Henry Rollins recently wrapped his first major film role, where he plays a cannibal trying to find his way. But he’s been finding himself in many different media this year, hosting his radio show on KCRW and the History Channel’s 10 Things You Don’t Know About and releasing books. Rolling Stone spoke with the always outspoken and charismatic Rollins about 2013’s biggest artists (which he mostly ignored).
Did you pay attention to any new music this year?
Absolutely. I can’t keep up with all the records I buy. I get letters, like, “Dude, music sucks now.” Not on my show, not on my stereo. I finally, forensically listened to the new David Bowie record. I put in a pair of good earphones and really sat down with that record on a day off.
You loved it?
It’s way better than I thought it was the first time around. I don’t know why he uses those heavy-handed studio drummers for everything, but the songs are pretty amazing lyrically and there’s a lot of great backing vocals and some really smart overdubs. It took me a long time to get into modern David Bowie. I was such a fan. I got up really early this morning and listened to Station to Station and just went aw. Those records, those Bowie records to me are just about as good as a record can get.
Anyways, the new Marnie Stern record, Chronicles of Marnia — I love that new one. Ty Segall is a huge part of my radio show, and I play a lot of Ty. I’m a big supporter of labels. Like, when I watch a movie, I watch it for the director. When I buy a record, it’s usually a label thing. I’m into artists, certainly, but there’s labels I support, like Castle Face, John Dwyer and his band Thee Oh Sees. And I buy one of everything from Johnny. Anything Castle Face puts out. I have one LP and one CD of it. You know, CD for the radio show and portability’s sake and the LP to listen to.
Yeah, they dress up like robots.
You know what, you will take this any way you will. That to me is like Rolling Stone music. It’s the shit that’s in your magazine. And it’s like, that world. . . I’m so glad that you all have found your people, but that world is so alienating to me. Anything that gets on the Grammys or the American Music Awards. . . like, was Miley Cyrus on the cover of your magazine?
Yeah, see, I like real music. John Coltrane’s my favorite musician, what am I doing reading Rolling Stone? You know what I mean?
You don’t give a shit about her.
Well, I don’t. She’s part of that bigger world of music I was just talking about. All of it to me is like, long may it wave, I don’t have anything against anyone doing their thing, but it’s just not for me. And Robin Thicke, is that the guy? I have no idea what he sounds like. I’ve never heard Kelly Clarkson, I just, I live in a different musical world.
Another thing that was ongoing this year was so much drama with Black Flag. Did you follow that?
I know what I read. The Flag guys, they’re doing their thing I guess. Kids were writing me, “Hey, I can’t wait to see you next week in Brisbane.” I wrote them back like, “I’m not gonna be there, I’m in Toronto.” And they went, “Oh, you’re not in the band?” I’m like “absolutely not.” [They were] saying, “Wow, the place was kinda half full and 30 minutes of the set, it was a quarter full, people were running out angry that they’re never gonna get that 30 bucks back.”
And so I’ve seen neither entity, Black Flag or Flag. I’m not interested in the past unless it’s the rerelease of a record; I’m not interested in my own past that much. But I’ve heard that the Flag thing is pretty powerful. I’ve never seen it, but I know some people whose opinions I respect who went. And they said it was solid. It is what it is: men in their 50s playing 30-year-old music. But as far as the politic of all of it, what’s going on with all of those people, I stayed well away from it. I’m looking forward to 2014 and what will come.