Since his Black Flag days, Henry Rollins has been known for his relentless activism and unforgiving political views, venturing all the way out to the Middle East to cheer up American troops on tours of duty. He’s also a frequent go-to for documentary maker Don Letts, and he’s appeared as a guest on albums with everyone from Tool to William Shatner. The list just goes on from there, and it sure seems like he’s got a lot to give. He’s currently on a spoken word tour called “Fifty,” having some fun with his age and what’s brought him there, sharing the experience with everyone that comes out. I got a chance to ask Henry a couple of questions online, and this is what he had to say.
Truth.Explosion.Magazine: You’ve stated in recent interviews that you don’t really feel like you’re fifty, but with this tour coming up, and people (I guess I’m guilty here) emphasizing your age, it has to be dawning on you. Is this tour in any way a practice in combating any circulating notion that you’re getting close to expiry, or do you even feel like that’s an issue? If not, why “Fifty”?
Henry Rollins: I feel fine. I wanted to do some shows in my 50th year to have some fun with it, nothing more, really. I would like to think I have a few more miles left in me. So far, I think things are going ok.
TEM: If you could have one geriatric fantasy come true—say a hovercraft alternative to a wheelchair or George W. Bush as a multi-purpose butler/fool–what would you want it to be, why, and how might you abuse it?
HR: I think it would be fun to be able to re-do some scenes of my life, knowing what I know now. Being able to outwit a teacher, situations with girls, etc. That would be a great film.
TEM: In 2004 you did a track with William Shatner called “I Can’t Get Behind That.” Since recording it, what else has crossed your path that you can’t “get behind”?
HR: Deregulation. Bank scandal. Corporate mayhem.
TEM: On the topic of music, can we expect anything new, or are those days behind you?
HR: I am not interested in doing any music at this point. I was never all that good at it and people put up with it for long enough.
TEM: I think the last collaborative music work you did was on The Flaming Lips’ 2009 reworking of The Dark Side of the Moon. Even if we don’t get isolated Henry Rollins material, if projects like that keep coming your way, will you take them?
HR: Not much like that comes my way. I don’t think I am high on anyone’s list to collaborate with. I never heard that Flaming Lips record. If something came my way that I thought was interesting, I might do it. I don’t think that kind of thing will be coming any time soon.
TEM: How do you feel about people like Jello Biafra citing you as an inspiration to remain active in what they’re doing?
HR: I highly doubt Jello would cite me as an inspiration in any way. If I have inspired anyone at any point, I think that’s a good thing.
TEM: Back to the tour: the title is pretty blunt, but how did the idea for this one come about?
HR: Didn’t think there was anything more that needed to be said.
TEM: You’ve done things in your life that would leave people feeling like their bucket lists are worth less than flaccid little scraps of toilet paper. What still manages to creep its way onto your bucket list, and why is it so important for you to do it?
HR: Mainly, it’s geographic locations I want to go to, I am slowly checking those off the list. It’s not important, or is it of great importance—all depending on how much importance you want to put on it. I can try to get to these places or not, I am still going to die. So, life being so short, I am trying to pack a lot in. That’s the concept. Live eventfully, maintain a furious, curious mind.
TEM: We like to hear personal stories from the people we interview and I know you’ve got a lot of life experience. If you had to pick a single story that illustrates why you are doing this particular tour, what would it be?
HR: When I was twenty, I hit the road. This is what I do. That’s it.
TEM: Finally, what is the “truth” about Henry Rollins?
For more goodness from Henry Rollins and information about his tour check out his website
Interview and Intro by: Tom Beedham