By Huntress Thompson | Images by Matt Ross
Here, Rollins talks about what he’s listening to, where he thinks punk sensibility can be found today, and what he won’t be listening to any time soon.
Note: I’ve hyperlinked wherever possible, so just in case you’re the kind of person who nerdily looks up every recommendation you get (which I definitely am), you can follow him down each independent rabbit hole he mentions.
Where do you think punk is today? Who has the right idea?
I think that’s really in the ear of the beholder. Right now, there’s so many great small label bands, all these great bands that are just doing so well.
Could you name some please?
There’s a lot of, like, low-fi music that I really like – what might sound to some a bit amateurish, but it’s guitar music that’s just really letting the meters go into the red.
There’s all kinds of great music coming out of Australia.
There’s a great label called ARGHHHT, like “Arrrrrt!” *
There’s The UV Race, who are really, really cool.
There’s a great young band from Australia called The Eddy Current Suppression Ring, who aren’t that young (at this point they’ve released a slew of records), but it’s kind of a garage-y thing that they do, and I’m a huge fan.
Uh, a band called Total Control from Australia – I have almost all of their records. Some of the guys from the band came to my show the other night in Melbourne, which was a big deal for me. They’re like half my age. I’m like, “You’re at my show!”, and they’re like “Uh …yeah!” It’s kinda fun to still be that excited about music.
I pay attention to a lot of those smaller fame bands and labels.
One [label] in England called Memoirs of an Aesthete (that’s a little bit obscure) is run by kind of a buddy of mine called Phil Todd. Phil’s a remarkably talented guy, he’s kind of in a one man band called Ashtray Navigations. It’s basically his weird, solo, guitar, electronic explorations. He has well over 70 or 80 releases, and I have almost all of them.
That’s a majority of my listening these days – the smaller labels that put out bands like High on Fire (a great metal band)…
…Electric Wizard from England (who are [prone to] very, very stoner, long songs)…
…an American band called Earth (who are instrumental, and they play very distended, long, I guess what we’d call stoner music). I dunno, I was playing their newest record last night in my room, and it’s working for me.
That’s pretty much the majority of my listening, and the majority of the records I buy – from these microscopic labels.
I don’t know if it’s punk rock music or not, but I know that the ethic of the label and the bands matches my aesthetic with music exactly. It’s not anywhere out of line with anything I would have said, done or tried to do when I was 18, and starting out in music.
It’s as close to punk rock as an idea [can get]: “I’m gonna do it this way. I don’t care about MTV. I don’t care about radio. I don’t care if you like it.”
A lot of the music I listen to comes in a plastic bag, CD-R, handwritten, with a hand-folded colour Xerox sleeve. “Here’s music. And we only made 50 of ‘em. And I even handwrote a lot of the information on a kitchen table.” That to me is real free music. It’s music that has life in it.
Whereas anything that makes a show like The Voice, or American Idol… I mean, those are hard-working people, they have aspirations, you can’t kick ‘em out, but it’s not the kind of music that necessarily reaches me.
Talented although they may be, I hear them and I’m like “Well, you’re trying to get a Grammy. You’re trying to get a big record deal.” And that’s fine, it’s just probably not music that’s going to capture my interest.
That’s a really diplomatic way of putting that.
Well, I know enough about music to know that all these people are working very hard. Like Britney Spears. I don’t have any of her records, but I’m sure a lot of time and effort goes into the making of her records.
It’s not a thing I can get behind, but I’m not gonna say I wish her any harm. It’s just music that’s not for me.
Henry Rollins has just wrapped his South African tour with Whacked Entertainment . Check his website to find out where you can see him next, and follow him on Twitter for updates on his published writings.
*Even though he spelt this label out, the closest link I could find on this was slightly different. The rest of the music mentioned in this interview is all verifiable.
In the vacuum between dark and light, Siouxsie Sioux and Emmylou Harris, Amelie and Travis Bickle, Huntress Thompson is an idiot lost, and reporting from the field. If you’re after irrational, impassioned rants about cupcakes and Johnny Cash (and you probably aren’t), she’s grumpy, but she’s your girl.