FIVE QUESTIONS WITH HENRY ROLLINS By Travis Mamone Posted: November 2007
Henry Rollins is a true renaissance man. From his beginnings as the lead singer of the legendary punk band Black Flag, he has since fronted his own group, The Rollins Band. He has also published several books of poetry, acted in many movies, and is now the host of The Henry Rollins Show on IFC. His work and message continue to inspire millions to this day. I recently had the opportunity to interview this legendary musician, actor, writer, and commentator.
Mamone: First let me thank you for taking the time for this interview. My first question is, are you optimistic about next year's elections? Is there a particular candidate you're rooting for?
Rollins: I am not optimistic; I am just waiting to see what will be. I would rather just be ready to get to work than to be optimistic or pessimistic. I will do what I can and then do my best with the results. I will be voting for the Democratic candidate. As far as someone who says it flat out, Kucinich is the one I like.
Mamone: With so many bands like Fall Out Boy and Good Charlotte being labeled "punk," it feels like people are forgetting the true meaning of punk rock. Are there any new bands that you feel are now carrying that punk torch?
Rollins: Does it have to be a torch that’s carried? Sounds kinda forced to me. I would rather just let music go were it will and listen to what bands I like. I don’t know who is “punk,” or what. At this point, I really don’t have time for the labels. Life is too short. If someone likes Fall Out Boy, then they should go to the show. Hopefully young people are looking for music in more than just the usual places.
Mamone: Besides music, you have also published numerous collections of poetry. How does writing poetry differ from writing music? Are there things you can express better through poetry than with music?
Rollins: For me, lyrics are a very distilled versions of something that takes up more room in other formats. They are the most difficult thing I have ever tried to write. I don’t know what works better for what; I just do what feels like the right thing.
Mamone: How did your television show come about? Is it something you've wanted to do for a while?
Rollins: The producers came to me years ago with the idea. I liked it and we shopped it around and we got the show happening on IFC. I never thought I would ever be working in that medium. It’s been a growing experience.
Mamone: What I admire about you is that you challenge audiences to do something about the current state of world. What do you say to someone who wants to do something, but has no idea where to start?
Rollins: I don’t know. If you really want to do something, you find the way. I really think that is true. If you want to be an actor but you don’t know how to start, then you don’t want it bad enough. Say if you’re hungry and you want some food, you don’t sit around for too long wondering how to start finding some, you do it. Or you don’t.