Atlantic Canada is on full-alert over the next seven days as punk-icon Henry Rollins returns to the region for shows in Moncton, Fredericton, Halifax, St. John’s & Corner Brook. In this exclusive interview with Arts East, the legendary American singer-songewriter, spoken word artist, writer, publisher, comedian, actor and radio DJ shoots straight from the hip.
What are the biggest challenges of doing what you do?Delivering on time. Making the deadlines. Being consistent.
What are the rewards?You get to do it again. That’s about it.
For you, is the creative process one of inspiration, perspiration, or both?I don’t know if it’s either. For me, it’s a way to get what is in my mind out of it and get some relief. I don’t think I am creative. I think I am trying to keep myself from going too crazy. Thoughts and ideas are for me, a plague on the senses. Unfortunately, the trains keep slamming back and forth in my mind.
What inspires you these days?I can’t think of anything. I like listening to new music from a lot of small labels. I guess they are inspiring. At this time, I am serving my audience every night. That’s what is on my mind the most.
Are these things different from what inspired you earlier in your career?I don’t know about inspiration but I do have motivation and intent. I am motivated by the same thing as always. I want to do good shows. I want to write well, speak well, etc.
Who do you admire most, and why?I admire Ian MacKaye and Abraham Lincoln. They are both people I have learned from as far as handling people and situations. Both are deep and not easy to understand at times but seem to always do the right thing.
Has your perception on life, and/or people, changed over the years?I don’t think so - perhaps some with people. I have met many in my life. I have shaken more hands than anyone I have ever met. As time goes on, I like them more. Past that, life is short and doesn’t have a lot of meaning for me, so I try to make it large.
How have your travels abroad affected you both personally and professionally?I have learned a lot about people, seen their struggles, what they deal with day to day. I admire them but don’t feel a part of the thing they are part of. Professionally, I guess they have given me a lot to talk about onstage, a lot to write about and a lot to ponder.
What are your favourite places to travel?I like Southeast Asia. You can disappear and not have to worry about getting out too much. Africa is tenser. I guess SE Asia is my favorite, like if I had to do some work, like on a book and wanted to go somewhere interesting to do the editing work, I would, if I had the time, go to Vietnam and work on the book there and make it an adventure.
Do you ever get tired or bored doing what you do?Absolutely not.
Aside from touring, what’s next on your creative agenda?I have a lot of shows this year. I will be hopefully getting the final draft done on the next book done during break later this year. Past that, hopefully, I will have some work happening next year when the tour ends. I am working on 5 different books at once at the moment. I am also writing for a couple of different publications, so there is a lot of writing and editing happening at present. Not easy on tour.
What are you listening to these days?CAN, Wolf Eyes, Stare Case, High On Fire, Electric Wizard, Takehisa Kosugi, Conrad Schnitzler, Toshi Ichiyanagi, Hototogisu, Heavy Blanket, Zaimph, Keiji Haino, lots of different stuff.
What are you reading?Team of Rivals by Doris Goodwin.
What are your thoughts on the state of contemporary Western culture?I have no way at all to answer that.
Any predictions or thoughts on the coming U.S. presidential election?Yes. Barack Hussein Obama will be elected again.