HENRY ROLLINS On Staying Clean And Sober - "If I Write A Book, I Want To Be Able To Put My Name On It; Not My Name Along With '... And Heroin'"

September 7, 2023, 10 months ago

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HENRY ROLLINS On Staying Clean And Sober - "If I Write A Book, I Want To Be Able To Put My Name On It; Not My Name Along With '... And Heroin'"

In a new interview with music journalist Joel Gausten, Henry Rollins shares his thoughts on drug use, health, the upcoming American presidential election, and more. An excerpt from the feature appears below:

Although Rollins had dalliances with drugs in his earlier years (and detailed some of these experiences on a 2017 episode of his Henry & Heidi podcast), he has shunned illicit substances for decades.

“I tried marijuana and LSD—interesting but nothing I wanted to make a career out of. It was never a matter of having to resist any temptation; I just didn’t enjoy the effects. I found it all to be depressing. The more I saw drugs and alcohol do damage to young people around me, I concluded all drugs and alcohol were traps to marginalize those young people and neutralize the masses. Basically, it’s what The Man does to keep the people doped and docile. That alone is enough to keep me away from any and all of those poisons. As soon as you’re high, you’re prey to law enforcement. I will never give them that advantage.”

Rollins’ ability to rise above life’s tribulations comes down to keeping his body healthy and his mind sharp. Not surprisingly, having great tunes at the ready has helped him along the way.

“For me, music is a great anti-depressant. It’s also great company. I’m an extremely solitary person, and while I don’t feel the need to be with anyone, I do like having music on.”

As for his diet, he keeps things very simple—and avoids the kinds of comfort food that often provide temporary mental relief for many folks but ultimately leave them in even worse physical and mental shape than before they downed that meat lover’s pizza or drive-through cheeseburger.

“I eat a lot of spinach and other vegetables, [along with] Athletic Greens super-food powder and beet extract powder once a day. Post-workout, which is six times a week, I usually take these two with a scoop of vegetable-based protein and then nothing until I’m done with work for the night, which is around 2330 hours. For me at least, diet is perhaps the most important thing I do for my mental health besides going to the gym. You have to stay up on it, and it’s not always easy, but this is what I do—no matter where in the world I am.”

These things sound great, but are they easier said than done? Just look at the arts. It’s no secret that many creative types often lean on questionable habits to help fuel their output. This writer knows plenty of fellow scribes or musicians who are afraid to get sober out of fear of losing their creative thing without the crutch. After all, no writer wants to stare at a blank screen as nothing comes to them. Naturally, Rollins has some no-nonsense advice for anyone who’s holding off on getting clean for this reason.

“I’d say they’ll probably get a lot more quality work done without the stimulants, and they might find the work they did while under the influence will be inferior to what they’ll achieve without the ingredients. If I write a book, I want to be able to put my name on it, not my name along with ‘and Heroin.’”

The complete feature is available at JoelGausten.com.

Rollins was featured in a fan-fuelled Q&A compiled by the The Guardian back in March. He revealed why he no longer makes music, the difference between performing music versus a spoken word show, working with Al Pacino in the movie Heat, a new project, and more. Following is an excerpt.

Q: As a music obsessive, why have you stepped back from making it?

Rollins: "I stopped processing ideas in terms of lyrics. One day, I woke up and thought: 'I’m done.' My manager flipped out, but I’ve never looked back. I didn’t want to become a human jukebox playing old songs, so I filled the space the band took with films and TV and now my shows, my radio show and writing. At this point, I wouldn’t go back on stage with a band for anything."

Q: Is touring a spoken-word show less stressful than a full-band tour?

Rollins: "Doing the music was like gladiator sport. I’d lose three pounds of water every show. I’ve ripped up my back and my neck, and my jaw clicks from being smashed around. The talking shows are more demanding, because it’s only me on stage. It’s like comparing surgery with construction – one requires super concentration and the other is just physical. And on the bus it’s not a tribe of stenchy men! It’s four non-smoking, low-key individuals. Backstage, it’s just me."

Q: In your recent book, Sic, you mentioned that you have moved to Nashville to realise a major project. What is it?

Rollins: "It’s something I’ve been working on for a couple of years with my manager, Heidi May, and I’ve put my life savings into it. All I can say is that we’re looking at launching 14 months from now in Nashville and it will make people smile until their faces hurt."

Read more here.

Henry Rollins is a vocalist, writer, spoken word artist, actor, and presenter. After performing in the short-lived hardcore punk band, State of Alert, in 1980, he fronted the California hardcore band Black Flag from 1981 to 1986. Following the band's breakup, he established the record label and publishing company 2.13.61 to release his spoken word albums, and formed the Rollins Band, which toured with a number of lineups from 1987 to 2003 and in 2006.

Photo by Heidi May

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