VQDM Interview With The Multi-Talented Henry Rollins
VQDM -You have said you grew up in a blue collar type work life, do you feel like that was also where you learned your hard work type ethics and consistency on pursuing more?
Henry- I grew up in 1960’s - ‘70’s middle class white America. Not America, white America. What was “normal” for me, food, clean clothes, a bed, etc., I was to learn, wasn’t normal for millions of other Americans. So, compared to a lot of other Americans born in 1961, I was spared. Both of my parents were hardcore careerists. They lived for their jobs. That’s all I knew growing up. It’s one thing they both got right. It either rubbed off on me or it’s in my genetic make up, if that’s possible. I had a job as soon as I could, and then multiple jobs. I never had to be told to get a job and never asked for an allowance. I liked being at work much more than being home, or playing with other kids. I have always been desperate to stay employed. For me, there is never enough work.
VQDM - Music was something you jumped into as a young adult and yet you have stated many times you never felt like a singer. Do you feel that being in the music aspect gave you a better edge on how you handle each of the obstacles in your life?
Henry- I’m nobody from nowhere. I’m just someone from the minimum wage working world. All the things I do are just things I get to do. I’m not career oriented. I’m an absolutist and opportunist. The years of work prepared me, to a slight degree, for Black Flag. The five years of being in Black Flag prepared me for everything that came after that.
VQDM - Even during your acting career how important is coming back to your hotel room or your private space and turning up the music whatever it may be?
Henry- Knowing that eventually I will be able to be on my own is the reward for being out in the world, being amongst people. I like people, more as I get older, but it’s extremely difficult to be around them. Besides press or business stuff, the only people I call are my friend Ian and my manager. Alone is about all I can handle for longer than a few hours at a time. I get by well with others in work environments. I just finished three weeks of production work with a group of people in Australia and had a great time with all of them. The only difficult part was going out to dinner with all of them after we had wrapped for the day. It’s not that they’re a drag to be around but I just want to be on my own.
VQDM - The politics have such a wave of opinions and stress on our day to day life, how have you kept your opinions and views balanced enough to where it does not overcome you?
Henry- American democracy is quite elastic. It can take a shot. It survived the Civil War, so did The Constitution. America will survive one or two terms of Donald Trump. What you’re seeing now is just one of the variants of the basic American way. The poor outnumber the rich and nonwhites, gay people and women people are treated like unwanted but very necessary sub citizens. What’s different right now is that all the eventualities of the Reagan years, campaigns, like the “War On Drugs,” contempt for art and science, government instituted homophobia, the shrinking separation between church and state, have come home to roost. A profoundly under informed part of the electorate basically takes the knife and shoves it into their own guts. Bad food, pharmaceutical drugs, incarceration, credit problems, etc. It’s what they voted for and it’s what they’re getting. Sadly, there’s a lot of collateral damage. The NRA suing the state of Florida for wanting to raise the age to purchase a gun from 18 to 21 is a perfect example of what Lincoln warned about in 1838 when he said, “As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” I think America, for now, has chosen the latter but things will change. You look at those young people standing up all over the country in the last few weeks and see the future. That’s how I stay undefeated.
VQDM - In your many travels do you feel like the arts or creative factors stand out to you no matter where you may be? What is the most creative place you have visited?
Henry- It’s my opinion that no matter where you go, art and creativity seek to understand, neutralize and overcome humankind’s inherent high functioning cruelty, more predatory strains of capitalism and whatever else people get up to. It always has. Some places more than others. As far as art and creativity all over the place, for me, it’s South America. Painting, music, etc., everywhere.
VQDM -With your podcast what is your main goal for it and it's listeners?
Henry- There is no goal, really. Heidi and I are like what you hear. Now and then, we just turn mics on. The listeners, well, at least they’re paying the right price.
VQDM - Do you feel that the kids today are being given the choices to hear the different music or variety of styles more or less then you did when you grew up?
Henry- I think there hasn’t been more opportunity to check out more music than right now. When I was young, there wasn’t streaming or YouTube. Now, when you get curious about a band or a kind of music, you just go to the internet and listen. The set back is a lack of curiosity. You give a curious person the internet and they’re all over the place. You give an incurious person the internet and they take pictures of themselves and post them.
VQDM -What is your view of how social media has chose to handle people in the spotlight and do you think that more people crave the negative points and posts then they do the positive?
Henry- It seems to me to be some kind of gladiator sport, where the rabble and cheer or boo someone they’ll never meet. I don’t spend any time with social media, really. I tweet once a week, that my radio show notes are up. I don’t know how Facebook works, none of that is the real world to me. I resist anonymity and gratuitous displays, so most of that has no place on my schedule.
VQDM - I have personally watched many of the films you have been involved in or starred in and have also watched many of your past videos or interviews over the years. What is the one thing you enjoy most about being able to improvise on your words, verses speaking verbatim what has been written for you for a script or even a song?
Henry- I like the discipline that comes with the restrictions of a script. On my own, I like being able to be in a constant state of making something clearer and more precise as I go. Onstage, I am in constant edit mode.
VQDM -What is your favorite local style music and when I mean local I mean territory such as a specific state or country?
Henry- Go Go Funk. It’s local to the 202 area code. It’s one of the greatest things ever created.
VQDM - Have you had any moments where you want to just take yourself out of the frontline media format all together? If so what changed your mind and kept you going?
Henry- No. For me, it’s mostly confrontation with a little information and opinion thrown in. It’s a way to be brave and upfront. You can not only challenge the interviewer but challenge yourself.
VQDM - With other countries having very much underground music factors do you think that there is still a way to spread the positive energy of music even in places that it is illegal?
Henry- I think it spreads itself. I’ve been to countries where music is basically illegal but it’s there. Years ago, I was able to sneak a 1T hard drive of music into Tehran. Hopefully, it’s still making the rounds. Young people are pretty hard to stop.
VQDM - What is your most used word or phrase when you are talking in public platforms? Do you catch yourself doing it or is it intentionally done?
Henry- Sadly, the word I use most is probably “I.” I use the word “work” a lot as it’s the only thing that really captures my interest besides music.
VQDM - We are very supportive in the music and arts for children involvement and if you had one option to help kids experience something new musically what would it be?
Henry- A place to play and instruments to play with. Like what Flea is doing. It would take a lot of money and time but I think it would be worth it. If I had my way, America would be a far more artistically inclined and educated nation.
VQDM - Is there anyone or company or place you would like to give shout outs to for helping you become the human you are today?
Henry- I can’t think of any. There would probably be too many to mention. Here’s a site that my company sends money to. The Trevor Project