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Rollins Raises Flag for WM3

Henry to play Black Flag tunes at benefit shows

Henry Rollins and the Rollins Band are digging through Black Flag’s
closet for a short tour of southern California to benefit the West
Memphis 3. The Rollins band played an in Store at Amoeba Records
yesterday, and performances are also set for December 5th at the
Casbah in San Diego, December 17th at the Ventura Theater, the
Whiskey in Los Angeles on December 18th and the Glass House in
Pomona on December 19th. The appearances will mark the first time
Rollins has performed some of the songs by his old band in almost
twenty years.

The appearances are tied to the Rollins-organized album,
Rise Above, in which his band backed singers including
Iggy Pop, Slipknot’s Corey Taylor, Chuck D, Hank III, Dean Ween,
Ice T, Slayer’s Tom Araya and Lemmy Kilmister on a collection of
Black Flag covers. “Black Flag records were always lacking in
production values in my opinion,” Rollins says. “You could never
hear what Greg [guitarist, Ginn] was doing, and it was murky. And
this thing is like ripping your head off, with totally clear sound.
This record is absolutely bomb-proof. You can’t fuck with this
record on any level. The playing, the production, the vocals, the
songs. I defy any critic to find a chink in our armor. And I have
nothing to do with it. I didn’t write any of this stuff. It’s the
maddest cover record ever.”

The album, like the shows, was planned to raise money for the
legal defense fund of Jessie Misskelley, Damien Echols and Jason
Baldwin, three teens from West Memphis, Arkansas, who were tried,
convicted and imprisoned for the 1993 murder of three children. The
murders and the plight of the West Memphis 3 (as the trio of
convicted have become known), were the focus of a 1996 documentary
by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, Paradise Lost: The Child
Murders at Robin Hood Hills
, which found the convictions
unconvincing. A follow-up, Paradise Lost 2: Revelations,
focused on further evidence that the West Memphis 3 were not
involved in the three murders.

Rollins says he first learned of the WM3’s plight from the
films. “You watch it and it freaks you out,” he says. “You’re
hoping that at the end, everyone goes, ‘Ha ha, we’re just actors.
This could happen.’ But it’s real. It’s like a nightmare
you don’t wake up from. I think these guys are flat out innocent
and they got screwed. And I couldn’t do nothing. I’m too old to do
nothing. I know better.”

Rollins says he’s also working with the West Memphis 3 Support
Group to assemble a roving arts show for next year to commemorate
the ten-year anniversary of their incarceration. “The cavalry is
coming,” he says. “Can a record get anybody out of jail? I doubt
it. Will they still be in jail this time next year? Probably. But
we’re doing a good thing, and I think it will make a
difference.”

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