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8 Questions with Henry Rollins


Henry Rollins is still angry. That much isn’t news—the former Black Flag frontman has long been known for his outspoken demeanor, teeing off on everything from politics to television. He’s loquacious to a fault—excellent at spinning his perspective in a way that effectively shuts down argument; and if not, his perfect physique and deep-set glare are further impediments to additional discourse. That’s why his one-way spoken word shows rock so much; he delivers with power the things you often feel but don’t say out loud. Here, we get a chance for a two-way discussion as Rollins dives into the election, the highlights of the last eight years and needling Bill O’Reilly…

French Davis: “To celebrate the end of the Bush Era” are the first few words about your new spoken word tour on your website… Is that premature, or do you think Obama’s a shoo-in?
Henry Rollins: I’m not at all sure he will even come close. I mean still, the Bush era will be over, but I see what you’re saying. I think we’re both right with McCain, we’ll get four more years in Iraq. Four more years of favoring of the rich, four more years of favoring big oil and big business. It’s all business, business, business with these people… You’ll get all of that—but at the same time, we won’t have Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice…all the vutlures who are there now. I’m sure they’ll be squirreled away in the private sector, no doubt doing harm there, but at least they’ll be out of the public eye and I won’t have to see them all the time…

FD: The lowlights over the last eight years are easy…can you think of any positives?
HR: Um, sure, you know, in spite of the current administration, people are more aware now. A lot of people have seen true dangers of global warming and climate change. This administration has motivated young people and voters in a way that we haven’t seen in a long while. America should have over 90 percent voter turnout, and we’re getting closer. I think Bush got a lot of people interested in democracy. A lot of people couldn’t find the Middle East on a map before the war—I’m definitely struggling to find positives now— so the last eight years have given people a bit of a geopolitical lesson. More people are asking questions about getting sucked into a fake war. People are looking into alternate ways of getting information…

FD: What are your preferred news sources?
HR: I like the radio for the commentary—Common Dreams, Media Matters. I love Media Matters because it’s very fair—they spin this information right back word for word at the people who said it. That’s why Bill O’Reilly hates them so much. They’re a great media watchdog. They’re the bane of Bill O’Reilly’s existence. I asked those guys why he hates them so much and they just laugh and say, “all we’re doing is quoting him….”

FD: Is your material for this show the same in America as it is overseas?
HR: It’s kind of the same thing in that I’m a global person; I travel all over. In Europe, I won’t make an insider American reference, and here I wouldn’t make too many Monty Python references. That’s not the object— it’s to be inclusive. I work very hard to not be general or bland, but not dumb it down. I want to make it hit home on a human, universal level.

FD: Do you see much difference in the audiences?
HR: I think people in Europe and places like that look at us and kind of shake their heads—why did you elect this guy? Seems so patently obvious to them, but we voted for him twice. They start to think, What’s in the water? What were you thinking? They’re starting to wonder about us, as they should.

FD: Okay, couple fun questions: Dinner with three famous people, living or dead. Who are they and why?
HR: Camus, Twain and Lincoln—first three that came to mind. I don’t normally like to answer “fun” questions.

FD: Which bands are you listening to these days?
HR: Listening with great interest to a lot of the bands on the American Tapes label, like Wolf Eyes, Dead Machines, heavy noise stuff. It’s been very interesting to me—for some people perhaps unlistenable, but I’m right at home with it.

FD: What do you do for escapism?
HR: I don’t really escape… I don’t know, maybe all of this is—my entire existence is escapism. Vacations are usually a calorie burning experience for me—I’ll watch TV for an hour or so—Some Sopranos-like thing, just to take it in, I guess.

8 p.m., Nov. 8, Boulder Theater, $25, 303.786.7030

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