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.
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