“METAL OF HONOR” INTERVIEW: HENRY ROLLINS FORMER LEAD SINGER OF BLACK FLAG
Full Name: Henry Rollins
Exhibit A: What inspired your involvement in music?
Henry Rollins: Punk rock allowed me to have a chance to be in a band. That kind of music allowed many people like me, low on talent but high on enthusiasm, a chance to be in a band.
Exhibit A: What are some influential bands you listened to, that pushed you towards starting a band.
Henry Rollins: It was seeing the Bad Brains that made me want to be in a band. I saw the singer, HR and thought I wanted to do what he was doing. He’s the best but he was something to aspire to.
Exhibit A: What made you decide to become a singer?
Henry Rollins: It was the chance to audition to be in Black Flag. I was already in a band but we were a very small local band and it wasn’t anywhere near a full time thing. Black Flag was a chance to do it for real. I was very lucky for the chance.
Exhibit A: We can’t help but notice you’re a fan of Dio? We’re going to assume you’re also a fan of Heavy Metal?
Henry Rollins: Some, yes.
Exhibit A: Do you feel Heavy Metal has influenced you and your music?
Henry Rollins: I have no idea. I never really think about a genre when I write any music.
Exhibit A: Did metal influence Black Flag when you joined?
Henry Rollins: We listened to Black Sabbath but it was more about how the rhythm section locked in, that was something we paid attention to.
Exhibit A: Being a part of the hardcore movement. What were some elements involved in the sound?
Henry Rollins: Never a part of any movement. The bands I was in were alwaysvery insular groups who didn’t pay much attention to what was happening or ever felt a part of any scene. I have never felt a part of a scene or movement.
Exhibit A: How was metal depicted to punk rock types?
Henry Rollins: I think punk rock types saw metal people as idiots. Of course, you can’t say that about everyone. I never held that point of view. Sometimes you would meet punk rock types who actually had animosity towards that scene. Could have been something that had happened to them, perhaps there were some metal guys who wanted to fight them, I always thought metal was ok.
Exhibit A: Did you just surround yourself in the punk rock scene or were there any other scenes you were involved in? If so, please elaborate.
Henry Rollins: Like I said, really not part of any scene. I have always worked really hard. The music was all about writing, touring, recording and keeling over. I was never inclined to hang out. It’s never been my thing.
Exhibit A: Skateboarding was an emerging cultural phenomenon that was being heavily influenced by music, during your time in Black Flag. Were you a part of the skate scene? Did you see the rise of skateboarding? What did you feel and think about it?
Henry Rollins: I was pretty much done with skating when I was in BlackFlag. I was busy being in the band and could no longer afford to break a bone. I stopped skating around 1982, because the band was a very full time thing. I understood the attraction that skater types had for that kind of music though. For me, skating music was more Ted Nugent and bands like that, I guess it was what was around at the time.
Exhibit A: How was it like joining Black Flag?
Henry Rollins: It was an amazing experience. They held auditions to be in the band, I went for it and got the job. I never thought anything like that would ever happen to me.
Exhibit A: Why did you leave Black Flag?
Henry Rollins: I didn’t. The band broke up in 1986, we were all of out of a job.
Exhibit A: What was the reason behind the hit single “Liar” in the Rollins Band?
Henry Rollins: A reason? I guess some people liked it? It was just one of the songs we wrote for the Weight album. I thought it was a pretty cool song, but I never understood why it had the effect it did.
Exhibit A: Why do you feel there was a large group of metal heads buying the single?
Henry Rollins: I guess they liked it. The song was on MTV for awhile and perhaps it got across to them.
Exhibit A: What are you up to these days?
Henry Rollins: I am in the middle of a lot of speaking dates all over the world. About 90 shows in so far. I am working on a couple of books that are coming along slowly. It’s hard to work on them on the road but I do my best.
Exhibit A: Aside from music, what are some of your other hobbies?
Henry Rollins: I don’t have hobbies. I work on things and that’s about it.
Exhibit A: Are you interested in any contemporary metal bands?
Henry Rollins: Snail, High On Fire, The Sword, Sunn 0))), Heaven & Hell, Let The Night Roar, Electric Wizard, Dead Meadow, Shrine Builder.
Exhibit A: This question is a bit random.. but what do you think/feel about Rock Band or Guitar Hero?
Henry Rollins: Honestly, I don’t know how they work.
Exhibit A: How was it like working with Raymond Pettibon on artwork. How did you guys find him as an artist?
Henry Rollins: Pettibon is Greg Ginn’s brother. I know Ray but never really worked with him. His artwork on the albums was never really collaborative. We picked through his work and asked if we could use this or that. We were very lucky to have his work on our flyers and albums. He’s an amazing artist.
Exhibit A: Do you find artwork in music is an essential?
Henry Rollins: I think it can really help get a band’s music to people. Black Flag’s flyers were essential in getting interest in the band. You saw those flyers up and wanted to know more for sure.
Exhibit A: Any favorite contemporary artists?
Henry Rollins: Raymond Pettibon and Shepard Fairey.
Exhibit A: What are some of your favorite album covers throughout time?
Henry Rollins: First Clash album, first Damned album, Fun House by The Stooges.
Interview By NAZRN