by Melody Briscoe
Henry Rollins may not be someone you want to meet in a dark alley. Rollins is one of those bad-boy rebels who is not afraid to be outspoken and passionate about his beliefs. Rollins is also a jack of all trades.
He fronted the hardcore punk-rock band Black Flag from 1981-1986, and while Black Flag is no longer an item, they have maintained a following among young fans who turn up their stereos to their raw melodies.
He formed his own band, the Rollins Band, through his very own record label 2.13.61.
Rollins is also an actor, writer, publisher, radio DJ, activist and entrepreneur.
It makes you wonder how Rollins finds the time to go on tour with his one-man show, SPOKEN WORD—the Frequent Flyer. The SPOKEN WORD tour started in Dublin, Ireland, in January and slowly migrated through parts of Europe before coming back to the United States.
Rollins says he is pleased to be bringing his show back to Birmingham’s WorkPlay Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 27. “I have done some good shows there and I remember people being very cool to me, so I look forward to it,” Rollins says. He hopes that fans will take away some new perspectives on life and politics from his show. “I can usually articulate one to several ideas that members of an audience would disagree with and that at least opens the mind somewhat," Rollins says. "I go to some interesting places and those stories may be of some interest to an audience."
Despite his success, Rollins seems humble and appreciative of his fans. He says he doesn't buy into the Hollywood game. He shared some provocative thoughts in an e-mail exchange this week.
What's the best/worst thing about doing these tours?
Best thing is that I get to do the work and hit it every night. I like the structure and discipline that is required to do it well. The worst part, I guess is when it's over.
Do you ever get any weird fans at these shows?
There are some people who are memorable for one reason or another but I am not in a position to call anyone weird, being weird myself.
What do fans have to look forward to seeing with this show?
I think the above answer got this one.
What do you like about these shows instead of rock concerts or what do you like about rock shows that you don't like about spoken word shows like this?
The talking shows allow me to not be tied to a lyric. They correspond with how I live these days, traveling as I do. Band shows are great as well. All that feels a little behind me at this point though.
Is there something different about doing these shows in the south than up north or in another country?
Not really. I don't think of the audience differently. I go onstage and do my thing and hope for the best. I can't figure I can presuppose what an audience is like, it would be patronizing to do so.
What are some of the main topics of this show?
The places I have been recently, what's happening in current events, things that have happened to me in the last several months.
If you could spend the rest of your life just doing one of your talents: acting, music or one man shows, or another --which would it be?
Probably the talking shows as they allow me to report on what I am seeing and thinking about.
I was reading on several websites about you and they said you suffered from low-self esteem in school, do you think that has helped you to become the strong, bold figure you are today?
I was a normal sullen teenager with a healthy amount of stare at the ground self loathing. Then the anger kicked in. I am angry at life, it makes me go at it pretty hard.
Who would you really like to have dinner with alive or dead?
Mark Twain, that would be cool.
As an activist, if you know you could do one thing to make the world a better place right now, what would it be?
If all countries that were able, could put more of an emphasis on education, I think things would be a lot better.
You have a lot of young followers who really enjoy your work. What's the best advice you would try to give them or what life lesson would you tell them you have learned so far?
To travel as much as they can so they can get a wider worldview. A lot of Americans don't get out as much as they should.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career as a musician or actor?
Besides getting a lawyer? Be prepared to give all and lose all.
Do you think Hollywood/media sometimes tries to pressure men to fit a certain image, like they do women? Have you ever had moments where you felt the pressure to conform to the media's standards even being the nonconformist that you are?
I think men get away with a lot less hassle than women do in the entertainment world. They get older and “look better” and women just look not as young as they used to. It is bullshit of course but it happens. There has never been any real interest in me being anything more than what I am. When you are small of fame, you can do what you want, no one really cares.
Rollins says he doesn’t have any new projects in the works, but he plans to be on tour with SPOKEN WORD for the rest of the year. The best way to keep up with Rollins is through his official website, www.henryrollins.com.
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