It was the summer of ’91 when I first saw the Rollins Band perform at Lollapalooza. At one o’clock in the afternoon the crowd was sparse and no one really cared who was playing. About two hours later Ice-T took the stage and set everyone straight. “Henry Rollins, one of the badest motherfuckers to ever step foot on this stage, played for you and y’all just sat on your asses. We’re here to party with you, not for you.”
Ice-T wasn’t needed when the newly formed Rollins Band came to San Diego to play the Brick By Brick. Henry stepped up to the carpet laid out for him on stage, wrapped the mic cord around his hand a few times, and proceeded to kick a whole lot of ass. As he did this, three hundred people stepped forward to join him and the place went off! From that point on I was pinned to the stage and there was no hope of moving for the remainder of the show. I had the honor of photographing this “charismatic icon animal man.” (I borrowed these words form the song “Icon” off the Weight album. I think it describes him well.) I went to the show as a photographer, not a writer. The assigned writer had a little too much going on this month, so I figured I’d give it a shot. When the herd of three hundred came forward and pinned me to the stage, my belt came loose and my pants were dragged down to mid thigh, which made for an interesting show. I was so damn close Henry was sweating on my lens. When people ask how the show was, the word that immediately comes to mind is intense. Henry captivates his audience and takes them on a high powered, emotional ride. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a fan or even familiar with his work, he puts on a show that anyone can appreciate. Dave, one of the owners of the Brick By Brick, told me it was one of the best shows he’d ever seen. Even though they played a lot of new material that the crowd was unfamiliar with, people acted as if each song was a favorite. Actually, not only were most of the songs new, the entire line-up aside from Henry is new. The three new members have their own L.A. based band, Mother Superior. Henry produced their last record, Deep. After that the foursome started working together and have written and recorded over twenty songs. We didn’t get an interview, but after the show Henry said that these guys are easy to work with and they’re cranking out songs with ease. The new album, Get Some Go Again, has a heavy blues sound to it and will be released in January of 2000 on the DreamWorks label. One thing the original writer commented on was the effect that Henry had on the entire crowd, guys and girls. Usually an entertainer will be worshiped by the girls or the guys, but everyone seemed to love Henry. I had to rely on our writer for some input, since it was difficult to grasp what was going on while I was bent over the stage with my pants down. Another thing she mentioned was that she just didn’t get it. What was the big deal with this tattooed maniac that yells at everyone? This isn’t uncommon. People usually either think of Henry Rollins as that charismatic icon animal man I mentioned earlier, or they just wonder what this freak is so pissed off about. Before I end this, there’s one more part of the evening that can’t be left out. I was on my way to the bathroom when our writer says “Derek, this is Dez. He played in Black Flag.” This was certainly unexpected. Dez Cadena was the guitarist/vocalist who invited Henry Rollins to play in Black Flag in 1981. He was there visiting Christie, the beer goddess of the Brick. I sat down and heard all sorts of stories about the legendary Black Flag. After the show I took a picture of Henry and Dez, together for the first time in seven years. It was definitely an evening to remember. Although patches of gray hair were creeping through, old man Rollins showed no signs of slowing down.