Henry Rollins is a musician, author, actor and all-around underground auteur whose charisma as a bandleader is matched only by his energy for spoken word.
Rollins speaks Sunday in Oklahoma City. Possible discussion topics: The Second Amendment, our state’s toilet-flushing habits and Oklahoma’s general “disconnect.”
Here’s what he had to say to Oklahoma Gazette.
OKG: Fill in the blank: Right now Henry Rollins is busy, please call back later.
OKG: Where are you right now and what did you do last night?
Henry Rollins: I am in my office. I worked on things here last night, there’s a lot to do as I have been away for a long time.
OKG: Have you performed your spoken word material in Oklahoma before?
HR: Many times.
OKG: What can audiences expect at Sunday’s show?
HR: I will talk about where I have been and what I have been up to. Things have been eventful so there’s always things to talk about.
OKG: You’ve released dozens of albums, so clearly you have a lot to say. What’s on your mind today?
HR: It’s an interesting time in America. Healthcare debates, Afghanistan, DC political drama, DADT (don’t ask, don’t tell) anger. These are the things I have been thinking about a lot lately.
OKG: On your concert audiences and your spoken word crowds: Any difference? What’s the dynamic and your responsibility? Commanding a crowd by leading a band seems an entirely different experience than making that connection alone. Leading an army into battle vs. steering diplomacy at a summit, it seems.
HR: I don’t know the difference in the audiences. The talking shows are a lot harder to do. The songs are the songs but the talking shows can go all over the place and there’s only me to keep things in line. It’s a challenge that I like but it’s never an easy thing to do. It’s like taking a final exam on your feet.
OKG: You’ve been on the road for more than a month and you’re not even halfway through this tour. Is there an inherent momentum that builds? Do your tour experiences build upon each other, ratcheting up the live experience exponentially, or are things more ebb and flow?
HR: I have been traveling since mid-October of last year. I am back for a few days between legs. I just did 26 shows in 28 days in Europe. The (American) tour will be well over 100 shows. The tour topics tend to change as the thing goes on. Associations change, context changes, also things are happening in the world at all times and they find themselves working themselves onto the stage.
OKG: At the risk of waxing existential, shows are a release of sorts. Does performing help keep you on an even keel personally ” ala shaking an Etch A Sketch or opening a pressure relief valve?
HR: Absolutely. When I am on tour, I know I am doing the right thing. When I am off the road, things are a little strange for me. I would rather be out in the world and on the move.
OKG: I don’t want to shock you, but Oklahoma isn’t always synonymous with progressive political ideas. Will that be on your mind when you hit the stage? Do you preach “louder” when you take the pulpit in front of sinners at a brothel than you might in front of converts at a church on Sunday?
HR: I don’t give a fuck when the audience goes all quiet when I talk about the Second Amendment or something. The truth is that OK is a great place but its spared a lot of the travails that a lot of America deals with in more congested states and lives much differently than a whole lot of Americans so there is a disconnect. Ten toilet flushes a day and a fat layer does not make one a “rugged individualist.” It’s a pretty thought though.
OKG: You’re a man of many formats. Music, film, radio, books. Who’s worse? Record label execs, movie producers, program directors or publishers?
HR: I don’t have a problem with any of them, really. They do their thing and you have to be careful. There’s bastards in all of these buildings but a lot of great and hardworking people as well.
OKG: You graced “The Dark Side of the Moon” alongside Wayne Coyne and company. When did you meet The Flaming Lips and how did the project get started? Are you and the Lips getting together while you’re in town? You know Wayne just remodeled his house”¦
HR: I have never met them. They asked me to be on the record, I put my parts on a hard drive, sent them in via Internet and was done. I have never heard the final thing. I hope it came out well for them.