Thick-Necked Politics: A Conversation with Henry Rollins

The state of the nation isn’t looking so good: Americans have watched Wall Street crumble to ashes bringing our economy to a dangerous low, gas prices have skyrocketed to a point where soccer moms have to take out a loan to get the kids to school, an election is parading forward with a lot of talk about everything, but solutions and two wars that have cost three trillion dollars and more than 5,000 lives. To take a catch phrase from the current campaign rhetoric: “It’s time for some tough talk.” The Recountdown Tour is the latest spoken word outing for hardcore orator and master of tough talk Henry Rollins and will be coming to the Murray Theater on November 10th. This newest engagement is not only a chance for Rollins to address the madness plaguing our country, but also, in his words, “to celebrate the end of the Bush era.”

Rollins, a native of Washington, DC, began this tour in September and will be venting his disapproval to fans across the United States and Canada. Though Rollins could speak for days on the follies of the Bush administration, The Recountdown Tour focuses on the current battle for the Oval Office.”The show will be about where I have been and what I have seen over the last several months,” Rollins said. “The election drama has been depressing as far as the attack ads and Palin and all the hate,” he said. “Ultimately, the issues get glossed over in favor of lipstick on pigs and whatnot. As usual, the people lose.”

Rollins’ opinion on the outcome of the election has changed in light of the recent activity by both parties. What he once believed to be the obvious outcome is no longer what he thinks will truly happen come November. “I used to think McCain was going to win,” he said. “Now, I am not so sure.” He attributes the change of heart not only to McCain’s choice of a running mate, but the repetition of the same platforms and promises Americans have been hearing for the past eight years. “I think the Palin thing will eventually bite him and seeing the two debates, it’s apparent to me that he has nothing new to say besides the same ‘Bush-ite’ stuff. Not all that ‘mavericky.’ Perhaps enough Americans will want something else that they will vote accordingly.”

Rollins began his spoken word career during the final days of the Black Flag era, some 20 years ago. Now, with numerous tours under his belt and a catalog of spoken word audio and video releases, he says being on tour is where he is at his best and this year has been no different. “That is what I do, so all is fine,” he said. “I would rather be on the road than anywhere else, so it has been a good year for me,” Rollins said. “Being off the road holds little appeal for me—less and less as time goes on.”

With the current economy, escalating fuel costs have hit hard on touring acts in all avenues of the entertainment industry, as well as poor attendance by fans. Luckily, Rollins says those factors haven’t affected his performances this past year. “I have been spared and the shows are doing very well,” he said. “Some places are better than ever. The other expenses, you have to pay them and you do and get on to the next show.”

Though Rollins is still better known as the sweaty, tattooed “hot animal machine” that decimated audiences with Black Flag and the Rollins Band, Rollins would rather share his stories and opinions with spoken word audiences. “I don’t miss [musical performance] all that much,” he said. “Sometimes I do. I just don’t see what I could do with it that I have not done in the past. When I see someone singing the same old songs over and over again, year after year, I wonder why they don’t want to do something more with their lives,” said Rollins. “I am trying to push myself in other directions and keep myself a little off-balance in an attempt to keep it real. I like the idea of making new music, but I’m not so hot on doing old material, even though I miss it.”

Though The Recountdown Tour wraps shortly after the election, Rollins doesn’t plan on slowing down. “I have some company stuff to do as we are making some changes and preparing stuff for 2009,” he said. “After that, I want to get some traveling done and see some places. I have some destinations planned, but it’s all the early stages.” After all, even though the future’s still scary, the world’s toughest talker could use a break.

Check out an exclusive review of Henry's performance here!