In a new interview with Andy Hall of the Des Moines, Iowa radio station Lazer 103.3, punk rock icon Henry Rollins once again discussed his decision to stop making music 15 years ago after spending well over a decade recording and touring with ROLLINS BAND, his alt-rock powerhouse. He said (as transcribed by Phoosi.com): “I had no more lyrics. I no longer thought in lyrical form. If you made me sit down and write a song, I’d have to write it like someone who just likes listening to the radio or make something rhyme. ‘Love — dove…’ Hmmm. A chorus? Oh. No. Call Paul McCartney, ’cause I’m not him. And so one day, it was just over.
“I’m not a musician. I can’t play an instrument,” he continued. “I can pick them up and carry them, but I can’t play them. And so it’s not like I’m looking for a career in music.
“Please, remember — I was working in an ice cream store. My favorite band, BLACK FLAG, said, ‘We need a new singer. You’re crazy. You wanna audition?’ And I’m, like, ‘Well, let’s see. It’s either scooping ice cream and moving on to another minimum wage job after I’m sick of this one, or I can go humiliate myself in a practice room and audition for BLACK FLAG.’ And, obviously, you know what I chose. And so my life has been, ‘What am I doing here?’
“I’m not a musician,” Henry repeated. “And once I didn’t have the overwhelming urge to write lyrics, I can’t be like songsmith guy and just architect my way through a song. If I don’t have it, I don’t have it — and many people will tell you I never had it to begin with. [Laughs] But be that as it may, it’s too late now; the tape has been rolled.
“And so one morning I woke up and I went, ‘I’m done,'” Rollins added. “And I looked in my hand and the metaphorical stone was in it that I took from the master’s hand, and it was time to leave the temple. So I called my manager at the time, and I said, ‘I’m done with music.’ I can be pretty blunt with things like that. And he saw 10 percent of all of that just go up in smoke. ‘No more sushi for you, son.’ And he had a meltdown. He was, like, ‘No.’ And I’m, like, ‘Well, yeah.’ ‘We’ll do a greatest-hits tour.’ ‘We? You’re not on tour with me.’ And I had no greatest hits. And I don’t wanna stand on stage and be a human jukebox because it wouldn’t be a hundred percent sincere. It would be 98 percent, but it’s the two percent that you’d remember after you left, going, ‘Something was off.’ Yeah, it’s over, and I’m still there. And so I left into the great unknown and I stopped. Luckily for me, the talking tours were going, the book company was going, I was already doing voiceover, film, TV, hosting, writing for different publications. So I had things going on, so I just kind of filled in the music gap with all of that stuff and actually became busier because of all of it. And so it was a very quick decision which I’ve never regretted.
“I pivot pretty hard. Once I’m done with something, once I make my mind up, I’m done. And that’s it. And I call the people I have to disassemble. Like, I called my bandmembers. I said, ‘Fellows, we’ve reached the [end]. The long march is over. Thank you. And I’m out.’ And they probably had no indication from me before those phone calls I made. And they were, like, ‘Oh. Okay.’ I said, ‘Yeah. Thanks. It was great. And I can’t do what I can’t do. And call me if I can be of help with anything.’ And that was it.”
Rollins has toured the world as a spoken-word artist, as frontman for both ROLLINS BAND and BLACK FLAG and as a solitary traveler with insatiable curiosity, favoring road-less-traveled locales in places such as Nepal, Sri Lanka, Siberia, North Korea, South Sudan and Iran.
When he’s not traveling, Rollins prefers a to keep a relentless schedule full of work, with gigs as an actor, author, DJ, voice-over artist and TV show host to name a few of the roles that keep him occupied.
As a spoken-word artist, Rollins regularly performs at colleges and theaters worldwide and has released a number of spoken-word recordings. His album “Get In The Van” won the Grammy for “Best Spoken Word Album” for 1995. As an actor, he has appeared in “The Chase”, “Johnny Mnemonic”, “Heat” and David Lynch‘s film “Lost Highway”.