HENRY ROLLINS: 'I Don't Know If You Could Even Have A BLACK FLAG In 2016'
December 31, 2016
Earlier in the year, Moshcam conducted an interview with Henry Rollins, former lead singer with BLACK FLAG and current spoken-word performer, actor and "punk" journalist, while he was in Sydney, Australia. You can now watch the chat below.
Asked how he thinks a band like BLACK FLAG would be received if it was formed in 2016 and not forty years earlier, Rollins said: "I don't know if there's ingredients in society in America that would birth a band like BLACK FLAG right now. With cell phones and Bandcamp sites and relative convenience, I don't know if a band like BLACK FLAG — which was birthed out of anger and police oppression and having our phones tapped and people throwing stuff at the band — I don't know if you would have gotten that level of anger and precision and hostility coming from us, 'cause we were all of that. I don't know if those ingredients would be in place to be able to mold and temper that kind of music. I think BLACK FLAG was truly a product of the late '70s [and] early '80s California, where cops were just going to gigs and just beating the daylights out of kids, and there was drugs that were killing kids — a lot of speed, a lot of heroin — and there's certainly that now, sadly. So I don't know if you could even have a BLACK FLAG in 2016."
He continued: "How would it be regarded now? Probably no one would be there throwing ashtrays at our heads. They'd be going, 'Wow! Your anger's so great. Can I get a photo with you?' I think it would be that. It's a softer… I'm aware of things… Maybe I'm just old and curmudgeonly, but all of those music scenes I see these days, they're very soft, in my opinion."
Rollins was the frontman for BLACK FLAG from 1981 to 1986. In that time he developed a worldwide reputation thanks to his wild, ferocious stage presence and his penchant for violence.
BLACK FLAG disbanded in 1986 because of the strained relationship between Rollins and the group's founder Greg Ginn.
In 1995, Henry won a Grammy in the "Best Spoken Word Or Non-Musical Album" category for the audiobook version of his non-fiction work "Get In The Van: On The Road With Black Flag".
Ginn in 2013 announced a new BLACK FLAG album and tour with onetime frontman Ron Reyes. Later the very same day, four other former members of BLACK FLAG announced the formation of FLAG — a tribute to all eras of the band, featuring founding singer and current OFF! frontman Keith Morris, bassist Chuck Dukowski, drummer Bill Stevenson, singer-turned-guitarist Dez Cadena and newly adopted guitarist Stephen Egerton, Stevenson's longtime bandmate in his main outfit, fellow SoCal punk legends the DESCENDENTS.