It’s a night off in Sydney, Australia. I’m in a neighborhood called Surry Hills, at the Adina, on Crown Street. I started renting rooms here 22 years ago.
I just finished two sold-out nights at the Sydney Opera House.
About 20 years ago, I walked to the SOH to take a look at it. I never thought I would perform there. I would like to think that it was a lot of shows and hard work that got me into that venue. A woman named Stacey probably would disagree and say that it was the work of a great PR person. You can take a guess what she does for a living.
I do more interviews than anyone I’ve ever met. I learned when I was in Black Flag that it’s best to do as many as possible. We had to fight for every inch, and press was, as far as we could tell, a free ad and a way to get our side of the story across. It is an ethic I have carried with me ever since.
I reckon that in my position, I have to do everything I can to advance an upcoming tour or whatever else. All the press people I work with know they can push me as hard as they want. It’s not easy, but I don’t see any other way to go but hard. A lot of shows in a lot of countries, take as few days off as possible, and do as many interviews as you can.
I do my best, no matter how many times I have been asked the same question, to think it through and respond as if I have never been asked it before. I am not there to waste the interviewer’s time. Now and then, the interviewer is overworked, underprepared or merely uninterested, and I basically have to interview myself. You can tell they’re phoning it in when they read your press release back to you as questions. “So, you were in a band. What was that like?”
These are the ones you crawl through. I have learned to spare myself some of these drips. I send their names to the press person and I hopefully avoid another opportunity to get my time wasted.
Doing interviews keeps me sharp. In my line of work, you need to keep remembering that none of these people are your friends. That might sound like an unenviable environment to work in, but I think it’s absolutely great and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Besides the tonnage of Australian phone and email interviews I have done over the last several weeks, this was what two days of Stacey looked like.
0900 hrs.: Triple M — The Hot Breakfast
1000 hrs.: SBS Radio — The French Program
1030 hrs.: Photo shoot
1120 hrs.: Gusher magazine
1140 hrs.: News Ltd.
1200 hrs.: The Centralian Advocate
1220 hrs.: The Examiner
1240 hrs.: The Advocate
1400 hrs.: WA Today
1420 hrs.: NT News
1440 hrs.: AAP
1500 hrs.: Heavy magazine
1520 hrs.: RTR FM
1540 hrs.: The Guardian
1820 hrs.: Channel Ten TV — The Project
1830 hrs.: Interview ends
1020 hrs.: Double J — Don’t Look Back
1100 hrs.: ABC 774 Melbourne — Conversation Hour
1215 hrs.: ABC Newcastle — Drive
1230 hrs.: ABC Canberra — Drive
1245 hrs.: ABC New South Wales Statewide — Drive
1300 hrs.: ABC Brisbane — Drive
1400 hrs.: Adelaide — Drive
1415 hrs.: ABC Hobart — Your Afternoon
1430 hrs.: ABC NT Statewide — Arvos
1445 hrs.: ABC WA Regional — Drive
1600 hrs.: PBS – Junkyard
1700 hrs.: Interview ends
Go to airport for flight to Sydney.
After another day of interviews in Sydney (including this one), I had a great reward waiting for me. Not a 10-minute walk from the hotel is the Oxford Art Factory, which on that night played host to Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds. When I found out that Kid and his excellent band were playing on one of my few nights off, I felt like I had won the lottery. I had just seen them play in L.A. at the In the Red Records 25th anniversary show at the Echo, and they tore it up.
Have you ever stopped to measure the almost impossibly great catalog of Mr. Congo’s recorded contributions? Here are some. With The Cramps: Psychedelic Jungle. With The Gun Club: The Las Vegas Story, Mother Juno, Pastoral Hide and Seek. With Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds: Tender Prey, The Good Son.
Even after all that, not only is the man still making records, they are really good. His last four solo albums with The Pink Monkey Birds on In the Red — Dracula Boots, Gorilla Rose, Haunted Head and La Araña Es la Vida — are excellent. But as with a lot of real-deal bands, when they hit the bandstand, they are at their best.
The Pink Monkey Birds are Mark Cisneros on guitar, Kiki Solis on bass and Ron Miller on drums. They are not some backing band. They are deeply talented and, damn, does it cook. With their material and some Gun Club and Cramps songs added for good measure, it makes for a great night out.
It’s great to go to shows in Australia. The audiences are some of the best anywhere. They were totally into it for the band. To have seen Kid play for more than 30 years, in all the aforementioned groups, all over the world, is worth everything I do to be out here.
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.