From The Vault: The Henry Rollins Interview • Almost Perfect

From The Vault: The Henry Rollins Interview

Did I ever tell you about that time we interviewed Henry Rollins for Durban is Yours? And he scolded me for asking about Black Flag? No? Well, you can read it for yourself. Basically, how we did emailer interviews back in the day was to come up with questions as a team. Despite Luke Smith telling me not to, I added the offending question just before sending them off to the gig promoters. I also added a few questions about the economics and politics of touring and performing in a casino that went unanswered, but I assume the promoters removed those questions before they got to to him. Reading back, this is hella amateurish and cringe (The electronic music question is worse than the Black Flag one tbh), but, hey, we were cringey amateurs at the time. Anyway, here’s the interview as it was published on Durban is Yours in 2012.

DIY: You’ve been interviewed a lot over the last 30 odd years, what do you get out of doing them? Is it a necessary evil to promoting the projects you’re working on, or is it another outlet to share your opinion and maybe even learn something about yourself?

Henry: A good interview is the latter portion of your inquiry and the former defines a bad one.

DIY: You seem incredibly well read, but do you ever worry that you don’t know enough about the places you go to and that what you express may be out of line or out of touch with the people you express it to?

Henry: Knowing that I cannot ever be prepared enough, steer clear of saying things about a country other than I am glad to be there or a personal experience that I have had in that country. As far as being out of touch, if there are humans in that room, who speak English, I can make a connection.

DIY: How much of your stage show is adapted to the audience that you’re dealing with, or do you have a set show that you tour?

Henry: Very little of any show is adapted to the audience. That to me is a bit patronizing. In a place like South Africa, I would leave out a lot of American political references that I would include in America as I don’t want to lose any audience members by giving them reference they would find obscure. Past that, what I say onstage is for everyone anywhere.

DIY: You’re still very much involved in music from what I can tell, how do you see electronics affecting music over time? Do you see value in music that is produced without instruments, that’s composed behind a computer, or do you need the music you enjoy to be created with live instruments?

Henry: I think to restrict yourself to one kind of music, or music only created a certain way you really cut yourself off from a lot of great music. If you can’t dig music without guitar, there goes all those Kraftwerk records. Personally, my life is better with all those Kraftwerk records.

DIY: Also on the topic of technology and music. Why do you think people are so willing to fork out cash over an iPod and the like, but fewer and fewer people actually pay for the music they put on it? I seem to recall you being anti-piracy, do you not see any merits in it as a way to get music out to more people who’ll hopefully one day go to a live show?

Henry: I think, with the download thing being as popular as it is, that the idea of what music is has changed. It’s now a file that can be downloaded quickly. It is, in essence, worthless. It’s a small amount of space on your hard drive. Some people, while digging the music, don’t see any monetary worth in that. They mean no harm but just don’t want to pay. It’s too bad as those bands could use the money to, you know, EAT and things like that. On the other hand, I think it helps get people out to shows and perhaps leads to the sale of records. I listen to music for free all the time as a way to check out that band. If I like what I hear, I buy the record. So, the access is good for a band when I am downloading the music. I can’t speak for anyone else. The free downloading of music will never stop.

DIY: You’ve probably picked up some new South African fans from the series Snake Underworld and Animal Underworld, which are currently airing on local satellite shows. Do you think it’s a fair assessment to say that as you get more and more tv time, you start shaking off that ‘Henry Rollins from Black Flag’ tag to something like ‘Henry Rollins from Snake Underworld’? Is that something that concerns you? Or something you are aiming for?

Henry: The “tag” that you make reference to was shaken off many years ago. Who brings it up? You. You could have done this whole interview and never mentioned the band and the interview would have been fine but you are the one who brought it up. The band you are talking about broke up about twenty-five years ago. I shook off that “tag” the day after and went forward and have been ever since. TV? I’ve been on TV for years. I just work on the next thing and then the next thing and on from there. You’re the one with the tag. I am in 2012, where you at?

DIY: And lastly, Durban has a bad reputation for being generally apathetic towards supporting live shows of any kind, that aren’t by huge international acts, and even then, it’s iffy. Why should people come to your show?

Henry: Because I’m a warm and wonderful person.

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