By Shukin on 1/6/2013 Back to Articles
Henry Rollins Interview
Strengthcrew.com is honored to have been granted an interview with an icon. Many of you are familiar with the article Iron and the soul in which Rollins talks about his feelings on weight lifting. We asked Henry Rollins about that article and followed with some questions to help us further understand the man behind the legend.
"It is no surprise to me that hardly anyone tells the truth about how they feel. The smart ones keep themselves to themselves for good reason. Why would you want to tell anyone anything that's dear to you? Even when you like them and want nothing more than to be closer than close to them? It's so painful to be next to someone you feel strongly about and know you can't say the things you want to." --Solipsist (1998)
In 1994 Details magazine published a piece, Iron and the soul. That essay has shown up on many powerlifting and bodybuilding websites and forums, would you mind speaking to us about that essay?
I wrote it, I don’t know what to tell you about it, really. I just wrote what weight lifting meant to me as best I could, sent it into the magazine and hoped it would be accepted. I am glad that it has been useful to others but beyond that, I don’t know what else to say.
Did you have any idea it would become that popular?
I have no idea as to its popularity. I have been told by some people that they liked it. I honestly don’t think about the popularity of anything I have done.
Do you still hit the Iron?
Three to five days a week.
I actually tried to listen to I think it was a Springsteen ballad after reading your essay, I couldn’t do it. Do you still train alone to ballads?
Not much. I would do that with heavy weight. I don’t lift like that anymore.
The last lines of the above quote from Solipsits; “It's so painful to be next to someone you feel strongly about and know you can't say the things you want to," resonates with me. Why are we so afraid of true intimacy?
There are plenty of reasons. I think it depends on who you are. I think for some, it’s like the Miranda Warning in that anything you say can be used against you later. The threat of being taken advantage of, that is a deal breaker for people, especially in an age where mass communication and distribution of images, texts and voice can be done by almost anyone. There is the potential for a lot of lasting humiliation. That’s understandable.
Is being vulnerable a sign of weakness?
I think it’s a sign of strength.
Whatever form of expression you choose, music, dance, acting, written or spoken word, do you feel that your listeners, viewers and readers understand you?
I think the writing and the talking shows are perhaps the avenues where we are eye to eye with the most clarity.
Where does your inspiration come from? What percent would you say is autobiographical and what percent is stream of consciousness?
It comes from anger and curiosity. As to what I say or what I act upon, it depends on what’s on at the time. I believe in preparation, not all that interested in spontaneity.
How necessary is a deep understanding of the self for producing the work you do?
That is the basic requirement and also the hardest thing to attain. To get past your ego is at times, quite difficult.
Have you ever felt that deep introspection would cause you to loose your mind?
No. It’s the day to day roar and distraction where one can lose their focus. I avoid all of that as best I can.
What do you use as your moral compass?
Lincoln and my own warped sense of right and wrong.
How has your appearance on Sons of Anarchy affected your career?
I get recognized a lot by normal looking people because of that show. Past that, it is something I did almost four years ago. I don’t pause much, I just get onto the next thing.
From what I understand your beliefs are nowhere near those of your character, was it difficult for you to play a white supremacist?
No. The character was quite linear in his thinking. He takes his orders and does the work. The only thing that was difficult was reconciling the fact that he was a cold blooded killer as well as a good father. That made the guy interesting, past that, he was just a psychopath.
What one word comes to mind when you think of the legacy you hope to be remembered for?
I honestly don’t think in those terms. I don’t do legacy or pride. I just work, get a copy for myself, shelf it and move onto the next thing.
So I've got to ask about Black Flag, are all of the members still on good terms?
I run into one of two of them now and then.
Do you guys ever get together for jam sessions?
Ugh. How sad would that be.
What was it that originally inspired the music Black Flag produced?
Anger, boredom, wanting to meet chicks, probably no different than the Rolling Stones.