By Kyle Harcott
VANCOUVER — Henry Rollins: world traveller, actor, author, radio and television host, and elder punk statesman as former singer to the mighty Rollins Band and Black Flag, is back on the road this winter bringing his spoken word across the continent. Over 80 dates are lined up throughout North America.
Fans can expect Rollins to mix his always-timely commentary on the current state of politics, anecdotes on his latest L.A. experiences and the perspective gained from his extensive world travels. “Rollins is many things,” says the Washington Post, “diatribist, confessor, provocateur, humorist, even motivational speaker…his is an enthusiastic and engaging chatter.”
Since his last U.S. spoken word tour in 2012, Rollins has been busy, to say the least. The epitome of a workaholic, Rollins has: starred in films like He Never Died and Gutterdammerung, done voice-over work, written new books like A Grim Detail, continues to contribute a column at LA Weekly, hosted on television (National Geographic, History Channel, IFC), deejays a radio show on KCRW, and yet still finds time to tour as a spoken word performer–having performed countless shows around the world over the last 35 years. How’s your resumé shape up?
We caught up with him briefly (c’mon, who else moves that fast?) to get a few answers about some stuff that had been bugging us, and hopefully, bugging him.
BeatRoute: What are you most pissed-off about these days, and what can we expect from your upcoming spoken tour?
Henry Rollins: What bugs me at this very moment is the amount of people who didn’t vote in the last election in America. A lot of people are complaining but I don’t know how many actually voted.
BR: What are some of the bands that are an active concern right now, in your opinion, who not only bring the heat with music and talent, but also seem to understand the current climate of the music industry, and are doing great things?
HR: There are a lot of bands I like very much. Bands like Thee Oh Sees, The Julie Ruin, Point Juncture WA, Ty Segall, Ausmuteants, Lowtide, Terry, Crystal Fairy, etc. that I think are fantastic. I think there are at least two music industries. There is the one that has all the Beyoncés of the world, which is a dull, corporate roar, and then there is the very exciting independent music industry. The latter has never been better.
BR: As someone who was in a band that broke their backs white-knuckling it on the road to try and get by, what’s your opinion on bands going the route of crowdfunding with subscription sources like Patreon as a means of attempting to make a living playing music?
HR: I think different times and situations make for different methods. It’s nothing I would do but I’m not interested in telling someone how to make their records. It may very well be one of the better ideas. If you want direct-to-the-fans, that’s how to do it. I think it’s a completely valid way to go about it.
BR: America has a new president. You were there when Reagan was elected, and American hardcore exploded in fury. Do you foresee this happening again in the Trump era?
HR: I don’t but I think there will be some great benefit concerts to push back against what might be a challenging time for LGBT folks, women, nonwhites, Muslims, etc. I’m looking forward to getting busy on all that.
BR: You’re friends with Tim Friede, the venom man. Weren’t you guys working on a TV show together about his antivenom processing?
HR: I met him when I was part of a National Geographic thing that featured him. Amazing guy.
BR: For that matter, when was the first time you remember your fascination with snakes taking off?
HR: I was 11. Snake-keeping is a very time-consuming task. I would do it if I had the time but I don’t any more. I live all over the world and that doesn’t make for good upkeep.
BR: As a champion of the Stooges for a long time, what was your take on the new documentary, and what’s with the kids picking Raw Power over Fun House these days?
HR: I think anything that brings people to the Stooges is a great thing. I think Raw Power is a very approachable album compared to Fun House, which is my personal favourite. Fun House is more conceptual; Raw Power is more straight-ahead rock. Hopefully, someone who becomes curious will check out ALL the Stooges’ material.
BR: I was so excited to hear your vocals again on the new Ruts DC track. What are the chances of there ever being a Rollins solo album?
HR: Hopefully none. For me, music was a time/place thing. It was an age-related endeavour. I gave all when I had something to give and then moved on. I can see doing something like I did on the Ruts DC record. They asked me, I said sure but past that, there is no past that.
Henry Rollins brings his speaking tour to Vancouver at the Vogue Theatre on January 4th, Victoria at the Alix Goolden PAC on January 5th, Edmonton at the Myer Horowitz Theatre on January 6th, Calgary at the Jack Singer Concert Hall on January 7th and Saskatoon at the Broadway Theatre on January 8th.AB, Alberta, Alix Goolden Hall, BC, British Columbia, Broadway Theatre, Henry Rollins, Jack Singer Concert Hall, Myer Horowitz Theatre, Saskatchewan, SK, Vogue Theatre