Henry Rollins: The Column! Advice From Diamond Dave
[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.]
Still in Australia, with a lot more shows to go. Right now, I am in Brisbane. We got in a few hours ago from Cairns in the north. Before that, we were in Darwin, which is way up at the top of the country. Last night was a sauna -- I came off stage soaked. Now that we're more south, the weather is far less hot and humid.
I am 70-some shows into the tour. This is where some performer types either head home or start dialing in the show from their happy place countless mind-miles away. For me, this is where it gets really good, like the second hour straight on the treadmill. It takes about 50 shows to really know you're doing this for keeps; it's the part of the tour that makes you see how much you really want to do this. The show is either something you live for or want to run away from.
Some performers and bands are just not built to slog, and that's OK. For me, there has always been a great integrity to the artists who are out there every year, one way or another, doing their thing, racking up the nights under the lights. There is, however, a line between those who constantly tread the boards because it's what they do, and those who do it because they have nothing else they can do.
As performers grow older, I reckon there are two ways they can go. They can either be up there, playing more deeply from their guts than ever, or they can be phoning it in so crassly that it leaves a lump in your throat as you leave the venue at the end of the show. Years ago I was on tour, opening for a band that's been around for years -- great music, lots of fans. During the show, the guitar player would turn his back on the audience and talk to his tech while playing pitch perfect. He thought nothing of showing a packed house how little the show meant to him. It was kind of heartbreaking and I don't think I'll ever be seeing that band again.
David Lee Roth, a man never short of a memorable quote, said this to me when I interviewed him 22 years ago. I think this really nails it: