Actor, Musician, Spoken Word Performer
Tuesday, October 28, 2008 3:00 PM
Editor's Note: Henry asked us to e-mail him the questions he couldn't get to over the course of his live hour. We'll publish half of those Friday, Nov. 7 and the other half on Nov. 10.
Henry Rollins is bringing his spoken-word show, Recountdown Tour 2008, to the D.C. area on the eve of the election. He was online Tuesday, Oct. 28 at 3 p.m. ET to offer his thoughts about the campaigns, the candidates, the media, the Bush administration and anything else you want to talk about.
The transcript of the live chat follows. He'll also be following up with responses to unanswered questions, which we'll post as he sends them to us.
Rollins will perform at the
Rollins has come a long way since growing up in D.C. He first made a name for himself as lead singer of '80s punk band Black Flag. Then, with his own Rollins Band and as an actor with appearances in movies ("Johnny Mnemonic", "Dogtown and Z-Boys") and TV. In the past decade, though, Rollins really hit his stride performing one-man spoken word shows -- addressing topics ranging from politics to the environment to sexuality to his own neuroses. He also hosted "Full Metal Challenge" on the Learning Channel and the "Henry Rollins Show" on the Independent Film Channel. Since the beginning of the war in Iraq, Rollins has also toured with the USO to perform for troops in the Gulf.
Henry Rollins: I'm happy to be here and happy for your questions.
Los Angeles: Do you think Obama, if he becomes president, will be able to lead this country out of the mess Bush has left?
Henry Rollins: I think the first four years of the Obama administration will be spent in part neutralizing the last eight years. Hopefully, he can take us forward.
Washington, D.C.: In the years you've been performing for the troops, have you seen their opinions changing substantially?
Henry Rollins: Quite often, I will speak with troops away from their friends, and they will tell me how discontented they are with their situation, how much they disagree with the war, and that this is not what they signed up for. More often than not, they're looking out for their friends and trying to get everyone back to base safely at dinner time.
More and more, discontent seems to be the mood.
Columbia, S.C.: What can McCain do to get your vote?
Henry Rollins: Nothing.
Austin: Henry - Enjoyed the hell out of your show in Austin a few weeks ago. What's the latest on your IFC work? Will your half-hour show return next year? When are your documentaries going to air?
Keep up the good work, and keep making sure your crowd gets out to the polls next week.
Henry Rollins: There will be no season 3 of the show. Instead, IFC asked me to do three live and uncut broadcasts, which will air at some point in November.
I'm not sure exactly when those air dates are. When I find out, I'll post them on my site.
New Port Richey, Fla.: Do you really believe either candidate for president is a sound choice, or are we simply choosing the lesser of two evils? Who would be your ideal candidate for president, either alive or dead, fictional or real?
Henry Rollins: This time around, I do not think it's the lesser of two evils. I think the sane and rational choice is very clear. I will be voting accordingly.
My first choice, never gets barely out of the gate. This time was no exception.
As for whom I would like to see president, alive or dead, Mark Twain would be a very interesting, peaceful and prosperous eight years.
Baltimore: Henry, always a pleasure to see you come to town, love the IFC show BTW. In the past you've done well in educating people on folks like Ann Coulter, David Hagar etc. My question is, who is/are the scary people to keep an eye on right now in your opinion, besides the candidates? Thanks! Cyndi
Henry Rollins: That's a really good question. I think we should be looking at senators who align themselves so tightly with big business. More and more, it appears they are the ones who grease the rails for destructive deregulation, giving us many of the awful situations we are in right now and will be trying to turn around in the next several years.
I came to this conclusion by studying the political life of John McCain.
We should always look very closely at any president's non-congressional appointments. The Bush non-congressional appointees were disastrous.
Augusta, Ga.: What book would you suggest someone read before voting in a few days?
Henry Rollins: Free Ride, McCain and the Media, by David Brock and Paul Waldman. It's a quick read.
If you had more time, I would recommend you read Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine. Although, I would recommend both books at any time.
Guy in Gutter: Hi Henry, I've been a longtime fan. I saw you play live decades ago and it is one of my fondest memories.
Are you still out in LA? Do you like it better there than in DC?
Are you and Ian Mackaye still good pals?
Henry Rollins: Yes, still in Los Angeles. As to why? No good excuse. Do I prefer D.C.? Absolutely. So much of my work gets done in Los Angeles at this point, I must be where the work is.
I keep in touch with my good friend Ian constantly.
Kalamazoo, Mich.: What is the coolest thing, for a man, about growing older?
Henry Rollins: An adult has the opportunity to enjoy the wisdom gleaned from previous decades of living and experience. Hopefully, one enhances his sense of humor. As he approaches 50, he'll need all the humor he can get.
Lexington, Ky.: How do you think the vote is going to go on Prop 8 in California? What do you think of religious groups from outside of the state pouring money into getting this passed?
Henry Rollins: I think it's very sad that the political landscape is now so dotted with religious extremists who feel the need to infringe upon the lives of decent, free and harmless Americans who want nothing more than to be in love and to spend the rest of their lives together. As to the outcome of Prop 8, let's hope that sanity and humanity are the loudest voices.
Adelaide, South Australia: Hi Henry,
I currently tutor first year students at University in a course called 'global societies' where we have looked closely at the ongoing invasion and occupation in Iraq. In relation to this, one of the students asked me today why is it that US citizens who come from the poorest parts of town, who have gone to the worst schools are the first ones to stick up their hands and enlist to defend a system that keeps them enslaved and in abject poverty to begin with? Not a bad question for a kid straight out of highschool! My answer was rather convoluted, I would be interested to know what your answer may have been.
Henry Rollins: Hello to beautiful Adelaide. Good question. Here are two possible answers. In America, quite often, people from a certain economic position are given two choices, or that is to say, two choices become very evident as to their adult life. One is crime, one is the military. And it is quite often that some people choose one or the other, their options not being as many as someone from a higher income.
It also could possibly be that these people sincerely believe in the American dream, one of them being defending their great country from harm. Perhaps it is poverty that strips them of cynicism and a somewhat jaundiced eye.
Deltona, Fla.: As I am sure you have heard, two Tennessee teens have plotted to kill 88 black people, 14 by beheading, and then planned to wrap it all up by assassinating Barak Obama, or die trying. These two are self-professed Neo-Nazis. What did you think when you heard this and what would you say to these two if you had the chance?
Henry Rollins: The first thing, there's nothing new about White Power groups in America. Sadly, we've not overcome this inch-high hurdle. Some day, we will eradicate racism in America through education and opportunity.
I would say to these two "I'm so sorry at the choices you made. I'm very sorry as to the forces that drew you to those conclusions. Hopefully, in prison, you'll get some reading done."
Portland, Maine: I can guess you're not a Mccain supporter. But what, if anything, makes you uncomfortable about Obama? Have you considered voting for anyone other than the two major candidates?
Henry Rollins: What makes me uncomfortable about Obama is what makes me uncomfortable about any young politician who has not yet been bloodied inside the Beltway. He has high hopes. Many of them will be compromised due to the nature of American politics. I am also afraid that he will swing all too quickly to the center, before he gets some much-needed change implemented.
No third or fourth party candidate has ever impressed me enough to get my vote.
Hoboken, N.J.: Can we expect a new book from you before the year is out? You mentioned "A Preferred Blur" about a year ago. Thanks.
Henry Rollins: Thank you for your interest. I did put out one book this year, called, Fanatic! Vol. 3. "A Preferred Blur" is coming along slowly due to the fact that much of it comes from hand-written notebooks which I slowly transcribe in the afternoons before sound check. I beg for your patience, the book should be out early next year.
Small town, Wash.: About Sarah Palin:
She seems like a someone who is really hungry to be in the spotlight, gain power, and most of all, achieve fame.
But there's fame and then there's infamy. What McCain and others seem to mistake as star power is really more like notoriety.
What are your thoughts on her sudden rise to fame... or infamy?
Henry Rollins: I think that Sarah Palin has a great deal of charisma. The camera likes her and she knows it. What I wonder, now, is if she is positioning herself for a run in 2012. I come to this conclusion from seeing how often she is breaking away from the McCain talking points in the last week. I think she is a dangerous political operative.
Acton, Mass.: Henry, What is your reaction to the media covering less and less news. Third-party candidates, police brutality at both political conventions, and local city's problems are barley covered at all these days. With so much "Hollywood News" in the mainstream, many people have to turn to independent and international news sources. What do you think about this and how do you think America should handle it?
Henry Rollins: I think that is part and parcel of 24-hour media. I also think it is what happens when you have ratings-based media, rather than content-driven news. Americans should demand real news, more transparency and more truth.
Detroit: If you hadn't joined Black Flag, where do you think you would be in life?
Henry Rollins: Good question. I have often wondered myself. Probably working a normal, retail job or somehow involved in the music business. Quite often, this kind of speculation leads no where. I am damn lucky.
Washington, D.C.: Who or what has influenced you to make the greatest change in your life over the last 10-20 years and why?
Henry Rollins: It would be a what. And the what would be extensive travel. Travel has made me understand the commonality of the human struggle and the overall greatness and potential of humankind thus stripping me of much of the cynicism that clouded my younger years.
San Francisco: Having traveled extensively through out the world what can you say is the largest misconception Americans hold about some of the countries you visited and the regimes you've experienced first hand?
Henry Rollins: The biggest misconception is perhaps the opinion that many of the people in these countries have about America. When I ask people in countries such as Iran, Syria and Pakistan, overwhelmingly, the opinion is America is great, and they can't wait to some day visit. It is nice to see that more often than not, they do not judge the many by the actions of the few.
Christchurch, New Zealand: I have heard the comment in our part of the world, that America is too racist to have an African-American for a president. What are your thoughts on this?
Henry Rollins: I think that America certainly has racism, I think that any industrialized country does. But when you see how many million fans Barack Obama has who are not black, it would lead one to the conclusion that millions of Americans are in fact not burdened by the albatross of racism.
As to those who are still mired in racism, I think they are only one or two Funkadelic albums away from seeing the light.
political office.: Have you ever thought about running for a position in politics?
Henry Rollins: Being of high school education and having a very low threshold for that which drops out of the back of a bull, I could never wade into that cesspool. I think I can maintain a lot of speed by working in the private sector as a citizen.
DC native: A light hearted question: Bad Brains or Fugazi?
Henry Rollins: With two bands that are that good, it could never be an either/or proposition. One must make room for both.
Los Angeles, CA: What do you think should be the centerpiece exhibit at the George W. Bush Presidential Library?
Henry Rollins: The one book the library may someday hold -- "My Pet Goat." I think that the library will be nothing more than radical historians scrubbing and sanitizing eight years of the Bush presidency to make it look somehow different than the blood-splattered, cash-depleted, morally bankrupt failure that it truly is.
Shreveport, LA: A bit off subject and on a lighter note: If you had a daughter and she brought you home would you approve?
Henry Rollins: Yes.
Irbil, Iraq (Hometown: Tacoma, Wash.): Do you think the shortcomings of the Bush administration have further prepared the U.S. for a minority candidate? Do you think McCain's selection of Palin was just a strategic response to the Democrat's nomination of a minority?
Henry Rollins: I think that Bush policy opened the door wide for a Democratic president, not necessarily a minority president. And I think the choice of Sarah Palin was to assuage nervous Republicans and conservatives who feared that McCain was not enough to the right of center.
Washington, DC: Although, most pundits and the media are saying that Obama has this election nailed, do you really think it will be a slam dunk? Or closer than people would like to admit? Also, if McCain loses, what do you think he'll do next?
Henry Rollins: Great questions. Please read carefully: Anyone who thinks that either candidate has a slam dunk is mistaken. Fans of either candidate should be vigilant and pushing for their man until they hear the result. I don't think it's safe to assume that either side has a lock.
As to the post-election life of John McCain, I wonder if he will start feeling his age and perhaps not return to politics.
New York: In 28(9?) years of work, what are you most proud of? What are you least proud of/regret the most?
Henry Rollins: Pride is not a word or sentiment I can ascribe to anything I have done or do. As far as regret, it is a luxury I can not afford. Anything I did, that was bad or wrong or regretful, I stand accused, I am guilty and I'm ready to serve my time.
Ahmadinejad?: Do you think that the Iranians feel the same way about their leader as a lot of Americans feel about the bush administration? For example unhappy..You mentioned that you have been there.
Henry Rollins: Having spent several days in Tehran, asking as many people as I could what they think of Ahmadinejad, and having them say different versions of "what a nutjob" it was clear to me that many people would prefer someone else in charge. The fact that I asked people that I asked does not make me an expert on the region or of the sentiment or Iran.
Clearwater, FL: What do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions people have about you?
Henry Rollins: One -- that I'm gay. I am not.
Also, that I hate everything and that my anger has no direction or purpose.
Alexandria VA: What are you going to do on election night?
Henry Rollins: I'm going to be on a tour bus, hurtling south towards Louisville, Ky. I will be voting by absentee ballot.
Detroit, Mich: Will you ever get back into performing music? Music seemed like the your first love of expression, hard to understand why you would just walk away from it.
Henry Rollins: While I have not ruled out the possibility of doing music, what I don't want to do is go onstage and perform old songs. I do, all the time, but I don't think it is artistically brave. If I can come up with a good batch of new material THAT I would be interested in performing live. But to be a near-50 human jukebox for a past century is nothing Miles Davis ever would have done.
San Francisco: Henry, what would you present to the people reading this as the best political music to listen to?
Henry Rollins: For me, political songs are where you find them, in that this "This Land is Your Land" by Woodie Guthrie, while not seen as a protest song, is in my opinion one of the most potent American anthems to freedom, rebellion and the preservation of democracy. I'm sure someone can find great songs of rebellion in the Def Lepard catalog. Truly, who is to say. As far as one band that really nails it down for yours truly, it wold be the Clash, and their first album.
Henry Rollins: Folks, I'm out of time, but I do appreciate your questions. All of the unanswered questions are being sent to me. I'm going to answer all, if not almost all of them, and send them back to the washingtnopost.com, and they will be posted ASAP. Thank you, and stay tuned.
San Francisco: Has the social and political stage become just another arena for those in the entertainment industry to perform on or do you believe the actions to be earnest?
Henry Rollins: I am sure there's a fair bit of both. I think it's more a matter of people who have opinions as we all do but have a forum with which they can broadcast their point of view. I am always very careful not to endorse anyone. By and large, I am betting that it is quite sincere what these people are putting across.
Malvern, Pa.: Hi Henry, I was wondering why you no longer post song writeups on your Harmony In My Head playlist postings, are you growing less fanatical?
Henry Rollins: No, just busier. It's fun writing to do but it's also very time consuming and I just can't keep it up. It's a blast to do that kind of work though but like I said, it takes time I can't give at the moment. Thanks for checking the writing out.
Allendale, Mich.: Henry, As a film student at Grand Valley State University and fan of yours, I was wondering what/who some of you current favorite films and or filmmakers are?
Henry Rollins: I am always up for PT Anderson, Cohen Brothers and names like that. I have not seen many new films in the last 12 months as I have been touring so much. I am very behind. I have watched "Michael Clayton" three times. I really like how that film works on a lot of levels. I will try and catch up with things in 2009.
Charlotte, Mich.: I have a personal question. Have you ever done a guy's dishes in the city of Chicago? I have a friend that CLAIMS that you have done his dishes after a night of partying.
Henry Rollins: Nope.
Erfurt, Germany: Henry, thanks for taking the time and doing this chat interview... Do you think the need to register yourself in order to exercise your right to vote has some influence on the amount of the electorate? Do you think, some people might see it as some kind of obstacle they don't want to overcome, some kind of obstacle they don't want to invest their time in?
Henry Rollins: It's not all that hard to do but I think it's perhaps in place to keep a certain kind of person away from voting. I have absolutely no hard facts on that but seeing how some of these people are, it seems that the last thing they want is the opinions of others. Erfut's a great place.
Washington, D.C.: 1978, Bethesda, Finnegan and Roberts Sunshine House. I would come in after school to stare at skateboards my mother wouldn't let me buy.
1982, Yesterday and Today Records, Rockville, Md. I see the face of the skateboard clerk on the cover of... Ink Disease or Flipside or MRR and literally could not contain myself. The skateboard clerk was in a band.
Henry Rollins: Well, what can I say. Humble beginnings.
Boston: Hi Henry, I know you've done many great things with the USO over the years, and made visits to Walter Reed, is there anything you've learned about the make-up and spirit of our troops that sets us apart from other countries'?
Henry Rollins: I bet there are millions of able bodied and ready-to-go men and women all over the world. I have not met enough military in other countries to make a comparison. I can say that our men and women in the Military are damn impressive.
Battle Creek, Mich.: Love all your stuff Henry. Thanks! I was wondering what you think 20-year-old Henry would think of 47-year-old Henry, everything from his accomplishments to his clothes, ethics, and being in major motion pictures?
Henry Rollins: He would probably say, "Good work if you can get it."
Arizona Bay, Ariz.: What was it like coming into the studio and helping out on "Bottom" during Tool's younger days? Where you there in the studio they day they were shooting the piano with shotguns?
Henry Rollins: It was a very short session. I did the vocal once I think and that was it. I was not there for the shotgun thing.
Fairfax, Va.: When you were a young angry high school student, could you have ever pictured yourself hosting a chat for the Washington Post about your spoken word show at the Birchmere?
Henry Rollins: No. I have been extremely fortunate.
Hartford, Conn.: Do you think Obama will actually win and that the election won't results won't be tampered with to favor the Republicans? Do you still have faith in our "system"?
Henry Rollins: I can't answer this all that fairly as the election is over. I can say that up until Obama was elected, I thought the thing was going to be stolen. I have faith in the system but I am afraid that there are those who want to ruin it. People like Tom DeLay.
San Diego: If given the opportunity, would you sit down with President Bush and interview him?
Henry Rollins: If I were allowed, sure. He wouldn't like my questions though.
Philadelphia, Pa.: Your spoken-word description of recording a song, and later having an interesting seafood dinner, with William Shatner is one of my all-time favorites. Any chances of a reunion with Shatner, or is there another person on your wish-list to work/collaborate with?
Henry Rollins: I would do whatever Bill wanted to do pretty much. I have no plans to work with anyone or have any thoughts as to who to work with.
Detroit: Henry, I saw you at the Fillmore this past Sunday in Detroit. You think you are getting "older", I think you are like fine wine. You are aging with a gracefulness and becoming much more of a humanitarian than you have ever been. I admire your recent contribution to help end world hunger, and would like to know how I can help to donate to YOUR cause. May goodness always come your way.
Henry Rollins: Thanks. It's easy, you can always donate to the World Food Programme. They can use all the help they can get.
Harrisburg, Pa.: What are your thoughts on Sarah Palin?
Henry Rollins: I think she's very depressing. I am afraid I have not seen the last of her.
Lorton, Va.: Can you comment on the difference between how punk rock in the '80s expressed its discontent with politics (BYO album circa 1982- Let'em eat jellybeans) and now.
Henry Rollins: I don't know if there is much of a difference. Bands have always written songs against what they see as wrong. I think it's perhaps not as a cohesive scene on that front. Ronald Reagan really made for a lot of songs. For some reason, Bush didn't seem to generate the same kind of sentiment. I don't know why there would be a difference. I imagine there are several reasons.
Virginia Beach, Va.: I'm your age and a music fanatic, I try and listen to as much music, in general, as possible. Thing is, I'm not finding much to inspire me like those bands that emerged during the Black Flag days. What bands - type of music -- is inspiring you these days?
Henry Rollins: Wolf Eyes, Yellow Swans, The Mae Shi, Deerhoof, Dax Riggs, The Evens, Edie Sedgwick, there's a lot of good bands these days I think.
Glover Park, D.C.: Sorry, but I'm going to bombard you with a bunch of stuff... Just want to say thanks...I saw you on the street one day recently at Calvert and Tunlaw, said hello, and you were quite nice. Since I'm a fan and look like a dweeb, it was especially nice. Also wanted to say how much I like the "Franklin's Tower" Dead cover you did with Wartime. On the topic of eclectic music...is there a Webcast of HIMH? I really liked the video of you on your site talking about your record collection, musical tastes, etc. I'd love to hear you play the "Nesum Dorme" aria from Turandot, followed by Zappa's "Joe's Garage" and then Trane and Ellington doing "In a Sentimental Mood" or something like that...talk about eclectic!
Henry Rollins: Thanks. I think there's a site that has all the broadcasts if you type in Rollins Archive into your browser.
Los Angeles: I saw you in San Diego a few weeks ago, it was awesome and inspiring as usual. Thank you. My friend saw Ian Makaye talk the other night at Hollywood High, and he jokingly said you would move to Canada if McCain won. Would you do it?
Henry Rollins: No. I would stay and fight. Sometimes frustration does set in though.
San Francisco: Rollins, you are by far one of the most intelligent, honest and strongest voices in the media and the "celebrity" world today. Who do you look to for real, honest and unbiased reporting in the news media?
Henry Rollins: Print media and online stuff. Daily Kos, Raw Story, Media Matters, Common Dreams, HuffPost, stuff like that. Corporate media to me is like chain restaurant food.
Detroit: You've traveled all over the world, seen so many amazing places and been able to meet the people who live in horrible conditions. Which destination has had the most profound effect on you and why?
Henry Rollins: It would have to be India. Spending time in Calcutta really did a number on me. The way life and death are almost the same thing, the way poverty is dealt with, the sheer number of dead bodies you see, it's all pretty overwhelming. I will be back there soon.
Arizona by way of California: Hi Henry. I respect your work a great deal and everything that I've seen that you have done I have enjoyed. I have three questions for you.
First, what are your top 5 recommended books of all time, any genre, your own books can be included.
Second, what do you think of the current music scene and the direction it seems to be heading?
Third, what would you suggest to someone trying to break into the music business in LA? Thanks for your time, Henry.
Henry Rollins: I don't know about single book but writers I admire include Leautreamont, Camus, Wolfe (Thomas, "Look Homeward Angel," etc.), Fitzgerald, Selby, Hamsun, Miller, Fante, Vian, Jarry, Breton, Celine, Kapuscinski, Klein, Miller (Henry), Twain, Poe, Kharms, Dostoievsky, Bulgakov, Gogol, Kafka, Proust. There's a lot of good writers. I listen to a lot of noisy indie music, I don't know the direction it's in. I just like it. It's very low budget stuff and it's really good. I have no idea how to break into the music scene, never had to.
Philadelphia: Isn't a problem you are hearing from our all-volunteer military is that many are learning that the volunteers have now been drafted into service beyond which they thought they were volunteering for?
Henry Rollins: I think they will probably say what they have to at this point, to get young meat into the grinder.
St. Louis: I'm looking forward to next Thursday. This question leans more toward the FANATIC section of your life. What is your favorite Black Sabbath record ?
Henry Rollins: "Master Of Reality."
Seattle: Henry, I've really enjoyed your acting work. Some of my favorite roles have been the cop in "The Chase" and the motivational speaker in "Feast." Do you plan on doing more acting in the future and if so what might you be working on at the moment? Furthermore have you thought about writing your own screenplay or possibly experiment with directing? Keep doing what you do brother. We need you on the front lines. Peace
Henry Rollins: I will take the acting work when I can get it. I am not really an actor, that's always apparent but it's work and I'll take it and am always glad for it. I have no desire to write anything for screen. That's a great talent.
Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Henry, how do you feel about the impact religion (more specifically, Christianity) has had in recent presidential elections. It seems almost as if the line between Church and State has become blurred to the point of irrelevance. Its as though both parties now have an "obligation" to court the religious right and has even led some politicians to remain quiet in regards to their pro-gay or evolutionary viewpoints. This strikes me as terrifying, how do you feel about it?
Henry Rollins: I can't tell you how angry the erosion of the line between church and state makes me. Also, that the Bush administration let these psychos like Pat Roberts have an in to policy-making is obscene. They need to go back to the cult cave they crawled from. I this is going to change. That McCain and Obama had to hang out with Rick Warren was offensive as hell to me.
San Francisco: Obama voted for the FISA act. Obama voted for the bailout. Obama voted to RENEW the Patriot Act in March 2006. Why do you think people are so gullible to believe that there's really any difference between Obama and Bush?
Henry Rollins: That's a damn good question. I was very angry about his approval of FISA. I think though that there are huge differences between the two. Call me gullible, just don't call me late for dinner. Hey now!
San Jose, Calif.: Do you think a McCain presidency would really bring on four more Bush-like years?
Henry Rollins: I guess we'll never have to find out will we?!
Newport News, Va.: How do you feel the progress of "ending racism in our time" is coming along?
Henry Rollins: President Obama.
Frierson, La.: First off, I have to say that I was just recently introduced to your spoken word albums and instantly fell in love with your wit and ability to amazingly and honestly articulate what most of America is thinking. Thank you so much for making us feel like we are not alone in our plight to put a voice to some of the unfair and backwards ideas that seem to be running oh so very rampant in society, politics in general.
Being an African American in the south, I am very used to the racism and redneck ideas as a constant reminder of what we as a society have to overcome to grow and move forward, but do you believe that the U.S. has made any real steps towards coming together and standing against the oppression and suppression of our natural growth as a society or is it just another ruse to placate and stifle the loudest voices until they are permanently subdued?
Henry Rollins: I think we have come a great way. Think of the '50s and '60s and how things were for people on the racial level. We have a long way to go but we're going. Imagine a black candidate 20 years ago.
San Francisco: Hello Henry! I will be attending your show in Santa Rosa on 020609. Will you be doing the usual post show meet and greet? Also, would it be inappropriate to hand you a CD? Cheers, Tim
Henry Rollins: Tim. I am always around post show and it's no problem to bring the CD.
Ithaca, N.Y.: You mentioned speaking to U.S. troops dissatisfied about the war ... are their gripes mostly over ineffective war strategy or more about the war overall as being unnecessary?
Henry Rollins: All of that and more. Many of them are damned tired of this. How many roatations do these men and women have to do?
UPDATE: Nov. 10
D.C.: Do you think too many of the world's woes have been heaped on poor old 'Dubya, to the point that the expectations for Obama's "change" message are totally out of touch with reality? I ask this question of you because much of the denigration has come from the entertainment community, to the point of ludicrousness. I didn't vote for Bush, but I do recall very serious problems existing in the world before the year 2000. Who will we blame for every freakin' thing wrong with this country/world if Obama is elected?
Henry Rollins: No. The "denigration" as you call it didn't come from the entertainment community. What, Susan Sarandon caused Wall St. to fall over? Please. You never have to listen to a famous person, it's an elective. You want to know the root of our problems of the last several years? You're right it's on Bush. The deregulation, the war without end, the waste, etc. Bush. Sounds to me like Obama really wants to make things work. Get on or don't. I'm not waiting for you.
Richmond, Va.: How long do you think it will take for Obama's economic plan to turn things around for our economy?
Henry Rollins: I think there's a good chance he can't get it done in a term. There's a lot of damage that has been done.
Seattle: Henry, Do you agree a new 9/11 investigation should be immediately conducted? Do you agree that 9/11 is by far the biggest unresolved issue affecting America's psyche? And finally, who did 9/11?
Henry Rollins: You know, all those are good questions. As to an investigation, I think there should be some committee but it shouldn't get in the way of 2009 and all the work that needs to be done. It is a very unresolved bit of business and I can't tell you anything more than what I think and that is that the White House knew something was coming and they stood down knowing it was the green light for all the stuff they wanted to do. Past that, I don't know but I sure do want to.
Boston: Do you mind telling us who your first choice for President was before he/she was eliminated for the race?
Henry Rollins: Dennis Kucinich.
Hertfordshire, United Kingdom: Hey Henry, First off, thank you for the two insightful, funny, and thought provoking shows that I saw over the summer, at the Reading Festival and the IndigO2. Three questions in one here, one completely unrelated to the other two. Firstly, how do you feel about playing sanitized corporate sponsored venues, such as the O2 complex?Secondly, as someone who travels the world extensively where else do you want to visit, that you have not yet gone to? Finally, I'm currently mid-way through my degree at university, and am looking to go traveling once I have finished, in order to experience and learn more about the world we all live in, and experience other cultures. Where would you recomend that I go? Thanks very much.
Henry Rollins: I didn't like the 02 venue. Too sterile. Never again. I want to go to the "'Stans" as they are called. Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, etc. You should check out India, parts of Africa. There's lots to learn in these places.
Ohio: Hi Henry, I was wondering if you knew much about Ralph Nader's presidential platform, and if so what do you like and dislike about him as a candidate?
Henry Rollins: I think he's a pain in the ass for coming in at the end when everyone else has been working their asses off.
Burbank, Calif.: How do you feel about the political campaigns appropriating popular music for their events, without the consent of the recording artists?
Henry Rollins: They're politicians, they just do stuff. I think it's lame.
Los Angeles: Hi Henry. If you have to give guys any advice about women, what would it be?
Henry Rollins: Bring a lawyer on the first 30 dates.
Dallas: Henry, I'll start by saying I'm a loyal fan and revere your intellectual work. I'm an Obama supporter surrounded by overbearing McCain fans. If, and let us pray when, Obama is elected what area of Washington politics should he target first for reform?...never relent.
Henry Rollins: Well, he is at this point, our new president. I think by the fact that he will be bringing in a ton of new people into the scene, that will be a good shake up that will be healthy. For the last 8 years, our government has been hammered by the Bush administration.
San Rafael, Calif.: Henry, can you speak to the growth and progression we've seen in your spoken word shows over the decades?
Henry Rollins: They probably have taken on a wider scope as my life has become more widened. Hopefully they are a reflection of where I am at.
Fallowfield, Pa.: Henry, I love you, man. Silly question: Do you ever get tired of talking, or hearing your own voice? ps- I dont.
Henry Rollins: Thanks. I like the sound of my voice, doesn't mean it's any good but I like it. The joke is that "all good singers like the sound of their own voice" so we'll go with that. Thanks for the kind words.
Zeitgeist, USA: Henry, your energy during your spoken word shows is amazing. The last 5 minutes of your performances are as intense as the first 5. How much do you attribute your energy to choosing subjects you are passionate about, how much of it is your normal intensity level, and how much of it is performance? Thanks for your time. -- another Henry out there
Henry Rollins: When I am out there, I am very unaware of the energy level. I am in the present tense and just going for it. I am into it, I guess. I am pretty tired afterwards, so I must be throwing fastballs all night. I don't know any other way to do it.
Portland, Ore.: I'm sure you are familiar with this Twain quote: "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness." Bush and Palin - not big travelers, and proud of it. How do you think we can encourage Americans to take a more active role as global citizens? Europeans follow our politics closely, but many Americans know little about what is happening in Europe.
Henry Rollins: I agree. I think Americans really need to start thinking globally. As resources become more dear, we will be pulled closer to the rest of the world anyway. I think Americans suffer for their lack of travel, awareness of the world. It has horribly warped our sense of place in the scheme of things. I beg people to get out there and see how other countries have to deal day to day with a fraction of what we throw out daily. Maybe they'll never get it.
FreeTheWM3: Sorry to have missed this -- my question is if, dear Henry, you would you ever consider doing this hour long live chat format on a regular basis(even once a quarter?) -- I love considering your thoughts.
Henry Rollins: Sure. Sounds good to me. I like these question and all the sharp and energized ones here, it's a hell of a great compliment to think that such switched on people give a damn what I think.
Milwaukee: What do you think of the possibility that Zeppelin tours without Robert Plant?
Henry Rollins: They should not do that.
Arlington, Va.: Why is your opinion any more relevant than mine?
Henry Rollins: It's not. Isn't that a bitch?
somewhere in Europe: Obama is in a way America's saviour when it comes to PR. Democrat,enigmatic, young, afro-american... Do you think,if he's elected as president,that he would be able to clean up the mess concerning the economy? Would america be ready to see that it needs to change when it comes to Capitalism versus enviroment versus liberalism?
Something else. What are your favourite artists?
Henry Rollins: I think he will adopt one screwed-up country. I don't know if he can even neutralize the damage in one term. I think in order to bring the jakals of big business under control, you will need a miracle. You rememeber the last time a president got in the way of big business. Artists, as in painters? Cunis, Bacon.
Germantown, Md.: Dez, Chavo, or Keith? Who was the best?
Henry Rollins: Not up for debate. Keith.
Brooklyn, N.Y.: I agree that the choice is clear, at the same time there's nothing wrong with choosing the lesser of 2 evils, Chomsky says it's clear with Democrats in the poor and middle class end up doing better. I think if Palin gets in it's the end of the world.
By the way ever consider working with an improv band a la John Zorn instead of the usual hard rock guys? Guys I jam with are quite original and intense and totally spontaneous...
Henry Rollins: I'm not much of an improv guy. That's a talent I don't have.
California: How goes it Henry? In your opinion, with all the recent exclusivity and censorship be it media, Internet, religion, or politics, how do you feel it pertains to the ancient term Free Speech in today's world?
Henry Rollins: I think we are in fact, losing free speech. We don't seem to care though. Many of us don't seem to notice. We will have to do a lot of work to bring back the American way to America.
Self education.: Henry as an inspiration to people who have been awake enough to educate themselves and question a lot of things. Is it possible that you could ever write out a list of books that you find enjoyable, for example I really enjoyed "the physic soviet," Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Henry Miller , Gore Vidal, you have mentioned all of these...I want more.
Henry Rollins: I think several questions ago, I listed a bunch of writers I like. Of all art/work, what have you, it's always been writers who are my favorites, more than music and anything else.
"As far as one band that really nails it down for yours truly, it wold be the Clash, and their first album.": Amen. I said that at work the other day and the guy said "yeah, my mom likes the Clash too." Weird feeling
Henry Rollins: I warn people, your 40s will require massive amounts of humor and humility.
Washington, D.C.: Do you consider yourself a celebrity, or still a punk? What do you and William Shatner have in common?
Henry Rollins: I'm just a guy. I get treated like I'm famous but I don't take it seriously. I take the time people take out to check me out very, very seriously. This is why I am answering all these "leftover" questions. You asked, I can't leave you hanging. It's 0439 hrs. and I am tired. I don't think Shatner and I have anything in common really. I just like the guy.
West Milford, N.J.: Hey Henry, wanna start a band? Any kind of band, something original like Fugazi, well not the Fugazi sound, but as original as them. Punk, Hardcore, Indie, Folk, whatever.
Henry Rollins: Thanks but I'm busy.
Western, N.Y.: Hi Henry, I'm really looking forward to your show tomorrow. I hope you brought a parka though. You do hundreds of interviews every year. What is one question that you would dearly love never to be asked or having to answer again? (other than "Are you Gay?")
Henry Rollins: "What do your tattoos mean?"
Dallas: Henry, have you any new information on the West Memphis Three?
Henry Rollins: Best to check the site for updates.
Alexandria, Va.: In the current campaign, we've heard a lot about first-time voters, especially younger voters who haven't historically been a reliable bloc come election day. Do you think they'll turn out this year?
Henry Rollins: I think they did.
Washington, D.C.: Have you and Ian ever made music together, or talked about it?
Henry Rollins: No. It has never really crossed my mind believe it or not.
Chicago: You once mentioned a recording you made with Hubert Selby Jr. and Don Bajema at your home, of a round table type reading/spoken word. What ever came of that? Also, great show saturday night. Come back to Chicago soon.
Henry Rollins: Thanks. It's still sitting on a DAT. I should saftey that thing.
Washington, D.C.: Hello Henry -- We'll miss seeing you at the Bad Brains show at the 9:30 on Nov. 4th. Have a great tour...
Henry Rollins: I was there. That was a weird one!
Converse: Hey Henry. Have you always been a converse shoe fan? Just a random question..
Henry Rollins: The Misfits gave me a pair once. I wore them until they wore out.
Newport News, Va.: If I ask you really, really nicely and tell you how much I adore you and want my daughter to bring home someone just like you, will you indulge me and say hi?
Henry Rollins: HI. I hope that did the trick and boy, do I hope your daugher has better taste in men . . .
Washington, D.C.: Polling frenzy aside, I hope most of the votes get counted. Since 2000 I kind of feel like I'm living in a banana republic. Yes, the Bush Administration has been corrupt, morally bankrupt, incompentent to an astounding degree, but all of that pales in view of the fact that it's quite simply illegitimate.
Henry Rollins: Word.
Sacramento, Calif.: Henry,
You're my hero, I just wanted to ask since your kind of the voice of the punk/alternative way of thinking in politics. Any political aspirations? I think you could really shake up Washington, and maybe begin a trend of our type of people running for office.
Henry Rollins: I really enjoy the lattitude I have with being a private citizen. I can get a lot done. I am good with that.
Orange County, N.Y.: Dear Henry, Out of all of the candidates running in the presidential election, which one do you believe would be best for this country. Also is Rollins Band tour within the next year or so?
Henry Rollins: I think he won. No band plans.
secret location: Henry, what do you make of all of these secret ogranizations (Council on Foreign Relations/Bilderberg Group/etc.) who seem to be running America and the world for financial gain, oblivious to the people of the world who are suffering and dying in the name of greed? How can we put an end to this type of gangstalking behavior?
Henry Rollins: I have never spent much time in the Bilderberg shadow world. I am woefully caught out there on that topic so I can't give you anything on that. I am sorry.
a fellow fanatic: Greetings! Just finished reading "Fanatic! Vol. 3," and am curious as to what you're listening to at the moment - noticed an awful lot of Damned and Brian Eno in this one, and have been listening to a lot of Damned myself in preparation for their Black Cat show in December. Looking forward to seeing you on Monday!
Henry Rollins: Best to go to the site and check the last several playlists, there's a ton of new stuff that I've played this year. Thanks for checking out the show in Va.
England: Hey Henry, glad your doing this, been a huge fan for years, and was able to see you a few times this year - Manchester, Leeds festival and Liverpool (home).
Your travel experiences are amazing, and have indeed made me get out and go to places I've never been before try new things and met new people. You must meet people who piss you off, who don't like you, or who are racist, homophobic and so on. How do you handle these people ? Get mad, stay calm ?
P.S. -- next time your in Liverpool you are welcome to pop over, chat and have some good real coffee.
Henry Rollins: People like that certainly get me going. I don't get confronted by people like that too often though. They are more people I see on television at McCain rallies or working on Fox News.
Mt. Kisco, N.Y.: As an avid collector, does eBay feel like cheating to you?
Henry Rollins: Absolutely not. What, I'm supposed to miss out on something because I need to find it in a record store?! Next!
Lincoln, Maine: What was your favorite band that you have toured with?
Henry Rollins: The Minutemen.
Silver Spring, Md.: Have you read Mark E. Smith's autobiography?
Henry Rollins: Not yet. I have it though.
Anonymous: What do you think of Obama's associations with people of radical thinking (Ayers, Rezko, Rev. Wright)? And now, there is news about a tape that the LA Times is holding that shows Obama relationship with Khalidi as being much stronger. DOes that bother you? and if not, if McCain had those relationships would they bother you then?
Henry Rollins: You have got to get better material! Sucks to see that millions of Americans didn't fall for your bs doesn't it? All you did was make sure you all will be out of the White House for at least 8 years. Nice going! Thanks!
Anonymous: While I am a D.C. lifelong resident of 40 years now and a strong Obama supporter, I am perplexed as how in theory he could support a $700 billion bailout of tax-payer funds but also support another economic stimulus package for U.S. cititzens? - It's like saying "we need your money but in the meantime here is some money, go spend." Can these ideas be reconciled?
Henry Rollins: That one's way over my intellectual paygrade.
Dallas: Henry, what's the latest news on Damien Echols?
Henry Rollins: Best to go to the site.
Mt. Kisco, N.Y.: Being such a music, film, literature buff...how do you find the time?!?!?! Do you read with music playing?
Henry Rollins: I spend a lot of time alone so I get a lot done. I don't do much else but work, check things out.
Europe: Do you have any plans for a spoken word tour in Europe in 2009? Henry Rollins: Hopefully summer festivals if I am lucky.
Irbil, Iraq (Hometown: Tacoma, Wash.): I saw your show in Olympia back in March. Your story about the young boy with Asperger's moved me. My son has Autism so it meant a lot to me. Did he ever email you? Do you still talk to him?
Henry Rollins: I sent him a bunch of music and books and we write often.
Tealaville, Ore.: Henry, Do you believe in any form of afterlife or form of "God"? Also, what makes you get up out of bed every morning?
Henry Rollins: No. Curiosity/anger.
Fredericksburg, Va.: Dear henry, Are you sick of hearing about Sarah Palin as much as I am? Thanks again, been a fan for 16+ years...see you at the Birchmere!!
Henry Rollins: I was sick of her on day one. I can't wait for that thing to cease. Thanks.
Palestine, Tex.: Now, tell the truth, after associating himself with less than American patriotic people, what can Obama do to create a positive influence on America?
Henry Rollins: I think he can run for office and then win by AN OVERWHELMING MAJORITY. Oh, wait, he just did that. Learn to say this: President Obama.
"When I ask people in countries such as Iran, Syria and Pakistan, overwhelmingly, the opinion is America is great:" That surprises me. I thought everyone hated us.
Henry Rollins: Some people hate us but I think they are a small group.
Siletz, Ore.: Do you agree that the Bush Administration are criminals and should be held accountable for their actions and put on trial? I appreciate everything you do.
Henry Rollins:They are war criminals and need to be hauled into court, sworn in and questioned. Then they need to go to jail for the rest of their lives. It won't happen of course but it is nice to think about it.
Phoenix: Henry, What are your thoughts on the most recent rulings in the West Memphis 3 case? It sounds like there is no hope of Echols getting out of jail, and a very slim chance for the other two - Is this really the end? On another note...any chance you can go back to playing a venue with seats in AZ next time around? Yeah, whiney, I know...Sitting is so much more enjoyable (especially for shorties like myself!) for your kind of performance. Just a thought. Thanks for all the wisdom and entertainment over the years. Tamara
Henry Rollins: I was told it was great news that Burnett threw the case out so now it can go into higher court. It's actually starting to look better and better for them.
Detroit: Is overpopulation a problem in the United States yet? Should this start to become a discussion in America?
Henry Rollins: I don't think anyone needs a Palin-sized litter. I think as resources become more dear, we really need to consider population. I think people need to wake up and start thinking about their actions.
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