By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
What’s the most significant historical event you’ve witnessed?
The death of John Kennedy. He was our hope and he got wiped out, and we hadn’t realized that hope could get wiped out quite so easily. But now Obama’s brought it back. I love it.
Is memory more apt to be a source of pain or pleasure?
Do you feel nostalgic for the past?
Nostalgia’s not the right word because it implies something sort of wrong. I love the past. There are parts of the past I hate, of course. My mum died, Linda died, John died, and George died, so I can’t say I love everything about it, but I have a great affection for the past. And why shouldn’t I? I was just some kid from Liverpool, who walked around the streets with John Lennon, and wrote songs with him, and met this beautiful girl from New York, then married her and had kids with her — why shouldn’t I love the past? Mine has been good.
What aspect of the future, as you envision it, do you find most disturbing?
It’s not a good idea to look at, or for, disturbances. They come anyway, so I don’t invite them. Rather than just moan “We’re all fucked,” it’s better to work on avoiding them. A big subject of mine is a report recently completed by the U.N., called Livestock’s Long Shadow, which makes the point that the most important thing people could do for the future of the planet would be to eat vegetarian. Cattle rearing is one of the most destructive human activities on Earth, and at this point, it’s taking a bigger toll on the planet than airplanes and cars.
Are most people willing to change?
People are willing to change when they have to. I suppose people would all go to Disneyland and have milkshakes at McDonald’s and wear Bermuda shorts if you didn’t tell them it wasn’t a good idea, and sometimes we have no choice but to speak in their ears very loudly.
Would you agree that most artists do their best work when they’re hungry?
I think that’s probably true.
When people approach you on the street what do they want?
More often than not they just want to communicate, and it’s normally quite cool. Everybody these days has a camera on their phone, so now they ask, “Can I have a photograph with you?” I say, “I’d rather not, because if I have a photograph with you, then somebody else will see us and say, ‘I’ve got a phone and I’d like a photograph, too.’” It’s funny, I was talking to a celebrity friend, and he made the point that people who don’t even like your work line up for autographs and photographs, saying, “I can get one for my grandma!” Often, when I’m approached for a photograph or autograph, I try to persuade the person that what we really want is communication. That takes longer than signing a quick autograph, but it’s an important point to make.
Are you able to move about the world with freedom?
With impunity — I go into shops, to movies, and I walk around. I’m now in a car heading into London with my longtime assistant, and if we need to stop at a shop or a petrol station, we will. I’ve always held on to that, and it’s a very important part of who I am.
What an amazing thing, to be able to walk into a shop and make people happy simply by walking in.
Tell me about it! I’m very aware of that, and it’s incredible.