Henry Rollins: Quick Thoughts

Henry Rollins: Quick Thoughts

Henry Rollins career has never been up or down but it has surely been sporadic.  From his early days of becoming the new singer of legendary punk outfit Black Flag (for which he was just a fan long before) to his commercial success with The Rollins Band and various movie rules, both successful and laughable.  Now, interspersed with his chaotic spoken word tours, Rollins Band reunion and his new TV show on IFC, Henry found a way to take a few minutes to let Shakefire.com know how he feels on everything from his heroes to what he would do as President of the United States.  Now, it's ON with Henry Rollins.

>>On my show (The Henry Rollins Show)
We are almost done with the music and we will be done with that next week.  We will have The Fall coming in on Wednesday which is a big deal for me because they are probably my favorite band, of course I’ll be out of town.  As for the guests, we have basically 6 more days of shooting over a 4 week period.  We basically have two more months of programming to do guest wise and writing wise.  Adam Corolla and Patton Oswalt tomorrow to interview.

>>On getting star struck

Well, I’ve known Adam for a long time so the blush is off that rose.  I like the guy but it’s not like “W’oh, Adam Corolla!”  I’ve known him for a hundred years but I’ve never met Patton Oswalt and I’m a huge fan of his so it’ll be a fun day.  Two comedians, it’ll be fun.  So far, band-wise, we just tracked Damien Marley the other day.  Yesterday, Ani DiFranco tapes.  My band and I, we taped.  Let’s see, Slayer was supposed to come in today but one of them has a gall bladder operation they have to do.  But we have Daniel Johnston in there right now.  Pretty cool.  So we are very lucky that he said yes.  He came to town and was able to do it so we’re kind of in disbelief.  We had Dead Boy & The Elephant Men come in which is pretty damn cool.  That’s a great record.  So we’ve been lucky on the guests so far.

>>On performing overseas
You don’t want to throw names that are so inside.  When the audience is like “Who is Bill O’Reilly?”  So, you just kind of widen the scope more and I do so many shows internationally and I’ve been doing it for so many years that I don’t even notice that I’m doing it, I just do it.  It’s just part of what you do.  You just make it accessible.  You don’t want to exclude people, that’s not good.  So you just bring them in.  And that’s just good story telling.  If they speak English, which is the only language I’ve got at my disposal at this point, you don’t talk down to them, nobody’s stupid.  You have to understand that English is probably not their first language and you should address that.

>>On Traveling
 I’ve averaged over 100 shows a year for 25 years.  I’m not exactly proud of that, like I wear it on a badge but I sure do like what I do.

>>On my future in Hollywood
I’m not like an actor, I’m a bullshit artist so I just get hired for roles every once in a while if the casting person isn’t thinking.  I just kind of go “Yeah!  I can do that.”  So, that’s just my life in movies.  I just kind of do whatever role comes to me.  I take the job seriously, I don’t take myself seriously.  When I’m in a movie, I want to get it done and do it right but I’m not going to tell you that I’m an actor and I’m not going to pull some attitude except “How well can I do this for you?  And However many times you want me to do it, I’m good to do that.”  For me, it’s employment and with that, I don’t just walk in and go “I’m just doing a job.”  We are doing art, I know that but for me, in my opinion, and I don’t enforce it on anyone.  One should be gainfully employed all the time.  One should work vigorously or at least I should and in my mind, I’m always the waiter looking for work so this is, for me, my waiter job.  So, I’m on tour with my band and between those tours, I’m unemployed.  So, it’s like the out of work actor who takes the waiter job.  I’m an out of work musician or spoken word dude who takes the actor job.  Because I want to be out of the house everyday, earning my keep and earning my place in the world…just doing something interesting.

>>On the State of America right now
I think America is fine, I just think we are being poorly led.  I think we are being poorly managed.  It’s a good company, we just have a bad CEO right now.  So, this war has a lot of people confused and terrified and angry.  The President has really helped to polarize people.  Where you have Democrats hating Republicans and Republicans taunting Democrats, I hate this shit.  I hate the liberal psychos going off and I hate the tough guy Fox News dickheads.  At the end of the day, at some point, we are going to have to suture this because a lot of the real concerns of America are bipartisan.  Our gas problem.  Unfortunately, it’s only the Republicans that can effect change right now because they have all the gears.  This is the thing I have been thinking about the last few days and if it sounds conspiracy theory to you, I apologize but I think I’m right.  Look at Brazil.  I just saw a documentary on Brazil and obviously I’m referencing their use of ethanol.  I have been to Brazil, I don’t know if you have.  A wackier, crazier country, you would be hard pressed to find.  Not putting the place down, I’m just saying, they are nuts.  You wonder why anything works in Brazil.  It’s like if chaos had a country well, it does, it makes it’s home in Brazil.  How do they become non-reliant to foreign power.  They came up with ethanol.  What powers ethanol?  Husks of sugar cane.  Oh, gee, isn’t that a paradigm of efficiency.  Why doesn’t America have it?  Do you think America probably had that one on the board 25 years ago.  Do you think if Brazil can do it, America can do it 150 million times better when Lincoln was alive?  I think so.  Because, I have been to Brazil so my theory is that it was on the board in the 50s and the powers that be just don’t want it.  You know, what are you going o do with all your shares in ExxonMobil or whatever if they are meaningless?  How are you going to keep sticking your chest out in the middle east if you have no financial concerns there?  How are you going to dominate the world if you don’t have a faucet to shut on and off?  If you are truly independent of other places, like America says it wants to be or the Bush administration says it wants to be, then you wouldn’t be able to have your Machiavellian wet dream of sticking your policy and your agendas in other countries.  Because, if you don’t need to be in Kuwait for any reason then they are going to tell you to take your Burger Kings and go fuck yourself.  So, we are dependant on oil because there are very mean people who love money more than Americans.  That’s where my beef is.  I just wish the people who ran American loves American just a little bit more and maybe the American public education system would be the envy of the world.  It really should be.  Our public education system should make mother fuckers jealous.  They should go “Damn!” because we can rock that.  We have the people, we have the intent, we have the man power.  And, the state of America, you have a continent full of really hard working, generous kick-ass people who have a bunch of money war-mongering psychopaths steering the bus and who’s getting screwed?  The middle classes.  The jobs go away.  The military as their good work gets exploited for fake conflicts.  And, the poor, the non-white, the gay.  The people who aren’t Sean Hannity.  The 30% who drank the Kool-Aid are basically lording over the 70% who have voter regret or who were saying no no no, the whole time.

>>On what I would do as President
I would probably sit down with (Iranian President) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and go “Ok, we understand why you hate us, because we financed Saddam taking you out.  Do you understand why we are scared of you?  Can you see that?  Can you see that when you talk about Israel like that, you offend, bum and outrage a lot of people with the capabilities to squash your fucking country like a cockroach?  Do you get that?  Do you realize that we can come in tomorrow and take all your shit and fuck your wife?  Do you realize that?  Good.  Hate to do it, don’t want to do it.  If you want nuclear power, great.  Let’s get the IAEA in, the UN and all of that because there are a whole lot of countries in the world that are terrified of you guys but I don’t want your children freezing in the winter because I like your kids because, you know, they are not anything like you.”

So, I would be trying to sit down with these countries that Condoleeza Rice has drawn lines in the sand with and go “Look.  Let’s go back to the intellectual approach of negotiation and hearing each other out and let’s become part of the planet again.”  I know that sounds a little Hippee-dippee and liberal but when Ahmadinejad says “bring in the UN.  Let’s do it by the book” and Condoleeza Rice says “We are done talking” and John Bolton starts pulling stuff out of his ass saying “Well, you know, they have a ballistic missile program.”  You just made that up, dude!  They don’t have one that you know of, or if you are asked to comment on it, you say that you don’t know, so what’s it going to be?  You can’t lie to everyone all the time because there are some smart people out there that are going to call you out.  But, with this Teflon administration, they get called out all the time.  And, this is what makes me mad because in my low station on the food chain, I’m held accountable for every bounced check, every appointment I’m late to, believe me.  And, these guys just do all kinds of stuff.  We already proved that you lied about Iraq.  How the hell do you think we are going to go in with you into Iran?  I know why we are going into Iran.  We want the northern border with Turkmenistan, Caspian gas and oil.  That’s my theory.

>>On the film Syriana
I liked it, yes and no.  Yes, I liked what it tried to do.  No, I think it bit off more than it could chew.  I do a lot of reading, basically about what Syriana is all about.  The George Clooney character, apparently, is based on Robert Baer.  I’ve read Baer’s books.  I’m eagerly awaiting his new one that comes out this fall, I’ve pre-ordered it, it’s called Burn  the House Down, I believe.  He’s an interesting guy.  If you read Ahmed Rashid’s books Taliban and Jihad and get a sense of the geography and history of Central Asia and all that.  Those books are basically what Syriana is all about.  Turkmenistan, the Caspian oil reserves, us vying with Russia, vying with China, etc etc.  This is all real world shit.  Syriana is a good wake up call and hopefully it inspires people to go buy some books or get together and talk.  But, kind of knowing on a very intermediate level, being conversational on the topic, I walked out of there with some people I went with and they said “ok, you’ve gotta walk us through that.”  I said, ok.  They basically took a rhino and shoved it into a wine bottle.  But, great movie, can’t wait to see it again on DVD.

>>On my heroes

Right now, guys like Robert Baer, Karen Kwiatkowski.  Look up her website Warning Shots from Karen Kwiatkowski (See her article here).  She used to work for the Near East South Asia desk of the Department of Defense.  Harvard graduate, staunch republican conservative.  She quit in anger watching her reports on countries be rewritten and watch them come out of the President’s mouth as lies.  Watched people curse Colin Powell after he left the room and she said “fuck this.”  And her commanding officer said “You have to go public.  You owe your country.”  So she went public and is now doing the lecture circuit.  What she says about Iraq is basically “We are in Iraq for 3 reasons; basing posture in the region, get the oil for food program from the Euro back to the Dollar and…oil.”  I believe her because she voted for Bush and then she saw through it.  So, those people that drank the Kool-Aid who survived and left the island, those are the ones, to me, who I take my hat off to.  And, guys like Robert Baer, who came out of retirement and he’s kind of like one of your go-to guys now as far as someone you always see in any 9/11 documentary now.  People like that.  People who are speaking up  in a pretty heavy climate of fear and the Republicans or conservatives always tell you that it is the liberal media.  I think everyone that disagrees with them is a liberal or a traitor or a communist, or at least gay.  So, I think there are a lot of people standing up right now.

I love a lot of the people on Air America.  I love Janeane Garofalo.  She’s just one cool shook up can of Coke, she’s just a cool chick.  Or Stephanie Miller, Randi Rhodes.  I listen to them every day.  If I can’t catch Randi during the day, I will lose sleep for her just because I like someone going “You know what?  Not on my watch you bastards.”  And, so, right now, that to me is a hero.  Someone who is standing up.  Someone who is down there in Katrina ravaged New Orleans.

Peter Oberth
Interview by Peter Oberth
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