HENRY ROLLINS: 'A Lot Of What I Do These Days Is Fact-Based'

October 6, 2007

Joan Anderman of The Boston Globe recently conducted an interview with punk rock icon Henry Rollins. A few excerpts from the chat follow:

The Boston Globe: How do you prepare for a spoken-word show?

Henry: Basically, I know the ideas I want to get into, the truth of the story. A lot of what I do these days is fact-based. If you want to talk about the Iraq war, you better do a little research and memorization and make it noble. Why would you want to be wrong about anything, even people you don't like?

The Boston Globe: Do you get hate mail?

Henry: One a week. It's always misspelled and unsigned, telling me to join the Taliban or marry gays if I love them so much. Sometimes after a show someone confronts me, but they usually don't have the intellectual motor. They've memorized something from Bill O'Reilly.

The Boston Globe: You tour with the USO to entertain troops overseas. Is it hard to keep your personal views about the war under wraps?

Henry: Not at all. It's simple. The war they're fighting and the war we're speculating on from the safety of our hovels are different. Their friends are getting vaporized, and we're talking about documentaries. I say nothing, ever, that would be deleterious to morale. All they should remember is that I'm funny, I put them in a headlock, and I'm shorter in person.

The Boston Globe: You host a radio show, "Harmony in My Head", on L.A.'s Indie 103. Do you play music from your own collection?

Henry: Yes. It's a specialty show. I play EVE, BELA BARTOK, BLACK SABBATH, and room-clearing aggro, which I quite like. Tomorrow I'll play ANTHONY BRAXTON and PUBLIC ENEMY. I play lots of LENNY BRUCE. I've played Ernest Hemingway's Nobel acceptance speech.

The Boston Globe: What's the criteria to get on "The Henry Rollins Show", your weekly Independent Film Channel program?

Henry: You have to interest me. I like to bring on someone the audience will be surprised by, and I try to get off topic. We already know Samuel Jackson's a good actor, so we talked about how he was an usher at Martin Luther King's funeral. I talked to Larry Flynt about Jerry Falwell. And I did two weeks of prep for Gore Vidal. I didn't want him going, "What am I doing on this show?"

The Boston Globe: What do you do to relax?

Henry: I go on these lean tissue-burning trips. I did do a real vacation once, three days in Madagascar with a novel, a ruined map, a massive Toblerone bar, and geckos on the thatched roof of my hut. I was relieved to get back to the buzz and whir of things.

Read more at The Boston Globe.

Henry Rollins's spoken-word performance on September 30, 2007 (talking about singing for the UK punk band THE RUTS):

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