Henry Rollins
By Bunkypunk

What more can be said about punk rock's workaholic renaissanceance man? He's always touring. He never sleeps. He's in movies. On cable. On the radio. Is Henry Rollins, in fact, Big Brother? Perhaps. Big brother with a six pack of abs and biceps as thick as your Aunt Wilma's fourth chin.

I sat down over some nice Columbian (coffee not cocaine) and constructed a set of 28 questions to get to the heart of one of the hardest working men in show biz. That's right, move the hell over James Brown cause Henry Rollins is coming through and he's bringing some fresh ground coffee a few laughs and enough stories and one liners to fill the trunk of a 73 Impala. Rollins was gracious enough to send the answers back lickedy split and here is the evidence of the happenings.

E.C.: You are an author, musician, thespian, owner of a book publishing company, producer of albums, public speaker, host of television shows, frequent guest on vh1 and mtv, and to use your own words an "aging alternative icon", how do you find the time to do it all?

Henry: It's not what I do as much as it's what I DON'T do. I don't have kids or much in the way of relationships with people. I do a lot of work and that's pretty much all I do. It's perhaps not the best way to get through life but it's working for me at the present. So, basically, I have no life. Besides the work, I am not interesting.

E.C.: Is there a secret to getting so much accomplished? (i.e. setting small goals? not requiring 8 hours of sleep a night?)

Henry: Being able to get along without a lot of sleep is a plus for certain. I got about three hours last night and have been up for many hours but I am feeling it. I just work away at my tasks. Not much on the goal thing, just work is life.

E.C.: Is there one particular art form that you prefer over the rest?

Henry: Music.

E.C.: Why?

Henry: I like doing the music live because it's raw and loud.

E.C.: You are now 41 and have been in bands since your teens. You have played all over the globe with various musicians backing you up. Played all of the major festivals from The Warped Tour to the very first Lollapolooza. What goals remain for you as a musician?

Henry: A couple more good records and that would be fine.

E.C.: The older Rollins Band that included Chris Haskett, Sim Cain, Melvin Gibbs, and Theo Van Rock had a very distinct jazz flavor on songs. The new Rollins Band, with Mother Superior backing, has more of a straight ahead rock feeling. Was moving toward rock and away from the jazz influenced sound part of your thinking in switching to the current line up?

Henry: I really wanted a more primitive sound after so many years of diminished chords.

E.C.: You recently released "Rise Above" with artists from a wide spectrum of genres covering Black Flag songs. What was the criteria you used to select these artists?

Henry: Hopefully they could handle the song and add something interesting to it to make the listener get off on it.

E.C.: The "Rise Above" album is to benefit Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin, who are collectively known as "The West Memphis 3" (www.wm3.org) As a celebrity you must be called upon to lend your support to so many different causes, what was it about the West Memphis 3 that caught your eye and made you say, "I've got to help them!"

Henry: I thought the trial was a joke and if I were in their place, I would hope someone would be looking out for me. That's why I stepped up to help out.

E.C.: Is there anything more you would like to add about the "Rise Above" release or the West Memphis 3?

Henry: I think the WM3.org site says all the things I could say. Anyone wanting to really check the case out should read Mara Leveritt's book Devil's Knot. E.C.: You have been in several movies now, any plans on one day working behind the camera and directing?

Henry: Hell no.

E.C.: Would you allow "Get in the Van" to be made into a movie?

Henry: It's not really my story. It's just my journals. I wouldn't want to get all hung up on a movie script about those times.

E.C.: Some of your spoken word is finding an outlet on Comedy Central. Will we see more of your spoken word on television in the future?

Henry: If television would allow, I would to be on more stuff like that.

E.C.: You appear in "Jackass: The Movie" how did that come about?

Henry: They asked, I had time and thought the scene was cool so I said ok.

E.C.: Can we expect to see you doing any Jackass physical tricks or random madness like dressing up in a devil suit and carrying a sign that reads "Keep God out of California" while walking down the road?

Henry: No, I'll leave it for the experts.

E.C.: Do you have any other movies and/or television shows in the works or soon to be released?

Henry: I am on a show called Full Metal Challenge on TLC, that started on Oct. 20. I just finished work on Bad Boys II with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.

E.C.: With your busy schedule do you even have time to watch television? If so, is there a channel or a show you watch regularly?

Henry: I don't have a TV at home but I watch it in hotel rooms. I like A&E the best.

E.C.: With television shows like "who wants to marry a millionaire?", "when animals attack", "celebrity boxing", and sit-coms mirroring the same themes do you feel network television hit a creative wall?

Henry: I think networks hit a wall in the 80's. I don't have to pay attention so for the most part, I don't.

E.C.: You travel all over the globe and bring your experiences back to your fans via your spoken word acts. Have you ever thought of taking along a video camera and hosting a travel show or making a documentary?

Henry: No. I like to travel alone and low key so I would not want to raise profile in that manner, although I like watching travel docs like Michael Palin does.

E.C.: Which area of the world is most captivating to you?

Henry: Africa.

E.C.: You recently released "Unwelcomed Songs" a collection of your lyrics from 1980-1992 and over 100 rare photographs from your publishing company 2.13.61. Since it is segmented only up to 1992 can we expect another installment beginning in 1993?

Henry: We have started work on the next one actually. It's a lot of gathering of photos. Not always the funnest thing but I think it's worth it.

E.C.: I have to personally thank you for turning me on to the works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, he is amazing! Other writers I have heard you mention are Franz Kafka, Jack Womack, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, what are some other writers you could suggest?

Henry: Check Mikal Gilmore's book Shot in the Heart. Anything by Ryszard Kapuscinski is good. His book Imperium is amazing I think. Heavy reading though.

E.C.: Do you have any plans of carrying some of your favorite books on the 2.13.61 web site?

Henry: We are releasing Nick Cave's novel And the Ass Saw the Angel, that's one of my favorites.

E.C.: Is there a single trait that the writers you enjoy all share?

Henry: Originality and they all wrote in strained circumstances, financial, historical, etc. It seems to bring out something.

E.C.: You seem to read a lot of classics, are there any authors that have come along in the past 10 years you would recommend?

Henry: I really like Mark Richard's book The Ice at the Bottom of the Volcano. Ryszard Kapuscinski‚Ä(tm)s stuff is great. I really like Joan Didion, James Ellroy, I have not read a lot of current stuff lately.

E.C.: As the owner of 2.13.61 what do you look for in a book that makes you want to publish it?

Henry: Something I would read myself.

E.C.: Do you think the United States has responded correctly to the terrorist attack on New York and Washington DC?

Henry: What was the response exactly? A manhunt and security at the airport. I think it would be pretty damned hard to do anything more after the fact than what has been done. I am not a security or foreign intelligence expert.

E.C.: How would you like to see the Iraq situation handled?

Henry: Every means of peaceful negotiations fully explored and exhausted before sons and daughters start dying.

E.C.: s of the time of this interview the sniper lurking around the Washington DC area has not yet been caught. What do you think should be done with this person(s), if found guilty, when and if they are found?

Henry: Life in prison. I am against the death penalty.

E.C.: I live in Columbus, Ohio, and it is hard to explain the overwhelming size of The World Trade Centers and the magnitude of the attack to people who have never been to New York City. In your own words, how would you explain to someone not familiar with New York City the devastation that occurred on September 11th, 2001?

Henry: Imagine a thriller movie being real. An event that when even filmed looks like a computer generated image. I don't think one has to have visited NYC to have a version of this devastation. It was a nightmare. Without those towers, NYC looks very small now. It's strange to see the skyline there now.

E.C.: You are a coffee drinker, do you have a favorite brand?

Henry: Peet's French roast.

E.C.: What's in your CD player right now?

Henry: Sam Cooke.

E.C.: I bought tickets to go see your show at The Vic Theatre in Chicago when you turned 40. A buddy was supposed to go but backed out at the last minute. I decided to take along my 3 year old son thinking if he cried or was fussy we'd leave and just enjoy Chicago together. To my amazement you held his attention. How are you able to keep an audience literally ranging in ages from the crib to the casket spell bound for 2 plus hours night after night on long tours?

Henry: You have to love what you do and love the audience. Without those two things, you're dead up there.

Click here to visit the official Henry Rollins website