Henry Rollins: The Column! Masochism Has Its Benefits
[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here on West Coast Sound every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Saturday KCRW broadcast.]
I am in Bristol, England. The cold outside has permeated the walls of the utilitarian backstage area where I am waiting before I walk out onstage. I have an electric heater pulled in front of me and occasionally warm my hands over it so I can keep writing.
The cold backstage is one of the things you can count on this time of the year in England. These rooms have a spare and austere build that seems to say, "Comfort, like success, would only lead to your downfall." It may sound strange, but not only have I grown used to these often less-than-cheerful environments, I don't mind them at all. If you can thrive in these conditions and hit the stage every night, you're good to go.
It is the relentless grind of rooms like these, travel, erratic sleep opportunities, meals that are often less than great and myriad other destabilizing factors that send many touring performers back to more tolerable environs with a more predicable continuum. Basically, this isn't for everybody. Unfortunately, many of the people who find it objectionable have to live like this for more nights a year than they would like.
I have been touring and performing far and wide for more than 30 years. At this point, I am more in my element out here. I guess you could consider me institutionalized, to a certain degree.
I tour in any weather and in any place that will have me. I have no preferred country or season, as long as there aren't many nights off. The strangest times of my life have been spent off the road. The older I get, the stranger and more difficult the "downtime" becomes. By the time I have gone to the grocery store twice, I feel like I am on "pause" -- but that life remains in "play" mode, passing me by. As the days off the road tick by so quickly and easily, my guilt grows, and I feel that I am taking the easy way out.
Beyond guilt, and feeling that I am becoming soft by sleeping in the same bed every night and having so many things within such easy reach, I just don't trust it and, ultimately, it doesn't seem real.