POP / Like a Rollins stone: Henry Rollins - The Forum

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The Independent Online
Henry Rollins - he's rock hard. Over the eight years since his break with the Californian hardcore punk band Black Flag, he's developed a range of off-stage pursuits. There are his prose readings, at which he takes the lectern like a cross between Tony Sher and Arnold Schwarzenegger and reads his memoirs. He's got into acting recently - he delights in playing the unlikely role of a cop in the new Charlie Sheen film The Chase. Before his gigs, he pumps iron for 10 minutes to get that Ryker Island look, and after his shows he needs 15 minutes away from everyone, in case he takes a swing at someone irritating.

Consequently, the other thing he does - singing on stage - has become as solid and unvarying a thing as his physical presence. What you pay for is to see the Human Pitbull do his stuff, just like the last time he did it. Certainly the Rollins Band's new batch of songs, from the CD Weight (Imago), mines the familiar Rollins vein of rage. 'Wrong Man', for instance, a song he sings just as the first sheen of sweat appears on his overblown pecs, is a rant in which he takes on the cares of the world. 'You take your fear and you pull it inside, / It builds up and the rage starts to rise.' The band grind their generic hardcore just out of harm's way, while Henry lunges like a fencer and doubles up to commit microphone hara-kiri. Doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, (doesn't even have a girlfriend) so what does he do? Well, he wears his torn linesman's shorts over his black Lycras, and in the plain white lights he spits great showers of Evian and mucus under his own bare feet. But never slips up once.

'Tired', 'Liar', 'Icon', 'Fool'. . . they are what they sound like, bristling slabs of adult punk. The new bassist Melvin Gibbs adds a little wobble to the sound, and there's some doodled wah-wah from the lead man Chris Haskett, but rhythmically this is Sturmey Archer hardcore - three speeds and uphill all the way.

He's not quite all talked-out, however. Suddenly he was off on a snarling homily to the man who goes to peep shows. 'I think: A) you fear women. And B) you must hate 'em a little.' Muted, confused approval from the predominantly nice male audience (for instance most of them had opted for the 'Search and Destroy' T-shirt, rather than have the two-foot Sunblest logo tattooed across their backs). Then on with the song: 'Divine Object of Hatred.' The meet reponse to Rollins would surely be to get up on stage and clock him one, as a way of exploring the limits of rhetoric. Someone in the front row, however, spoiled things by calling him 'a pussy'. 'Should I give a fuck, or get on with the next song?' he asked. Being Rollins, he did both.