Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Punk Rock Icon: A Q&A With Henry Rollins



A couple years ago, Dakota Gilliland joined the GAD! Zine ranks, first with his unique art, and soon after, with his wonderful interviews. He continues to contribute his writing to both the zine and this blog with enthusiasm. There's a lot more to come, but in the meantime, check out this Q&A that Dakota conducted with the legendary Henry Rollins of Black Flag/Rollins Band way back in 2015....

GAD!/DAKOTA: You've become such a major icon for the punk rock community. Did you ever think what you were doing would have such an impact on people?

HENRY ROLLINS: I have always done everything creatively motivated; writing, music, etc., to do it. To be able to do something completely, to hit it as hard as you can and give all to it, something like music, that's all I have ever tried to do, all I ever wanted to get out of it was the opportunity to expend energy. I had no idea that anything I did in this mindset would matter to anyone. I have never written anything, done anything on stage thinking, "This will...." I have only tried to be clear. That anyone cares about what I do has never ceased to surprise me. I think I am lucky to feel this way because it allows for me to not lose the plot.

People are afraid of failure. How did you decide to leave the head manager position of your job and become a lead singer in a band?

It was audition for my favorite band and by doing so, risk success/failure or wake up the next morning and go back to the same job and spend a life time wondering what could have been. What would you have done? Exactly.

How has social media and the internet affected the music scene?

I don't think there is enough time or space to answer that fully because the effect has been so top-to-bottom, from the mechanical to the ethical to even how we consider music, it turns into a topic that is almost as big as music itself. On the not so great side of things, the industry and now even the fans have found ways to make sure musicians stay struggling for a means by which to feed themselves and have a life that escapes fiscal anxiety. On the good side, I think that the internet is allowing for people to reward their curiosity by going to a band's site and listening to music for free and maybe becoming a fan, or allowing their interest to become more enhanced and by doing so, find out all kinds of music, bands and artists they never would have found otherwise. The internet is partially responsible for a ridiculous amount of records in my collection.

With most of our scene being raised in the heart of the Bible Belt, religion plays a part in almost all our lives. Do you think punk rock and religion can coincide?

I think you can have faith and anything else. Faith and Darwin, marriage equality, etc. It all depends on who you're dealing with at any particular time. Some religious people can be very intolerant of certain ways of going about things. Personally, I make most of my decisions as to what's good and bad / right and wrong by seeing if any issue passes the smell test Constitutionally. Some religious people will always see something like Punk Rock as anathema to what they stand for. Some punks might find aspects of one or any religion to be lunacy.

Any advice for anyone out there trying to get their music heard?


If I were trying to do it in 2015, I would use a Bandcamp page. Get heard for free and then set up a pay option. Everyone gets to check you out and you're not sitting on boxes of records that will go unsold.

Interview and Art by Dakota Gilliland
[Originally appeared in GAD! Zine Issue 9]

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