Along with his revered musical output with the iconic Black Flag and Rollins Band, Henry Rollins is a successful media broadcaster, actor, author, publisher and social activist. However, readers may now be more familiar with his current guise, touring the world as a self deprecating raconteur.
Delivered with genuine humility, Rollins’ spoken word shows deliver an insight into life on the road, combined with biting social commentary and hard-line monologues deriding the realpolitik of his own country. At 51 years old, Rollins appears to have no intention of slowing down; continuing not only a gruelling tour schedule, but working tirelessly on his weekly radio broadcast.
Despite being midway through a spoken word tour of the United States, Henry was gracious enough to take a few minutes out of his impossibly busy schedule to answer a few questions for Beard Rock about his views on the current nostalgia trips currently being undertaken by some bands of his era.
BR: In the current market, music is easily accessible to anyone who wants it, both legally and illegally, and with bands open and vocal about their direct influences – what are your thoughts on bands such as Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, Negative Approach, and Flipper reforming and touring their old material?
HR: It’s for them to do. It’s not for me to judge them. Past that, I have no thoughts on it.
BR: Personally, I am extremely excited about the possibility of seeing The Obsessed and Negative Approach whenever possible, but there are many ‘purists’ seeking shelter behind the ‘SELL OUT’ tag – which reminded me somewhat of your ‘Teeing Off’ monologue on your television show. The notion of ‘selling out’ was different in the shows context, but do you believe the sentiment is the same?
HR: If a band wants to do something, that’s for them to do. If you think they are selling out and you find that objectionable, then don’t go to the show. I never really understood the selling out thing. It is something that a person on the sideline accuses someone in the game of doing. I always thought sideline opinions carried no weight.
BR: The ‘classic’ incarnation of Rollins’ Band reunited for a number of shows, with the awesome X, choosing not to remain unless the intention was to write, record, and tour new music. Do you believe that Rollins’ Band will return under any guise in the future, or do you feel that that you have achieved what you set out to achieve through music?
HR: There’s nothing more I can do with music, I don’t think.
BR: As this year was the 20th anniversary of the release of ‘The End of Silence’, were there any thoughts or discussions on an anniversary release – perhaps as some sort of package release with new writings by you. There certainly seemed to be some positivity emanating from the Decibel Magazine Hall of Fame interview/article (granted that was 5 years ago) or are long standing legal issues with Imago a factor in this being unable to happen?
HR: I didn’t know it had been twenty years. No, there is nothing planned.
BR: With the current success of All Tomorrow’s Parties festivals, with bands such as Sleep, Slint, Teenage Fanclub, Dinosaur Jr, and now Slayer playing one of their ‘classic’ albums in its entirety as part of the festival; have you been approached to do something similar with ‘End of Silence’ or ‘Weight’ – which many fans view as the definitive Rollins Band albums; and if approached would this be something you would consider?
HR: I was approached and passed. I think it would be a sad and pathetic display.
BR: To me, and the manner in which it was introduced to my life, music has always, and will always be an immersive experience. And it was not simply about lyric sheets and gatefold sleeves. Having enough money in your pocket for one album, spending an entire day in the record shop, weighing up the pros and cons until finally a purchase was made. When you are stacking shelves for pocket change – there is no such thing as disposable music. Do you feel that this kind of immersive experience in danger of being lost forever through the current generation?
HR: I don’t know. I do think that the currency and delivery system of music has changed the way perhaps some people consider music has as well. It could very well be that those days of hanging around the record store and skipping meals to get a record are behind us. That being said, I still go into record stores and see the locals hanging out with the owner and it reminds me of when I was hanging out in one record store in Maryland many years ago. Things have changed though, that’s for sure.
Photo by Maura Lanahan
Posted: Tue 13 March 2012