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Interview with Henry Rollins

Updated: Jun 16, 2023

photo cred: Ross Halfin

You might know him from S.O.A., Black Flag, his spoken word, or maybe that other S.O.A.

Singer. Writer. Actor. Activist: Henry Rollins.

He once worked at a DC-area Häagen-Dazs store with his best friend, singer Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Fugazi) before spending the next 40 years traveling the world, tirelessly entertaining countless fans.


Was there a moment, or an album, that made you think, “I want to do that!”?

Seeing the Bad Brains. They made me want to be in a band. They didn’t make me think I could do it necessarily, but they made me want to try. One night at a Bad Brains show, HR, the band’s singer, told me I was a singer and put me on stage to sing with them while he watched. I did a couple of songs. He said, “See?!” and after that, it was in my mind a lot.

You, Ian MacKaye, and Nardwuar The Human Serviette roll up on a music trivia night — it turns out you can only have 2 players per team. Who do you choose?

I’m probably going with Nardwuar. He strikes me as very well studied.

I asked Ian what his favorite Häagen-Dazs flavor was (he said “Swiss chocolate almond” because it “seemed more food-like”) -- do you, or did you have a favorite flavor?

Mine was a flavor they no longer make. It was vanilla but sweetened with honey. It had a strange, flaky consistency, and I think customers might not have liked that. It tasted great. Very subtle but really good.

I think I read somewhere that you eat rice and eggs because it’s cheap and easy. Is that true? Do you not have a favorite splurge or special occasion meal? 

I like that meal as it’s easy and I never feel like I’ve eaten too much. At home, I eat a lot of salad. I keep it simple. I don’t have a lot of variety in my diet. I just try to eat smart. The splurge meal would be a hamburger or pizza. Those are good, but they’re low-performance foods, so I can’t afford to eat like that too often.

Who was your favorite Black Flag singer?

Keith Morris. He’s just one of the best singers of all time anyway.

Should I be sad when I hear a Pogues song in a car commercial, or should I be happy knowing those dudes are (hopefully) finally making some money?

I think it’s great when I hear a song from a band like that in a commercial. Buzzcocks, the Fall, Iggy, I think it’s great. They have won the day. They started not being wanted, and now they are. I think that’s a win.

Any favorite or least favorite meals growing up?

I always liked eating at Roy Rogers. It was a hamburger place. Ian MacKaye and I ate there pretty often when we were very young. Least favorite was the occasional meal served up by my stepmother. It was awful, and of course, I had to eat it all.

Have you ever had Cincinnati chili? If so, thoughts?

I have not.

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