Henry Rollins Doesn’t Want to Play ‘Liar’ Anymore
A music legend in punk rock circles, Henry Rollins said he’s closed that chapter in his life, albeit maybe temporarily. “I don’t have any plans to do music at the present time,” Rollins told Noisecreep. “I’m not putting it down in any way. I’ve done it so much. I don’t think I can ring that bell any harder than I have. I don’t think I can ring it any better.”
The nature of making an album, he said, calls for not only the recording, but the touring behind it. He prefers to partake in activities from which he can learn something. “To do something that takes that long that I’ve done so many time before … Now that I’m almost 50, I don’t see the upside of it. I don’t see coming to the end of the tour and going, ‘OK. I just did that. I didn’t learn anything and, oh looky, I’m 51.’”
Rollins continued, “Thankfully I have an option. I have other things that I can do. In an effort to keep it different, keep it moving, I have been doing other things — photography, TV, movies, radio, writing. All of this is really interesting to me. Music, it’s great, but I’ve kind of been there and done that. So much of it is a ritualistic thing — time to go on tour, time to talk to the radio guy. I do a lot of touring anyway. But the talking shows, I can change that in a minute. Come to the end of the topic, and go, ‘Guess what, [makes a screeching noises], over here now,’ where the music kind of locks you in.”
With music, he said, he feels forced to play old material to appease the audience. That’s not something in which he is interested. “Quite a bit of the [live show process] is you have to play some old songs,” Rollins said. “It forces you to go back into this way-back machine. I don’t necessarily dislike it, but I don’t know that I really want to go back there.”
There’s only so many times, he said, he can play songs like the Rollins Band‘s schizophrenic ‘Liar’ or Black Flag crowd favorites.
“There’s nothing wrong with that song,” he said about ‘Liar.’ “But I don’t want to do it anymore. I did it. It was fine. I still think it’s cool. I’d rather do something new. That is my effort to be brave artistically and try to keep things real and keep it in the present tense.
“Instead of kind of going out and representing some past era, which is essentially what the Rolling Stones do every night. It sounds like I’m sniping, but I’m not. They’re great. If I wrote ‘Satisfaction,’ I might want to sing it every night, too. Bands like that, there’s not a whole lot of new stuff in their set. If they play two songs off the new album, everyone goes to sleep. They have to play this one, that one or that one. Or everyone goes, ‘Hey man, what’s up with that?’”
Rollins explained he once had a “gentle debate” about this very topic with a rock star that he did not name. He asked the person about playing the same songs every night.
“I’ve known this guy a long time. He’s completely great. He said, ‘Well yeah, that’s what the people want.’ I said, ‘So that’s what you want to do? You want to give them what they want?’ ‘Well, yeah I want to make them happy.’ You can’t argue with that. That’s an approach. I said, ‘What about just playing nothing but your new music, three unreleased songs and keeping it fresh?’ He said, ‘No. They want to hear this one that one and that one. So they can sing along and have a good time.’ He wants to make you happy. He wants you to go to the show and go, ‘Yay! You did that one that one and that one.’ He’s the guy who brings the joy. I can’t put that down. There’s no part of that that is bad. I just don’t want to be that guy.”