INTERVIEW: Henry Rollins | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Having inspired a generation of artists with post-hardcore outfit Black Flag in the eighties and nineties (most noticeably Mudhoney, Nirvana, and Soundgarden), punk rock icon and artistic polymath, Henry Rollins has since written books, produced Charles Manson’s acoustic music, starred in films (he’s brilliant as an immortal cannibal in He Never Dies) and is currently performing at venues around the world as a spoken word artist. His latest show, Good to See You, is back out on tour and stops at Whitley Bay Playhouse on Thursday 30th March.

After several years away from the stage, Rollins tells us about his choice to come back with this specific performance. “It’s always good to see any audience on any night. When it became clear to me that due to COVID, touring was not necessarily coming back, I figured if I was ever able to tour again, it would indeed be good to see them, perhaps more than ever and that has proven to be true.”

It’s storytelling, like Folk Music. It’s also incredibly direct and for me, that’s the primary appeal

Audiences will no doubt be delighted to see the internationally renowned performer doing what he does best. But alongside enjoying his charisma and stagecraft, fans will also get to know more about Henry from the tales that he tells. “The content of all my shows are based on my personal experience. I’ve been doing performances of this kind since 1983. I like the medium of speaking as it’s an acoustic signal. It’s storytelling, like Folk Music. It’s also incredibly direct and for me, that’s the primary appeal.”

His spoken word technique follows a narrative approach, guiding listeners from beginning to end with a relaxed style that can be comedic, provocative and always engaging. Although there is no doubt that Rollins could have used music to convey his message if he had wanted to, he’s at home on the stage regardless of the art form and prefers the solo approach during the creative process.

“Music was, in my case, always a collaborative pursuit. With that sometimes comes ego, politics, and whatever else. I grew used to that and accepted it as part of the process and maybe it even made the music better but never liked it all that much. Working on material for myself by myself suits me more. It passes or fails on its own. I’d rather work that way. The basic process is the same but without all the collaborative noise and expectation with making music, I think a bit more clearly.”

Good To See You sees Henry share stories from the brief pre-COVID period since the last tour and the months that followed. With this in mind, I asked if anything had changed for Rollin since the pandemic. “It is my first tour since lockdown, but I also know I’m 116 shows into the tour. As far as it is for me on stage every night, it feels like it was before the pandemic.”

So it’s business as usual then… Punk AF!

Henry Rollins takes the stage at Whitley Bay Playhouse on Thursday 30th March.

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