#617: Henry Rollins on the ‘immature’ presidential election, seeing the Misfits live and investing in vinyl

Henry Rollins has never shied from speaking his mind. Be it through his weekly radio show on KCRW, frequent contributions to LA Weekly or his hours-long spoken word soliloquies. He brings the latter to town Saturday evening at the Wilbur Theatre where he’ll tell tales gleaned from his constant travels, encounters with fellow musicians and his thoughts on the current election season.

Vanyaland caught up with the former Black Flag and Rollins Band frontman for our 617 series to talk a bit of politics, his thoughts on Glenn Danzig rejoining Misfits and what traveling the world has taught him about America.


Michael Christopher: You’re going to be in Boston just over a week before the presidential election takes place. What would you say to someone who is legitimately on the fence about the candidates, either in a manner where they feel the need to pick between the lesser of two evils, or they think that each of them have redeeming qualities and would both do a great job for the country and just can’t decide with whom to go?

Henry Rollins: I find it hard to believe that anyone would be on the fence at this point. I can certainly understand someone being less than thrilled with their choices, but on the fence, that would surprise me. I think if someone found themselves somewhat ambivalent, they are probably closer to the Trump type than anything else. With the way the candidates are pitching now, there is no subtlety or gray area in which to wander around in. I’m not saying “the” choice is clear, but that yours would be by now.

For you, does this take the cake for the most bizarre election season in your lifetime?

It certainly is the most immature and depressing. I am not all that excited by anyone running but the level the election has sunk to is a drag.

Are you surprised that the Republican party has fallen apart so spectacularly and that Trump was able to cause such unbridled divisiveness as an outsider?

I think that the Republican party has been dented severely by the tea party and their candidates. The Republican party will be fine. I think you have basically four parties in USA. Democrats, Republicans, the far left and the far right. All four of them ran this time and you are left with a Democrat running against someone from the far right. Sanders and GOP supporters are left to vote for someone they are not exactly thrilled with. I think it is illustrative of a country that is quite unsatisfied with how things are but not sure as to how to go forward. Honestly, I don’t know how to improve the government’s delivery system that wouldn’t require a total overhaul.

One of the things you’re known for is how much traveling you do. What are some of the things that have made you more informed as an American through those experiences, whether it be how other cultures see us or just in general; different laws, customs, food, etc.?

I am more informed about the lash of globalization, the real threat of climate change, food and water insecurity for millions of people all over the world. I have found that for the most part, people in the world have quite a favorable opinion about America. They could just have been being polite. The thing that I keep seeing over and over is just how brutal day to day life is for so many people in the world. The level of grinding poverty I have seen in places has no replica in America. I think a lot of US citizens would be quite shocked.

Shifting gears, how taken aback were you that Glenn went back to the Misfits this year for Riot Fest and did you have any interest in it?

I think music is very much a time/place thing. Merely playing the music you used to, doesn’t necessarily get you back there. I was lucky to have seen the Misfits many times and they were really damn good.

You’ve already said making new music and touring is behind you.”I faced this truth and moved on in search of new battles,” was what you wrote in an LA Weekly column. What battles do you have coming up following the conclusion of the spoken word dates in January?

The battle for me will be to find employment next year as I beg the powers that be in Hollywood for a job. I will probably be going on a lot of auditions. Not nearly my favorite thing to do.


Get a turntable and invest in some records. Have real, analog signal in your life.


Going back to travel, what are seven places you haven’t been to that you have on your list to visit?

New Guinea
Falkland Islands
South Georgia Islands

HENRY ROLLINS :: Saturday, October 29 at The Wilbur Theatre, 246 Tremont St., Boston, MA :: 7 p.m., $37 – $162 :: Advance tickets :: Facebook event page