Henry Rollins on Trump, Touring, and Speaking His Mind

Rollins likes life "on the move."
Rollins likes life "on the move."
Pierson Grant Public Relations

At Henry Rollins' last spoken-word show, in Fort Lauderdale in 2012, the former Black Flag frontman spoke his truths onstage, telling stories, such as the one about his adventures as a host on Nat Geo Wild's Animal Underworld, and sharing his opinions on everything, like how American culture subjugates women. The crowd laughed and nodded as one focused and strong body while Rollins proved himself a true snake charmer in all of his endeavors. Onstage, he demands attention and admiration, whether he's talking about solar power or D.C. hardcore. It's been five years, but Rollins, who will return to South Florida this Friday, continues to draw a crowd through his charismatic presence and strongly held beliefs. In an interview with New Times, he mused on topics big and small.

On music: "I have always been more of a fan of music than a musician. When I stopped doing music, it was because I had nothing more to say lyrically and it wasn't interesting to me to go onstage and merely repeat the past, like a human jukebox. I have always been the guy who goes to the record store and puts music on all the time. Basically, music plays the same role it has since I was very young; it is a huge part of my life. If I am off the road, I try to listen to five records a day. On the road, I get two to three records a day listened to."

On politics: "It has been an extraordinary time in the USA. Something that I have been thinking about is the president-elect wanting to appoint his longtime lawyer Jason Greenblatt to a position titled "special representative for international negotiations." I thought that is what the secretary of state's role is. Also, the president-elect wants to use private security instead of the Secret Service. Seems to me that the president-elect is trying to privatize a publicly held office. I don't know how that plays out for the American people. It seems to be a less-than-transparent way to approach the presidency. The mention of Greenblatt fell out of the press cycle quickly, perhaps because of the president's recent expulsion of Russian diplomats. My opinion is no opinion. The president-elect, as far as I can tell, won the Electoral College fairly and quite decisively. He will be the next president for at least the next four years, and I hope that all boats are lifted by the tide.

On 2016: "The USA went so low during the last presidential election cycle. The general conversation was depressing. The death of David Bowie was hard to take. In 2016, I did 140-some shows in 19 countries. I am grateful for the audiences who allowed me to infringe upon their time."

On touring: "I would rather be on tour, onstage nightly. That's where I like life the most — on the move, with the duty to carry out the obligation every night."

On writing for New Times sister paper LA Weekly: "They have never, in six years, told me to cool it or rejected an article I have submitted. LA Weekly pays me 50 bucks a week for something that takes me hours to complete, so it's not for the pay. I like the fact that they came to me and asked me to join the staff, and I like having the obligation of having to generate 1,000 words a week beyond all the writing I do for my own projects. I like doing things. Sitting still has never treated me all that well.

On self-censorship, or lack thereof: "If I want to speak about something, I go for it. I don't think I say anything that is in any way controversial. What I do my best to avoid is the obvious or the overly self-indulgent. Since there is no script, it is up to me to determine the material, priority, length of time spent on anything, etc., so I do my best to try to keep all that on track. Beyond this self-editing, I have never felt the need to hold back anything."

Henry Rollins
8 p.m. Friday, January 13, at the Amaturo Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-462-0222; browardcenter.org. Tickets cost $29 to $50.

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