Interview: Henry Rollins Talks Early Days With Black Flag, Iggy Pop and Legend of Korra

You probably know Henry Rollins as the vocalist for the legendary punk band, Black Flag. Watch a video from the band's early days, and you'll notice his undeniable stage presence and the intensity with which he performed.

But he has also hosted his own television show, acted in popular television series, written several books, and performed spoken word sets. Despite this, he maintains a strong work ethic and sense of humility.

He currently has a column with LA Weekly, but Empty Lighthouse managed to catch up with him to talk about some of his recent acting endeavors, his relationship with fellow punk rocker Iggy Pop, and his beginnings with Black Flag.

D.C had a big music scene. What made you want to leave D.C for L.A?

To be in the band Black Flag. For someone like me, an opportunity like that wasn't coming around again, so I went for it.

It was the first really big adult decision I ever made. Perhaps the biggest in my life.

What was your relationship like with the members of Black Flag before joining the band?

I didn't know them all that well. As you do with any band you're in, you get to know everyone too well all too soon.

When you're crammed into a small space, proximity leads to familiarity. I joined as a fan who auditioned to be in the band. On paper, it shouldn't have worked.

Do you ever listen to the records you did with Black Flag?

No. I listened to some of the songs when I was working on the Rise Above benefit record in 2002 but beyond that, no. I go at things in a run.

By the time something is 'out' like a record or something, I am ten miles down the road.

I do things like books or whatever, look at one briefly upon opening the box from the printer but will rarely go back to it beyond signing a copy for someone.

I am only interested in what I am doing, not really all that interested in what I have done.

How do you react when you see younger music fans listing Damaged as one of the best punk albums of all time?

It's a record that I am on for sure but not a record I can take any credit for. Ginn and Dukowski wrote all the songs. They had already done all the hard work.

It's nothing just to learn the songs and sing them. So, for me, it is just a record that I am on. If people like the record that's great, but it has little to do with me.

You've talked about your time managing a Haagen Dazs on several occasions, and that you see yourself ending up doing that again. Do you still feel this way?

America is a rough room and you don't know what might come your way, so you have to be prepared for almost anything. For myself, I can't understand a life without a job.

I don't know what I would do without employment. Retirement is out of the question for me. That being the case, I can't tell what that might be in years to come.

When did you start doing stand-up comedy and spoken word?

1983 I started doing 10-15 minute sets with poets. The sets got longer and eventually, I was doing my own shows.

Depending on what else is happening, I will be out somewhere doing shows like that. It travels very easily as there is just me and a microphone. I do shows of this kind all over the world.

There's a routine you did about your rivalry with Iggy Pop. Was there ever a Round 4 to this?

There is no rivalry at all. It was just a joke I was making just because I like him so much. You could never, ever truly mess with a master like Iggy Pop.

He is coming from a place so unique, so totally his that he is untouchable. They broke the mold on that guy. Total, raw, genius. Best thing to do is just buy the records and worship.

Were you a fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra before voicing Zaheer?

I had never heard of it.

How did you get the part of Zaheer, and what were you told about the character before accepting the role?

I have done a lot of work for the voice producer Andrea Romano. She told her people to put me in the line for casting. I talked to the people who were arranging the auditions, read the script, talked back and forth with them about the character and then auditioned. I got the part and did the work. I have never seen an episode.

I did enjoy working on the show and being such a smart yet ultimately misguided character. When I am doing the work, I am all the way in it.

I had rehearsed every single line beforehand, made many notes and by the time I went in, I had a defintite idea of what I was after.

As soon as it's done, I am onto the next thing. Most things like that, voice over stuff, which I have done a lot of, I have never seen the actual end product.