Henry Rollins

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Henry Rollins


Fresh from the European leg of his tour, Rollins was already pumped to get on the road. “I’m 32 shows into this tour. I got back from Italy Friday evening from a whole bunch of European dates and so this week I’m here in Los Angeles, basically doing press and getting ready to get out of the door again and do a month in America and then get myself to Australia. It started in England and went Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and I think that’s it, oh and Austria.”

For those keeping count, that’s more countries than some heavy-weight bands hit when touring Europe. Rollins has performed in almost 50 countries over six continents. That in itself is impressive, but more so is his desire to continue adding to that number.

“I’ll be getting to Poland in August, so that will be a first for spoken word for me there so I’m looking forward to that. Otherwise all the other places I’m going this year, South Africa will be the third time, Australia like the 25th time, New Zealand 20th time, and then I go back to Europe in August for festival dates in England, Scotland, Germany, Poland and then it’s America ’til the end of the year. So on my own I might do some travelling, but as far as shows we were very lucky to be able to add Poland and Italy to the roster this year. I don’t know where else I could go, I mean there’s the odd one-off now and then where I do a show in Dubai for a bunch of, you know, expats, and that was cool but it didn’t inspire the promoters to ask me back. I mean the show was fine but so far no one’s said ‘Hey come running back’, which I would do. I’d be happy to do another show there. I’ll take a show anywhere.”

You may have just read that as “I’ll take a show almost anywhere”, what Rollins meant was literally “anywhere”. In addition to the previously mentioned, he has also hit Isreal and Russia, and recently became the first USO performer to visit the US troops in Egypt. “There’s just like small bases with eight hour drives between them, and no performer wanted to talk to 100 people then drive eight hours to the next place. So I said ‘I’ll take that action! I’m your guy for that!.’ That’s perfect for me, driving all day in the Sinai Desert? Are you kidding? Awesome!”

Even when not on tour he has a tendency to keep filling his passport, next on his list? “I want to get to Uzbekistan and I want to get back to Azerbaijan. I want to get up to Kazakhstan and maybe get back to some other places. I want to get back to Vietnam and get to the centre of the country. There’s a lot of people in the middle of the country who are still suffering agent orange contamination effects and I want to see that first hand. I want to photograph it, I want to interview these people, I want to learn more.”

“I’ll have inhale years and exhale years. In an inhale year, like last year, I will travel and get information so I can have something to say on stage while I spend a whole year exhaling. So an exhale year, I’m on the road touring and the material is derived from all the crazy stuff I did last year. 2013 will be a year of brutal, relentless travel to get information, stories, anecdotes, sentiments and opinions for the epic tour that will be 2014, and this is kind of how I do it. Nothing just works out, you have to choreograph everything and all of this is designed. I don’t just happen to do anything, it’s all being worked.”

In case you’ve never been to a Rollins spoken word show, or watched one of his DVDs, his travels are unsurprisingly a frequent part of his talks. You can expect him to be on stage for around two hours – though sometimes up to three – so the breadth of subjects covered can be more diverse than the studies of a Melbourne Arts student with no major. This gives him ample time to jump wildly from stories of his experiences abroad to political critiques to tales from the Black Flag days to amusing behind-the-scenes insights from his acting career. They are entertaining, informative and many other adjectives as well. But with two of his three upcoming shows sold out you didn’t need to be told that, did you?