Henry Rollins: 2016, a Freaky Year for Politics and a Great Year for Music

You think Ty Segall is freaky? Try American politics.
You think Ty Segall is freaky? Try American politics.
Photo by Levan TK

My workspace is wherever I find it. Currently it’s one of the stage-left dressing rooms of the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.

I am on a break from a shoot day for the Live at 9:30 show that the venue is making with PBS. The last time I was in this small space was visiting with the Bad Brains preshow, the night before Barack Obama became the first African-American president.

Earlier today, I was part of a roundtable discussion with Ian MacKaye, Neil Fallon of Clutch and Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation. We were fed some questions, but for the most part we talked among ourselves about the D.C. music scene and our experiences in it.

These are very interesting people. Eric has not only done a ton of music but owns and operates numerous bars and restaurants in the D.C. area. Neil is a lifelong music fan and the singer in Clutch, one of the best live bands anywhere. Ian, a fifth-generation D.C. resident, has seen and done quite a bit, to say the least. The hour flew. I hope you get a chance to see it.

It’s a great thing when the topic turns to music. People who are normally reserved come to life; those usually uninteresting often become animated. Music is, to me at least, easily the best thing humans ever came up with — but I have to credit birds and other animals as the ones who gave people the idea of pitch and melody. Don’t get knotted, it’s just an idea.

Since last week, I have been living out of my suitcase. First, two days in Montreal to do a Q&A at the Phi Centre and present a showing of the film He Never Died, and now here for this shoot day and two days of visiting with Ian and members of his family.

Of course, there will be some record stores visited, as D.C. has some great ones. I am still kicking myself for not picking up a great-condition, well-priced copy of Andrew Hill’s Black Fire album at Red Onion Records last time I was here. There is no way that record is still there.

I was looking forward to some cold weather. For weeks, I have been wanting to test my Helly Hansen salt jacket and Helikon Patriot fleece combination in below-freezing conditions. Ever since I was in Antarctica last November, I have been fascinated by cold-weather wear and heat trapping/layering strategies.

Thankfully, the weather in Montreal on my first night was relentless snow and driving wind, so I was out in it on and off for hours, seeing how cold I wasn’t. I had been hoping for more frigid-weather brutality and remnants of the recent massive snowfall when I arrived here in D.C., but instead was met by T-shirt–and-jeans temperatures. I guess it’s safe to say that, around these parts, winter is over.

Now that we are less than two weeks away from the official start of spring, which will be on March 20, it is time to put away the winter albums and break out some warmer-weather fare.

2016 will be a freaky year for politics and a great year for records. Here is a brief glimpse of what is and what is to be.

Ty Segall, Emotional Mugger: The recent L.A. Weekly cover-gracer drops yet another great record. The Emo Mug LP is out, has been out and needs to be spinning on your turntable as soon as can be. The man is on tour and, while the records are fantastic, live the songs are even better. Not to be missed on vinyl or onstage.

Charles Moothart (second from left) with his band, CFM.
Charles Moothart (second from left) with his band, CFM.
Photo by Denee Petracek

Frequent Segall bandmate and blazing guitarist Charles Moothart releases the fantastic Still Life of Citrus and Slime album on April 8. Coming to you from your very good (and local) pals at In the Red Records. I was given a copy weeks ago with permission to start playing it on my radio show and have been jamming tracks from it almost weekly.

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Iggy Pop’s collaboration with Josh Homme, Post Pop Depression, is really great and the fact that they will be touring this material makes it even more exciting. Be looking to get some danger from these two on April 28 at the Greek Theatre.

One of my favorite bands, Lorelle Meets the Obsolete, release a new album called Balance in early June on the great Captcha label. I am on my second listen as I write this. Guess who was asked to write the press release?! If you have not heard them, please go online and search out some of their music. Not a bad song in the bunch.

Another artist who is always a worthwhile listen is Steven R. Smith. He records under different handles and configurations including but not limited to Ulaan Khol, Ulaan Markhor and Ulaan Passerine. Smith’s new double-cassette package as Ulaan Passerine, The Great Unwinding, is 68 minutes of exquisite soundscape. Truly, he is a tremendous talent.

One of the smokin’-est bands anywhere is Guerilla Toss. Smart, intense and bruising. I heard their split EP with Sediment Club, Kicked Back Into the Crypt, on Feeding Tube a few years ago and have been tracking their every movement since. This month, they release two records: Flood Dosed and Eraser Stargazer. We advance-order types got a few tracks and I have been slinging them onto the airwaves for the last few weeks. Not to be missed.

One of the best things about digging music with an extra-large shovel is that it gives you the strength required to read the ever more bleak headlines that currently darken your sexy American Dream. Drop the needle on the above records. Protect your psyche at all times!

Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the playlist for his Sunday KCRW broadcast.


More from the mind of Henry Rollins:
Let's Invade Canada

Bend Over, America — Here Comes President Trump
I Am Basically a Vinyl Cat Lady

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