Punk Rocker, Journalist, Comedian Henry Rollins on Speaking Truth to Power
Artist Henry Rollins
Photo Courtesy of Mat Hayword
In these uncertain times, it can be hard to truly speak your mind.
In these uncertain times, it can be hard to truly speak your mind.Henry Rollins has no such problems. The writer-journalist-comedian-musician is bringing his act to the House of Blues for what he calls bluntly “a talking show,” deadpanning that all he can promise is that he’ll be “onstage, talking, likely at a high rate for speed for a fair amount of time.”
The performer got his start with the legendary hardcore punk band Black Flag, whom he toured with until the late-'80s, known for the raw emotion of his songs. Rollins says he always tries to find artistic inspiration in personal losses and tragedy. “I don’t know what else you would when things are bad,” he says. “You can’t let them run you over. I do the best I can and the aim is always, always to overcome.”
The rocker credits a large part of his artistic formation to the era of music he came up in, noting his transition from “listening to a lot of FM Rock” in his childhood, before turning to the punk scene at age 17. “There were some early punk bands, like The Damned - they were very influential to me,” Rollins recalls.
Nowadays, Rollins praises the diverse music scene and credits the independent movement with a bevy of talented artists. “I like what John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees is doing with his music and his label, Castle Face,” Rollins notes. “Mike Patton and his label, Ipecac, are releasing a lot of good records too. I also [love] this artist named Teri Gender Bender. She and her band, Le Butcherettes, they are really great. She’s easily one of the most interesting and talented people in the independent music.” Rollins has long had a gifted eye for talent – he even attempted to release an album of folk tunes with famed killer Charles Manson. The album, titled Completion, was recorded but never released – though Rollins himself is said to have a working print.
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Rollins appears to be unflappable. Even in the face of our nation’s uncertain future leadership, the LGBT rights advocate seems hopeful, if not cheery, at the future of his craft. “I reckon comedians will have a field day with our new President-Elect,” Rollins laughs, before adding, more somberly. “Real people might not find him nearly as funny. But I think the President-Elect lends himself to humor with every move he makes.”
Rollin even gambles to predict a possible rise in satire world-wise, after the Manhattan Billionaire takes to the Oval Office in January. “It will be interesting, I think, to see how he survives the forces of the global comedic community making him their special project.”
Since Black Flag dissolved, Rollins has spread his wings and become quite the jack of all trades: appearing on the animated series Legend of Korra, working with the Jackass boys, writing for Rolling Stone Australia and even DJ-ing his own weekly chat show from his Santa Monica home. But, he says, the thrill of his life remains live performance. “I am performance driven,” the activist shares. “I’ve never had any form of stage fright or nerves before show. I like what I do and have a great affection for my audience – I just like to serve them, that's how I put it.” Rollin even says he views himself as merely a surrogate for the emotions of his crowds. “I never ever dial in a show. Every night, I go out and just try to get it right.”
Rollins' performance is scheduled for 7 p.m. on November 28 at 1204 Caroline. For information, call 888-402-5837 or visit houseofblues.com/houston. $35-120.
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