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April 6, 2010 12:42 PM   Subscribe

Henry Rollins on touring with the USO, Black Flag T-Shirts, Vanity Fair and the Tea Party.
posted by Artw (50 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
That was a neat story about the woman in Indonesia wearing a second-hand Black Flag shirt with no idea what it is, and him standing right next to her. However, I should point out, even though it has nothing to do with his point, that Greg Ginn wholly owns the Black Flag name and logo and still does all the merchandise himself via SST Records, which now only exists to sell Black Flag merchandise and Greg's vanity albums. Rollins doesn't have anything to do with it and doesn't make any money off the merchandise.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:50 PM on April 6, 2010


Y'know, I used to hate this guy for two reasons: (1) he fucked up Black Flag, and (2) he's got a lot of aggro. But after a while I've come to realize that aggro's not always the worst thing, he's an interesting dude anyway, and Black Flag... well, that was a long time ago, anyway.

This was good. Thanks.
posted by koeselitz at 12:50 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Great post. I don't know if I'm still allowed to like Rollins and if it makes me old or dumb or whatever but he's the best.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:55 PM on April 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


At first I read this as Henry Rollins touring with the Tea Party.
posted by crashlanding at 12:55 PM on April 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


Oh, Henry:
But you must have injected some of your opinions to rankle the brass and not be officially invited back to tour. Oh, I said to one guy, I said, “Dick Cheney is a liar, oh and also a war criminal.”

That didn’t please him?
No, he didn’t dig it. It gets in the way of selling the brand. When I kept seeing posters of an airplane hitting the World Trade Tower that said “Never Forget” all over every base in Iraq, I said, “Is that why we’re in Iraq, because of 9/11?” Grumble. I’m like, “OK, just asking.”
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:55 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


(1) he fucked up Black Flag

He really didn't, though. See, what happened is Black Flag got sued and couldn't release any new music for a while (this is the reason for the "Everything Went Black" compilation, which was originally released anonymously with no artist name even though everyone knew who it was). During that time, their sound started moving more towards the slower, more complex, metal-influenced stuff you hear starting on "My War", because that's what Greg Ginn wanted to play. Really, that's the only reason. By the time they were able to be active again, they thus sounded completely different, and everyone blamed it on the new singer since that was the most obvious change. There's a bootleg version of demos from 1982, recorded while they couldn't release anything, that proves this.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:58 PM on April 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


My favorite thing on the radio besides WNYC's RadioLab? Rollins' amazing Saturday night shift on KCRW. Always liked him, even when everyone seemed to hate him.
posted by eyeballkid at 1:03 PM on April 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I think you're right, DecemberBoy - it was more Greg Ginn than anything else. He was always a strong personality, but dude was only 20 anyway - he wasn't steering the band's entire destiny or anything at that point. Besides, I may not like his vocals, but he's an interesting guy nonetheless.
posted by koeselitz at 1:07 PM on April 6, 2010


Greg Ginn wholly owns the Black Flag name and logo and still does all the merchandise himself via SST Records, which now only exists to sell Black Flag merchandise and Greg's vanity albums.

Greg Ginn wrote all but a couple of Black Flag's songs (including every song on Damaged), founded SST and Black Flag 2-3 years before meeting Rollins, and keeps pretty much the entirety of the SST back catalogue in print and for sale at extremely reasonable prices. I don't know if you consider Husker Du's Zen Arcade, the first two Meat Puppets records, and the entire Minutemen discography to constitute "Greg Ginn vanity albums," but suggesting that Rollins is somehow more important to Black Flag than Ginn is flagrant lunacy.

Greg Ginn also runs one of LA's most humane cat shelters.
posted by carrybagman at 1:13 PM on April 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


Oh, Hank. <3!
posted by cavalier at 1:20 PM on April 6, 2010


Rollins is one of the few celebrities whose opinions and thoughts I actively seek out. Even when I disagree with him, he's always interesting and worth the read/listen. But there was a period in the mid 90's where he could have used an editor to slow his output down a bit and cherry pick the best material. But now that his exposure is a little lower now, I'm back to be excited when I see a new peice of his writing.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 1:22 PM on April 6, 2010


Greg Ginn also runs one of LA's most humane cat shelters.

This, plus the sixth track on side two on Husker Du's New Day Rising is some quality irony.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:24 PM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've said this elsewhere, but Talking from the Box was a massive influence on me growing up. He'd probably hate my guts and the way I live my life, but I have a lot of time for Rollins anyway.
posted by Errant at 1:28 PM on April 6, 2010


Greg Ginn wrote all but a couple of Black Flag's songs (including every song on Damaged), founded SST and Black Flag 2-3 years before meeting Rollins, and keeps pretty much the entirety of the SST back catalogue in print and for sale at extremely reasonable prices. I don't know if you consider Husker Du's Zen Arcade, the first two Meat Puppets records, and the entire Minutemen discography to constitute "Greg Ginn vanity albums," but suggesting that Rollins is somehow more important to Black Flag than Ginn is flagrant lunacy.

Whoa, whoa, whoa there. I was not saying that AT ALL and you'd have to be retarded to think that. I was just pointing out that Rollins makes no money off Black Flag t-shirts, since the way he said it people might assume he does. And yeah, SST has a great back catalog, but they're not exactly a real record label that puts out new music anymore like they once were. That's all I meant.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:29 PM on April 6, 2010


Fucked that link up. Here's Rollins' KCRW show.
posted by eyeballkid at 1:30 PM on April 6, 2010


you'd have to be retarded to think that

To think that "Rollins is somehow more important to Black Flag than Ginn", that is, before I get misinterpreted again.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:30 PM on April 6, 2010


pretty much the entirety of the SST back catalogue in print and for sale at extremely reasonable prices.

it must be pointed out that greg ginn has a history of not paying most of the other artists that were on his label. there is a reason why everyone that did not have ginn in the band has or is trying to buy back their masters.
posted by the aloha at 1:31 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]



Greg Ginn also runs one of LA's most humane cat shelters.

And still manages to play out once in a while, too. Doing baffling Santana jam-band shit.

I don't know if you consider Husker Du's Zen Arcade, the first two Meat Puppets records, and the entire Minutemen discography to constitute "Greg Ginn vanity albums..."

Seems like few of those guys have kind things to say about Ginn's management of their catalogs. Mould has said he hasn't gotten a check from SST in years.
posted by anazgnos at 1:34 PM on April 6, 2010


"Always liked him, even when everyone seemed to hate him.

posted by eyeballkid"


*head asplodes*
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:34 PM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it's interesting you'd mention Husker Du and Zen Arcade specifically, since they're more negative about their years at SST than anyone and specifically over that album. SST used the success of Zen Arcade (it's the highest selling album ever released by SST by far) and the money that brought to basically do pretty much anything other than pay Husker Du. I don't think I've ever heard a good word from any of them about SST.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:39 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Man, Zen Arcade's a great album.
posted by NationalKato at 1:41 PM on April 6, 2010


Always hated eyeballkid, even when everyone seemed to like him.

No, not really.
posted by Dumsnill at 1:41 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


That was a neat story about the woman in Indonesia wearing a second-hand Black Flag shirt with no idea what it is, and him standing right next to her.

eleyna told me the story of going to a Glen Phillips show where he said people sometimes ask him "Your show is great, but why do you play so many 90s cover songs?"

Totally different music and cultural path, but there's something in common here: it really must be strange to have something you worked on -- particularly something like music where you put a lot of your soul and identity into it -- largely escape its attachment to you as a person.
posted by weston at 1:45 PM on April 6, 2010


All that stuff happened just so that The Minutemen could come to exist. It's like the anthropic principle in cosmology.
posted by freebird at 1:48 PM on April 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Seriously, why is this guy's opinion important? I hate to say it, but there's like, at least 10,000 members here with more knowledge and background on any of the subjects he preferrs to talk about. He's entitled to his opinion--I'm just unconvinced it is important to me.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:53 PM on April 6, 2010


ROLLINS CRUSH PUNY IRONMOUTH!!! GRAAR!!!
posted by Artw at 1:53 PM on April 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm really more of a Keith Morris fan when it comes to Black Flag vocalists, but goddamn if Rollins isn't fun to listen to.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:55 PM on April 6, 2010


i should also add that a lot of the stuff from what i call the "market oversaturation" period of sst is no longer in print. what he did with the money earned by bands that earned the money ends up not being worth keeping around. then again, that probably is not a bad thing for the listener's ears (i write from experience).
posted by the aloha at 1:58 PM on April 6, 2010


Ironmouth - Rollins is far from an expert, although he does seem to be well read and has the ability to combine tidbits of information from various outlets into coherent and relevant thoughts. His opinion might not mean much to somebody that doesn't have a long term history with him, but to somebody like me that's followed him for so long, his opinions feel a bit more personal like those of a close friend. An incredibly charming and articulate friend that can be funny as hell. And since I'm familiar with his style and many of his past opinions, I can generally tell when he's being brutally serious and when to take what he says with a grain of salt.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 2:03 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I kept seeing posters of an airplane hitting the World Trade Tower that said “Never Forget” all over every base in Iraq

I can't get behind that! (Super-awesome YouTube of Rollins telling the story of meeting and recording with William Shatner.)
posted by straight at 2:06 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I think the youth—and this might make me sound old—I think the youth is used to a lot of convenience and thumb-driven devices and maybe can’t be made to engage in the affairs of their country."

Get off his lawn!
posted by oddman at 2:11 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I credit Rollins with singlehandedly getting me through the final month of the worst job I will ever have, a job that completely fucked me up psychologically, thanks to being able to covertly listen to his spoken word performances on my mp3 player. I get that a lot of people don't like him, but I love him. Love that he's so enthusiastic about reading, love his stories, love that he takes the piss out of himself, love him love him love him.
posted by saturnine at 2:16 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


HENRY ROLLINS IS ON METAFILTER.
posted by mattdidthat at 2:19 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


At first I read this as Henry Rollins touring with the Tea Party.

Me too exactly.
posted by jessamyn at 2:24 PM on April 6, 2010


At first I read this as Henry Rollins touring with the Tea Party.

Me too exactly.


Me three, and I kind of wanted to go to there, just to see what it would be like.
posted by padraigin at 2:33 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Get off his lawn!

Rollins has always been a crotchety old man, even when he was an angry young man.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:40 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Henry Rollins helped this angst ridden teenage girl survive her last year in high school. I find it hard to listen to anything of his now without being zapped back to 1993 and feeling a pressing urge to dress all in black and write angry poetry in hardback journals. I still love to hear him tell a story tho.
posted by kanata at 2:48 PM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Henry rides the Trans-Siberian railway. Henry cuts a track with Ben Folds and William Shatner. Henry auditions for a Michael Bay movie. Henry talks about seeing The Ramones. Henry visits Marius, a terminally ill boy.
posted by starman at 3:15 PM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Me three, and I kind of wanted to go to there, just to see what it would be like.

There's something about Rollins's stage persona that makes it totally plausible that he'd scowl a little too hard, snap whatever's holding him together, and slingshot around the far end of the political spectrum to become a frothing right-wing loon.

I'm glad this hasn't happened. But I was so ready to believe it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:06 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I seem to remember that back in the '90s somebody suggested that ol Hammerin' Hank should do a joint tour will Glenn Danzig sponsored by Marvel Comics called 'The Mighty Biceps Of Rock.'

Sounds like a plan.
posted by jonmc at 4:38 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've really been enjoying Rollins on KCRW lately. He seems to have a little more perspective and less undirected energy than he used to. Plus, he has a broad appreciation for all kinds of music.
posted by Xoebe at 6:16 PM on April 6, 2010


When I was a kid - this was 9th grade around 85/86 - there were maybe 5 or 6 punk rockers in my entire city. Black Flag was my favorite band in the world - then one day I heard a "rumor" that they broke up. (This was before the internets, of course, and news about underground rock bands didn't arrive instantly.)

So, the young kid that I was, I decided to write a letter to Black Flag from my little Johnstown, Pennsylvania asking if this was true - and telling them how bummed out I was because I thought they were the greatest thing since sliced bread.

About 2 weeks later, I got a letter in the mail from Henry Fucking Rollins. He explained to me that, yes, Black Flag broke up. He then went on and answered all the questions I asked him - and then wrote a good deal to me in how I should continue being an individual to make sure I stayed in school and to read everything I could and that I could do anything I wanted to do in life, and some other stuff like that.

I was floored by this letter. Still have it today. It had a big impact on me and my life at the time. Probably more than I would be willing to admit. At the time, I was looked at as the kid with fucked up hair who listened to some stupid band called Black Flag. But at least someone in that stupid band gave a shit about me for a few minutes.

Henry can do whatever he wants - I respect the fact that he does exactly this too.
posted by punkrockrat at 7:08 PM on April 6, 2010 [27 favorites]


Already have my tickets for his (fairly rare) LA appearance June 12th. It'll be the fifth time I've seen him, and I know it'll be 95% brand-new material. More than I can say for some acts.

Two shows at Largo, LA MeFites. You know you want that.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 8:15 PM on April 6, 2010


If I saw him live I'd kind of want him to tell the EMT/Tom Waits story, because that one is a favourite of mine - and has a killer punchline, even if it does belong to Waits.
posted by Artw at 8:32 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, here we go - with bonus low quality animation.
posted by Artw at 10:02 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey, whatever happened to those public service announcements on TV that Rollins did in the early 90's advising viewers that "you don't need guns. This is true."
posted by telstar at 12:27 AM on April 7, 2010


Oh, goodie! The left's Ted Nugent.
posted by applemeat at 7:50 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's something about Rollins's stage persona that makes it totally plausible that he'd scowl a little too hard, snap whatever's holding him together, and slingshot around the far end of the political spectrum to become a frothing right-wing loon.

I'm glad this hasn't happened. But I was so ready to believe it.

I think they mean that Tea Party.
posted by ersatz at 9:08 AM on April 7, 2010


How did I not know about this? I fucking love Henry fucking Rollins.
posted by cereselle at 10:17 AM on April 7, 2010


Let's not forget Henry Rollins' publishing company put out NICK CAVE'S BOOK. So, ahem. Henry Rollins can do no wrong, ever.

Also, Artw -- the runner up to the Henry/Tom Waits story (one of my faves, too) is his "when you get dumped" routine...which involves dressing up like Ronnie James Dio.

I quote cereselle x 10: "I fucking love Henry fucking Rollins."
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:38 PM on April 7, 2010


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