Henry Rollins: Capitalism
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Knowledge Through Mileage
In describing Henry Rollins, the tendency is to try to squeeze as many
labels as possible into a single sentence. “Rollins is many things,” says
the Washington Post, “diatribist, confessor, provocateur, humorist, even
motivational speaker…his is an enthusiastic and engaging chatter.”
Entertainment Weekly’s list includes “Punk-rock icon. Spoken word poet.
Actor. Author. DJ. Is there anything this guy can’t do?” TV Guide has more
concisely called him a “Renaissance Man” – but if Henry Rollins could be
reduced to a single word, that word would undoubtedly be “workaholic.”
For better than a quarter century, Rollins has toured the world as a spoken
word artist, as frontman for both Rollins Band and Black Flag and – without
a microphone – as a solitary traveler with insatiable curiosity bypassing the
resorts in favor of places like Siberia and Senegal, or Burma and Bangladesh.
When he’s not living out of a backpack, Rollins is constantly at work as an
actor, radio DJ, author of more than 20 books, and running his publishing
company and record label 2.13.61. Henry currently hosts a weekly radio
show on L.A.’s renowned NPR affiliate KCRW, is a regular columnist for LA
Weekly, and is hosting National Geographic’s new three-part series Animal
Underworld With Henry Rollins, following of a pair of Nat Geo television
specials in late 2010 and early 2011.
• Spoken Word
Described by the New York Daily News as “some of the most provocative chit-chat
around,” Henry’s spoken word performances – “talking shows,” as he calls them –
are a seamless (yet seemingly extemporaneous) mix of humor and outrage; pop
culture, political commentary and personal anecdote; healthy skepticism and rugged
In early 2011, Henry celebrated his 50th birthday on stage – including extended runs
in New York and Los Angeles, and a pair of sold-out shows at National Geographic
Live in his native Washington, DC on the night of his birthday (February 13) – with
a new tour simply titled “50.” As an enthusiastic fan, Henry interviewed Dinosaur
Jr. on stage prior to the band’s performance during a run of June 2011 tour dates
celebrating their seminal 1988 album Bug. Henry also performed at Bonnaroo 2011,
followed by a series of UK festival performances in August 2011.
In 2010, Henry toured both hemispheres on the slogan “Knowledge without mileage
equals bullshit” with his “Frequent Flyer Tour.” Before that, 2008’s election-
season “Recountdown” was a scathing retrospective of the Bush Presidency. In 2005
(stretching into 2006), Henry celebrated 25 years on the road with “25 Years of
Bullshit,” followed by his “Provoked” tour in 2007. He earned a GRAMMY award in
1994 for Best Spoken Word or Non-Musical Album for his reading of his classic punk-
rock travelogue Get in the Van, and has more than two dozen spoken word CDs and
DVDs to his credit.
“Henry Rollins: The Column!” appears every Thursday in the LA Weekly, and
Henry previously offered barbed commentary on American culture and politics with
his “Straight Talk Espresso” blog for VanityFair.com. Henry has written more than
20 books, including Black Coffee Blues, Broken Summers, and Get in the Van – the
audio version of which earned Henry a GRAMMY for Best Spoken Word Album in
1994. His latest book, A Mad Dash, was released in late 2009 via his own 2.13.61,
following earlier travelogues A Preferred Blur and A Dull Roar.
Henry’s new book Occupants, a stunning collection of photos and essays from his
global travels, is due in October 2011 on Chicago Review Press. With equal parts
anger and optimism, Henry depicts scenes from countries including Afghanistan,
North Korea, Iran, and more. Occupants juxtaposes the disturbing legacy of war and
conflict with the hope, bravery, and kindness of humans around the world; the tragic
effects of hunger and poverty with the strength and beauty of those living in dire
Henry joined the cast of the darkly comedic FX television drama Sons of Anarchy
with a recurring guest starring role as neo-Nazi biker villain AJ Weston (a character
with a worldview decidedly contrary to Henry’s own) in the fall 2009 season. The
show, about a motorcycle club in the fictional town of Charming, CA, stars Charlie
Hunnam, Katey Sagal and Ron Perlman.
Henry’s previous acting credits span more than 20 films, including David Lynch’s Lost
Highway, Bad Boys II, and the upcoming horror/comedy Suck, as well as extensive
Earlier this year, Henry celebrated the 100th broadcast of his weekly show on L.A.’s
acclaimed KCRW – the station where he first did radio work more than 20 years
ago. Billed as “a great mix of all kinds from all over from all time,” Henry’s show airs
Saturday nights from 6-8pm Pacific, and streams online at KCRW.com.
Previously, he hosted the weekly “Harmony In My Head” on L.A.’s now-defunct Indie
103.1 FM. His trilogy of Fanatic books put Henry’s passion for music on display with
meticulously annotated playlists from the show.
Henry recently signed on with National Geographic to host a three-part television
series, Animal Underworld With Henry Rollins. The new series, delving into the
world of human and animal interaction – including alligators, snakes, and wild hogs
– follows in the format of Henry’s Nat Geo Wild special Snake Underworld, which
premiered in April 2011. Previously, Henry hosted the December 2010 National
Geographic Explorer special Born To Rage – examining research into the so-
called “warrior gene,” which some scientists think is a possible indicator of violent
For three seasons, Henry shared his topical rants, musical tastes, and played film
critic and thoughtful interviewer as host of The Henry Rollins Show (and, previously,
Henry’s Film Corner) on cable network IFC. More recently, he mixed performance
and documentary in a string of Uncut specials filmed in New Orleans, Northern
Ireland, South Africa, and Israel.
Before leading the GRAMMY-nominated Rollins Band, Henry made his mark as the
frenetic frontman for legendary band Black Flag.
Rollins Band performed at the 37th Annual GRAMMY Awards, and was nominated
for Best Metal Performance that same year for the song “Liar.” In 2003, Henry
spearheaded the West Memphis Three benefit album Rise Above, which featured
two dozen songs by his former band (Black Flag) played by his then-current Rollins
Band line up, with guest vocalists ranging from Ice T and Chuck D to Lemmy,
Iggy Pop, and Henry himself. The classic Rollins Band lineup reunited in 2006 for
a co-headlining tour with seminal Los Angeles band X. Most recently, Henry both
performed with The Stooges and served as emcee for an April 2011 tribute show
for late Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton, with proceeds benefiting the Ron Asheton
Henry has performed on six continents and in nearly 50 countries. Despite his
outspoken criticism of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Henry has been an
enthusiastic supporter of the USO in recent years. In addition to several USO tours
performing for American soldiers (in Kuwait, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, and the
first artist in the history of the USO to visit the troops in Egypt), Henry is a frequent
visitor to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC.
On his own, Henry has taken the road less traveled – and shared those experiences
in his books and talking shows – plunging headlong into the desolation of the Trans-
Siberian Railroad, the political turmoil of Burma, Cambodia, Pakistan, Iran, Syria,
Laos and countless other corners of the globe. He has borne witness to abject
poverty and fabulous wealth in Asia and West Africa, with a nearly 3-month journey
through Saudi Arabia, Brunei, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and
China, followed by stops in Senegal and Mali. Henry’s most recent Asian excursion
added North Korea, Mongolia, Tibet, Bhutan and Vietnam to his global hands-on
education. In late 2010, Henry visited the heart of the Nile basin while working with
Drop In The Bucket (http://www.dropinthebucket.org) in Uganda and Sudan.