From his time fronting Black Flag and Rollins Band to his spoken word, radio and TV gigs, Henry Rollins has never shied away from being the megaphone. Even as a man who suffers from social anxiety off-stage, he is the quintessential entertainer on-stage. Through years of ceaseless work and practice, he’s honed his craft. The man is the gold standard for work ethic.
On the heels of his recent Showtime special, Keep Talking, Pal, Rollins has ventured on a talking tour. Unlike his usual tours, where he walks the stage telling stories of band tours and traveling the world, this tour is accompanied by slides from his travels. The carefully selected photos highlight his time in the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, South America, and Antarctica.
Tireless worker that he is, Rollins still found time to issue some rapid-fire responds to Milwaukee Record’s questions. His Travel Slideshow Tour comes to Turner Hall Ballroom on Wednesday, September 26.
Milwaukee Record: How do you choose where you are going to travel?
Henry Rollins: Mainly curiosity. The location, the country’s history, what countries it borders with, its relation to the United States, weather.
MR: Do you visit a single location and then come back to L.A., or do you visit a string of locations, similar to your talking and music tours?
HR: Usually, I go to a region and go to a few places. The idea is that you’re all the way out there, you might as well. Now and then, I’ll go to one place only, but it’s rare.
MR: How do your photo tours differ from talking and music tours?
HR: If you mean traveling and taking photos, there are no shows scheduled. Usually, it’s just me, walking around, looking at stuff, asking questions. I make the itinerary. Tour days are very structured, from the time I get up to the end of the show, there’s a lot of things to do at certain times.
MR: When it comes to sampling native cuisine, have you ever encountered a local delicacy that you couldn’t bring yourself to try?
HR: I’ve eaten snakes in Vietnam, rats in India. I’ve passed on goat a few times in South Sudan, so I guess that would be it.
MR: Are there any places that you consider off the table?
HR: I’m not looking to lose my head. So a place like Yemen would probably fit that category. I’m not the thrill-seeking type. I think if that’s your posture, you’re basically denigrating the place you’re going to before you even go.
MR: Have you ever been somewhere and felt like you had made a mistake going there?
HR: Not really. Some places didn’t interest me all that much when I got there, like Brunei, but it was cool enough just to be there.
MR: Out of all the foreign countries you have traveled to, are there any that stick out as being the most photogenic?
HR: Southeast Asia, anywhere I’ve been in Africa, Tibet. Pretty much any place has its upsides. If you look, chances are you’ll find something. If there’s nothing, then photograph that.
MR: Is there a particular photo that you will be showing that really blew you away when you took it?
HR: I really like a photo I took of a DPRK soldier in the Joint Security Area when I was in North Korea a few years ago. He wasn’t all that happy I took the photo, but he let me get away with it.
MR: I’m sure each adventure provides a wealth of lessons to be learned. Is there one lesson that sticks out as the most vital?
HR: Basically, a lesson in the power of humanity. The perseverance of humans to keep living, no matter the circumstance or environment. No matter how angry people can make you, you must give them as much respect and benefit as you can.
MR: How do your travels shape how you view daily life in America?
HR: My travels have made me far more tolerant of who I share a country with. I need this more and more as I try to understand where we’re going.