Henry Rollins doesn’t suffer fools well. Actually, he doesn’t suffer them at all. So much so that sometimes he seems to go on the offensive and cross over into dickishness. Yet, even then, you get the sense that he is at least in part right, and is making a broader, often sociological, point.
Here are a collection of awkward Henry Rollins interviews that demonstrate the phenomenon.
Henry Rollins Vs. Teenage Interviewer
It’s hard not to feel sorry for this young kid as he bumbles his way through a lame and ill-prepared interview. It’s also a bit hard not to think of Rollins as something of a jerk here, although it should be remembered that he too is young.
“Why don’t you just hold the microphone and talk. You look like you want to say something,” the interviewer says.
Probably a mistake.
One senses that Rollins feels like his time is being wasted, and he doesn’t appreciate it.
It’s cringe-worthy and fascinating to watch, and at times transcends to something more than just good for gawking, like when Rollins encourages the young man to take more pride in himself and his town.
Henry Rollins Vs. Nardwuar
If you don’t know Nardwuar the Human Serviette, you should really check him out. He has interviewed hundreds of people, and has an amazing knack for surprising his subjects with knowledge about their lives and work. He’s also a musician, and noted speaker.
Nardwuar is an eccentric, and while harmless and seemingly kindhearted he, like many inherently weird individuals, tends to split a room. You either love him or you or are generally just annoyed by him. Rollins, it seems, is part of the latter group.
“Oh, I see, you’re a character now,” Rollins says, annoyed at the shtick right away. And at the two minute point he’s already wondering aloud how much more of this he’s going to have to endure. “How many more questions do you have? You have to hurry because this is getting really boring.”
He does get some good stuff from Rollins before he gives up on the interview altogether, such as his changing feelings about various Canadian cities.
Post Show Henry Rollins Vs. Apologetic Journalist
Immediately upon leaving the stage, Rollins is subjected to an interviewer he clearly doesn’t want to give. The journalists asks how his diary entry for today would read, a rather uninspired and canned question.
“We came and played our guts out and then I had to do this interview when I should have been able to be left alone so I could breathe hard.”
The journalists apologizes and both seem to take it all in stride, as Rollins then walks away to be left alone.
Henry Rollins Vs. Hipsters
In this clip from the German documentary film series Durch die Nacht mit… (Translation: Into the Night with), Rollins and artist Shirin Neshat go to a New York City record shop and have a run in with some hipsters.
“Henry Rollins is here?” one of them yells out, and then there is laughter.
It comes right as Rollins is explaining that they are in a “hip” establishment, and that he is the old guard, seen as in the way and traditional.
He seems ready to brush off the slight, until he hears one of the girls say, “Hey, Sweet Tooth, get in the van, man! Get in the van!” referring to Rollins’ 1994 memoir Get in the Van: On the Road With Black Flag.
Just when it seems he may have mellowed past the point of confrontation, we seem some of the old Rollins fire as his head shoots and his eyes get big and he runs over to confront the girl.
“Oh! Oh I see, is this where the young elitist hipster take on the ancient, dodgy, in the way types?” Rollins asks.
“Oh, God no, I love your band!” she replies.
“I love your band too,” he shoots back.
“You don’t know my band,” she says, laughing. Of course true, and of course she also has one, as she name drops it, camera rolling.
Henry Rollins Vs. Jim Norton
Don’t call Rollins a comedian, apparently. And don’t knock comedy around Jim Norton. While you’re at it, don’t start throwing Pryor’s name around with him if you don’t have your facts straight, because he’s a Pryor fanatic.
This clip from Opie and Anthony gets intense seemingly out of nowhere, as Rollins is asked why he shies away from the comedian title, in regards to his spoken word work.
“What like as a stand-up? And have to tell dog jokes, and stupid non sequesters…and all that kind of corny stuff?” Rollins asks.
Norton takes exception, telling him he doesn’t have to be a bad stand-up. Rollins expresses his respect for certain stand-ups, including Pryor, and maintains a curmudgeonly attitude throughout the rest of the interview.
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