Henry Rollins – Long March to the Sea

by Sandee Rager
“The Machine”
F
ormer front man of Black Flag and current front man of The Rollins Band, Henry Rollins has made a solid stake in the ground of punk and rock music and spoken word. You can see him acting in several movies as well. To the public, it may seem that Rollins dedicates all of his time and energy to work. It’s not all about work for him though. His leisure travel excursions are well documented in his books and spoken word events. With the amount of writing he does throughout his travels, he still finds time to enjoy reading.
“(I’m) Reading as constantly as possible,” he said. “(I) Read what interests me.”

He enjoys Franz Kafka, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry Miller, and other avant-guard writers.

He is currently re-reading Blue Octavo Notebooks by Kafka and strongly recommends any writing by Jack Womack.
“He’s pretty damn amazing,” Rollins said very matter-of-fact.Work for him stops about mid-December when he travels or does whatever suits him at the time. He’d like to use some of his enormous flyer miles to travel somewhere he’s never been before and learn something new. His thirst for knowledge and new experiences seems to never been quenched and he’s always sharing with readers and/or listeners about new chapters in his life. As busy as he gets, it’s amazing that he still finds time to take on new projects.

The most recent one he’s devoted a lot of time, energy and heart into is a benefit CD to raise money to support Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin: the West Memphis 3.

The three boys were convicted and put in jail in 1993 for the deaths of three eight-year-old boys , allegedly without a proper trail. Since then two movies have been made about the details of this case; Paradise Lost and Paradise Lost 2: Revelations. A woman that Rollins works with gave him the first video to watch.

“(It) hit me pretty hard,” he said. “(I thought) these guys got the runaround and it wasn’t right.”

He watched Paradise Lost twice and two months later watched the second video. In addition to watching the movies, he viewed the crime scene and clinical photos and that made the entire thing hurt even more for him. Revelations pissed him off so much that he started working on helping the boys the very next day.

“We have something here worth fighting for. We’re fighting a war.”

“Due process was not served,” Rollins stated. “I don’t think they got a fair trial and that really bugged me!”

Rollins is very passionate about this and puts his all into it. After some searching, he found the support group on the web at www.wm3.org. He contacted them and asked if he could help. To which they replied: “‘well yea, where have you been?'”

This was late 2001. Soon afterward Rollins organized a benefit show. Rollins and his band played, as well as Exene Cervenka from the band X and Wayne Kramer.

Now Rollins is releasing a benefit CD.

The Rise Above CD contains 24 classic Black Flag songs covered by various musicians. Heidi May, executive producer of the Rise Above project helped a lot in contacting with people about the benefit CD, Rise Above. Everyone they contacted showed a lot of interest.

“(I chose) What felt would work,” Rollins said. “No brainers. Some (musicians) I had in mind for certain songs, some I just wanted to be involved and some were suggested to us by friends and other artists.”

The CD will be in stores and for sale on the web Oct. 8, 2002. Rollins keeps in contact via letters with the West Memphis Three, letting them know what he’s doing to help.

He continues to do what he can. He is still going to many people for what help they want to give. After Rise Above is released he will continue to talk about the West Memphis Three at his spoken word shows, continue with interviews and do what he can with the support group.

“I would not be surprised if they spend the rest of their life in jail, “Rollins said in a softer tone. “I think they’re innocent.”

“I’m doing what I can as a citizen,” Rollins said with conviction.

“We have something here worth fighting for. We’re fighting a war.”

Rollins has put an enormous amount of time, energy and hard work putting this CD together. Since April, he’s been at it five to seven days a week. He says it’s taken its toll on him as an artist and a person.
“(The) Emotional aspect,” he added. “I can’t even describe what a long march to the sea this record was. It’s pretty incredible.”