Henry Rollins: The Column! I'm Not Dead Yet
[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.]
A few days ago, I was sitting backstage at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, in the same area where I was with Black Flag, touring Europe with the Minutemen in 1983. Preshow, I often sit in that room and focus on a spot where I remember watching D Boon and Mike Watt talking about their set. We had yet to play. We had a rough night on that stage -- beer, skinheads. I turned 22 onstage. The next night, we were in Bremen, Germany, and The Fall were at the Paradiso. I still have the poster.
As you can imagine, there is a lot of history in some of these venues. In Hamburg, Germany, there is a venue called the Grosse Freiheit, or, in English, the Big Freedom. In the basement, down the hall from the dressing rooms, you can walk through a door and sit in the Kaiserkeller and look at the small stage the Beatles played on in 1960. At the Löwenbräukeller in Munich, Adolf Hitler staged his famous Putsch in November 1923. The backroom where he tried to intimidate the Bavarian prime minister is a dressing room for performers.
As the world becomes more technically connected (and often more humanly disconnected), events become historical almost as soon as they happen. Many music scenes, eras and venues all over the world are becoming the topics of books and documentaries. Some of these scenes and venues have hosted bands that went on to become massive and proved to be influential on some level. It is strange to see some venues being carved into posterity to lock in the verification of their existence while still operating full-time. Doesn't anyone ever yell out, "I'm not dead yet!"?
I am often in the odd/interesting position of being asked to testify for these tomes or straight-to-DVD blips on the great radar screen of history. I don't feel particularly historical, but more often than not I submit to inquiry.
Postshow at the Paradiso, I was sagging in a chair, having just harangued a standing-room-only audience nonstop for a little more than two hours and 45 minutes. (I use a stopwatch.) There was a knock on the door. I was handed the DVD of the Paradiso documentary that will have its screening this year. I am in it.
The next day, I was at the Effenaar in Eindhoven, Holland. I have been doing shows there since 1987. After the show, I was given a book on the history of the venue that features me. Great to know I once walked the earth.