The Return Of The Tankster - Time Out, 11.22.95...
This article © TIME OUT magazine (Brisbane, Australia).
22nd November 1995. Transcript by CJ.
The waitress at the restaurant of Adelaide's Country Comfort Inn had
bad news; there was no soup of the day. She was already intimidated
by Henry Rollins, and being the bearer of bad tidings was clearly not
something she relished.
"So," jokes Rollins, "it'll be OK if I throw my TV out the window of
Minutes later a call came through to reception for The Tankster and
the gentlemen on the front desk politely summoned "Mr Rollins".
"Call me Henry, man," he said as he walked over to the phone.
It was August and the Rollins machine was in Adelaide to mix the
`Ill At Ease'
album for the
Mark of Cain.
"The stops and starts on this record will make your heart jump out
of your throat," he grinned. "You can set your watch to it. It's
that good. It kicks the ass of most records I've heard in the last
two years. It's a fist of diamond. It's heavy shit. It was a real
honor to work on the record."
Rollins was right in the mood for the job. There was still a roar
in his ears from a week of dates with the Rollins Band in Europe.
"I don't think we've ever played better. We did a week of playing
the set and songs we haven't played for awhile. We hadn't played
live for like eight months, which is a long time for us. So we
thought, `Wow! We can do this!' And we went out and just fucking
destroyed! Six shows, six days and some of the best gigs I've
ever played in my life. It was so much fun. We were impressed with
ourselves. Like, I didn't think it would be `that' good!"
Rollins being Rollins, there have been a stack of other items of
business on his agenda during the year. The man is a magnet or a
catalyst for the sort of projects and alliances that for most will
remain nothing more than a fan's dream.
First up, yes, he and Iggy Pop are going to remix
punkoid metallic masterwork,
"It [the master tape] was in Belgium, it migrated to Holland and it
came over into our dressing room in Eindhoven. [Rollins band
guitarist] Chris got it back to New York and personally delivered
it to Iggy himself. This is a cornerstone of hard rock music.
You're sitting next to and mixing with one of the great legends of
rock`n'roll, not like Axl Rose, but the real thing. Iggy Pop. I
told him, `Go get the record'. He's never even heard it on CD. I
think we're going to have a fucking blast."
Still on the Stooges front, Rollins is continuing work on a reissue
of the classic Iggy Pop and Anne Wehrer book on The Stooges, `I Need
More'. A lot of the original photos have been lost so they're just
working off a copy of the book. "Thank goodness for computers."
Rollins also interviewed Jerry Lee Lewis for MTV on two occasions.
The first was at The Killer's home and the second in the MTV studios
in New York. Jerry Lee was so impressed with Hank's style he said
he'd only do the studio interview if Hank handled it himself.
Rollins accommodated the old rocker's wishes to the point of opening
the door of his limo when he arrived at the studios. In another
dream gig, Rollins also interviewed John Lee Hooker at his home for
the US mag, HUH.
"A task that can now be filed under `completed' is the book, `The
Photographer's Led Zepplin', which was the brainchild of famed hard
rock snapper, Ross Halfin.
"It's 365 pages and 5 and a quarter pounds in weight. Page verified
that it was a good book. The first editions are going to be hard
cover with a slip case. There might only be 10,000 of those. It's
the finest photo book on the band ever. All the famous Zepplin shots
you've ever seem are on it and everything you've never seen. It's a
real beautiful tribute. Way more of a happening tribute than the
fucking tribute album was. It's retailing for $100 US but it's worth
it though. It'd be worth $150 American really."
To cap all this off, Rollins landed a role in `Heat' with Al Pacino,
Robert De Niro, Jon Voight and Val Kilmer.
"Pacino makes you a better actor. He comes into the room and you're
10 per cent better because he's so good. I was the only non-actor
in the film. The rest of the people are Jon Voight, Val Kilmer,
you're in way over your head! And Pacino came in [low voice] `Henry,
how are you?' Oh my god! I'm going to act with fucking Scarface!"
All that is now on the sidelines. The Rollins Band is top priority.
Though they've been songwriting on and off since April, since August
the band have been going at it hard in a rehearsal studio five days
a week with Rollins doing speaking dates in the weekend. It's hoped
the band will be in the studio working on the follow up to
`Weight' by February.
"We're going to hopefully be playing 4 to 6 new songs when we get out
there (Australia). We've been digging out some old ones. We've been
playing `Low Self Opinion' and `Do It'. I like all those old songs.
I miss them."
Those songs also helped make a considerable physical impact on
Rollins. The intensity of his vocal performances over the years
manifested itself as a cyst in his left vocal chord which had to be
removed earlier in the year. "The doctor looked at my throat and
said, `You're sure you don't smoke?' I go `No." `How's your
drinking?' `I don't.' He said, `Well, your vocal chords look like
you party and sing all night'. I said, `Well, it's 14 years,' and
I gave him a record. He goes, `Oh! NOW I see!' He was used to doing
real singers. He never heard nothing like me before."
FN: The Rollins Band headlined this year's (1995)
- this Saturday at Davies Park, West End (stage 1, 9:00 pm).
CJ: I couldn't afford the $50 tickets to Livid but I was listening to
Triple J which was broadcasting the Australian Livid acts to tie in
with Australian Music Week, so they didn't broadcast The Rollins Band
nor interview Rollins on air (but I'm sure they would have taken the
opportunity anyway for later broadcast). There were mixed reviews of
The Rollins Band (I guess you have to be a fan). Apparently, Rollins
was scaring people as he warmed up before going on stage because he's
so intense and looks so fierce, and during the show, because kids
were climbing on top of the tents containing the stages, Rollins said
that they were ruining it for everyone and if they didn't get off, he
was leaving. They got off.
Alf - 11th January 1996