Henry Rollins – Interview

Henry Rollins

Following critical acclaim as IFC’s outspoken host on Henry’s Film Corner, a weekly series The Henry Rollins Show premieres April 1 at 10:00pm ET for a 20-week run.

The new format incorporates an eclectic selection of musical acts, a wider range of celebrity guests and new, original field segments. Henry Rollins, the articulate and opinionated former lead singer of “Black Flag,” front man of the “Rollins Band,” actor, author and spoken word artist, will continue to give us his unique take on the current state of pop culture, politics and everything entertainment, for better or worse. The Henry Rollins Show takes an uncensored approach to talk show programming with an independent voice that strikes a brilliant balance of humor, angst, art and intellect.

We interview Henry Rollins.

HIP: I know you are doing a lot of press—I heard you on Howard Stern.

Henry Rollins: Yeah, I don’t say no to press because guys like me are lucky to get anything. It’s not the smart bet to go “nah, I’m not going to do that.” The smart bet is “thank you! Yes.” I do what I’m told. I’m happy to be around anyone that is enthusiastic on my behalf.

Do people still come up to you and say how much you influenced them?

People say that to me all the time and I appreciate it. But yes I’m told that all the time.

You interviewed Chuck D. You would seem to have a lot in common.

Chuck is one of my heroes. He is a very inspiring guy.


He was a very intimidating guy.

He is a really cool guy. When I met him I was like ‘whoa, Chuck D.” and he was so disarmingly friendly and approachable that it was really cool because you meet someone you admire and they aren’t trying to trip you out or work something. I met Flav. My whole band met them and it was cool. It meant a lot and we remain friends.

You have to be on the ball with Chuck.

All you have to do is respect that as an interviewer with him. It’s not like you have to match wits with him. You should do your homework and have good questions. If you did you research it’s a good interview. I’ve done a lot of interviews and have been interviewed a lot and if someone isn’t prepared its like “why are you showing up half-assed on Super Bowl Sunday?”

Is it great to have a sounding board other than people you know? I think a lot of us wish we had something like that.

Of course. It’s a fantastic opportunity. There isn’t one part of it that is bad. It’s all good. It’s a lot of work. Anyone in TV will say duh, but to get that little half hour over the wall is quite an undertaking.

For the segments on the show did you have these ideas or where they presented to you?

Producers came up with that stuff and with any production team there is a lot of discussing and we adjust the show constantly. And it isn’t from letters we get—it’s when we look back at it. So we are constantly analyzing. That is TV 101. The Rollins Reconsiders—I didn’t come up with that. That isn’t my writing. That is a guy named Christian. He is a great writer and funny. He is a sharp guy and his NRA one was really funny. He’s a bright guy. There is a lot of trust in this business because you have people writing on your behalf—which I’m not used to. I’m in a band and I write the lyrics. I put my name on the cover of the book because I wrote it. So when someone says, “here is you the Henry Rollins show and we wrote this for you” and you go “whoa.” For me, I get such immediate and intense feedback so I have to monitor what is written for me and sit back and go “okay, that’s not flying” because it’s not me. That is why I try to write as much as I can. All of the Teeing Off—that’s me. You try and write a month’s worth of material at once. I could do it if I didn’t have other things going on.

How does the writer get into your head with ideas that are similar to yours?

I’ve never asked him that. I guess that is why they hired Christian. Maybe he gets me or an aspect of me. When I read his stuff I never go “what were you thinking.” But I do tweak it and cut things out like gratuitous cussing. By in large it is good and getting better and I’m getting used to the collaborative nature of this and that it demands. I couldn’t completely put myself into the hands of somebody like that. I’m sure there is a body of writers that do Colbert because you can’t do five shows a week and be that good writing it yourself. That show makes me laugh every time I see it. That guy must have some serious writers—it’s some really good shit.

After watching your show I started to wonder if common sense is missing in the world today.

I think in the last few years with the Bush administration common sense and the sense of right and wrong has been tossed out and you go “you are lying to my face.” And then you have people like Scooter Libby and they do things and there are no repercussions. It’s like “wait a minute, if I did that I would have lost my job or be in jail.” And then you see Rove coming out after being examined and he has that smile on his face. I’m sure that is for the cameras and putting on the gameface. I think he knows he isn’t going to get anything on him. I think that lack of accountability has really done a number on people or perhaps I’m just projecting and it has done a number on me. Because I truly believe these guys do bad things and I truly believe they aren’t going to pay. I get really demoralized by that because I’m not a liberal or republican. I vote Democrat just ‘cause—John Kerry never thrilled me but he certainly didn’t terrify and enrage me the way Bush does.

I’m with you on that.

Not that all republicans are bad and all democrats are good. That’s some pretty limited thinking—but that is a good question that you raised. I just think America, or people I know, are so confused by the lack of repercussions to an action that they go “wait a minute, isn’t there justice for these people?” More and more I guess there isn’t.

What drives me crazy is American automakers. Honda and Toyota get it but we are still making huge vehicles like the Hummer and not better hybrids.

That is another interesting question. Let’s talk about Brazil and ethanol. They use sugar cane to run the place where they process the sugar cane. It’s a completely self-supportive thing. They aren’t reliant upon foreign power. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Brazil, and I’m not putting down the place, but it is one of the most chaotic, psycho places where you wonder how they even have water there. Rio, forget it. Don’t wear a ring because they’ll take the finger to get it. The broke people are broke and the rich people are, well, it’s like Al Capone time. But they’ve figured out ethanol and my point is do you think America could have done that better and faster? Absolutely, we are America and that is where we kick ass. It must be that someone doesn’t want us to do that. That was probably on the board twenty-five years ago. If the Brazilians can do it America could have done it around the time of Lincoln. It’s obvious to me, and I’m not conspiracy theory boy, but it is pretty fricken’ obvious to me that some of the powers that be don’t want it to happen because it would make us pull back from regions where we still need to stick our wang into the sand and would take a lot of the conservative power away. Because if you aren’t on the petroleum jones then all of those lobbyists don’t have a job like your Abramoffs. Then Bush has no place to offer his friends jobs and Chaney has no where to go in three years when he goes back into the private sector. That’s why GM talks about leading the way in flex-fuel and still make Hummer. I’ve been in civilian Hummers and the bulletproof ones in Afghanistan and Iraq and I see what they are supposed to be used for and it’s not to go to the supermarket. At this point forget the three dollars a gallon. Your driving that thing keeps a boy or a girl in some hostile zone fighting the war on terror—as they are calling it now. If you want to be part of the solution then stop driving that damn truck to pick up your dry cleaning. There should be a law or regulation. And then people will say “who are you Adolf Hitler?” No I’m just a guy plagued by common sense.

It drives me crazy to read Popular Science and read about Denmark powering a huge portion of their country with wind and other power they produce but we don’t do that.

You want to know why? They want to. They want to work at it. They want to work for change. They see it as a problem. They say “we are relying on this power. Hmmm. We should do something about it.” They get to the drawing board and get working. For us it’s about the money. I wish the present government loved people 100th as much as they love money. I think old people should be taken care of. America’s public education system should be the envy of the world. We should make people hate us because we are so smart.


You had a segment on your show regarding some religious coalition and Howard Stern always talks about these “family” coalitions which are usually religious zealots that want to put their beliefs into our lives and they make up such a small portion of this country and seem to have too much control. What makes me really crazy is how they take any statistic and bend it to their opinion like the guy on your show saying that serial killers found porn to be pleasurable and that is why we should ban it. Well how many millions of people enjoy porn and don’t kill people. It’s so stupid.

That is cherry picking information to further your agenda. That is how Bush and company got in a war in Iraq. Christians are afraid of porn. They secretly want to get laid but they can’t cop to it because they aren’t brave enough so they demonize that which they want. I once debated that Christian from Florida that got 2 Live Crew in trouble, he said that if we took rap records off the shelves teen pregnancy and rape would fall to zero. And I said “you’re an adult lawyer?” This was at NYU and I said “that is what you are going with?” There were seven hundred students howling with laughter and he is standing there like “what? I’m trying to help you kids.” And they were like “help yourself mother-fucker we are smart here.”

+ Charlie Craine

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