Interview :: Henry Rollins

“Western solutions to non Western places, that’s a big fail.”

Henry Rollins is one of the hardest working guys out there. The former Black Flag and Rollins Band frontman now spends his time touring the world, performing spoken word shows to packed crowds and writing the occasional book (amongst other things). Thankfully he took some time out to answer some questions of ours, covering everything from Black Flag, to politics, to Green Lantern.

We saw you in Manchester in January, and you described, in part, the route you had taken across the world to get to your recent run of UK shows. It’s pretty intense. Do you think you’ll ever slow down?

That’s a good question. I guess I will have to at some point. Honestly, I don’t really think about the future, past the work I have to get done and perhaps the year ahead so I can plan it in advance. I guess I will go as I do until I go a different way.

You seem to be have a huge backing for the current revolutionary activities (and rightly so) in areas such as Egypt, et al. That being said, do you think there could be more done by countries in the west to help relieve the political vacuum that is often left after revolutions of this nature?

I think more pre-emptive action could be taken as in not setting up bad governments in countries you wish to dominate, not destroy their economy, etc. These ideas sadly go against the party line of American foreign policy. We want the vacuum. That’s when we come in and do our work. The disaster is what we’re after. If you really wanted to help, you would get in and get out and leave behind sustainability. To do that, you would have to understand the culture and care about the history of a country so you don’t wreck it. Western solutions to non Western places, that’s a big fail.

During 2010-11 a project was started by a woman named Angela Bennett called “Thanks to Hank” which featured contributions by various people who feel they had been helped immensely in their lives by yourself and your work (we both contributed, so thank you!) This must have been a very humbling gift to receive but do you find it hard to not let it go to your head? In your shows and books you never seem to really give yourself credit as being such an inspiration, why is that?

I don’t think it a good idea for me to think about any of that too much. I truly appreciate anyone paying attention to what I do, of course and am very grateful that someone gets something useful out of what I am trying to do. However, I don’t know what else to do about that past being thankful and keep working on things. I am humbled nightly by an audience being there, people out by the bus, the letters, etc. That’s all it is to me–humbling. It doesn’t cause me to swell up as much as it urges me to do as good as I can. My overall feeling, besides gratitude, is one of caution to be clear and patient.

Could you tell us a little about the voice acting you did on the Green Lantern animated film you did last year? How did it come about and are you a big fan of graphic novels? (if so, the next question is, DC or Marvel?)

I work with the producer Andrea Romano now and then. She called me in to do the voice work on that character. I don’t know much about the graphic novel world.

You were quoted in a 2011 edition of Trebuchet magaizine as saying “… and I must say that I miss it [music] every day. I just don’t know honestly what I could do with it that’s different.” Is there a possibility of you collaborating with other artists in the future as oppose to writing your own material, and does include production of other artists? (from what we’ve read the last production project you did was the 1995 Mark of Cain album, Ill at Ease).

I am really not interested in doing music at this point. I did a lot of it and don’t know what else to do with it and production doesn’t really interest me all that much. It’s a lot of sitting still.

Recently Keith Morris, Bill Stevenson, Steven Eggerton and Chuck Dukowski ‘reformed’ Black Flag at GV30. You must be sick of questions like this, but would you ever be a part of something like that?

No. It’s not of my interest.

Finally, as a guy who always appears pretty clued in on good music, could you recommend some artists/bands you’ve been enjoying recently?

Electric Wizard, High On Fire, Boris, Bong, Ashtray Navigations, a lot of old German space music.

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