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Q&A: Henry Rollins

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

photo cred: Ross Halfin

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.

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 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 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 — 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.

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