Fri, Jan 26, 2007
Interview With The Henry Rollins Show
Punk pontificator Henry Rollins riffs on the media, USO tours and Glover Park with Lauren Paige Kennedy.
This story first appeared in January/February 2007
When you interviewed director Werner Herzog [Grizzly Man] on your IFC talkfest, The Henry Rollins Show, you spoke of “ecstatic truth.”
Yes ... by using fiction, you can sometimes get to the truth. Truth comes from emotion, how you feel about something, whether or not it’s true. And that’s the job of art.
So what do you think of our “reality”-obsessed media environment?
The news is ratings-based now, so it’s about finding fans. Even CNN wants an “audience.” What the news is and what you see is not always the same thing.
If you could invite anyone, living or dead, on the show this season, who would it be?
More writers than musicians. I’d rather talk to F. Scott Fitzgerald than Jimi Hendrix. I’d want Camus before John Lennon, though I like him, too.
You’re known to be an “angry” guy. Does anger work, and whose methods are more effective, Gandhi’s or Chuck D’s?
Anger is a way to get you moving, to stand up and say, “Not in my backyard!” Anger is not hatred. I don’t hate, I never have. But I get mad, and it motivates me. So I guess I’d have to choose Chuck D.
You don’t sound like a cynic at all. You sound like an idealist!
I’m naïve, man!
Tell me about your USO tours.
I have the greatest respect for the soldiers. Twenty-year-old kids who are so determined—they’re like these young astronauts who know so much. My last tour took me to Egypt and Turkey, and I’ve been to Iraq and Afghanistan. I just hang out with them and talk, tell stories.
What’s been your greatest accomplishment?
That after 25 years in the “quote-unquote” entertainment business, I’m still around. Far more talented people than me wound up working at Blockbuster.
D.C. is your hometown. What does it mean for you?
It’s my foundation. I’ve got a place in Virginia, but I always stay in the neighborhood where I grew up, in Glover Park. Have you ever walked down the middle of Beecher Street at 9 p.m.? Not a car to be heard. It’s like a movie set, it’s magic.
You live in L.A. now. How often do you come back?
Four or five times a year. Not a day goes by without me thinking about D.C.
Why does Washington have such a hold on you?
It’s the quality of the air—I haven’t experienced it anywhere else. And the trees, and the way the houses look … my friends all say I’ll be back. I hope so.