flypaper: Henry Rollins Interview...
Henry Rollins Interview, Part Three
by cellarist and moxie
Q: Jumping back, I totally dig and understand the writing of music as therapy. What about spoken word; where does that passion come from? How are you thinking of your audience?
HR: There's definitely a desire to communicate. This sounds really corny, but I am a slave to my work, a workaholic, and glad of it. I like what I do; this is my place, my little universe, one of them. I am primarily a loner. I don't go to clubs. I don't hang out with people. I don't know many people. It's just the way it ended up. It's not a sob story; it's fine for me. That's the only interaction I have with people, those talking shows. Most of the people in my phone book are artists, management, producers, engineers. I don't ever call people with, "Hi! How are you?" I say, "How are you? Do you have that 16/30 ready? When do you want me to come into the studio?" That's what I do.
So the talking shows allow me to come out of my cave and that's why those shows go on for so long. I hate walking off stage. Sometimes I walk off and I miss them as I'm walking off the stage. I wonder if they'll let me go another hour. That's why I do it: to communicate, to get points across.
The music kind of takes care of itself because we've done all that as preproduction in the practice room. So by the time it gets onstage, each song has about one hundred hours of way too much mothering gone into it. So when you see us play live, that is the product of ninety days of practice, over a year of writing, listening to demos on the weekends after practice. The talking thing is way more random; it's way more like free jazz. I'm just gonna go out there and blow with the idea of keeping it streamlined and not wasting time. It's wild.
And it's a great thing when you see a performer really able to--especially in the spoken thing. It's always been impressive to me when someone can really do what they want up there. The audience has confidence in the performer and the performer has confidence in the crowd, in themselves... like Lenny Bruce, George Carlin. These are great communicators, kind of comedians, but more social commentators. They're heroes of mine, both of them. I grew up listening to their records before I knew what they were talking about. My mom had those records. I never had a chance to meet Lenny Bruce but I did meet George Carlin the other day at MTV and it was really cool to be able to say hi to him.
Q: firefly member FishboneSoldier asks this question: You've signed with the Dreamworks label....had you considered recording for your own label instead?
HR: No, I couldn't afford my guys on this label. I got guys who are married, guys who are divorced, guys with kids. This label could not support the Rollins Band on a proper level. The next Rollins Band album will probably sell better than the last one, which sold about a million. Too bad though, I'd like to have us under this room, but I kind of like the idea of Dreamworks doing it.
Q: Can you see using the Web as a way of communication?
HR: Sure. I have two sites up. One for the book company and one for the record label, and I did pretty much all the writing. Ian (MacKaye) from Fugazi was here editing the Fugazi movie the other day, we checked out the site for about half an hour.
Q: Can your fans get to you that way?
HR: I get e-mail every day forwarded to my AOL site. Especially when college is in, man--up to 50 pieces a day. They're in their library working away--"I can get to Henry? Dude, what's up? I'm writing this report and I'm bored to death!" I'm a pretty busy guy, but I answer some of it. In postcard length. Every day after band practice I come in here, stay until night time, then I go to the gym. My day is over around 11pm.
Q: You can sleep after working out?
HR: The workouts I do? Like a dead person! I come out almnost vomiting. Last nght was leg night, which is the big daddy of all workouts. See the stripe here (shows his back). That's from 450 pounds biting into your skin.
Q: Is that therapy as well?
HR: Yeah. I've been working out since I was 15. And this is a way to blow off a lot of tension. This business, the entertainment business, it's tension city. Songwriting can be very tense-- five guys, five egos in a room moving each other around. The gym you just go in--boom--and explode. I do high-weight, low-rep. It's basically power lifting, not Charles Atlas stuff. I go religiously. Anywhere in the world I am--South America, Japan. I tried to find a gym in Moscow but that didn't work out.
Q: The important question: You did an interview in the New York Press last week, and the guy writing the article claimed that you ate a bag of worms. Did that really happen?
HR: Sure. That writer was into doing a macho thing with me. He challenged me to pushups, did 54 of them--really bad ones--in front of me and his dad. Then I said, 'You know what? I won't do any, you're more of a man than me, just tell everyone you won.' Then he challenged me to eat one worm, so I just took the bag and...kinda fucked with his plans.
I've been trashed pretty bad in some interviews, and in the tabloids--the big rumor was that I was going out with Madonna. I mean, I've met her, she has a record label and we were up for grabs for awhile. So my manager and I went over there, met Madonna and her manager. She was totally cool, businesslike. Twenty minutes later she waves to me, we're outta there, and then I hear I'm having an affair with her.