Hopefully, Henry Rollins’ live act is more dynamic than his interviews.
Known for his usually high-energy performances, Rollins was about as enthusiastic during our interview Sept. 27 as today’s Bieber-and-GaGa-crazed music fan base would be for a new Black Flag album.
Not that that will ever happen.
“I think I’m done with (music),” Rollins, former frontman of Black Flag and the Rollins Band said when I asked if he’d ever release new music. “I don’t really think lyrically anymore. So if I can’t write a new song, I’m not going to go out there and play old material. It’s like living in the past.”
Rollins’ agent came up with the idea for this fall’s “Capitalism” tour, during which Rollins will perform his standup comedy/commentary act in all 50 state capitals in 60 days. He’ll cap the tour off with a show at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 5, the eve of the presidential election.
The radio-show host and former punk frontman is bringing his socially and politically charged one-man show to Duling Hall Oct. 14.
What will people see on this tour?
I’ll be on stage alone. There’s no real production to it. A lot of what I talk about is informed by where I go. It’s a lot of travel stories. I travel pretty far and wide, so I bring that. Last year, I did a lot of work in National Geographic, filming all over the place. I’ll talk about that. I made trips to places like North Korea, Sudan, Haiti and Cuba on my own. I’ll talk about that. Also, it’s an election year in America, so I remind my fellow Americans that they really should vote, if they are able to. I never advise who they should vote for, but that they should if they can.
You mentioned you traveled to places a lot of Americans would be afraid to go. Why do you pick these kinds of places to travel?
I think that’s where you can learn a lot of lessons. This just a lot to be learned there in these less-traveled paths. Since a lot of people don’t go there, it just makes it more interesting, at least to me.
Where have you been recently that has helped change or broaden your point of view?
(There’s) nothing that really changed or broadened it. The last real travel I got to do that wasn’t for a show was Cuba and Haiti. That was at the end of last year. ... Cuba was interesting; it was just a lot of propaganda about how great Fidel Castro is and all of that. That’s interesting.
It was very rough in Haiti. The cleanup after the earthquake is still going on. In parts of the city, Port-au-Prince, there’s really no signs of much being done. That was tough.
It seems like, in this election, there is, in a lot of people, a fear that the person they are not supporting is going to win. Do you address this in your show, the idea that things are going to be so terrible if the other guy wins?
I think, to a certain degree, life goes on, no matter who becomes your president, Democrat or Republican. You keep going to work. You keep doing your thing, water keeps coming out of the well, to a certain extent. What might change would be America’s foreign policy. If you had a guy like Romney in office, he probably would start putting the heat on Iran to get some kind of conflict happening, like John McCain wanted to do. He seemed to be all about that during the (Republican National Convention), during his speech. So perhaps a guy like Mitt Romney would lend more of an ear to that. Or he’d listen to the government of Israel in a different way than Mr. Obama would.
On a lot of levels in America, things would remain the same. I think for the poor, single moms and people who are in need of government assistance now and then, it might get a little tougher on them.
With this tour and with your radio show, are you trying to provide a different voice than what people hear from most of the mainstream media?
No, I’m not a journalist. I just tell you what I see and how I feel about it. That’s it. I’m just a witness. It’s not for me to speculate or have a crystal ball. I think a lot of this stuff is real simple to understand. Any political issue, you can go to the street and get your understanding. The street never lies.
What do you want people who see your show to take away from it?
Hopefully, it was interesting. The first thing is you don’t want to be a bore. Why do you want to sit around and endorse some insufferable boring thing on stage? So don’t be boring. And maybe the audience gets to walk out with something they didn’t have on the way in, maybe some information, or maybe a different perspective from someone who went somewhere they haven’t gone. Something like that, maybe they’re somehow inspired.
I think you just go out there, and you tell your own twisted version of the truth. These are people with minds who can take from it what they will.
I’m not there to teach. I’m not a teacher. I’m barely able to get through the day on my own, myself. It’s not for me to instruct, but (I) can definitely provide some perspective.