Henry Rollins Interview: Calls Chick-fil-A Controversy 'Much Ado About Nothing,' Joins Cast of 'Dark Prophet'
Critically-acclaimed actor, spoken word artist, journalist, radio DJ, former singer/songwriter and activist Henry Rollins has joined the cast of the new action packed thriller, Dark Prophet, which has been called a hybrid between a webseries and a TV series. He portrays General Adam Luther, the mastermind behind a government intelligence agency called Black Box. The series, a brainchild of producer Evette Vargas, is set to debut this fall.
After performing in the Washington, D.C. based band State of Alert, Rollins fronted the hardcore punk group Black Flag for nearly five years in the 1980s. Following the band’s breakup, he established a record label and publishing company to release his spoken word albums and formed the Rollins Band, which toured from 1987 until 2003 and during 2006.
“I think it is much ado about nothing. The guy can say what he wants, like I can. You don’t have to eat at said restaurant. Done and done. I am not trying to be flippant, but you really do get to call your uncle a faggot.”
Rollins has hosted numerous radio shows and television shows including The Henry Rollins Show and Jackass and guest starred on The Drew Carey Show, Californication, American Dad and The Paul Reiser Show, among others. He had a recurring role in the second season of Sons of Anarchy and has had roles in several films. The multi-talent has also campaigned for LGBT rights, World Hunger Relief and an end to war, also touring overseas with the United Service Organizations to entertain American troops.
In 2008, Rollins began contributing to the “Politics and Power” blog at the online version of Vanity Fair magazine. His posts usually direct harsh criticism at conservative politicians, although he does occasionally target the left wing as well. He has written a series of books based on his travel journals referred to as the Black Coffee Blues trilogy, earning a Grammy for the audio version of his novel Get in the Van in 1994.
Rollins is currently touring the nation’s capital cities this fall to discuss his views on American culture and today’s politics. The two-month “Capitalism” tour will make a stop at all fifty state capitals before wrapping up in Washington, D.C. on the eve of the presidential election.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Henry, what can you tell me about Dark Prophet?
Henry Rollins: There is a trailer, and there is a script of a few pages. I am in about three minutes of it. I honestly don’t know what will happen with it. It really is Evette’s (Vargas) thing.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Why were you interested in joining the show?
Henry Rollins: Evette came to me and asked if I was interested. I looked at the short trailer, read the brief overview, and said, “Yes.”
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Tell me about your role as General Adam Luther.
Henry Rollins: The General wants to bring the world to an end to rebuild it. He sees no other way of solving all the problems. He’s a good man, but misguided.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What is the Black Box?
Henry Rollins: The General’s organization that is plotting a war. The General is on the opposing forces from the hero, Dai Shepherd.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You are from Washington, D.C. Your parents divorced when you were two years old, and you went to live with your mother. Did she offer you any life advice at a young age?
Henry Rollins: They were both hard working people, so I must’ve gotten some of that from them. I can’t remember any advice, really. I don’t remember much of times spent with them. I do not know my parents very well.
I occasionally see my mother, every twenty to thirty months, briefly at soundcheck at my D.C. show. I saw my father once in 1987 for about two minutes. Past that, I don’t know where he is or what his status is.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You attended an all male school and began writing there. Some of the words you wrote were filled with rage. What happened to affect you so adversely?
Henry Rollins: I was like many frustrated and confused young men in the world, wrestling hormones and impulses. I did not like the place, and that started to wear me down about the fifth year. Like for millions of Americans, high school sucked for me.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): In your opinion, what kind of an impact did you and Black Flag make on the punk scene?
Henry Rollins: I don’t know about impact. It’s a band that people still mention. It is Greg Ginn and Chuck Dukowski’s band. I was the fourth singer in the band, so I can’t really say I was a part of it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Did you get the respect you felt you deserved during your time with Black Flag?
Henry Rollins: I didn’t expect respect from anyone. Why would you waste your time waiting around for respect? As far as deserve anything, I am not aware that I deserve anything more than what is allowed in the Constitution.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What were your best and worst experiences with Black Flag onstage or off?
Henry Rollins: Best part was being in a hard working band that was good. The worst was that it was a struggle the entire time. It gets to you after a while.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): In the 1980s, did you produce an album for Charles Manson, and will any of the songs ever be released?
Henry Rollins: The album belonged to SST records. I edited some pre-existing tracks. There was no one else there who had the time to do it. It’s not mine to release.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): SST being a label formed in the 1970s by Greg Ginn. You are always traveling, Henry. Is that because you have a natural curiosity about difference places as a writer?
Henry Rollins: It has nothing to do with writing. I like being alone out in the world. That’s where I feel best.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You have said, “Education is what will level the playing field for all people in our country, much to the fear of the elite classes and politicians.” What has gone wrong with the education system in America?
Henry Rollins: What has gone wrong with it is that it never went all that right. It has, at least since president Reagan, been a willful downward slope on the public education front. The endgame is that education is for the elite, and the rest will be stupid by comparison and unable to improve their lot in life.
They will only be able to work harder for less money and become tougher. This is now an American virtue. Stupid and tough, the rugged individual is ready to go to war or prison. This is all going according to plan. We have never recovered from 1865.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Interesting sentiment. You have been a promoter of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights. What do you think about the recent hoopla over Chick-fil-A?
Henry Rollins: I think it is much ado about nothing. The guy can say what he wants, like I can. You don’t have to eat at said restaurant. Done and done. I am not trying to be flippant, but you really do get to call your uncle a faggot.
You get to say that faggots should not be able to get married and also have a restaurant that sells chicken to anyone who wants to walk in and buy the product, including gay people. Democracy is tough. You have to make room for Rush Limbaugh. He gets to sit at the table. What to do? Eat elsewhere, I guess.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): So, you do think owners of businesses or restaurants should espouse social or political views.
Henry Rollins: If they want to, sure. I don’t have to like what they say. I would hope that people would conduct themselves in a better manner, but again, this is America. It is tough.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Why do you think the current political atmosphere is so volatile in this country?
Henry Rollins: The eight years of Bush polarized America. Reagan couldn’t be in the Republican Party in 2012 without being told he was too moderate. It’s a different time. It’s said that the captives are protecting the captors and shooting at the liberators.
Also, a lot of people in certain parts of America had ancestors who fought in a very costly and bloody war and lost a way of life, with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. There is some resultant tension there. I also think the wealthy are getting nervous that they are losing traction. They are acting out very vividly.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You are saying that some of the hate is fueled by racism or a clash of the classes?
Henry Rollins: I think it’s both of those; a lack of trust in government, politicians saying that government is bad and incursions into other countries. People know this is wrong, but they can’t bring themselves to admit it. Lots of hubris to go around.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Hostile invasions into other countries and hubris as in arrogance?
Henry Rollins: Yes.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You seem to criticize conservatives the most. What do you dislike about liberals?
Henry Rollins: Their inability to mobilize and stand strong. They refuse to confront when they really need to. When they have opportunities to get things done, they don’t move on it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): If you were elected president, what would be the first two items on your agenda?
Henry Rollins: Education and employment.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you think that the country as a whole needs stricter gun control laws?
Henry Rollins: You’re not going to get anyone’s gun away from them. You want to get AR15s off the street? Too late! That train left the station. You need to make people better. Guns will always be around. Anyone with a hand can operate one. It’s all about the person the hand is attached to.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What advice would you give to a young person who is being bullied in school or on the Internet?
Henry Rollins: Don’t turn into a bully yourself and don’t kill yourself.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You were diagnosed with hyperactivity as a child. Do you suffer from adult ADHD?
Henry Rollins: I don’t know what that is, but I do get depressed.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): In 1998, you stated that you didn’t want a wife or children. Is that still the case?
Henry Rollins: Yes, it is.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You appear to be in great shape. Are you a vegetarian, Henry?
Henry Rollins: I’m not a vegetarian. I spend a lot of time in the gym. I eat common sense good food most of the time. I am as susceptible to pizza as anyone, though. My body hurts more often, and all the injuries of my past are coming back to haunt me.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Who are your favorite musical artists?
Henry Rollins: I have many. Hendrix, Coltrane, Ian MacKaye and Iggy. I listen to a lot of music.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Other than Dark Prophet, any new projects in the works?
Henry Rollins: Two books for next year and some DVDs. Other than that, I don’t have anything past the fifty something shows left this year for work. I have three other books in the works, but they are a ways off.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is there something you would like to do that you have not done yet?
Henry Rollins: No. I just do what comes my way. Past that, I work on writing the rest of the time. It is a long process to get that work.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): People describe you as controversial. How would you describe Henry Rollins?
Henry Rollins: I am absolutely not controversial in the least. Not at all! I obey the law, pay my taxes and want you to have a good life of prosperity and peace. Controversial is the Tea Party, not me.
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