Friday, March 19, 2010

Weekend Post: Rollins Style

We are gonna start putting up some weekend content here on DCXX in hopes that people tune in to see what's happening all the time, and not just Monday-Friday.

The idea here is to hopefully spark some sort of discussion in the comments section and maybe the initial post will take on a life of its own.

To kick things off - what else but the topic of Henry Rollins. I started thumbing through Get In The Van after reading it years ago. I always found Rollins, like it or not, to be a polarizing guy. Many love, many hate. I know that Tim and I love all Black Flag material, as well as most of the Rollins Band stuff. And we both love the book.

Leave a comment and tell us what you think. Is he your favorite Flag singer? Thoughts on Rollins Band? What did you think of Get In The Van when you first read it? If you have a story to share, have at it. Who knows, maybe ole' Hank himself will even chime in.

We'll be back again Sunday night. -Gordo DCXX


XU said...

one thing's for sure... he is sexual dynamite!

Unknown said...

Oddly enough he is my least favorite Black Flag singer, although I love the records he did with Black Flag, but I LOVE early Rollins Band.

Looking forward to seeing his psoken word show in a few months when he hits PD.

Anonymous said...

I met Henry Rollins for the first (and only) time in my life in late 1994 at a meet and greet that he was doing in support of his just released Get In The Van book at the Tower Records (R.I.P.) off of Sunset Blvd. I’d been a HUGE Rollins fan since the mid ’80s, so needless to say, it was a very big deal for me to meet him in person and get my picture taken with him (

I really like the Flag records that he sings on, the 3 or 4 Rollins Band records that I've heard and the handful of books of his that I've read. However, even more than that, I love ALL of his spoken word records and his IFC show. The man can do no wrong in my mind.

xpatedgex said...

I have to be honest, Chavo is my favorite. BUT, when it comes to stage attitude and physical presence, Rollins hand down. I caught myself, at times, throwing myself into his stances when I used to sing in bands.

"Get In The Van" is one of the best documents of American Hardcore music, as well as being a great idea of how much this music has changed, for better or worse.

Johnny said...

Although I've been into his music for two decades now I'd never read or heard Get in the Van until I got the audio version a few months ago for a work road trip.

To me the thing that stood out the most was how in the beginning of his stint with Black Flag everything was so fresh and new and exciting and by the end it's just a totally miserable grind. Many things in life are like that.

Jim Pitts said...

I only ever saw Black Flag 3 times, all with Rollins singing. The first time would've been around 1983 I believe and Rollins was still the shaved head ball of fury belting out "Thirsty and Miserable". The second was in 1985 and while the show was not a great one I was the centerpiece of a photo on the front page of the local paper that said "Return of the Punks!" right above me. I then saw them one more time before they disbanded in 1986. The last two performances I saw were a little to heavy on the "Loose Nut" and "Slip It In" records for my taste.
I love that Rollins almost took back the older Black Flag style with early Rollins Band. "Lifetime" is still a crusher of a record!
At least when you see the Circle Jerks these days you can get a feel for old Flag since they perform Morris era songs like Nervous Breakdown and White Minority.

Dan said...

I'm in the middle of Get in the Van right now. I really like early Flag stuff, with and without Rollins. I heard his spoken word stuff and he was so funny and charismatic in it that it was hard to believe that it was the same guy who seemed to cut himself off from practically everyone and became so cold during the Black Flag days. I always wondered if he was still straight (edge) all these years. Either way I've been a fan since hearing Rise Above blast through the speakers.

Anonymous said...

to "jake" - how do consider yourslef a "huge" fan of henry rollins, and yet you admit you've heard only 3 or 4 rollins band records, when there are what, 7 or 8? if you are a "huge" fan, won't you have checked out everything like a huge fan would? something fishy about that.

i'll take keith morris. rollins is cool but dude's ego is just stupid.

Anonymous said...

I first met Rollins in 1990 at some CMJ college music crap fest in NYC. He was pimping his Wartime Project with Andrew Weiss. He was talking about his book Art to Choke Hearts. I made a comment about how lighting people on fire with flamethrowers was negative.

Henry did not really like that. The crowd of people around us went quiet and all eyes were on me and Rollins. I thought he was going to rip me apart. He asked me to repeat what I said. I did. Then he says to me "I have never done anything that was negative." He was so totally pissed and intense. I tried to talk my way out of it and walked away. My hero had shot me down. Looking back, I would have done the same thing.

Anonymous said...

my votes in for chavo but get in the van was fucking amazing!ive read it 4 or 5 times and it makes for a good toilet read..take a dump, pick it up and enjoy a little of my fav stories is about how he was on stage and midsong he realizes someones burning his earlobe with a lighter..hahha..i connected with alot of things in that book actually..he is an amazing story teller..and i dont know about rollins being xxx..ive heard tales of massive amount of weed smoking going on esp during the later years.i can hear it in the later records..the songs got real jammish and to quote greg ginn "a little zainy a little wastey"hahaha

oise said...

Get In The Van is a great read. But re-reading it several times i think the first part - where he writes about his time in DC and how he joined the band - is way more interesting then the last third or so.
At the end it's just boring and psychotic and dull.

I do really enjoy the Rollins Band's early material like 'hard volume' and 'lifetime' - songs like "gun in mouth blues' and 'burned beyond recognition' really helped me in those unhappy teenage years. Later stuff didn't touch me thaaat much but 'come in and burn' had a fantastic opening track called 'shame'.

Nowadays i do enjoy his books way more than his records.
The 'black coffee blues' series is highly recommended.
As well as 'broken summers' where he documented his fight for the west memphis three, the making of the 'rise above' album and the following 'rollins band plays black flag' tour - great read!!!

Anonymous said...

I love all eras of Black Flag as well as Rollins Band. I loved it when he returned with Mother Superior rockin´ out heavily! 1987-1989 where pure magic - the liveshows were the most insane in hardcore history and "Lifetime" & his spoken word releases like "Sweatbox" were the toughest shit around. Btw, great pictures! More Black Flag, more Bl´ast, more Rollins Band, please!!

Anonymous said...

Here's all the Rollins and related records I've listened to. I'd say that this puts me in the huge fan category, wouldn't you?

S.O.A. - No Policy
Black Flag - Damaged
Black Flag - My War
Black Flag - Family Man
Black Flag - Slip It In
Black Flag - Loose Nut
Black Flag - The Process Of Weeding Out
Black Flag - In My Head
Henry Rollins - Short Walk on a Long Pier
Henry Rollins - Big Ugly Mouth
Henry Rollins - Hot Animal Machine
Henrietta Collins and the Wifebeating Childhaters - Drive by Shooting
Henry Rollins - Sweatbox
Rollins Band - Turned On
Henry Rollins - Live at McCabe's
Rollins Band - The End of Silence
Henry Rollins - Human Butt
Henry Rollins - The Boxed Life
Rollins Band - Weight
Henry Rollins - Get in the Van: On the Road with Black Flag
Henry Rollins - Think Tank
Henry Rollins - Eric the Pilot
Henry Rollins - A Rollins in the Wry
Henry Rollins - Live at the Westbeth Theater
Henry Rollins - Talk Is Cheap Vol. I
Henry Rollins - Talk Is Cheap Vol. II
Henry Rollins - Nights Behind the Tree Line
Henry Rollins - Talk Is Cheap Vol. III
Henry Rollins - Talk Is Cheap Vol. IV
Henry Rollins - Provoked
Henry Rollins - Spoken Word Guy 11-03-08 Alexandria, VA

Anonymous said...

Two more - the Flag's "T.V. Party" and "I Can See You" singles.

hog said...

Dez is my favorite Flag Singer. Henry is best on the 2 guitar flag demos bootlegs that are floating around.
Rollins went to the next level once he went out with his own band.
Saw Rollins Band open for Agent Orange right before Lifetime came out. They blew Agent Orange off the stage and maybe out of the state!
Rollins may not have been the best front man in Black Flag, but he is one of the top front men period

Billy said...

Since Jake hasn't even hear "Lifetime" I have to assume that when he says he is a huge fan, he is describing his weight.

Malbeats said...

I saw Black Flag with Henry twice back in 1984 in England, first night in Nottingham and they must've played for two and a half hours, it was so intense! The night after was in Stevenage and the place was full of nazi boneheads who after 4-5 songs started throwing chairs up on the stage towards Henry...the band just packed up and left the stage. I really admired that.

Justin Kelley said...

SOA was the fucking shit!
Atleast he's acting and not touring, trying to re-hash the old days of Black Flag.

Very charismatic frontman and a good actor. I mean what's radder than him playing a cop with a misfits tattoo on his arm?

My wife is all stoked on the movie, and I'm geeking out over the fact there is a misfits tat in some Warnerbros movie. lol

Anonymous said...

I like him. He is not my favorite Black Flag singer... I do like his early Rollins Band stuff a lot. I do think he is a little phony and uses his intense personality and brains to intimidate and prevent people from questioning him when he doesn't follow his own credos and his judgments can be a little over the top. I have only been able to see him live once with Rollins Band. It was about 8 years ago in Philly. He literally stopped the show and said that there was a terrible plague in this world worse than anything we know. Everyone was silent. Then he asked, “Do any of you really know how many fat people there are in this world?" Over half the audience would have qualified as "fat", he then continued to sing to intensely that he broke the diaphragm or some crazy part of a microphone that according to my musician friend was there is impossible to do.

Ben Edge said...

He's an interesting guy. I've spoken with him probably half a dozen times, and his mood will be different each time. I saw the Rollins Band (Mother Superior line up) doing Black Flag covers to benefit the West Memphis Three, and I thought it was way better than the supposed Black Flag reunion I saw. I wrote about it, and Rollins put my review in his book Broken Summers. It's towards the end.

"The non-band of the century." - Rollins on SOA

Best Flag singer = Chavo

Anonymous said...

"Turned inside out...for all to see" The best frontman of the genre...hardcore/punk whatever you want to call it. Second best overall behind Ian Svenonious..

Anonymous said...

Forgot the "Annihilate This Week" live single too.

Anonymous said...

I run hot & cold with Rollins. After Black Flag I liked the Hot Animal Machine & Hard Volume LP's. Saw Rollins once at the Newcastle Riverside Club on the End Of Silence UK tour with The Beastie Boys. Couldn't fault it live, Rollins Band give 110% that night.


walter said...

I love the Get in the Van book- it reminds me how the elements of danger and unpredictability used to be so prevalent in the punk and hc scene, for better or for worse- one part I can't forget about that book is when Rollins was describing a Black Flag tour in England and was pissed at the skinhead violence towards the band..Rollins said he saw a drunk skin standing at the top of a dark stairwell after a show, pissing down the stairs...and Rollins gave the skin a well placed kick that sent him flying down the stairs into the dark- there were no sounds coming from the bottom of the stairs, and Rollins just walked away

Anonymous said...

He's a living legend! There's no question about that! HC history 101. But one thing is - what's up with those short's man. Maybe a little to much time on Venice Beach. dunno

JohnDZ said...

I am probably a bigger fan of Rollins himself as a performer in general than any one band he was in. I am 29 years old, so I was culturally old enough for Rollins Band (who I loved in the 90's and still love today), but not old enough to experience Black Flag other than from the perspective of looking back. Black Flag's "the first 4 years" was the first punk album I bought (1993) and it truly changed me forever. What I love about Rollins is his intensity of purpose. I used to play guitar in a hardcore band, and when we would tour, we always listened to the get in the van tapes, so that when we were pumped and ready to play live, we saw it as destroying the crowd, BF style. Again, huge impact on my life, and how I approach culture and the arts in general. Thanks Henry.

ROA. said...

Dez is my favorite singer of Black Flag.

Anyone can say what they want about this man but he outworks anyone I know.

Bill Gates works hard, but he if workes as Rollins we all would call Earth, GATES.

dangerclose said...

Dear 2nd Anonymous:

I was with you at said CMJ convention where you met Rollins...that story gets more better as the years go by

Cheesegrater said...

100% agree Ben Edge...

WM3 @ Amoeba > Benefit for Cats

J$N $#!+#3@D said...

i love the keith morris version. but all are killer. saw rollins band on the west memphis 3 benefit show, where it was all black flag songs with the first and last flag singers. it was awesome.


Looks like the comments have come to a halt here, so I'll take a second to chime in.

First off, my favorite Flag singer is Keith Morris, in my eyes it's just tough to beat the original. The "Nervous Breakdown" EP is flawless. Rollins comes in 2nd ("Damaged" is everything that's right about HC), Chavo 3rd and Dez 4th.

As for Rollins's solo material, "Lifetime" is pure, crushing perfection and my fave of all his albums.


. said...

"I have never done anything that was negative" = Rollins adopting his Manson stance.

Hank is the greatest Flag vocalist and "My war" is the greatest record.

Anonymous said...

So, everyone loves Rollins now?
I like what he did with Black Flag but he seems to take himself waaaaaay to seriously.
While the Rollins band has some decent songs, I couldn't ever get into the whole catalogue.
I saw Rollins Band sometime in the early 1990's in Allentown with Murphy's Law opening. This was right before his big 'resurgence'. I could only take about a half of the set. After 15 min. of him yelling about a 36 hour firefight or something I packed up and left.

JD said...

I like that Rollins was a judge on Rue Paul's Drag Race.
He doesn't take himself that seriously.

Jonathan said...

Hey Jake, check out Wartime, it's a bit different than what Henry usually does but enjoyable.

By far my favorite Black Flag era is with Rollins, from the straight ahead hardcore/punk of Damaged to the more experimental and instrumental albums to come later. I think, maybe wrongly, that there are two different kinds of Black Flag fans. We have the happier fans that just want to have fun and mosh, they tend to say that Keith "Johnny 'Bob' Goldstein" Morris or Ron "Chavo Pederast" Reyes is their favorite Flag singers. Then we have the brooding thinkers, the people that can't stop thinking about how fucked things are, they tend to think that Rollins, and even Dez, are the best singers. I'm basing this on all the people that I know, people that like early Flag are in the middle of the room dancing while the later era Flag fans are sitting in the corner wondering why the people dancing are so damn happy.

One thing I can't understand is when people say Henry ruined Black Flag. Ginn wrote most of the lyrics and music, that band was going to go in the direction of 'In My Head' no matter who was singing. Members had a love for bands like Grateful Dead and ZZ Top, get over it punker assholes. Life is about progressing, if you wanna stay stagnant why not go back to wearing diapers and shitting yourself? I read a quote that Black Flag is a "musician's band". That's so true, either you get it or you don't.

I read 'Get In The Van' when I was 16 and it really struck a chord, I was already into bands like Minor Threat, Misfits, The Germs... but Henry seemed way heavier than all of them, I guess that's what is so polarizing about the man, he's so heavy that some people don't want to hear it. Things that he was saying, like people tripping on their bullshit, speaking less because when the words come out it makes you sound like a fool, it was all stuff I could relate to. I'm actually in the process of re-reading GITV, and although some of the writing sounds a little over-dramatized, I still think it's essential reading, there's a lot of knowledge to be had.

That's a lot of words.

Jim Pitts said...

Jake also missed the Black Flag "Louie, Louie" 7" with Rollins

P_Rende said...

I've never understood the hate directed towards Rollins. Get In The Van is a great read for fans, especially those who never saw Black Flag. I heard he was expanding it for re-release but I'm not sure it happened. As hardcore as it was, there seems to be some stuff he omitted, maybe because it was too visceral. When I was watching We Jam Econo, there was a moment when talking about D. Boon's death where Ian MacKaye held up a note Rollins had sent. But its not in Get In the Van.

For me, the early Black Flag recordings represent their best songs, but they lack in sound quality. The first good recording is Damaged. Also I have always loved Slip It In. The only album I have trouble with is In My Head and not surprisingly because it sounds weird. It sounds like there is a compressor effect over the entire album and it gets muddy. Love Drinking And Driving though.

Rollins Band is great. I'm really glad people have mentioned Lifetime as it is classic. The live tracks on Do It are also great. He puts on a great show every time. He named a live album The Only Way to Know for Sure, which proves what most already know, that live is where you gotta bring it.

The only explanation I have for his "polarizing" rep, is that he puts himself out there more than anyone from his era. He continued on, whether with music or spoken word. Gotta respect his perseverance.

Anonymous said...

Jim, I'm about 99% sure that I had the Damaged LP with Rollins singing "Louie Louie" as a bonus cut in the '80s. I asked Rollins about this pretty recently but he wasn't aware of it.

Tom said...

I think Rollins is an egomaniac and has bought in to the persona he's built for himself so much so that it's hard for him to actually be the pretty normal guy he allows himself to be from time to time.

I saw him and Mother Superior at the Double Door in Chicago some years ago. Some kid in the middle of the crowd was yelling out Black Flag tunes and I'm sure some other stupid shit. Rollins is on stage and instead of ignoring the kid, slips his hands in his shorts and tells the kid to "lick the sweat from [his] balls." That was funny. But then he starts getting really fucking aggressive towards the guy from the stage. Clearly this kid was no threat. All of the sudden, from the doorway nearest Milwaukee Ave. comes Rollins' shirtless ape roadie who was clearly not short on places to workout. The crowd parted like the fucking Red Sea and this kid was standing there, alone, with no idea this fucking bull was charging him at full speed. The roadie clothes lines the guy to the point that it looked like he could have taken off this kid's head and then drags him by the neck back to the Milwaukee Ave. door and tosses him out on the street. Meanwhile, Rollins is up there enjoying himself and saying shit to the kid on the way out the door. Had the kid spit, doused him with something or physically attacked him, then I say go for it, but all he did was make a jackass of himself with his words. I left right after that because of the weird macho apeman bullshit.

Beyond all of that, Rollins is my #2 after Chavo for Flag. I don't invest enough time in the guy to really have any hatred towards him and think that he's funny sometimes, but a major goon at other times.

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