I am in the night
I am every part of it
The consumption of its beast 
The deck that it deals
The veins that bleed
The caress of its serpent

I am the night
As it writhes and undulates toward dawn
It moans and cries a symphony of anger
I am its agony as it struggles against the light
And dies with the strike of the Sun God.






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Everything Rollins

 Come In and Burn...
An Unofficial Henry Rollins and Rollins Band Site...
New Musical Express March 29/97 Interview...
It's a busy world that Henry Rollins inhabits. Not only is he the head honcho of the Rollins Band but he's also a writer, publisher, one-man spoken-word industry and an advertising icon. Oh, and he's hard. Real hard. Fearless Stephen Dalton has the gall to question the originality of his music, the state of his sexuality and the size of his, erm, manhood. And come out alive. Suits you sir: Steve Gullick

The Terminator locks you in his viewfinder, exchanges curt greetings and snaps straight into interview mode.

Yesterday he was in his LA headquarters. Three hours from now he'll be on a plane to Holland. In the gruelling schedule of Rollins World, there is no room for idle chit chat. Frivolity will not be tolerated. Jokes are for wimps. Time-wasters will have their heads crushed like grapes and mounted on the battlements of Henry's pent up rage. Oh, and he's missing his pet cat like mad.

True to form, the Human Stealth Bomber begins by verbally blitzing the "eunuch boys" of Britpop.

"It's a laughing stock to me, a soap opera. 'What's Liam doing now?' He's probably taking a dump, leave him alone! I mean, if you came on my front lawn and did all that, I'd f--king bitch slap you into the street. The poor guy, he probably just wants to be in a band. But on the other hand, he kisses up to it too, he gets on major billboards with Patsy Kensit. They're just sucking media dick. So what you end up with is a music scene with no music. I find it hilarious. LIke, are these bands ever gonna go out and do 150 shows a year? It's just pathetic, if you play real music for a living."

Henry, of course, plays 'real music'-when he's not puttng out 'real' spoken word albums, acting in 'real' movies and publishing 'real' books full of alienated fury and black humour.

And appearing in 'real' adverts for The Gap, of course. But Hank's heard all the 'sell-out' allegations a zillion times-and squished them with his tattooed, bicep bulging logic every time. Don't forget he fronted uber-hardcore nutters Black Flag for six years before forming the Rollins Band a decade ago. These days, he states blankly, adverts and film roles finance his book and record labels. End of story.

"I've been hearing 'sell-out' every year since I was 20! Punk rockers are just like so many little yapping dogs at my feet. I'm like, 'Shhhhh-go get pierced.'"

Hank believes in arm wrestling the mainstream into submission. This combat strategy even encompasses winning a Grammy for the last Rollins Band album 'Weight,' and his new deal with Dreamworks, the mega-label set up by media moguls David Geffen, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenburg. "I HATE the idea of the underground! F--k that! The underground to me is a bunch of people outside the big house eating scraps and going, 'Boy these scraps are good! I don't want the steak, man, I stay true to the game-I only eat the gristle.' My idea is you go into the big house and say, 'Get the f--k outtta my way, give me that steak!' I'm into takeover."

The first Rollins Band album for Dreamworks is called 'Come In And Burn.' It is a heavy, intense, flipping angry item. Boy, is it miffed. But much as we love Hank's extreme credibility and no-bullshit attitude, it's still a gruelling endurance test of a record. Once again, the warm humor and touching humanity of his diaries and spoken word gigs have been pummelled into paste by sheer sonic attack. Ouch.

"That's on purpose," nods the Bionic Liberal. "That's why I do the other stuff. I don't wanna do that with music."

It's pretty limited, though, very much one favor.

"Well, when you you're in the mood for vanilla, come on over," quips Hank grimly. "I use the music as a tool. I don't write lyrics when I'm happy, I write them to ease pain. When I'm depressed, lonely, stressed-that's when I reach for the lyric book. For me the music has always been where I go for that explosive catharsis. So yes, it is kind of limited in scope. But one the other hand, I don't ask a can of peaches to be a zebra either."

No, but you can bet that if drill sergeant Rollins gave the order, those peaches would get stripy in an instant. So are audiences supposed to enjoy (in italics, Hans) Henry's music or just, like, feel its pain?

"I hope they're getting off as hard as I'm getting off. I don't know, every year the crowds get bigger. I've never seen anyone held at gunpoint to go to our gigs so I think it's pretty voluntary attendance. Obviously our music doesn't do it for you, so it's typical of NME to bring you in to talk to me, ha ha!"

Not really, it's just that Rollins albums ignore so much of pop's emotional spectrum.

"Well, that's why they have lots of records in stores and not just mine! What a miserable state we'd be in if there was JUST ME! Ha ha! Cut your wrists right now! Thank GOD for Bananarama!"

Rollins World lacks the feminine touch, which might help explain his emotionally stunted outlook. The young Henry Garfield grew up in the shadow of ultra-macho father who regularly beat him and his drunken mother. Now, 36, he has few qualms about severing almost all links with his divorced parents.

"You can't miss what you never had," Henry grunts matter-of-factly.

He went directly from an all-male school into another testosterone charged environment, Black Flag, at 19. Even now, though his manager and most of his business associates are women, the opposite sex still baffles Hank. His punishing schedule, he claims, makes him a "lame date" with little time for serious relationships. So is he courting at the moment?

"Not really. Nothing I can't walk away from in two minutes."

As Robert De Niro said in Heat, this film in which Henry was punched through a window by Al Pacino...

"Absolutely!" he barks. "Totally correct reference sir! No, the relationships I have usually last between two nights to two months. I was not really raised with girls, and I'd only had sex with one girl before I joined Black Flag. Then these chicks I was meeting were like, 'Can I f--k you?' and I'm like, 'WHAT?!? EXCUSE ME?!?' I feel fine around women, I just would never lie and say I understand them. That's probably the reason they don't stick around."

There could be other factors. Are you a careful, considerate lover or a heat-seeking missle between the sheets?

"Errr...I only get those two choices?" blushes Henry. "No, I'm very considerate."

Henry prefers a gym full of muscular male buddies to female company. Did it never occur to him that he might be gay (in italics, Hans)?

"No. I never experimented. Everyone thinks about it but no, I never tried it."

You must admit there's something very homoerotic about your ultra-male, physique obesessed lifestyle?

"Yea, there is. I see that more as camaraderie, I don't get the sex vibe from it. And I quite enjoy the male thing, it's fun."

Didn't you flirt with sexual ambivalence in Black Flag?

"HA!" bellows Henry. "Are you KIDDING? We were SO in search of women. There was no sunshine in that band-no money, never a good hotel, the only nice thing in your life was a woman. We were so crass. We'd be like, 'What are you doing tonight? Can I go with you?'."

Impressive seduction technique, if a trifle short on subtlety.

"Well, cities screwed all this up. Cities bring morality and unnatural circumstances. In the jungle, the more you can ooga-booga, you're gonna get more pussy. I'm not being sexist saying that, that's just the way it is. When the warriors come home covered in blood, the women go, 'Oh yeah! THAT dude's f--king ME tonight, not the poet.' But here in society you have the leafy green salad eater getting the supermodel muff while the guy who can break a Buick with his teeth jerks off."

Presumably you jerk off a lot then?

"Shit, man, the last four weeks it's been horrible. One to two times a day. I see beautiful women every day and I'm like ROOAARGH!!"

Surely all this excess sexual energy goes against Hank's total efficiency ethic. Wouldn't he get more done by channelling it elsewhere?

"No, the sex urge is what makes a lot of this possible. Without the women, there would be no excuse for me to even do music."

So you're ruled by your dick?

"I am a sexual creature. I'm alice, I'm aware of all my senses. I'm not ruled by my dick. A guy who's ruled by his dick watches porno, does anything he can to get laid, but I think sex is healthy. I don't watch porno, I've never been with a prostitute, I never go to strip clubs."

Did you rebuild your puny childhood body to compensate for having, ahem, a tiny dick?

"No, my dick is average size, no-one's ever complained. The last comment I heard about my dick was a girl who said, 'God was nice to you, honey.'"

Get real, Henry. She says that to EVERYONE. It's a ploy to sooth your fragile male ego.

"Well, hey, she kept mine right where she wanted it! But, yeah, I think men should be built like brick shithouses. I am in AWE of physical strength! I CRAVE lifting weights! I would gladly be lifting in a gym seven days a week if I could. I LOVE it. I love my hands bleeding, I love when the capillaries in my eyes break open, I love the occasional nosebleed..."

Bloody hell, you're a complete masochistic maniac.

"Naaah. I'm just into physical intensity. I'm not saying, like, clamp my nipples and stick pins in my nuts. Because that's like some passive please-hurt-me thing. Ask any Olympic athlete, they'll say, 'God it hurts, but it's awesome.' It's the pain that comes when you try to achieve (in italics, Hans)."

Rollins is certainly an achiever, a living monument to self-sufficiency. A brutally screwed-up middle-class childhood in Washington DC convinced the young Henry that Nietzschean self-belief was the only way. Now this no-smoking, alcohol-free poet-warrior lives by a strict set of 'Iron Reminders' (Don't Lose It, Don't Attach, etc) and rules his own multi-media empire. And that's just in the six months when he's not touring with his band.

In his spare time, Henry takes small roles in films such as Johnny Mnemonic, Heat and David Lynch's forthcoming Lost Highway. He corresponds with rape victims, handicapped fans and others who identify with his emotionally damaged state. He also speaks out against racism in America, alongside friends such as Ice-T, at colleges and conferences.

This is the Bionic Liberal's most serious mission, and a subject far more likely to arouse his ire than enquires about dick size. Even the murder of his former roadie and best friend, Joe Cole, by black hoodlums in 1991, hasn't dented Henry's zero-tolerance stance on racism.

"Not at all, you can't make me not see the bigger picture," he sighs. "This guy who killed Joe was cold like a tob. That's what made it so f--king scary: here's a guy who can take a life as easily as going to get something to eat. What happens to a man so that he can take a life that coldly? Is it because he's black? No, it's how he came up. He wasn't born a killer, he's a manifestation of the problem. So you can't make me hate black people, no matter what. But I hate that guy (in italics, Hans), because he killed my friend."

Have you forgiven him?

"I don't know about forgiving him, but if you left me in a room with him for five minutes he'd be totally unscathed. I don't have that revenge thing-it's not gonna bring anybody back, it's not gonna solve anything."

Most of Henry's musical heroes are black. Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, John Lee Hooker, James Brown...

"I met James Brown the other day," he beams. "He hugged me and I just floated home."

It is also intriguiing that many of Henry's friends and collaborators-from Iggy Pop to Nick Cave to Courtney Love-have a history of heroin use. Isn't the straight-edge Rollins ever tempted to dabble for purely artistic reasons?

"No, because as Charles Bukowski said when his friend John Fnati was dying of diabetes, 'Christ, I'm glad I'm not THAT good.' That's a price I will not pay for my art."

Of course not. Because Hank's running a marathon, not a sprint. He aims to be like Duke Ellington or James Brown, a bulletproof man-machine with a long-haul career. Neither drugs, messy emotions, personal tragedies nor the vagaries of fashion can penetrate his body armor. Nothing stops the Terminator.

"I know the music I play is old school caveman shit," he admits. "But no bad review is ever going to stop one of our shows or stop me making a record. If you wanna stop me getting onstage, you're not gonna do it with a pen. So you'd better get the sword and you'd better make it sharp, because I'm coming."

Such are the vigorously defended borders of Rollins World. Nobody breaks through those fortified walls but Henry himself-and you get the feeling that's just the way he likes it.