Saturday, July 22, 2006

07.22.06 My Morning with Henry

A few months back, the up and coming indie music magazine, Death + Taxes, featured a piece about Jericho's Echo. During the interview, I was shooting the breeze with Managing Editor Stephen Blackwell, and I suggested that the new mag add an indie film column to its well-rounded music coverage. "Great idea," he replied, "Why don't you write it?"

So that's how I ended up in Henry Rollins' Hollywood office earlier this month. I know. You're thinking,"Office?! I would expect Henry Rollins to have some sort of lair or batcave where he broods and comes up with elaborate plans to save the world!" Me, too.

In fact, I was downright nervous to meet him, and not just because he was the lead singer of Black Flag, has produced a whole boatload of interesting work in his lifetime, and is best friends with one of my heroes, Ian MacKaye. It was sheer intimidation. After all, one of the most iconic images of Henry features him painted Satan-red and screaming, "LIAR!" straight into a TV camera (in a Rollins Band video ca. 1995).

My fears were squashed the minute Henry answered the door. I had arrived way early in anticipation of LA traffic and made the mistake of walking to get some coffee. Mistake because A) LA is not very pedestrian friendly and B) It was hot as balls. By the time I approached the office, I'm afraid I was a bit of a mess. The first thing he said, kindly, was, "Can I get you a glass of water?" I have to admit that I immediately thought,"Wow! You sound just like Henry Rollins!"

The office was in a modest, residential-style house filled with media--tapes, CDs, videos, plus Henry's desk, a sound editing station and, much to my delight, a single framed photograph of Henry and Ian. A CD of tuvan throat singing greeted me along with Henry's water-offer, so we started with that and didn't have a lull in conversation for the next 2 hours.

Henry was charming and entertaining and not any less intense than I expected. I mostly aimed to focus on movies, due to the nature of my column and the fact that he currently hosts a show on the Independent Film Channel. We covered a lot more ground than that, though...from the "War on Terror" to what its like to present at an award show to what a twisted city Los Angeles is to how he'd rather read quality literature than eat. I even got a show-and-tell session that included such gems as listening to a voice message from Iggy Pop ("Hey Henry, this is James Osterburg..."), and previewing the incredible jazzy-spoken-word-collaboration between Henry and the one and only WIlliam Shattner (of Star Trek fame).

I really wanted to give Henry a hug at the end but I settled for the above photograph. He was even kind enough to let us try it again when my face got cut off in this one, but the next one came out even weirder. After the interview, he was off with the director of his latest film to check out Clerks2 since he was going to interview director Kevin Smith for his show, and later that night he was introducing a new Ramones movie to the group assembling to watch it in a Hollywood graveyard. Ah, the life of a punk rock media mogul.

Thanks, Henry, for a lovely morning. The rest of you can read Henry's insights into the movie biz in Death + Taxes issue no. 3, due out this fall.