Saturday, June 19, 2010


Here's a short interview with Henry Rollins I conducted through the email a while back. This was intended for another zine I was working on, but never came out for various reasons. So, instead of letting it rot in a digital deadzone, I'm posting it here.

From following your work over the years, I've noticed a change that's occurred in about the past 8 to 9 years. At one time you projected this image of being solitary and focused inward. Now you seem to be more concerned with politics, the human condition and the world in general. As well as being able to laugh at yourself more. What instigated this change?

Rollins: I am, for the most part, focused inward and solitary. Over the last several years, with the travel I have been able to do, I have seen a lot. I willfully put myself in unfamiliar places to learn a thing or two. These travels have expanded my world view and made me understand some things about how America does business. I can’t ignore that. Also, with age, for some, comes other concerns. I have always laughed at myself, many people just never bothered to note it.

Where does your work ethic come from? Why the need to keep yourself busy?

R: It’s how my parents were so that’s a factor. I know I am fortunate to have this opportunity and want to do right by it and the mediocre always go home. There’s always the opportunity to be so-so if you want. Also, I really have nothing else in life that interests me. I don’t want to sit on the porch. I am too angry.

Is there any person in particular who has made a large impact on your life? If so, in what way?

R: My friend Ian MacKaye. I have learned a lot from him and continue to do so. We live very differently but we have a lot of the same values. I think he goes about things in the right way. Me not always so much, so I always see what he’s up to.

From Black Flag on, you have come under an unbelievable amount of criticism. Why is?

R: think you do what you do and others may choose to not like it. I think it’s all fair for the most part. I do what I want. Life is short. If someone has a problem with me for doing what I do, then they should tell a friend and pass it on. It keeps democracy strong. That is to say, I don’t care.

What instrument do you listen to when you sing? Example, some vocalists listen to the drums, or the bass, etc.

R: Drums.

You had a great record label with Rick Rubin, Infinite Zero that reissued Gang Of Four, The Contortions, etc. What happened with that?

R: Rubin moved to Columbia and the corporate gods of Warner Bros. dropped the label.

Where do you see the future of the music business going?

R: I honestly have no idea. I don’t pay attention to that aspect of it and it really doesn’t interest me.

Is there any record in particular that was 'life changing', so to speak? That once you listened to it nothing was the same.

R: "Fun House" by The Stooges.

What record in your collection is the rarest?

R: I would rather not say.

If there was a fire at your place and you had time to grab 10 records, which would they be?

UK Subs – Brand New Age
Damned – Black Album
Rites Of Spring – Rites of Spring
Buzzcocks – Another Music In A Different Kitchen
Ruts – The Crack
The Clash – The Clash
I don’t know what else to put. There’s a many records I admire very much but can’t play too often because of their density, Hendrix, Coltrane, stuff like that. It’s great but a heavy place to visit. The incomplete list are records I can play any time for the most part.

If a record is mediocre, but rare, do you think it's worth adding to your collection?

R: I tend to let the ones I don’t care about too much go no matter what they’re worth but I really have to not like that record. If it has any redeeming qualities, I tend to hold onto them.

When collecting punk records, is there any particular era, or country that you think put out the best stuff?

R: I think the UK stuff 77 to 78 is very good.

What's the one record you are looking for, but have yet to find?

R: At this point, I am down to acetates and test pressings.

When I saw you at McCabe's in Santa Monica a couple years back you mentioned that you like to read heavy and dense books on tour. What are you reading currently?

R: I am re-reading "The Sorrows of Empire" by Chalmers Johnson. It might not be all that dense to many but books like that take me awhile to get through as I really try to get something out of them.

Do you ever wake up in morning and think, "fuck yeah, I was in Black Flag!"? Seriously.

R: No. It was a long time ago and there are not many fond memories of those times for me.

What is the most valuable life lesson you have learned so far?
R I am on my own.

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