HENRY ROLLINS photo by Liza Leeds

HENRY ROLLINS

INTERVIEW BY JEFF JOBES
INTRODUCTION BY JEFF JOBES
PHOTO BY LIZA LEEDS

 

There are bands, musicians, and artists out there who exist solely to earn their share of your wallet. It doesn’t matter how you cut it, you end up paying for their schlock one way or another. Thankfully, there are also bands, musicians, and artists who are in it for the sake of the music. For the last twenty plus years, Henry Rollins has existed to work, whether that work is writing, music, speaking engagements, acting, or publishing. And it is all done with intensity.

A few years ago, you seemed to have quite a bit of apathy when it came to music. How were you able to turn that around?
Actually what I found out was that I was around apathetic people. The people that I was in the band with [pre-Mother Superior], I guess they just weren’t happy with playing anymore. We just came to the end of what we could do together. And the music felt like it, I mean something was just very wrong. I spent about six weeks just figuring things out. It had been a very long tour and it was a long time making the record, so I just kind of had a sit, which I had never really done before. I figured ‘I still want to make music, I just want to find people to play music that just want to go out there and tear it up’. I found them, and all of a sudden I’m back in business, so to speak.

“I THINK METALLICA SHOULD START GIVING THEIR RECORDS AWAY. THEY SHOULD JUST BE FREE. THEY’VE MADE ENOUGH MONEY NOW. WHY DON’T THEY JUST ROCK THE FANS AND PUT ALL THEIR RECORDS OUT AT $4 OR PUT THEM OUT FOR $10 AND DONATE $5 TOWARDS PUBLIC SCHOOL EDUCATION?”

What’s the reason for the flood of new material?
Being in a situation where everyone is lit up, you’re going to get a lot of music coming out of that. We don’t have a ‘no’ policy in the band room. If someone wants to try something, he just speaks up. If the drummer has a song, we go play it. No one says ‘No, I don’t do that.’ Everyone says ‘Great. Let’s do this thing today.’ It took a while for the guys in the band, not knowing me all that well, to be able to just speak freely, like the bass player [Marcus Blake] will go,’If you don’t mind, I have an idea.’ And I’m like, ‘Just speak up, man. If you have an idea, let’s check it out. There’s no need to be shy about it.’ And we would start doing his idea. Or like on our last record, there’s a song called ‘I Want So Much More,’ which I thought was really cool. That was was our drummer’s [Jason Mackenroth] idea. He just came up with this drum pattern, and I said ‘What do we do?’ And he said, ‘Whatever you can. Just figure out a way to jump in with me.’ That’s also Jason playing sax on that track as well. With that kind of open-minded policy, we’ve found that we get a lot of music. It’s pretty cool.

How did you manage so many live releases and out takes in such a short time frame?
Well, we’re indie. The bigger the label these days, the slower they seem to move because the more they’re covering their ass. I’m not in a position where I really have to cover mine [speaking engagements said to net six figures annually] because no really cares what I do either way. If I never made another music record again, I would probably get about eight letters, two years later saying ‘Dude, um, what’s up? How come you haven’t made any records?’ Where as the guys in Korn don’t make a record for a couple of years, and they have to open a help line because of the falling bodies. What I’m saying is that we’re not very popular, and we’re very small. Like Lou Reed says, you’re kind of just left to do whatever the hell you want. Which is kind of cool. I really don’t have any concerns like ‘What will this record do for my career?’ If we like it, we put it out and just kind of let the chips fall.

Comparing your older material to your newer lyrics, books, and talking stuff, is there a different source of inspiration?
I don’t know if I know what the inspiration ever was, I just write how I’m feeling at the time. I think when you’re younger, you’re a lot more angry. I look back at a lot of that and I like some of it, and other other parts I look at and it looks like one long whine to me. It’s like ‘Oh, the chick left you, boo hoo.’ Well, chicks always leave, and that’s the blues, so smile, grab breakfast and you’ll be fine. It’s kind of hard for me to be in that kind of psychic state of disturbance because I’m not numb. I’ve been there and done that. When the chick left, when I was twenty-three, that was like thirty pages in the journal and ‘You’ve gutted me and left me bleeding on the street to oblivion.’ Now I just kind of go, ‘Well, yeah, of course she leaves, I never call her.’ You see it a whole lot differently, more than ‘Oh poor me. Oh evil woman.’ It takes two to tango and you don’t always see that when you’re younger. You see it’s me, me, me. You get a little older and it’s us, us, us, and all kinds of things can go wrong and it doesn’t really move me to write a song about it. The more you travel, the more you see, it just puts you in a different space.

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