Rockin’ with Rollins

By Matt Oakes

Contrary to the opinion of local punk act Chixdiggit, Henry Rollins is a lot of fun. Taking the Ballroom by storm last Thursday night, Rollins thrilled the sold out crowd with his in-your-face style of angst-driven humour.

Since the breakup of his band Black Flag in 1986, Rollins has travelled the world to promote his books and vocally punish audiences with his spoken word shows. He also spends time as a music producer, actor, and, oh yeah, the lead singer of the decade-old Rollins Band.

Admittedly, he’s been at it a long time.

"I must be very desperate, or very much in love with what I do because I do hundreds of shows every year," he said. "I have spent 21 years on the road now–that’s well over 2,000 shows."

He also seems a little preoccupied with aging, yet finds it hilarious.

"At 40 I’m kind of at the 50-yard line or better. You could double your age and be younger then me, I double my age and I’m fuckin’ Charleton Heston," he told the ballroom crowd.

Even though Henry Rollins has a reputation as being somewhat bitter and enraged, he is definitely not an egomaniac.

"There is a certain type of performer who gets off on the money and the adoration, then there are the really pathetic ones who will pay their audience to do their thing. I think that’s my category," he said.

During his close to three-hour rant, Rollins never stuck to one topic. At times he found himself on hour-long tangents. His topics shifted from politics to his childhood in Washington D.C., to women, to music and travelling and to a night spent at a KISS concert in San Bernadino. Nevertheless, he couldn’t resist taking a shot at American society.

"I’ve been all over the world and I see [American] culture taking over. I see America shitting all over the world."

Music is a way of life for Rollins and what he sees as popular today really makes him retch.

"MTV is giving you just the worst stuff–and none of you are stupid–you watch Muchmusic and Music Plus and you say ‘this is crap, but man the girls sure look good, and the boys sure look cute.’ It is easier to find good looking boys and girls than talented boys and girls to play this music. And that is why we now have model-type boys singing this crap and cute little Britany Spears-type girls singing really bad music."

You have to admire Rollins. He always tells it like it is, whether it’s music, women, sex, anger, frustration–whatever the topic, Rollins is real, and not afraid to tell the world. But he is not one to take it all for granted.

"When all this is over, what the fuck am I going to do? Because basically if you don’t like me, I’m out of a job."

Leave a comment