Jetsetting With Musician, Actor, and Author Henry Rollins
Former frontman of ’80s California hardcore punk band Black Flag, Henry Rollins has turned his career into one that includes not just music but also writing, publishing, acting, comedy, and activism. Henry hosts a weekly radio show on KCRW, is a regular columnist for LA Weekly, and hosted National Geographic’s three-part series “Animal Underworld With Henry Rollins.” Travel has become a large part of his life, taking Henry to unique and interesting destinations.
Q: What type of traveler are you? (i.e., adventurer, cultural explorer, free spirit, rejuvenator, spa aficionado, etc.)
A: Eco/socio/political. Confirming how wrong Thomas Friedman got it.
Q: What types of activities do you like to do on your travels? Do you look for a place where it’s quiet and you can relax or someplace that has great activities or nightlife?
A: My normal routine is to get up early, eat, and make notes. I check my gear, load up the pack, hit the streets, and walk wherever they take me. If a street looks sketchy, that’s the one I go for. I aim for slums, souks, rivers, train tracks, and markets. I try to engage with as many people as I can. I stay out with the camera until I lose light. Then I come back to my dwelling, nap, go to the gym if there is one, have dinner, check my photos, write, walk around the streets at night, and sleep.
Q: When thinking about where you will travel to next, what inspires you to make a decision? And what, if any, research do you do about that destination?
A: It depends, but for the most part, curiosity. When I went to Bhopal, India, for the 25th anniversary of the Union Carbide India Limited methyl isocyanate gas leak, I did a lot research beforehand. During the Bush administration, I went to a lot places I was warned not to go to including Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Pakistan. I was in Islamabad when Ms. Bhutto was assassinated in 2007. For years, I wanted to see the Plain of Jars in Laos, so when I had time, I went to satiate my curiosity.
Q: What is the most memorable trip you’ve taken and why?
A: North Korea for its stark strangeness. Iran for all the great people I met there and the hospitality I was shown. Afghanistan for the strength of the people and the ruggedness of the land. South Sudan for the everywhere-seems-to-have-been-a-battlefield aspect of the place. Those stand out.
Q: What is the best food you’ve ever found on a trip?
Q: What, if anything, do you always take with you when you travel?
A: A headlamp, a camera, a kettle, foodstuffs. Past that, the usual.
Q: What’s your best piece of travel advice?
A: Have respect for where you are and respect for the people, the culture, and the history. Don’t wear sunglasses when addressing anyone. Have politeness infused with every human interaction.
Q: Is there a destination to which you can’t imagine not returning?
A: Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Mongolia, and Tibet.
Q: Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A: My stereo.
Q: Where would you like to travel to next?
A: Chile so I can get out to Easter Island. I would like to get back into Central Asia again and see if I could get into Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. More time in Indonesia would be good. Some time in the Amazon and on the Trans Manchurian Express might be interesting. I did the Trans Siberian a few years ago; that was pretty far out in February. Where else … Chad, Ghana … there are a lot of places on my list.
Q: Tell us about your upcoming project(s)?
A: I am finishing a new book and doing a lot of writing lately, waiting for shoes to drop since other people’s money is dictating my 2014 operations.
Henry Rollins’ Bio:
An American musician, author, journalist, comedian, radio host, publisher, and activist, Henry Rollins became the lead vocalist for hardcore punk band Black Flag in 1981 and continued to front the group until they disbanded in 1986. Henry went on to release records as a solo and spoken word artist and toured with a new group called Rollins Band throughout the 1990s. He made the transition to acting, appearing as a guest star on “The Drew Carey Show” and “Sons of Anarchy,” among others, and has also appeared in several films, including “Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker,” “Jack Frost,” and “Jackass The Movie.” Henry has also hosted numerous radio shows and campaigns for various political causes, including the promotion of LGBT rights and World Hunger Relief.