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An Audience With the Henry Rollins
The relentless behemoth of many trades


A man who requires no introduction.


Zeke Iddon: You're an actor, you write, you tour, you run your own publishing house, you're in a band and work with many others... dude, how many hours are in the average Rollins day? Do you not feel like a holiday, or are you the type of guy who goes insane if you're not busy?

Henry Rollins: I would rather work than anything. I don't have a great deal of human companionship so I am more interested in something to do, especially if I can do it on my own. I like the band work and all that but it's the best thing for me to work alone. I travel all over the world alone and that's a vacation of sorts but the locations I go to are not always the easiest places to cool out in. It's more about not getting kidnapped of dosed by bad water. When I am off the road, like today, I will do a 12-15 hour day and then go back to the house and do stuff there. Life is short, I'd rather work hard and exceed expectation.

Your publishing imprint, 2.13.61, has been going strong for a good twenty years now, but I could imagine it was a struggle to get it where it is now.

We have had a great deal of success with the internet. With any company selling art, literature, etc., you have to find your audience and rock them. That's the struggle, you have to find them and keep them with you. This sounds like a commercial but what I mean is making really cool stuff and keeping the prices low and respecting them. We do cool stuff, we make it really cheap and we answer all the mail. Past that, I was very lucky with all this having the music and the profile that a young writer might not enjoy. Also, I have worked pretty hard.

Do you think it is more difficult to make a carreer in publishing (and the arts in general) nowadays, or was it just as tough when you started out?

I think it might be easier now with the internet and a more independent-minded and savvy audience out there but it's still all fairly uphill.

What are you listening to/reading at the moment?

Reading books on Afghanistan/Mujahideen, Gogol's short stories, Baer's first book. Baer was the CIA's top man in the middle east for two decades and he rips the current administration and the ones in the past for basically dropping the ball all the time. Really insane stories of dealing with the Kurds in northern Iraq.

At what stage in your life did you say to yourself, "yep, this is it. I'm going to be a performer, and that's final"?

I never have. It's what I'm doing now. It could all end tomorrow. I knew I wanted to be in a band when I saw the Bad Brains in 1979 but everyone in the crowd probably did as well that night. One time HR (lead singer of Bad Brains) told me I was going to be a singer, that was very inspiring.

There's a parallel universe somewhere where Henry Rollins didn't jump  onstage and make himself known to the original Black Flag line-up in '81. How do you think he's faring right now?

I get asked that a lot and I really don't know. Probably one job to the next one in the more normal working world. I might have gotten it happening in a band for a little while. It's all just wondering and I don't really see the point.

The Shock and Awe tour: I caught your show in Leicester this time last week. You spoke for three hours solid; you didn't even stop to sip your water. Do you actually memorise three hours of script, or do you just remember the key gags and topics before firing away?

I don't memorize anything. I just know what I want to talk about and go for it. I have been doing those shows for 22 years so I am getting the hang of it now.

Finally, if you could recommend any one product from 2.13.61, which would it be?

The Trouble Funk 2CD set.





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