HENRY ROLLINS FEATURE
ALL THE AGE +
John Inman he ain’t, but previously it’s been difficult to see beyond the intimidating image of Henry Rollins to perceive the articulate and challenging performer he undoubtedly is.
bent on confronting society‘s lameness and the individual‘s tameness. ‘Fuck you. pathetic apathetics.‘ is the message: The End OfSilenr‘e is the last Rollins Band album.
It is discipline that has begotten this success. A rigorous mental and physical regime that Henry Rollins has instilled in himselfever since the twenty-year—old ice-cream salesman jumped onstage with Black Flag in New York in summer I98 I. A hard body and a firm mind. born of childhood trauma (‘lt‘s hard to want to be alive when you get beaten on and screamed at and told that you weren‘t wanted . . .‘ he told one interviewer) and adulthood attitude (‘I had to build myself up or perish.‘ he told another). both steeled and primed and not given to pussy-footing around with ‘normal‘ rock star diversions.
‘I‘m kind of into a long run thing.‘ he says down the line from his home in LA. ‘I don‘t do drugs. I don‘t do any of that stuff. I want to be doing this ten years from now. So ljust really like a good. steady. relentless thing.‘
It‘s a vision thing with Rollins. Chastened by the fuck-ups and burn—outs that are now his one-time peers and idols (‘lt‘s kind of a heartbreak to see someone you really admired scratching their face from heroin‘). he‘s set his sights and honed his ‘fierce work ethic‘. If anything scares this so-called ‘American psycho‘. this 'body fascist‘. it‘s failure. ‘I‘m not the most ambitious person,‘ he muses. but he does want success. albeit on his own strict terms. ‘It‘sjust that I have a lot of resolve.
There‘s some stuff] want to do while I‘m alive.
And you gotta get up really early in the morning and work ‘til late at night. And it‘s not always easy and to get to the fun shit you got to do all the boring stuff. You want to do a book? Fine. get ready for a lot of time sitting in front of a note-pad or weeks editing — really boring work. But hey. that‘s what it takes to put out a cool book. you gotta work your ass off!‘
Luckily for Henry. workaholic company boss and multi-discipline artist that he is. ‘sleep deprivation makes things really neat.‘ Or so he reckons anyway at the start of his Boxed Set, his mammoth spoken word album that came out earlier this year. With his raconteur‘s rants. raves and ruminations he comes over like a scalding Spalding Gray, a ‘punk Peter
Craig McLean gives it a shot.
Ustinov‘. a congenial mix of brains and brawn. This is a routine — often scabrous. always compelling — that he‘s honed since first participating in a speaking show in LA in 1983.
‘It was the first time I‘d been on stage without l()()st of noise. And it was really cool. I talked about what it was like growing up in Washington DC in the middle of the race riots in the sixties and what a bunch of bullshit racism is.‘ And once again this terror titan admits to fear. ‘It‘s not easy. it‘s cold out there! But you do the best you can . . .‘
. . . and the most you can. ‘I got nothing else
‘I got no drug addiction taking up my time, I don’t have a kid or a girlfriend, I don’t have an interest in racing cars - I don’t have any of the nonnai shit pulling
to do.‘ he says with mock ruefulness. ‘I got no other things in life besides these projects. I got no drug addiction taking up my time. I don‘t have a kid or a girlfriend. I don‘t have an interest in racing cars — I don‘t have any of the normal shit pulling me down.‘
So he piles his prodigious energies into performing and recording (he‘s just ﬁnished working with Iggy Pop and hot new LA metallers Tool; a few days after his Glasgow appearance it‘s back to New York to begin the next Rollins Band album) and overseeing his small empire (his publishing company 2.13.61 — named after his birthdate — has just set up a UK office and puts out the work of Hubert ‘Last Exit To Brooklyn‘ Selby and Nick ‘mad old bat‘ Cave; the RRR label he recently set up with Def Jam supremo Rick Rubin is about to start re-releasing hard-to—get punk classics). His anger is his energy and “his blood is panting‘. He is. to steal the title of Rollins‘ Band 1986 debut album. a Hot Animal Machine.
‘That‘s an idea I had. to be part animal and part machine. Sometimes to get through heavy things you‘ve got to turn a little mechanical. you‘vejust got to resolve yourself. “Okay. this is gonna suck but I‘m gonna do it." Like going to the dentist or the twenty-hour plane flight. You just gotta get slotted into mechanical mode and go. “I‘m doing this ‘cos I wanna get there. Now sit down and shut up!“ So that‘s like the idea of being a hot animal machine. just being this unrelenting thing that feels and has emotions but is totally driven.’
Even if that means participating in mindless fluff like The Word (wherein slack-brained Terry C. was visibly shaken by square-jawed Henry R.)?
‘Yeah. I have fun with it,‘ comes the affable reply. ‘I don‘t have to do any of that stuff. What are they gonna do? Put me at gun-point, make me do a TV show? Beat me up? I don‘t have to do this interview. I want to. It‘s cool.‘
And if it‘s cool with Henry. it‘s sure cool with me. Music, comedy, books. videos. labels. Henry — portrait of a serial thriller. coming soon to an establishment near you .
Henry Rollins 's Spoken Word tour hits The Pavilion, Glasgow on Sat 1. Be there. Or else.
The List 23 April—6 May I993 11