Tag Archives: henry rollins

The Books I Read #19

I read some more books, so I guess it’s time to share those with you, with works by R.A. Salvatore, JJ Koczan, Ace Frehley and the mighty Henry Rollins! Enjoy and pick them up if you can.

R.A. Salvatore – Paths of Darkness ( The Silent Blade, The Spine of the World, Servant of the Shard, Sea of Swords)

source: bandcamp

Ok, one more serial for now, since right now I had my fill for a while of the saga, but Paths of Darkness is indeed something else. The focus is less on the character of Drizzt, but more on others like the barbarian Wulfgar. After the traumatizing events in the previous books, people have been damaged, broken even. The collateral needs to be resolved before the band will be able to join together once again. It’s a welcome new thing in an otherwise endless string of group adventures, which I think is an interesting switch, though also showing you that nothing lasts really.

Though I wouldn’t want to pin that responsibility on the author, I think in a way the topic of trauma is very present in this book. The effect on a person and the intense fase of trying to work your way through it. The struggle the character Wulfgar goes through is heavy, complex and confusing to all surrounding him. The turmoil is well described by Salvatore and really given context and explanation. This is something that made this series of books very powerful, and worth reading. The following set is also exploring a similar side road, so thatś something that’ll come up in another series of books.

JJ Koczan – Electroprofen

source: twitter (author)
source: twitter (author)

JJ Koczan is an immensely productive guy who manages to keep up the blog ‘The Obelisk’ all by himself. To me, that’s amazing and inspiring at the same time and I’ve had the pleasure to meet JJ on Roadburn and found out he’s a humble and friendly guy, totally in it for the music, nothing else. That is something you see in his book too. I don’t know too much about JJ’s experience as a writer, but there’s something about his style that speaks to me as a music fan as well. In a way the form of this book can describe as a collection of songs too. Short, losely connected stories and poems work together to create a whole.

I enjoyed reading this short novel, as a bit of a dark exploration of humankind. I have the sense that there’s a personal vibe to the stories as well, which I think makes it so much more connecting and powerful, striking the right notes with the reader. JJ demonstrates his skill for putting down a good story here and I hope he keeps at it. I would love to read a doom laced full story of him one day. The book is out on War Crime Recordings, not sure if they still have any…  It would be worth your money to pick this up to support this talented gentleman in his writing, because I’m keen to read more. Check out his website on music for more of his writing, which follows a similar personal expression.

Ace Frehley – No Regrets

source: goodreads

I have to admit something to you, my dear reader. I’m a fan of the band Kiss. It started gradually, but I definitely would have to refer you to the podcast where Danko Jones interviews Abbath about Kiss for the spark that ignited my interest. Now, you can appreciate Kiss as a whole, but delve into the four individuals and that is one crazy journey. My first Kiss bio this far was none other than the oe of Ace Frehley, who played guitar in Kiss three times and left each one. Ace is a likable guy in the media, but was also a troubled person for years with substance abuse. His take on things is a bit different and I’m tempted to believe he missed the point on some topics, but hey…

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Ace is quit laid back and proud of his troubled past, but also likes to inform you around the end of the book how he believes in Aliens and has met them. The weird supersticions he has take all sense of truth away for me, but his perception of the history of Kiss is in general plagued by little consideration for there being another side to the story. Ace is mild and understanding for most of the book, but at some point keeps going on at Gene SImmons and Paul Stanley in a way that is hard to validate or check anywhere, but makes them the bad guys. I have not read all the others, but in the bio of Gene SImmons there’s atleast an attempt to paint a complete picture. Ace sees himself as a victim and his victory on alcohol not too long ago is his biggest victory. It’s still a great book full of saucy material. Read it if you can! Because for all his weird stories, Ace Frehley tells it like a true storyteller.

Henry Rollins – LA Weekly Articles 2011-2012

source: goodreads

Though Henry can spin a yarn, his ability to offer short and to the point stories on stage is reflected in his columns for the LA Weekly. In this book he offers a collection of those from a certain period of time between 2011-2012 that he wrote, but before any editor touched them. It’s some typical Henry material that you’lll easily get into if you like his ideas, and also will inspire you to read more of his work and check out the music he encourages… nay, urges you to check out. Old jazz and blues all the way up to metal, every week another good bit of advice for the ears. It’s really some added value that you’re getting right there from the man who fronted Black Flag and Rollins Band.

If you don’t feel affinity with the opinions of mr. Rollins, then there’s always some room for debate on most topics. The door is always half open, except when it comes to hatred, homophobia, racism and such, those are very clear and so is the opinion of Henry about you if you think such things are fine (usually thats pretty much the issue). The book serves well as a continuous read, but also just to take one item at the time. It’s immersive, personal and filled with the typical wit you find in the work of Henry Rollins. Specially his bits on the Bush administration are usually hilarious. His fandom of Rush Limbaugh (sarcasm) is a recurring theme, that makes Limbaugh look exactly the way he should. It’s just great stuff, read this!

 

Henry Rollins speaks in Eindhoven about the state of the world.

The world seems to be on the brink these days. Trump may become the next president of the United States and other peroxide blonde men are rallying the masses. Lemmy and Bowie passed away and there’s some people who actually believe the world is a flat disk again. Luckily, Henry Rollins is here to pierce the bullshit with words like daggers and razorsharp humor on a thursday night in the Effenaar in Eindhoven.

The spoken word shows of Henry Rollins are a phenomenon on their own. Not many rock’n’roll personalities compare to Rollins on a roll on the stage with a microphone and the audience. After and during his time as frontman of S.O.A. and the legendary Black Flag, the singer started developing his solo-act. After the end of Rollins Band, years later, he ended up with a show that could last for hours and it’s pretty much what Rollins is known for these days. Many have tried to follow his tracks on this, such as Danko Jones, Jello Biafra and even Billy Milano, but there’s only one Henry Rollins.

Picture by Brendy Wijdeven
Picture by Brendy Wijdeven

When Rollins gets started, his act is like a two hour train ride, not much will be able to stop it. He discusses life and what he has to say about the state of the world as it is right now. After putting out some outlines for his story, he gets started on subjects like America, herd mentality, the individual and his passion for music obviously. He touches upon the topic of Trump very briefly, which is surprising if you consider his endless rants on the topic of president George W. Bush. We move on to the next topic at high speed and soon everyone’s nailed to their seats.

Beautiful anecdotes follow about David Bowie, also known as ‘The Bow’ and the intense love for the music of the man. When Henry speaks about ‘Hunky Dory’ with passion, I think everyone must have felt that for a moment. Ofcourse Motorheads Lemmy follows as well, stories relayed with love and humor for the man. Henry is getting a bit more personal in many of his stories and tells a lot about his experiences and adventures. Not just the funny bits, but also things that matter, like his eco-holiday in Ecuador. A story about sexing enguins on a mountain of poop is compared to Amsterdam, which is always a succes in Eindhoven (and is an adequate description of the Dutch capital).

For two hours, the aging alternative icon knows how to enchant the audience with funny, hard and amazing stories, often told without nuance, direct and forceful. You can agree with his views or not. If you don’t, you probably were not at the show in the first place, but the beauty is that you leave the show refreshed and filled with new views on the world. That may be the most beautiful thing an artist can offer to you.

Thanks ever so much for the pictures to Brendy Wijdeven

 

Music films that you should be watching

For a long time I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching music documentaries on my free nights. If I’m not hitting the gym, seeing a show or enjoying some other form of entertainment, it’s pretty much what I’m looking for. I was hoping to highlight some cool stuff for you in this blog.

Ok, it’s not just documentaries, also the films they made about stuff. There are some really brilliant ones. So get them in (in any way you want, though I ofcourse have to condemn downloading here ofcourse).

Good Vibrations (2013)

“New York has the hair, London has the pants, but Belfast has the reason!” – Quote from the film.

This film is about Terri Hooley, the godfather of Belfast punkrock. A story of a war-torn country and the spark of hope from a guy who believes in the shared love for music. From opening a record shop on ‘bomb alley’ to signing some shitty punkbands on his own Good Vibrations records label. A great story, made into the funny surreal journey that these events actually were. The film has a lot of humor in it, but also a bit of the darkside that is often found in people that put music first. Enjoy tunes from The Undertones, The Outcasts, Rudi and ofcourse a bit of Belfasts very own Stiff Little Fingers.

Salad Days (2014)

Hardcore is a global thing these days, but its roots are on a few places in the USA. This documentary focusses on the scene in Washington DC. Going from the Teen Idles and State of Alert days to its glory of Void, Minor Threat and many other cool bands. Also the latter days are treated, with Fugazi and the decline of USA Hardcore. The best part is that they actually got the people interviewed who were at the centre of things, not the ones on the sides, particularly for the first part of the documentary. Henry Rollins and Ian Mackaye give their views and ofcourse the Bad Brains drop in as well.
If you are not familiar with hardcore, this is as good as any documentary to get a feeling of what it is about and why it matters. Enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g380O0UlBik

One Man Metal (2012)

Noisey is one of my favorite outlets for news on the music scene and they have a habit of exploring the unexplored fringes of music. This leads to amazing and in debt documentaries that are utterly fascinating. This docu about the famous one man metal bands is one of those. It’s often forgotten that this is not the natural shape music is formed in, so Noisey visits three of the more significant musicans to see what drives them.

This means LeviathanXasthur and Striborg are part of the series of three. It’s a harsh and confronting journey, showing some of the deep loneliness and darkness some individuals experience and transform into haunting art.

The Reading of Books #15

I’ve been reading a lot of books, but I guess too many at the same time. The progress has been slow, sorry about that. I’ll give you some here that I feel you might want to know about.

Henry Rollins – Get In The Van 

source: goodreads.com

As a huge Rollins fan I obviously had to read his magnum opus, or atleast his most discussed work to date. I have heard Henry mock his own book in many of his spoken word performances and on his podcast (Henry & Heidi, it’s awesome). I read this mostly during my holiday, it tells the story of the Black Flag years up till the phonecall when Greg Ginn dissolves the band (well, he quits his own band which is kinda the same thing….). It’s a harrowing, dark journey with many grim passages, ugly truths and ugly people and a personal journey. I’m not sure if I enjoyed it, it felt cathartic.

The writing is extremely raw, direct and not really the most literal form of writing. It’s an expression of angst and anxiety in a situation that amplifies anything to the max. As a reader, you start wondering why Henry Rollins ever decided to be in a band and tour the world, because it sounds horrible. There are beams of light now and then though, there are moments where the beauty of it all shines through, but they are rare. I have little right of speaking, since I was not there, but this may be the ultimate book embodying the USA punkrock scene and its grimy origins.

James Bowen – A Street Cat Named Bob 

source: goodreads.com

Rarely have I been touched by a book the way this did. The book is about James, but also about Bob. James had a pretty rough life after he moved to London for 6 months to persue music. He got kicked out of his sisters house, lived on the street in a haze of drugs, theft and survival. When we meet James, he’s on the way back from the addiction, trying to kick it. He’s busking on the streets of London when he finds a cat in the hallway of his appartment. It takes a while for them to get together, but it changes the world.

The cat is soon named Bob and he becomes the companion of James… Or James the companion of Bob. James Bowen writes  a compelling story that captivates the attention and love of anyone who has a pet themselves. Its his life, but also the life of someone that loves a pet and treats it in that way. I think its a beautiful story of what it means to care and be responsible. How a cat brings out the very best in a person. I truly love this book and would recommend it to anyone.

Timur Vermes – Look Who’s Back

source: Goodreads.com

The concept of this book was already baffling to me. Imagine the Führer waking up in this time and age and going about his business? Well, that is pretty much what Vermes must have been thinking when he started working on his debut. Hitler wakes up in Berlin in 2011 and sets about his business to conquer the world and win the hearts of his people once again. It leads to a surprising series of stories, a frightning view into our media-culture and the humanizing of who is generally considered the ultimate devil of history.

Vermes manages to be witty as well as completely critical of current society and manages to show how Hitler could easily rise to power in current mass media. Our inability to distinguish between threat and humor is a sharp pang in the gut to those who feel offended by this book. The most beautiful thing is how Hitler becomes a human. I’m no fan of the politics, but the hypocrisie of a whole Europe pretending Hitlers ideas are mad forget that there were massive votes in Germany but also outside of it for similar minded parties. Still we love our shouty populists, who are just as human as we are. Their beliefs are just a little creepy.

Colin Ward – Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction

source: goodreads.com

Anarchism is now in everyones mind the politics of bomb throwing leftists students, who have nothing better to do and live in filthy squats wearing Ché Guevarra shirts. That would be wrong. Colin Ward explains in this brief book the origins and outlines of the one political system we’ve never actually tried out and how it has evolved from an ideal to a solution that can be seen in education and health care around the world.

He focusses on the key figures and events that shaped the current philosophic idea about anarchism. Interesting and rather unknown to most is the episode of brief anarchy in practise in Spain, before the fascist regime took over for decades. Ward manages to illuminate a forgotten topic, which is much, much more relevant today than we may think and offers much more than just flipping your finger at the ‘man’.