Penthouse Retrospective

by Chauncé Hayden Originally Published: July, 2000

Henry Rollins | 20 Years Ago This Month

I just happen to have a lot of energy, so at the end of the day it’s good for me to expend myself at a gym. I really like it. Also, when I tour I’m at a very intense stress level, so I have to train like an athlete. That’s why I go for a heavy, bulk-oriented type of training program along with a really hard, aerobic, cardiovascular kind of workout. That’s why I’m in the gym about two and a half hours a night, four nights a week.

With your touring schedule, how do you find the time?

As soon as band practice is over, I just go right to the gym, stay till about eleven, then go home and go to sleep. The next day, I start the whole thing up again. That’s what I do.

Here’s a semi serious question: Will there ever be a Henry Rollins workout video?

No. As far as all that goes, I’m around more to learn than to instruct. I couldn’t add anything to it. There are so many people who weigh 50 pounds less than me but can lift two times what I do. [Laughs] I wouldn’t be a good example.

The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “What fails to kill me only serves to make me stronger. “Do you subscribe to that same school of thought?

I subscribe to that one-liner. I don’t subscribe to a lot of things that Nietzsche said. I read a lot of Nietzsche, and a lot of it I don’t understand, and that which I do understand, I don’t agree with all of it. But what I do agree with, I think is some pretty good stuff.

I’ve heard that you practice the Bushido samurai code of conduct, which is “Do not attach, to anything or anyone.” Is that true?

I try. I mean I don’t like having close personal relationships with people. The relationships I do have are business oriented. There are a lot of people I like and respect, but I’m not close to people outside my band. Most of the people I know are signed to my label or they get a percentage of what I’m making or I produce them or play music with them.

That seems kind of sad.

Um… well, there is nothing really in my life that’s sad. [Laughs] I mean, you shouldn’t feel sorry for me.

Are you capable of falling in love with somebody?

That’s a good question. Sometimes I think I’m a bit too cynical, and I really like being alone. I like the freedom of getting up and going where I want, when I want, without having to consult anybody.

Do you consider yourself a loner?

Yeah, for the most part. I like being with people sometimes, but I find myself usually avoiding evenings out. When somebody asks if I want to go out, my knee-jerk reaction is usually no. I like doing things alone.

Do you have any desire to have children one day?

No.

Why?

I’m thinking that it might be nice at age 50 to be able to go out and have a lot of freedom and be able to read and listen to music and not have to get up at six in the morning because the kid needs something. I think all of that is very nice; it’s just not for me.

Beavis and Butt-head once described your extraordinarily thick neck as the key to how you get laid. Any truth to that theory?

I don’t know if it’s my neck that gets that happening for me. It might be other parts of my anatomy… like my brain.

Historically, many creative and talented rock stars have also been very self-destructive. You, on the other hand, come across more like a Rambo whose only will is to survive.

I think a lot of people like to see rock ‘n’ rollers or movie stars, whoever the hell they are, die. I hate that. I hate when people look at Shannon Hoon [the lead singer of Blind Melon, who died of a drug overdose] and say, “See, I told ya! All those rock ‘n’ rollers are like that.” It’s too easy. I always swore to myself that I’m not going out like that.

Speaking of Shannon Hoon, I read that you thought it was cool when he gave away his gold record because he thought gold records were bullshit.

Yeah, he gave his gold record to a friend of mine.

Why did Hoon’s death have such a long-lasting effect on you?

It really upset me. It depressed me because I liked him, [but] it didn’t even matter if I didn’t like him. It’s horrible to lose somebody like that. And on the bigger political picture, it just gives all corny Christian people and all these right-wing fuckers a chance to say, “See, we were right and you were wrong! Now you need to let us have more access to your lives because you need to be policed more.”

When you start out being the lead singer for a band with the same name as roach killer, you might foresee a limited future, yet Henry Rollins thrives.

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