Henry Rollins: The Column! How I Spend My Nights Off
[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here on West Coast Sound every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Saturday KCRW broadcast.]
It is a night off. I am in Boise, Idaho, sitting in the Crux, a coffeehouse on Main Street. Not many people in here tonight. The front of the place is all glass and I am afforded a great view of the street. Music is coming through the system, loud and not to my liking, and so I have brought my own. I always do.
I have learned I shouldn't go anywhere without a personal music device. I learned that on a night just like this a few years ago. I was sitting in a coffee place writing while enduring a woman's one-sided cellphone conversation. The next afternoon I purchased my first iPod.
A couple of hours ago, I went to a great local record store called the Record Exchange. It's not the most interesting name for a record store, but over the many years I have been doing shows here, visits to this store have always been fruitful.
On this tour, I am trying to get to as many small record stores as possible and support them by making a purchase.
Tonight held some great finds. First Boston album half-speed master version, Eno/Moebius/Roedelius After the Heat and Cluster & Eno, Sky Records pressings, both apparently unplayed. Coltrane Sun Ship, first pressing, perfect condition. Can't wait to get these spinning.
It's always great to come back to a place after a couple of years and find that the local record store has held on. Quite often that's not the case.
The shows have been flying by: Salem, Ore.; Sacramento; Carson City, Nev.; Phoenix; Salt Lake City. The audiences have been very friendly and it's great to be onstage night after night.
We had to fly ahead of the bus for a couple of shows as the distances were too great. I was in line to go through security in Reno and on a monitor to my right was Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano talking to us travelers about safety. I heard a loud male voice behind me protest that she is a "dyke on a bike" and then he went into some strange rap about Sept. 11. The line of people went silent as the man bloviated. TSA officers zeroed in on him.
As I was putting my gear on the belt, one of the officers spoke to the man and he saw fit to double down on all his talking point memos. As I was repacking my stuff on the other side of the metal detector, I turned to see the voice's owner. A soft, elderly white male, around Clint Eastwood's age, had been pulled to the side and his possessions were getting a very thorough going-through.
I thought about him as I flew to Salt Lake City. The world is changing on every level and it's changing very quickly. Those who, no matter what their motivation, have chosen to remain in a fixed position are having a great deal of difficulty dealing with the fact that the earth is moving underneath them. I thought that if I ever got to the age of Mr. Mouth, I would like to be able to stay loose and move with the changes, so as not to be rudely shoved aside by them.
It is a hard statistic but it's also true: This loud-mouthed asshole and other assholes like him -- my father, for instance -- are literally dying off. They're planting Fox News viewers in graveyards all over America daily.
The remaining relics are free to spend their endtimes flailing away in their irrelevant, birther, early-bird breakfast, mad-as-hell kookiness.
Even Eastwood copped to it days ago when he said, after you hit a certain age, you just say what you want and leave everyone else to figure it out, which explains why he was onstage at the RNC. Ron Paul 1812! Get out of my yard!
On the treadmill earlier today, I gave the new Deerhoof album, Break Up Song, yet another listen. I have been playing it steadily for a few weeks now and loving it. It's much more fun than their excellent Offend Maggie album, and noisier and more shook up than their last album, Deerhoof vs. Evil, which was great as well.
There's no Deerhoof album that isn't worth checking out -- they are really that good. But Break Up Song is all kinds of exciting. It reminds me of Lodger-era Bowie when he was analog-schizo-edge-freaking pre-Scary Monsters.
Deerhoof are making new music, much the way The Pixies were when they released Doolittle. How they are able to be so prolific yet keep it all so interesting is quite impressive. Be looking for the band to rock it at the Echoplex on Oct. 2.
Speaking of Mr. Bowie, in this month of September, I have been listening to his albums Station to Station, Low, Heroes, Lodger and Scary Monsters on the weekends. I have recontextualized these five albums and, by doing so, hear them differently. Low, Heroes and Lodger were famously called the Berlin Trilogy. All were produced by Brian Eno but not all of them were done in Berlin. The "trilogy" could have very well been a marketing tool devised later on. I have split the five albums into groups of three and two, chronologically. Station to Station, Low and Heroes can be the trilogy. Station to Station veers utilitarian, slightly industrial-Teutonic; the concept picks up confidence and momentum with Low, and then he lets it all hang out cold flaming with Heroes. Lodger and Scary can be seen as the wind-up and the pitch as to perhaps the last multi-album conceptual stretch of Bowie before he released Let's Dance.
It is, at this point, fairly obvious that I spend a lot of time on my own.
This is Boise, part of Team America since 1890 and one beautiful slice of real estate. This coffee place is rapidly turning into a bar. The music is getting louder and the floor is shaking as the men behind me bang their pool cues down in time with the music.
If I have to pump up the jams in my ear buds any louder, I think my head will explode. So now, I will repair back to the tour bus, switch to cold tea and get into some serious listening. It is, after all, a night off.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.