines?
H- I don’t have any opinions as to the state of music genres. They are not publicly traded. It’s music and it will always be around. I see Ian whenever I can. We have been best friends since we were 12. I don’t really keep in contact with people as much as I see them when I see them. I don’t proactively seek them out. I am busy with work. Keith, I assume you are talking about his band Off! ? I saw them 5 times last year. Great band.
G- Given your lengthy career, what is the one thing you would like to be remembered for, if you’ve even thought about it?
H- I honestly don’t think about that kind of thing at all.
G- It’s got to be a difficult question to answer, but in all of your vast performance experience, what would you say is the craziest onstage moment you have ever encountered? Where was it, and what transpired?
H- I have never really had a crazy experience onstage. Been knocked out, seen a lot of blood, had the stage invaded by police, stuff like that but it never seemed crazy to me.
G- What advice could you offer to any young artists and performers who are trying to make it in the entertainment business? Be it as a musician, writer, or actor, can you give a few bits of helpful information to guide them in the right direction?
H- DO YOUR OWN THING. NO ONE LIKES A COPY OF SOMEONE ELSE. BEFORE YOU SIGN ANYTHING, GET A LAWYER TO LOOK IT OVER.