Q&A: Henry Rollins
Updated: Jun 6
You might know him from S.O.A. (State of Alert), Black Flag, his spoken word, or maybe from that other S.O.A.
Singer. Writer. Actor. Activist.
He once worked at a DC-area Häagen-Dazs store with his best friend, singer Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Fugazi) before spending the past 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 onstage 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 — 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 out not being wanted and now they are. I think that’s a win.
Any favorite or least favorite meal/s 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.