Interview with Black Flag’s Henry Rollins

Henry Rollins is first known for being a member of the Punk Rock Group Black Flag, he has acted in over 30 feature films, a regular columnist in LA Weekly, and Rolling Stone Australia. He has campaigned and been an activist for human rights and Veterans. He has some astute viewpoints on race and politics. Considering he was right on the effects of a George W. Bush presidency it makes sense to listen to him on what a Donald Trump Presidency can possibly mean for this country, read what he said in this official interview:

How did you get involved in punk rock? What has been your best punk rock experience?

A guy from my neighborhood was the first one I knew who had some Punk Rock records. I was curious and he loaned me the first Ramones album and the first Clash album and that was it. When I heard them, I knew my soundtrack had arrived. I guess the best experience was going to shows when I first started. I used to go to the arena to see Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, etc. and it was all good but it felt far away and not all that connective. Going from that to seeing the Bad Brains open for the Damned and being right at the front, that was completely transformative.

You have stated that you didn’t realize how racist this country was until Barack Obama was elected President which is contradictory to some who concluded that racism was over, can you elaborate?

I knew the USA had a lot of racists but I didn’t know it was so many. Just when you thought your country had moved ahead, you see that USA is still stuck in the mud, hosting millions of leeching morons. Well, now we know.

You speak about being a global citizen, what are some of things that a person can do to be a good global citizen?

Travel. Travel to difficult destinations and see places where the inhabitants spend their entire lives in food and water insecurity. Understand how good people in the West have it over most of the rest of the world. You might think of water, food and life differently. You might realize that USA is part of the world and not the world itself.

You speak about education being the end of disaster capitalism, what are your feelings on students going to college and graduating but having huge financial debt when there are a lack of jobs available?

It’s a system designed to keep the money consolidated at the top, where it stays. It doesn’t trickle anywhere. Those with a degree have a better shot at getting a piece than the person without a degree. Student debt is a crushing burden to remind the USA detainee that it’s the elite who runs the show. If USA was truly invested in the future, stability, etc., it would make tuition cheaper. It’s too bad that millions of young people can’t go to college, graduate, pay a small fraction of what they owe, cheerfully inform the company that supplied the loan that they won’t be getting another nickel and go on their way. These people want a few to be rich and for the rest of the population to be serfs and slaves. That’s really what it’s all about. USA just elected one of the foremost practitioners of this method of treating others. Education is the solve. That’s why it is made to be so expensive. It is only for a few.

You have stated that Equality, tolerance, and decency are not inherently American or human traits, what did you mean by that?

American history is brief enough to get your head around it quite quickly. The landed gentry lost their traction in 1865 with the Thirteenth Amendment. They have been trying to get back neutralize it as well as the Fourteenth Amendment ever since. This is what President-Elect Trump means when he talks about making America great again. So, no, all of the traits you mentioned do not come naturally to the USA detainee. All Civil Rights have been fought for, lost, regained, etc. It’s never a “no-brainer” to make things better for all. Read the arguments against increasing minimum wage. Minimum wage is one of the only barriers against USA slavery light. What did Martin Luther King want? Look what it got him. So, no, there is no proof that USA detainees are inherently decent. That being said, I think USA is the truest mix of modernity meets the real nature of Homo sapiens. The species is too high functioning to be generous, kind, etc. Decency, a working set of morals are all learned behavior that is in conflict with the basic instincts that allowed such a flawed, weak species to survive as well as it does. If humankind was all that well adapted, there wouldn’t be the need for so many medical breakthroughs. Humans are pathetic with their glasses and their surgery and their mental breakdowns. No wonder “we” have to destroy everything in order to live. When someone is kind to you, that’s not instinct, that’s restraint. Humans are the only critters that are too stupid to realize they are too smart for their own good.

You have referred to government as a broken machine, what are some of the ways it can be fixed?

Break it down completely and start again. It won’t happen because it’s been gamed and corporatized by both sides of the aisle. That’s why every administration for the most part, fails. Both sides try to sell something that isn’t possible. That’s why healthcare delivery fails. The truth is that it takes about 100K or so in medical costs to get a USA detainee through their long life. An easy fix is for people to stop breeding so much. You can’t have that conversation because it’s horrifying to those who want to keep breeding.

Do you feel Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” has a racist connotation and why?

I think it is about re-establishing the total authority of the landed gentry. It’s not black v. white, it’s rich v. everyone else. For Trump, America was great until April 1861, when all hell broke loose. It’s never been as great as it was for him and people like him ever since. It’s not about race for him. He just wants you to work as you’re told to for the wage he and the others tell you you’re working for. Your job is to be really, really grateful. That’s what he wants to get back to.

Do you feel that a Trump presidency can make America worse, in what ways?

I have no idea what the future holds for USA. From what it seems by the foxes he’s putting in all the hen houses, it will be a smoggy, toxic wonderland of low paying jobs, which will probably sit just fine with his supporters. If it doesn’t, they wouldn’t be able to punch their way out of the wet paper bag of their stupidity and hubris to ever admit it. USA, like any other country, gets the government it deserves. USA’s electorate is not all that sharp. Took decades to get it that way but when you’re trying to fill prisons and battlefields, this is the electorate you get.

I watched your show on the history channel 10 Things You Didn’t Know About History what is your favorite era of history to study? What is something in studying history that you learned that surprised you?

My favorites are the Lincoln and Johnson administrations. When I am slumming it, I go back into the George W Bush years because it allows me to gloat about how right I was about everything.

What’s next for Henry Rollins?

Next year, I will hopefully get work in the vast communist/socialist swamp known as Hollywood. When not there, I hope to be onstage and back out into the world.

Ryan Glover is a contributing writer for Follow him on Twitter @ActorRGlover, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your Google network














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  1. What a great interview. Rollins is one of my heroes, and maybe the most insightful punk star (along side with Patti Smith). Thanks for the wonderful job.

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