Rollins Live, Again (Updated 4.18.06)
Wednesday, March 29, 2006; 3:00 PM
Henry Rollins will be online Wednesday, March 29, at 3 p.m. ET to discuss his new, expanded show on the Independent Film Channel (IFC), "The Henry Rollins Show." The new expanded format incorporates an eclectic selection of musical acts (Sleater-Kinney, John Doe, Frank Black, Jurassic 5, Dashboard Confessional, Ben Folds, Death Cab for Cutie) and a wider range of celebrity guests (Ozzy Osbourne, Chuck D, Werner Herzog, Oliver Stone).
Rollins is an actor, musician and spoken word artist. His one-man shows address topics ranging from politics to the environment to sexuality to his own neuroses. Since the beginning of the war in Iraq, Rollins has also toured with the USO to perform for troops in the Gulf.
Henry Rollins: Hello, it's Henry. Nice to be doing this again with you all.
Alexandria, Va.: I'm glad that you are doing a film-focused show on IFC. My friend and I often argue over the definitive Marlon Brando film performance. I say it's "A Streetcar Named Desire" while my friend says it's "On the Waterfront." I think it doesn't get any more guttural or "real" than Brando's Stanley in "Streetcar." Just raw emotion. That is ground zero for film acting as far as I'm concerned. What do you think?
Henry Rollins: I would be in agreement on Streetcar. As a guy, I look at Brando as Stanley Kowalski and I want to be him. He's so great. Chicks must have dug him them. And the performance. There was nothing like that before that I know of. He really caused quite a sensation. It's a hell of a movie.
New York, N.Y.: What's your favorite part of your new show? Do you pick the guests yourself?
Henry Rollins: My favorite part is the teeing off section where I just get to say what I want. The second part is the interview and, yes, I pick the guests.
In April, Oliver Stone, Chuck D, Ozzy Osbourne and Werner Herzog -- which is a huge deal for me. I'd never met him and he is one of my film heroes.
Leesburg, Va: Any chance you'll show clips from your appearance on the kids show, Pancake Mountain during your new show?
Henry Rollins: No. As much as I like doing the Pancake Mountain stuff, there's no need to show it on my show.
Seattle, Wash.: Will Heidi be returning to the new version of your show?
Henry Rollins: Oh ya, Heidi is our host for the bands, so she's with them when they're playing. They're shot in a different location -- in a big practice place downtown in LA. Heidi is the host for that and she's perfect for that because she knows music.
Burtonsville, Md.: I had IFC. I loved IFC, but some years back Comcast in Montgomery County killed IFC in favor of the Sundance Channel. How can I get IFC in Montgomery County now short of switching to satellite?
Henry Rollins: I am so not the guy to ask.
Richmond, Va.: I saw your interviews in the documentary about the evolution of "punk" rock, can you describe how the movement has been mainstreamed and if that has had any effect on your music?
Henry Rollins: Well, it has been mainstreamed or absorbed into the mainstream and I think that happens when any thing is around for long enough -- someone figures out how to make a buck and suddenly the movement has clothes and accessories. This could be rap -- all this stuff started as street level music. And come on, there's so much money in the marketing of the rap lifestyle.
Punk to a lesser degree is the same. It's just not as costly.
How does it affect what I do? Not really at all. I don't really care what other people are doing.
New York, NY: Hi Henry:
I'm a huge fan of your music. When I was a student in Washington in the late 1970's you worked at the Haagen Dazs on Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown. Do you recall those days with any fondness? And do you miss living in Washington at all?
Henry Rollins: I recall those days with great fondness, I think of them often and when I am in D.C. in my old neighborhood I miss it. Someday I would like to live there again.
Richmond, Va: For those of us who enjoy your spoken word, but know very little of anyone else in that field, who would you recommend?
Henry Rollins: I don't really follow it, honestly. I'm not trying to say I'm unique, because I'm not. I just call what I do a "talking show," but if Ian Mackaye comes to your town doing one of his Q&A's, that's a really fun night. I just saw it here in New York a few months ago and it was fantastic.
Glen Ellyn, Ill: Henry,
You've been my girlfriend's hero ever since you and Black Flag played in Albuquerque in the early 1980s. For her, I'm going to replace the Three Stooges with your new show in the TiVo listings...
Henry Rollins: Thanks.
Glen Ellyn, Ill: Henry,
You've been my girlfriend's hero ever since you and Black Flag played in Albuquerque in the early 1980s. For her, I'm going to replace the Three Stooges with your new show in the TiVo listings...
Henry Rollins: Thanks.
Syosset, NY: IFC is such a cool channel. Were you a fan of that network already and that's why your show is there? How did you end up there?
Henry Rollins: Yes, I was a fan of the channel before we got the show on and the reason we got on to IFC was very simple -- we showed them the demo and they expressed interest and gave us money for a longer, better demo. They approved of that and gave us the first season. We all figured this is where we would be not hassled and we were right.
Washington, DC Bubba: Morrissey and The Cure send their regards. (Based on your supreme dislike for them on your many spoken word CDs) What's your take on the current state of music? Who's on your iTunes--recently downloaded menu?
Henry Rollins: I don't hate the Smiths or the Cure at all. I think -- especially Morrissey -- is very creative and brilliant. It's that downward spiral, down in the mouth thing they had going for years which I could just not leave alone. I had to take a couple of shots at it. But I hold no malice toward either party at all.
I don't download music. I just upload CDs I own. Well, the thing I'm listening to right now is the new Fall album called "Fall Heads Roll."
Minneapolis, Minn: When you do the USO tour, are there any common themes or topics you hear when talking to people stationed overseas? Are they as polarized about the situation as people at home seem to be?
Henry Rollins: No. By and large the take on the war that I got from the soldiers was coming from people who are so deep in the middle of it and in the belly of it that it's not an agreement or disagreement with it. It's a "get it done without getting killed" sentiment. Where a political point of view is almost privileged, because you have the time to articulate it -- these men and women are busy watching their ass. I more heard about the day to day emotional and surrealness of the environment.
Washington, D.C.: So, what exactly is a "low budget Mark Twain?"
Henry Rollins: Well, someone who is wry but doesn't have quite the charm and utter genius of Mark Twain. Many of us think we have a rapier wit and are sly, but no one measures up to Twain and his amazing grace with the English language.
Bethesda, Md.: You often hear of problems with bands reunioning and playing the old numbers with new members and not the original members. Did Greg or Chuck (who sang on the west Memphis three record) had any issues with you performing Black Flag songs or for that matter the Rollins Band (ie the band you had during Weight album, who I considered the best band you had) have problems with you going on the road with Mother Su? And did you have any more Monday Night Football parties with Shatner?
Henry Rollins: Greg's not on the record, but I had to get permission from Greg for the publishing agreement. Greg liked it because we're raising money. I don't know what anyone thought about me doing those songs -- I wouldn't care what they thought about it. It was a benefit tour and we did raise quite a bit.
Yes, I've been back to Shatner's a few times. As always he's a most gracious host.
Kansas City, Mo: Loved your show on IFC I caught last weekend. I enjoyed your comments of the people working at WalMart of which I know many. I though however after speaking highly of them, referring to them as salt of the earth, you would belittle them for their right wing voting habits. If the reasons you gave are the ones you think are responsible for the red state voting they do, you oversimplify it too much.
Henry Rollins: No, what I meant is those people - they don't get a chance to read up on a lot of stuff. They're too busy working. They went with a guy who seemed strong on religion and terror and sold them a fake war. This doesn't make them stupid, but does make them victims of a guy who sold them a bill of goods.
If you asked them why they voted for Bush the reasons would be very simple and very few... god, war, safety were the perceived notions of all that.
In no way was I trying to oversimplify or belittle. Just pointing out.
It's hard to find someone below the echelon of the Fox elite who could defend Bush with any real grace past "Kerry wouldn't have been any better" and this bumper sticker type propaganda. Rarely does it sound like there's anything studied behind their arguments.
I think a lot of Americans are now seeing something different and the approval ratings now at an all-time low don't lie. Not even Zogby can make him look good.
Bowie, Md: Henry - I saw you in '02 at the 9:30 club with the Rollins Band - outstanding show and I've been looking for another ever since. Any chance of you playing in the near future with Mother Superior as the Rollins Band again?
Henry Rollins: No.
We are busy at band practice with the Weight line-up. And it's sounding very good, I was just there.
We're looking to do a few shows in August or September.
Miami, Fla.: Who are some guests that you'd like on the show? both in terms of interviewees and bands?
Henry Rollins: Well, as far as guests, it'd be great to get David Lynch. Wes or P.T. Anderson would be fine with me. Ahmed Rashid, whose books I admire greatly. His books "Taliban" and "Jihad" I learned a lot from. Steve Coogan. Patton Oswalt -- because I think he's just brilliant.
Slayer... Bob Dylan acoustic on the show... it'd be fun to have Steve Jones and Billy Idol on the show. I got a yes out of one of them. That's all I can think of at the moment...
It'd be great to get some jazz people. There are so many who don't get enough appreciation.
It'd be great to have The Fall on the show. That'd be huge for me.
Cats?: Did I imagine this, or did you once mention in one of the talking shows that you have/had a cat?
Henry Rollins: I had a cat that was given to me in 1993 and it ran away, so long time ago.
Bethesda, Md.: Henry I have seen your spoken word about six times now. You have been saying in the last three times I have seen that you would like to move back east. Would that be a return to D.C.? And how does it feel to be on another country's terror watch list? (sorry to hear about that, btw, I think that's stupid and rotten)
Henry Rollins: Yes, I would like to get back to D.C., though I'd prefer to live in Maryland or Virginia.
It is interesting to be called in as a person of interest as I was recently in Australia for reading "Jihad". While I doubt I'll have any problems returning to Australia, the incident is indicative of the climate we're presently dealing with.
Alexandria, Va.: Your video for "Liar" is one of the best videos I've ever seen and I was excited that it was released on Anton Corbijin's DVD. I find it interesting that you chose him as a director since he is so associated with U2 and Depeche Mode--two groups I haven't heard you say much good about. Is it hard to disassociate his video work from the music?
Henry Rollins: No, I mean, he's just getting good work. He made those bands, and us, look really good. It's an honor to work with him and I hope U2 pays him what he's worth.
Alexandria, Va.: Hi Henry, it is well-known that you hate U2 and their music. In my experience, I sometimes find myself liking a song by someone I usually hate. Has there ever been a U2 song of which you thought, "that's not bad?"
Henry Rollins: Yeah, absolutely. A song called "Lemon" is a great song because Brian Eno overhauled that guitar sound so much it sounds like an interesting Eno song.
I appreciate and applaud Bono's humanitarian efforts. He seems to be working hard at helping a region and using his celebrity to do that. A nomination for a Nobel that would put him on the shelf as other winners is a little bit of a stretch for me, but I appreciate his efforts all the same.
Washington, D.C.: When will you finally run for a political office/seat?
Henry Rollins: Well, it would require me having to have a college education and knowing a few things. I don't know much and don't have a degree.
One can perhaps get more done by not being in politics. I think one can do great things by focusing on small problems and moving small mountains. In politics, there are so many cooks in the kitchen, real change may become more difficult with even the best intentions.
New York, N.Y.: You are known for being outspoken, controversial, outrageous... Won't a TV show stifle your ability to speak your mind the way you want to, what with all the censorship rules, etc...unlike with a live audience, where you can say exactly what you like...
Henry Rollins: We're not actually. We're cable -- I can say whatever I want. I called the president an a**hole on TV last year. I've never been told to kick back. IFC's asked me to be a little meaner, actually.
Arlington, Va.: Like Montgomery County above, I also live in a Comcast - no-IFC county. Will there be video highlights on a Web site somewhere for those of us unwashed heathens? I'd especially love to see the teeing off.
Henry Rollins: I believe the IFC TV site will have the unedited versions of the interviews and extra songs that the bands played.
And for those not getting the show, my apologies and I don't really know what to do about that. It's so far out of my control.
Washington, DC: Henry:
I noticed you submitted liner notes for the reissue of Black Market Baby's best, "Coulda... Shoulda... Woulda". Thanks for supporting local talent - and how about having them perform on your show?
Henry Rollins: It'd be great. Unfortunately, it's hard to get the music that you want all the time because we need the bands to be in town on the shoot days and it becomes pretty difficult.
Mahwah, NJ: How can you support mainstream, pop-punk, emo bands like Dashboard Confessional and Death Cab for Cutie by featuring them on your show? Their music is mediocre and most of their fans are 13 year old girls who are addicted to myspace. Come on Henry Rollins, I expected a better music selection coming from you. (I'll let this one slide if you blame these choices on Heidi.)
Henry Rollins: I take full responsibility.
I knew this was coming. You wrath is well-deserved. I momentarily took my hands off the wheel and my manager OK'd those two bands. While I have nothing personal against them, they would not have been on my roster. Heidi hit the roof when she saw those names, but was actually taken aback slightly by how friendly they were.
But I knew your e-mail was coming and I know there will be more like it. So yes, I suck for that one. My apologies.
You should've seen the letters I wrote Swift River (the producers) about the letters like yours I knew I was going to get.
High Bridge, NJ: What comedians do you enjoy listening to? Have any of them influenced your live show?
Henry Rollins: Comedians that are kicking and breathing. My favorite is Patton Oswalt -- I'm really enjoying his album and his Comedy Central special.
As far as an influence on stage, I don't really know. I just get out there and tell stories. I don't know. I get inspiration and bravery from guys like Bill Hicks and Lenny Bruce, but I can't say they influenced me. Inspired yes, big time.
San Clemente, Calif.: I know that you took a great interest is the Hollygrove children's home. It's abrupt closure a few months back surprised me. I cannot help but feel that those kids got dumped into our black hole of a foster care system because they were sitting on some pretty valuable real estate.
Henry Rollins: It sucks. Hollygrove went away and I think they're morphing into something else now. I've raised quite a bit of money for them over the years -- over $40,000 from my company. They did such a great job with those kids -- the hard to handle children.
Austin, Tex.: Henry, the radical right is good fuel for punk. In your opinion, how come we don't see anything now with the vitality and energy Reagan and his Nixon re-treads inspired?
Henry Rollins: I think because the times were different and there was more of a hostile reaction to what would be called punk music. Where now people who were punk rockers now have children who listen to punk rock and that being the case, it may be a little harder to make the same kind of splash as in the past.
Alexandria, Va: Kind of off-topic, but I'm a powerlifter and I know you like to lift too. What's a typical week of workouts for you? Lots of bench, squat, and deadlift? 5x5's?
Henry Rollins: I no longer lift heavy because I don't think my joints can handle it and I want to keep my shoulders. So I've dropped the poundage dramatically and lift in higher rep sets for more of a toning, cardio workout rather than for bulk.
Stafford, VA: Which do you find more enlightening, reading about new topics or holding an intelligent discussion with someone who holds a different point of view?
Henry Rollins: I like both, although I'd rather read, even if it's in opposition to what I think -- just so I can re-read it and underline it and think about it.
Also, I think in a live discussion situation, both parties may end up arguing more than discussing -- thus preventing each other from educating the other.
Rockville, Md: Was it fun giving Steve-O a tattoo while riding around in a Hummer?
Henry Rollins: No.
It was fun to drive around in the Humvee, but it was real blood and a real needle going into a real arm, so I felt bad for the guy. Knowing I was part of mangling stevo, I didn't feel all that good about. Considering the paycheck he got from making the movie, I'm sure he's feeling a little better now.
Louisville, Ky: Henry,
What do you think of "Meet the Barkers" on MTV? Not so much the content, but the idea and philosphy behind a punk rock drummer doing a reality show?
Henry Rollins: I've never seen it. I don't really watch MTV at all.
Arlington, Va.: Henry, what are your favorite movies -- like top five, must watch now.
Henry Rollins: Well, Apocalypse Now is my favorite film. Probably Dr. Strangelove would be one. Seven Samurai would be one. Streetcar Named Desire. And... Animal House. I saw it first run and I watch it once a year and always laugh.
One of the greatest independent films I've seen is Sling Blade -- another one I watch every three months.
Reston, Va.: Hey Henry,
Just wanted to say that lots of us just plain voted for Bush because Kerry was a worse choice - I'm conservative, just not willing to drink Kerry's Kool-Aid.
I don't always agree with you, but I appreciate your being out there talking. You always make me think, as opposed to many current celebs, who just give me a sense of disgust. Keep it up!!
Henry Rollins: I don't think Kerry was a very good candidate, but seeing how this current administration has entered America into a frightful war in Iraq while also trying to fight the war on terror and has facilitated the outsourcing of countless jobs out of America and many other unavoidable, unspinnable horrible things done against the American people, I think at this point conservatism is only benefiting a very small and select group of Americans... while the middle and lower classes have been left to twist in the wind.
And I appreciate your letter.
Washington, D.C.: Henry, in the punk "hey day" with Black Flag, what was your favorite other "punk" band at that time. I was pretty much a black flag and X fanatic even though your styles were completely different. I do notice that you have John Doe as a musical guest on your new show. Just curious about your comments here. Long-time fan.........
Henry Rollins: Well, I too am an X fanatic. Some of the best gigs I've ever seen were X gigs. Amazing shows. I don't know what my favorite band would've been -- the Clash, the Damned.. D.C. had so many great local bands -- Bad Brains, Minor Threat -- we had all the music you needed.
Washington, DC: I kind of take exception to the comments about Dashboard Confessional and Death Cab for Cutie. True, they're mediocre at best. But they get airplay and thus introduce people to a genre to which they might normally not be exposed. Some will just like them because they're popular. Others will want to find out more about the music that influenced those groups.
Henry Rollins: Yes, that being said, Death Cab and Dashboard have a lot of outlets available to them where perhaps some of the bands that I would prioritize might not have that same access.
Washington, DC: I know you're a big book reader. What are 3 books you think every American should read?
Henry Rollins: I don't know what every American should read... but I think "Black Spring" by Henry Miller is a great read. Perhaps my favorite writer is F. Scott Fitzgerald. I don't think anyone should live their life without reading at least a few Hubert Selby novels in their lifetime.
America has given the world so many great writers, it would be impossible to talk about them in one answer or one interview or a college semester. Also the rest of the world -- there are great writers in every country. I love French, German, Japanese -- I read from all these countries.
Read, that's all you can do.
Washington, DC: Henry,
Because your talking shows are so extemporaneous, have you ever thought of offering recordings of them in the podcast format? I'd certainly be interesting in paying something to hear another two hours of live spoken-word Rollins every month or so, but you don't release live spoken-word albums with anything near that frequency.
Thanks for everything you do. You're an inspirational figure to me -- and I'm an unapologetic U2 fan!
Henry Rollins: Well, U2 and every band needs fans, so good for you.
And I am pursuing the opportunity to put out more live talking shows at a very low cost -- more than just my annual release. I'm working towards that.
Mahwah, N.J.: How many aspects of the new show do you actually control? The set? The way its edited? The title sequence? Opening music?
Do you just supply the content and then hand it over to the Swift River Productions team?
Also, do you have to get your idea approved before you shoot them? Like lets says you have a new Teeing Off, do you NEED to show a script to IFC or the production team before it gets OK'ed?
Henry Rollins: Second question first. We never go to IFC for approval. We show them and they say "cool."
As far as my control, ya, I do most of the writing for the show and anything I don't want to do, we don't. They come up with ideas, I come up with ideas. It's a collaborative venture, which I'm not used to, but I'm learning.
Henry Rollins: Thank you for sending me your questions. Thank you for your interest and it's nice to hear from so many people from the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area. You all are making me homesick.
Alexandria, Va.: I saw that Steve Buscemi will be a guest on your show. Did you discuss Tree's Lounge? It's a brilliant examination of a wasted life. Every alcoholic should have to watch it.
Henry Rollins: Buscemi had to reschedule. Mainly, we're going to talk about a film he directed called Lonesome Jim. I really liked it and am looking forward to getting the interview happening.
Rockville, Md.: Hi Henry, do you have any favorite movies about music and those who make it? Sid and Nancy jumps to mind as well as the Madchester movie Steve Coogan made a few years back.
Henry Rollins: 24 Hour Party People was really great I thought. For me, the best movies about music are in documentary form. I would rather see footage of the real people. I did think Walk the Line was pretty cool though. Great commitment on the part of the actors.
West Palm Beach, Fla.: Henry-I saw your spoken word show here last summer and was floored.
When you do your spoken word shows-what's going through your mind? Do you have an idea about the themes you'll talk about before you go onstage? Thanks!
Henry Rollins: I make an outline of stuff I want to get to when I am up there. I don't want to ramble and waste time but I also don't want to risk dialing in a show, that's no good.
Reisterstown, Md: Im currently reading "Our Band Could Be Your Life" by Michael Azzerad, and it mentioned your relationshir with Ian MacKaye. Have you two ever collaberated on any projects or worked together in a band?
Henry Rollins: Ian produced an album I did once but that's about it as far as working together. He's the man.
Washington, D.C.: Is it true that you were inspired by Charlie Harper to "live in a car?"
Henry Rollins:No! I was living in my car for a while and somehow, there was a song about it. It became my anthem. People who knew where I was living would sing the song at me, changing the word "I" to "He" and it was quite funny. I still listen to the song.
Washington, D.C.: Hey! Just watched your Luna Park monologue DVD. Where are the ice cream joint and the Italian restaurant you and Ian used to work at? You didn't mention the neighborhoods during the show.
Henry Rollins: The Ice Cream place was the Haagen Daz on Wisconsin at O street. The Italian restaurant was Enzio's, now Glover Park Books.
Rockville, Md.: Hi Henry, I'm looking forward to the new show. I hope you can devote some time each week to new bands/sounds as it's harder and harder to get to these via radio, and I only have limited bucks to spend on CDs! FYI... I'm enjoying "Weight" in my car right now... that's some good stuff!
Henry Rollins: Thanks. Best thing if you want to check out some music, you can hear my radio show for free at Indie 103.com. I have a show on there once a week Tuesday 8-10 PM Westcoast time. You can see the songs I'm playing by going to Harmonyinmyhead.com.
Richmond, Va.: I'm sure many of your fans, like myself, have been inspired by various things you've written or spoke about. I was wondering what kind of advice would you offer to those of us who work jobs we hate, and for whatever reasons, can't act on the "if you don't like it, quit it" attitude that you have expressed. Thanks.
Henry Rollins: Good question. I think you have to find a way to not be miserable and if you have a job you hate, you should look for alternatives or look for a way to make your environment better. For many years now, I have made my own jobs and invented work for myself as best I can so I can stave off the job I don't like scenario for as long as I can.
Moscow, Russia: Henry, do you get any flak from old friends or compadres for working on the USO tours?
Henry Rollins: No. I think I have made myself clear as to why I support America's Military.
Washington, D.C.: Just curious: who do you like out there, in terms of current music, that would surprise your fans.
Henry Rollins: I don't know what would surprise anyone but I think the band Deadboy and the Elephantmen are really cool.
Alexandria, Va.: If you perform several spoken word shows in a week, are they mostly the same show or can they differ greatly in the subjects you discuss?
Henry Rollins: A lot the material will be the same but I try to always fold into new ideas as often as I can. Quite often on tour, I don't see a lot besides the bus, the stage, etc. That can be limiting. I do my best to mix it up.
Washington, D.C.: Gonna put any go-go bands on your show?
Henry Rollins: I'd like to. Perhaps we can next season, if there is one. All the band stuff is now booked.
San Francisco, Calif.: Hello,
I have read some of your works and listened to a couple interviews with you and you seem to have a pretty good balance with various projects and working out, being in good physical shape, etc. I was wondering if you have a particular spiritual practice or meditation practice as well. Thanks.
Henry Rollins: No. I just do the best I can and I know that being in good health allows me to hit my deadlines and accomplish my goals. Past that, I have no beliefs or anything.
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