Happy Birthday, Henry!
(c) Heidi May
Zum Geburtstag von Henry Rollins gibt es heute im Blogue nochmal das Interview, das in der 3. ROGUE NATION erschienen ist:
ROGUE: I would like to go back to the days before you joined “Black Flag”. What have you learned back then from the fucked up dirty streets, the minimum wage jobs and the small filthy apartments?
HENRY: It wasn’t so bad. When you’re young, there is a joy of just being on your own and having choices. The surroundings seem to be secondary next to the newness of being out in the world. There were some less than great moments but that is part of it and gives you a lot to think about. I learned a lot about hard work, where a dollar comes from and what it takes to pull one’s weight in the world. The things I learned in those days, I still utilize now.
ROGUE: When did you know you had found “your voice”?
HENRY: I don’t know exactly what you mean. As close as I can try to answer that would be a few years into my twenties, when I was writing with a great deal of ambition. I spent a lot of time, trying to figure out what I meant to say and how to hang words from those sentiments so I could be understood by others. Very difficult but a great deal of certainty came with getting there.
ROGUE: Being a lead singer in a punk band and then on the other side you are spending a good amount of time with reading and writing. How would you describe the combination of literature and punk rock?
HENRY: I think for a lot of people in the punk rock world, lyrics have meaning. Words, messages, ideas, concepts, this was all a large part of that music. It’s not that much about cars and girls, there was, hopefully, more being brought to bear. I was always impressed by the punk rockers who had books with them. I used to see that a lot.
ROGUE: If someone asks you to describe Hardcore Literature, what would be your definition?
HENRY: Hubert Selby, Mikhail Bulgakov, Alfred Jarry, Mikal Gilmore; people like that. Those who really hit the wall when they are telling the story. They don’t hold back and by doing so, really let you in on the story.
ROGUE: In your poems, stories, essays and journals you use a very clear and honest style to deal with all the stuff that has crossed your way in your life. How people got busted/killed, how you had to deal with situations of pure anger and desperation. How much can words do for you before
you say: I gotta stop writing now and need to tear some fucking wall down?
HENRY: Writing is a great place to go to work out frustration. I can’t advise going out and shooting anyone but if you are feeling that kind of anger, you can write it out and no one has to get hurt, it’s not illegal and it’s free. I have never been so moved where I had to stop writing and go and break something. Writing things out has actually really helped me in situations where I was angry.
ROGUE: Can you say how much impact writers like Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski and especially Hubert Selby Jr. had on your way of thinking about literature and finding your own style?
HENRY: Miller made me think (stupidly) that I could write. He made it look easy. That’s because he was so good. It’s not easy and I doubt it was easy for him. After I started writing a lot, I had a whole different appreciation for Miller. I could understand much better how hard he worked on getting all that energy onto the page. Bukowski, as much fun as his books were to read, never really was an influence. Selby always told me to be brave with writing, to get my ego out of the way, so I could realize the truth of the work. I learned a lot from him. He was humble in the face of writing and basically got out of the way, so the work could come through him.
ROGUE: You found a way out of the dump. But most times its like people who are born in all this shit, die most likely in this shit. Where is the chance for them?
HENRY: I had some lean times but I was born into a very normal, middle class white American lifestyle. I never went hungry, always had a roof, went to school, clean clothes, etc. When I went into the music world, things got a little wild at times but that is part of it. I have always done the same thing, since I was young. I just work all the time. That’s it. I don’t do much else except prepare, execute, plan, repeat. In America, you have to understand American capitalism, what it is, who it rewards, who it seeks to enslave and how to deal with all that as best you can. If you can get your head around how the game is played, you can find a way through America. Without that basic understanding of how that machine works, you could end up having quite a prolonged and rough time. A lot of people I came up with got caught up in drugs and other things that sidelined them. I always saw all that stuff as a ticket to nowhere, put out there so people could become addicted, ensnared and compromised. It was never for me but it was for some others and it took a lot of people down.
ROGUE: In your book “See a Grown Man Cry” you write “Life is an embarrassment / every breath threatens to pull your pants down”. Does the struggle never end in your opinion?
HENRY: It’s never ended for me. I can’t speak for anyone else.
ROGUE: What’s the most memorable poem for you?
HENRY:I never really paid much attention to poetry. I liked Rimbaud’s poetry when I was younger.
ROGUE: Back in the days you started printing your own books and selling them out of your backpack, a while later you started your own publishing company called “2-13-61” (your birthdate). What’s the best advice you can give to writers who are trying to get their stuff out?
HENRY: I am not one to hand out advice. I made my own company for publishing. Two main reasons: I knew no one else would publish me. And I wasn’t interested in some publisher’s opinion of what I was writing. I would rather put it out my way and suffer the consequences of that. I can’t hand that out as advice but that’s what I did.
ROGUE: What bothered you most the last few weeks?
HENRY: Probably current events in America. America’s inability to get up the road faster. I am going to have to wait around for a bunch of slugs to die before I can get the changes I need to get things moving forward.
ROGUE: Last question: whats the last book you read and last song you heard where you thought: Fuck, that’s pretty cool?!
HENRY: I really liked the last Marnie Stern album Chronicles of Marnia and I am reading a book by Michele Alexander called The New Jim Crow that is not cool but it’s a worthwhile read.