For anyone living under a rock for the last 30 years, Henry Rollins was of course the former frontman for punk legends Black Flag, later going on to helm his own Lollapalooza era Rollins Band, as well as other solo efforts. Henry has also made several guest appearances on other artists’ (TOOL, Tommy Iommi, Les Claypool, et al) albums including bands he has discovered and/or produced for his own record label. The Rollins Band, for example, was born of his work with an awesome band called Mother Superior. Along the way Henry has become a true renaissance man and has leant not only his voice, but his mind and face to various forms of entertainment and educational projects including: TV (his own interview show and most recently a stint on Sons of Anarchy), Film (Henry has appeared in over 15 films including David Lynch’s Lost Highway), Print (He’s written and published many popular books, essays, serial autobiographies, poems and journals, and is a columnist for LA Weekly), and Radio (the man currently holds things down on his amazing weekly radio show on KCRW). It was while recently listening to this last endeavor which inspired us to finally reach out to Mr. Rollins.
I’ve been a huge fan since first hearing Black Flag at my friend’s backyard half-pipe around the days of the Bones Brigade videos. Henry’s voice and energy recorded was like a bomb on tape, and even more so when he stalked the stage like a hulking, heaving beast live. Rollins continues to express himself through many channels, and although he constantly deals with the public he’s more likely to be the guy eating all the free catering at the party than the guy shaking all the hands and passing out his card (as if he’d need to). That’s why I’ve stayed loyal, listening to and reading or watching his output over his impressive career, and consider it an honor to have this opportunity to get it straight from the man himself.
First off I can’t believe how poor my grammar and spelling was in my first email — makes me think of some of the letters/emails I saw in your journals from people from other countries struggling with English. I can’t believe you actually allowed me to interview after that! Anyway, we love your radio show and listen every week. You recently did a show where you played The Stooges album in different versions and another where you focused on the music of Australia. Where do you come up with these ideas?
I think listeners respond to a conceptual show because it allows them to think of music differently than merely a mix of songs. A conceptual show has direction. The listener can go on the trip. This is the way my mind works and this is how I come up with these ideas. It’s just music geekdom, nothing more.
If you had a chance to give a band one single piece of advice, what would it be?
Be different than that which came before you and stick to it. That’s sometimes harder than songwriting and everything else. It’s not an easy life all the time.
I have read that you buy an album every day – true? If so, what’s your most constant source to find new music?
I try to get at least a record every day. I use Amazon.com, e-bay, Discogs and label’s websites to see what’s happening. I always want new things coming in for the radio show’s sake and for my own interests.
Who are some of your current faves?
I listen to a lot of Noise jams from the Midwest. Labels like American Tapes and Gods of Tundra are interesting to me. I like what’s happening on a lot of the smaller labels these days. TeePee, Stones Throw, Southern Lord, etc.
With the recent natural disasters in Haiti, Chile, Japan, and the uprisings and wars in the Middle East and elsewhere all happening as we near 2012, do you think the world is coming to an end?
No, quite the opposite. I think things in many ways are just getting started. Many countries will be conducting their affairs differently for the first time. America will have to change its policies in these countries, many defense contractors will be making less money, peace is coming to countries that never really had it. I think things are getting more and more interesting.
To get a bit of the old school, raw uncut Henry Rollins peep the (in)famous interview below. Plus hit the Jump to continue reading our Q&A with Mr. Henry Rollins, to check his upcoming spoken word tour dates with Dinosaur Jr., and to find out why he promises to never perform live in a band again…
“As much as I love where I come from in DC, I can’t do what I need to do there, so I live in Los Angeles… But if I had a day off, I would have it in DC.”
You just turned 50 and did a spoken word tour to “celebrate” — how were the shows?
So far, the shows have been very good. I have a great audience out there.
How different was turning 50 for you than when you turned 30 or 40?
Not much, really. I just do the work. Of course things are different in many ways but overall, it’s just one night at a time, telling it as I see it. Age, it’s not all that big a deal if you’re of decent health.
How do you see turning 60?
A long time from now. I don’t think that far in advance.
You have said you are done with performing music in a live setting — will you truly never do it again as a band? For god sake’s, why?
There’s nothing new I could bring to it. When I see Mick Jagger singing “Satisfaction” and that he can’t get any, I have to conclude that either he is lying or stupid.
By my count you have written and performed music and spoken word, written and published books, acted on film and TV, hosted a radio show, produced films/specials… Am I missing anything?
I do a lot of voice over work on all kinds of things.
Is there anything you have wanted to do but have yet to try?
Nothing comes to mind. Perhaps produce a documentary from start to finish.
Which do you prefer your hometown of DC, your current home of LA, or NYC?
I prefer to work. As much as I love where I come from in DC, I can’t do what I need to do there, so I live in Los Angeles, which I don’t love all that much but do get the work I want, so, that’s where I live. I value work more than anything, so I go where I can get it done. If I had a day off, I would have it in DC, perhaps that answers the question.
And lastly, if you were Lost in a Supermarket, on what aisle would we find you?
If I were lost, I wouldn’t know where I was.
A little primetime Black Flag-era Rollins performing “Rise Above”. TOUR DATES after the video…
UPCOMING 2011 SUMMER TOUR DATES
06-21-11 Calvin Theatre
Northampton, MA w/ Dinosaur Jr performing Bug in its entirety,
06-22-11 The Paradise
Boston, MA w/ Dinosaur Jr performing Bug in its entirety,
06-23-11 Terminal 5
New York, NY w/ Dinosaur Jr performing Bug in its entirety,
06-24-11 Electric Factory
Philadelphia, PA w/ Dinosaur Jr performing Bug in its entirety,
06-25-11 9:30 Club
Washington, DC w/ Dinosaur Jr performing Bug in its entirety,
06-26-11 Variety Playhouse
Atlanta, GA w/ Dinosaur Jr performing Bug in its entirety,
08-18-11 Queen’s Hall
Edinburgh, Scotland, Doors 7:00 PM
08-19-11 Queen’s Hall
Edinburgh, Scotland, Doors 7:00 PM
08-26-11 Reading Festival
Reading, UK, Doors 12:00 PM
08-27-11 Leeds Festival
Leeds, UK, Doors 12:00 PM