For years, Henry Rollins has traveled the world, as a performer and as a restless, insatiably curious tourist. For much of that time the actor, author, radio host, history buff, obsessive record collector and music fan has been taking photographs of his travels. Occupants, a collection of his photography, was published in 2011.
Now, the 57-year-old former Black Flag and Rollins Band frontman, whose long list of acting credits includes a stint on Sons of Anarchy and roles in films like Heat, Lost Highway and He Never Died, is touring with a slideshow of photos and stories from his journeys. He makes a stop Sunday at the Rev Room in Little Rock.
Henry Rollins Travel Slideshow Tour
8 p.m. Sunday, Rev Room, 300 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock
Admission: $30, $155 (includes VIP meet-and-greet package)
Rollins, who hosts an occasional podcast with longtime manager Heidi May, is an off-the-beaten-path sort of traveler, so don't expect photos and stories of tourist traps. Instead, he digs around less familiar places in search of a deeper connection. Think the late Anthony Bourdain, minus the outlaw chef stuff, in places like Baghdad, Pyongyang and Antarctica.
And if his past "talking shows" are any indication, expect a lengthy night with equal parts side-splitting humor, political commentary, self-deprecation and pathos.
The multi-hyphenate performer also has an Arkansas connection.
In 2002, Rollins produced and performed on the album Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three. There was a subsequent Rollins Band tour to further raise money for Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley, the West Memphis teens convicted in the 1993 deaths of Michael Moore, Stevie Branch and Christopher Byers, who were all 8. Echols, who was sentenced to death and Misskelley and Baldwin, who received life sentences, were freed in 2011.
This email interview took place in August and has been edited for length and clarity.
How and when did the idea of the slideshow come about?
I had shown photos I'd taken a few years ago at National Geographic's theater and it seemed like it went well. The format made sense -- photos I had taken, a chance to show them and tell the story behind the image. It's kind of what I do anyway but with a visual component.
Can you describe what people can expect at the show?
We will all be in a darkened room with me on stage right, left to the audience. I'm slightly lit, with a clicker to advance the images in one hand and a microphone in the other. I show the photos and tell the stories. The images come from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, the African continent, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Haiti, Antarctica and other places.
How long have you been taking photos?
Since I was young, but with intent, for about 20 years.
What kind of camera are you using?
I use Canon bodies. 5D, ID. Mainly the 5D. If you're walking around all day and want to keep a relatively low profile, the 5D is a good camera. I'm often out in the world for weeks at a time, so portability is a thing. I'm carrying everything, sometimes including water, so the less weight the better.
Will there be another photo book?
Yes. It's done but I have to crop, edit and figure out what the writing component of it will be. I have no idea when I'll be able to get to it. Perhaps next year or in 2021.
Where was the first place you traveled on your own, apart from touring as a performer?
On my way to Australia, I went to Bangkok for 48 hours. It was cool to walk around on the streets and check things out. Past that, in 1997, I went to Kenya, Madagascar and South Africa. That was the first real journey with no shows that I had made. I had an amazing time, so I figured I better put that kind of travel into my itinerary whenever I could. I've stuck to that ever since.
Where do you most want to return?
Afghanistan. I was there twice on USO tours. It's a fascinating place. The history is crazy. I can't see going there and not risking my life. It's not worth it. I would like to go back to Iran, but I don't think that's going to happen. I'm always interested to go back to Vietnam. There's a lot to see there. It would also be great to get back out on the Nile.
Is there a place you haven't been that you want to see?
I'd like to go back to Mongolia, get out of Ulaanbaatar and into the country more. Same with China.
Did you travel much when you were growing up, or did your traveling start when you joined Black Flag?
A little, yes. My mother was quite the art enthusiast. She would save her pay and every few years we would go somewhere. I went to England, Italy, Turkey, the Greek Islands, France and Spain.
How does documenting where you go, through writing and photography, enhance the experience?
For me, the way I do it at least, it forces me to interact with a place on a human level, a cultural level and a geo/environmental/political level. I'm not going to any of these places to relax. I'm there to learn and document.
What records have you listened to today?
Nothing today but I'll be listening to a lot tonight. I've been listening to a lot of 7-inch records.
Tonight, I'll listen to more singles. I have a few boxes of them that I haven't heard yet. I'm trying for 10 a night. It's a lot of records I came out of Australia with in September of 2016, and some new ones that have come in.
Have you found any good new records on this tour?
In stores, on the road, nothing that wasn't slated for release, but there have been a few interesting records on eBay and Discogs. The new Escape-Ism album The Lost Record is coming out soon, that's really good. The new Oh Sees album will be out in a few days, that's great. The OCS' Live in San Francisco on Rock Is Hell is a great one. The new Terry LP I'm Terry is their best one yet. I was in Australia a couple of weeks ago and got a lot of records, but haven't had the chance to dig in much.
Are you able to record podcasts with Heidi May while on tour, or do you just do those when you are home?
We can only do those when I'm off the road. We need to be able to stare into each other's beady little eyes.
Are you still in touch with Damien, Jason or Jessie?
I connect with Jason and Damien now and then. I tend to leave them alone. They've been through enough and I think it's best for them to make up for lost time. If they want to be on the guest list for a show or something, that's no problem but I let them reach out to me.
MovieStyle on 10/05/2018
Print Headline: Rollins to take Little Rock on trip via pictures