A few Q&A's with Henry Rollins (Black Flag, Rollins Band)

A man who does not need much of an introduction. If you have been living under a rock, then click here: Henry's Bio

Jake/Approaching-Oblivion Blog: You have an incredibly busy year coming up. It seems like you will be on the road for the majority of 2012 (160+ shows). Can you expand on what you will be doing and where you will be going?

Henry Rollins: I’ll be doing talking shows. I will be onstage alone, talking about where I have been and what I have seen since I was last on tour. I have been doing shows like these since 1983 and in 2012 I have over 160 shows scheduled. The basic schedule runs like this:

January: UK / Europe

February: Europe

March: USA

April: New Zealand / Australia

May: Australia / South Africa

June: Canada

July: TBA

August: Europe (Festivals, Edinburgh, etc.)

September: USA

October: USA

November: USA

December: USA / TBA

AO: Could you give some insight on your upcoming TV series that will be on the National Geographic channel?

HR: It is a three part television show based on the interactions of man and animal in different cultures. We shot in India, Vietnam and America for the footage. We shot footage of snakes, rats, alligators, cows, and chickens. I ate rats in India with Irula tribesmen and wrestled an alligator in Florida. We saw some intense stuff here and there. The hard part was going to an illegal bear farm that keeps bears in small cages and extracts their bile for medicinal use. Hopefully, they have been shut down by now.

AO: Will the illegal bear farms be featured on the TV show? Could you expose the name and place of these farms?

HR: The bear farm will be on the show. I forget the name of the place but we have it all on camera. It's one of those open secrets there. A local cop was hanging out with the owner when we were there. The condition the bears were being kept in was awful. It stuck with us for days.

AO: How was the rat prepared and what did it taste like?

HR: The Irula men take a dead rat, throw it on a small fire for a minute or two, take it out, break it open by bending it, stomach up, and then throw it back on the fire. A minute later or so, they take it out of the fire and hand it to you. You throw out the intestines and eat the rest.
The rat taste was very mild, not bad at all. There's not a lot of meat on a rat though and to survive on them, you would need a lot of rats.

AO: Can you share the most intense situation you found yourself in while shooting for the show?

HR: I guess that would have been the alligator wrestling segment. The alligator, its teeth and the threat of harm were all very real. The producer said at the last minute that I didn't have to do it. There was no way I wasn't going to do it. You always have to get the shot. At one point, I had this alligator's jaws tucked in between my chin and collarbone with my hands out to the side. The seconds seemed to pass rather slowly at that time.

AO: How did your interest in man/animal interaction come about

HR: I was raised around a lot of snakes and other animals, so I have always had an interest in them. I travel pretty far and wide and see a lot of interesting animal/human interaction.

AO: National Geographic once filmed a special on a ''warrior gene'' in which you were featured. They suspected that this gene was a tiny bit of DNA that predisposes the carrier to violent behavior & rage.

After being involved with the show - do you have a firm belief of whether this gene actually exists or not? What did you learn from being involved with that show?

HR: The MAOA gene definitely exists. The big question is what is its role in male behavior. It could be a real factor, it could be part of a larger picture. I asked some doctors we interviewed and they said that there’s a lot of research to do still. The question they are trying to answer is part of the Nature v. Nurture debate. Whether you are a product of your environment or if there is something in the genetic makeup of someone that will be a factor. It’s all very interesting stuff but it seems that there’s a lot more work do be done.

AO: What music are you listening to these days? Are there any new artists out that interest you?

HR: I am listening to a lot of Vibracathedral Orchestra, Zaimph, Hototogisu, Ashtray Navigations, Boris, Rallizes Denudes at this time. As far as something somewhat new...I like Le Butcherettes.

AO: Do you have any opinions on how the internet has impacted the music industry? What are your thoughts on digital albums selling more than actual CDs and LPs? Do you think that CDs and LPs are slowly becoming obsolete?

HR: The internet has changed the currency of music. For many people, a song is a file you download without ever thinking of paying for it. Most of the time, you can find almost any record or song you want online. Some artists are getting screwed pretty hard. In my opinion, it is theft.

Theft is very common in the music industry. For instance, Greg Ginn (owner of SST Records) doesn’t pay royalties to the bands on the label, including members of Black Flag. Some of those people could really use that money, besides that, they are owed and so they should be sent statements and get paid. I don’t worry about it on that level or on the download level, I reckon musicians get ripped off by labels, why should the fans miss out on the chance to do it as well?

As to downloads outselling physical media, this is what happens when you have a format change. There will always be LPs and CDs to a certain extent. Perhaps in more limited quantities and perhaps some companies may stop production on them but others won’t. I wonder if the LP will outlast all the other physical formats.

(Henry live with Black Flag)

AO: You've authored over 15 books - acted in over 20 films, hosted various television shows and have toured the world extensively with multiple bands.

Where does your drive come from and how is it maintained? How do you remain rebellious towards societies methods of controlling someone's life?

HR: I don't see what I do as rebellious. It sounds a bit stuffed, but I can't be bothered with rebellion. I just do what I want and what I can. Being reactionary is to me, letting the action dictate the future. If your action is a reaction, then you're in the thrall of something else and not charting your own course. I am not saying that I don't do anything in reaction to anything but I can't just hang around and wait for something to come around to push back against. That would be like that moment with Marlon Brando, "What are you rebelling against?" "What have you got?" I am sure I got some of the words wrong but that's what I cannot do.

Life is too short. One of my main motivations is never forgetting where I come from. I am a product of the minimum wage working world and I approach all things from that and go forward. I got a break from all that many years ago and don't want to disrespect that. I maintain my drive with natural curiosity and anger. I am trying to have an eventful and fascinating life. It is very hard and very trying a lot of the time. It does, however, keep things interesting and that's working for me.



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nice. solid interview.
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Great stuff man keep it coming.
James P. (ATX) said…
enTight interview. My personal takeaway: "If your action is a reaction, then you're in the thrall of something else and not charting your own course." Well done, sir.
Dean said…
Just saw the'Alligator Wresting' - the gator had most of it's teeth removed, especially along the upper jaw. Just a few left on the bottom jaw, for show I suspect. I found that a bit barbaric, hope it was not for the benefit of TV? Oh, and when the guy removed his Croc from the water earlier in the show, which 'wouldn't bite him', it's jaws were taped shut... miraculously the tape was gone when the Croc was out in the open...
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