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Interview: Henry Rollins – Rather do something than hope for things


Kika Jonsson July 19, 2013
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HENRY ROLLINS at Roskilde Festival 2013

Henry Rollins. Here’s is a guy who has fronted hardcore punk band BLACK FLAG, met several presidents, acted in movies, become a journalist, and toured incessantly doing spoken word.  He’s opinion has graced everything from JANE’S ADDICTION liner notes to a regular radio show. So the question is: does HENRY ROLLINS still have pull? Judging by the variety of ages in the crowd at his three spoken word shows at Roskilde Festival 2013, the world is still very much interested in what ROLLINS had to say.  His set is sort of the best lecture you could ever get mixed with rock n roll anecdotes. His black hair is gray now but he still rocks the huge biceps and bodybuilder physique covered in tattoos that has distinguished him since the early eighties. NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION got the chance to ask this legend a few questions about the past, present and future.

 

What does a perfect world look like?
At least one that works better would be more respect for natural resources and a more scientifically oriented and prioritized one. There is only so much. You use it up, you’re done. I don’t think we are going in that direction fast enough. Perfect, I think is impossible.

 

How would people in an ideal world act?
I don’t think there could possibly be any such thing. You would have to ask too many people not to aspire to their highest potential. I think we humans are not capable of such a state. You would have to have no laws broken, no strife, no violence, etc. I don’t think it’s an idea that is possible or worth perusing. However, things can always be better than they are.

 

Most important political scandals/changes of the last year or the last
few years?

In America; the Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court, the inability to resolve the fates of the detainees at Guantanamo, the recent NSA leaks. The unrest in the Middle East, Syria, Egypt.

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Talking to the Roskilde crowd about Florida

 

Who was someone (a person) or something (book, film, music) who was
influential in your life?

My friend Ian MacKaye [FUGAZI] has been influential to me. I have learned a lot from him. Hubert Selby the writer taught me a lot about being brave when writing. I guess Henry Miller’s books made me (stupidly) think that I could write.

 

What current attitudes still shock you?
Believe it or not, nothing really shocks me, just because everything bad comes from the same place and it’s always the same thing over and over again, century after century. It’s just damn annoying that we can’t seem to move past the sticking points of things like racism, misogyny, homophobia.

 

Affecting change in society can be achieved through various methods, from radical means (protest, upheavals) and more traditional methods (campaigning, volunteering, education). What method do you personally like best? And on the spectrum from radical activist (using violent and illegal tactics) to traditional (petitions, for example) where do you place yourself?
I am more of voting and legislation type. I am not looking to get my head caved in by a cop. I don’t see winning that way.

 

You’ve gone from fronting a punk band to someone who makes his living getting paid to give his opinion. This brings a lot responsibility. Have you ever endorsed something you have later regretted? Or anything you’ve said that you’ve later wish you hadn’t?
Good question. I can’t remember endorsing something I regretted later as I am careful with things like that. As far as things I have said that I regret, sure but I think that has more to do with age/maturity/experience as anything else.

 

This is from a fan @peterpta via our Twitter feed: Do you, as a spoken word artist and a rebel, still have some kind of interest in today’s rap music?
I don’t pay much attention to rap music. Mostly because I feel too old for it, not that it isn’t good.

 

What do hope and passion mean to you?
Hope to me, is a passive state. I would rather do something that hope for things. Passion, that’s being alive. Without it, the rest is just mere existence.

HENRY ROLLINS

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