In articles about Henry Rollins, the phrase Renaissance man is often used. According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, a Renaissance man is “a person who has wide interests and is expert in several areas.”

Well, Rollins is the former lead screamer for punk icons Black Flag and current leader of his own Rollins Band. He’s an actor who has appeared in everything from small indie films (“Desperate But Not Serious”) to evil Hollywood behemoths (“Bad Boys II”) to cartoons (“Batman Beyond”). He hosted the short-lived “Night Visions” anthology series and was “e-Bay Ass-Kicking Guy” on “The Drew Carey Show.” He owns 2.13.61, which publishes his books (oh, yeah, he’s an author, too), CDs, DVDs and other paraphernalia.

Yeah, that’s a lot of stuff for one man to do, but the term “type A workaholic” might be more apt. He’s been touring for 24 years and performing for 25 and refuses to slow down.

Of all of his endeavors, Rollins has been receiving most of his recent accolades for his seemingly nonstop spoken word tours. The current tour is titled “Shock and Awe My Ass!” (an obvious reference to the Bush administration’s title for strategic airstrikes in Iraq – Rollins hasn’t turned into Dennis Miller).

“The way it was pumped in the press like we’re giving the Iraqis a light show the likes of which they’ve never seen; like it’s a sports package on DirecTV. That’s OK, you’re going to say the things you’re going to say – it’s not like I can stop you – but this is war you’re talking about, so you’re going to have allied KIAs and you’re going to be killing bad guys and you’re going to be killing women and kids, and no one wants to kill women and kids. It just happens, it always has and I took exception to the wording and thought, wait a minute, the world is watching you speak. Can’t we have a little bit more decorum and gravity in this moment?”

The uninitiated might surmise that seeing Rollins speak is like spending three hours being yelled at by a thick-necked, heavily tattooed, angry drill sergeant who knows the lyrics to a lot of Black Sabbath tunes. But, as evidenced by his latest DVD, “Live At Luna Park,” Rollins’ lengthy shows are chock full of self-deprecating, observant, self-aware and, yes, angry humor.

Each of Rollins’ long, rambling, highly animated tales comes with equally humorous tangents and eventually a denouement that often includes a point. One of the highlights of the DVD is the bonus featurette “Rollins vs. Iggy Pop,” wherein Hammerin’ Hank details his increasingly futile attempts to blow the aging proto punk legend off the stage at various gigs over the years.

As funny as Rollins can be, he doesn’t think he could put together a tight 15 minutes for the folks at the neighborhood Giggle Plex. “That would scare me, that idea,” he said of doing regular stand-up comedy.

“I respect those that can do it. I like comedians, but I would be terrified at the prospect of ready, set, make “em laugh.”

As for acting, Rollins considers it a side gig at best and only pursues jobs when time permits. So how and why did he end up in Jerry Bruckheimer’s cynical, soulless, kill-“em-all-and-let-God-sort-“em-out “action-comedy” “Bad Boys II”? And how does a punk icon reconcile his squalid past with his comfortable present?

First, Rollins couldn’t care less about anyone’s “punk” ideals and has said he takes some glee in confounding those who think the ex-singer of Black Flag should still be squatting in a hovel with other gutter punks raging against the machine.

Second, how often does anyone not named Schwarzenegger, Willis or Smith get to see behind the scenes of a Hollywood blockbuster?

“That was more interesting to me in that it’s not necessarily a movie I’d go see, but I realize there’s a good story in there if I go do it,” he said of “Bad Boys II.”

“Working in those big movies is fascinating because it’s like working in the middle of the Universal theme park. The choppers are real, the stuff that gets blowed up stays blowed up. It’s all 30K an hour, and a lot of yelling and testosterone and ego, and it’s cool to be kind of a minor, minor player in that and not get your ego swept up into it and just do your work and still look around and say, “Man, these people are intense.’ It’s interesting, you definitely come out with a story. Half the stuff I do or a good portion of it, I’m in it for the story. I’m in it for the laughs.”

(c) 2004, Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio).

Visit Akron Beacon Journal Online at

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.


ARCHIVE PHOTOS on KRT Direct (from KRT Photo Service, 202-383-6099):

Henry Rollins

AP-NY-02-16-04 1020EST

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.