Laboring at the kind of industrious clip that would make the most prolific drone bee look
like a slacker, singer/author/actor/spoken-word artist Henry Rollins always has a couple
of projects in the hopper.
Rollins' latest spate of endeavors finds the burly singer pitching cars for General Motors,
acting in an upcoming film, working on a solo album and, most recently, authoring a
book, "Solipsist," for his own 2.13.61 publishing company. But Rollins is not new to the
This book makes an even dozen for the punk-rocker.
"It's a bunch of really strange essays, kind-of character studies I did after I looked up the
word," Rollins, 37, said of the recently released book, the title of which refers to someone
who believes only in the self. "I read it one night in the dictionary and I thought it was a
really interesting word."
Having started writing the book back in the summer of '93, Rollins pieced together the
project from stream-of-consciousness rants and essays, an experience which made him
hyper-self-aware. "You see everything as kind-of an extension of yourself," he said.
Included in these rants is a 3,000-word profile of a Vietnam vet determined to erase all
record of his life.
"It's a story about this guy who's systematically trying to forget, so he executes thoughts,"
Rollins said. "He's trying to eradicate [the] memory of his parents, eradicate the memory
of his childhood. It's a weird idea of someone whose life's work is to render themselves
null. There's a lot of weird kind-of head-trips in the book."
Supported on the sales of Rollins' books, 2.13.61 exists largely as a vehicle to promote
the works of authors deemed too eclectic, offensive or unconventional for larger
publishing houses, such as Nick Zedd, Bill Shields and a book of Henry Miller's love
letters, Rollins publicist Heidi May said.
"Even though they don't sell thousands of copies, they are important. We want unknown
authors to be published and important writers like Nick Zedd to be published," May said.
"No one else would do it. These books don't appeal to the masses."
The books that do sell are the ones by Rollins that fans such as John Thrush -- who runs
a Black Flag/Rollins webpage -- rush to the bookstore to purchase. "I am, indeed, a fan of
Rollins' books," Thrush said. "While I can't say that all of the things that he writes are
earth-shattering or even worth reading with a feeling of awe, he occasionally comes out
with something that does peel the paint from your walls. Some of it hits and when it does,
it hits hard."
Sander Hicks, publisher of the independent Soft Skull Press, and an avid reader of
Rollins' work, predicted that future generations will come to appreciate the singer's
"I think the public has some catching up to do," Hicks said. "Rollins is somebody whose
values are demanding, and this is a lackadaisical society we're living in. ... He's like the
Henry Miller of his generation. ... He's got this intense world vision apart from the ruling
Known for his work with the hardcore early '80s punk band Black Flag and most recently
with his own Rollins Band, who had a hit single with "Liar," from their 1994 LP
Weight, Rollins recently delved into the world of film by portraying a hockey coach
in "Frost," starring Michael Keaton and Kelly Preston and scheduled for a fall release.
"I play a hockey coach for a bunch of obstreperous 12-year-olds. I'm a nut case and the
kids all know it and they don't ever pay attention to me," Rollins said. "I'm like Patton for a
bunch of 12-year-olds. I'm like, 'Go out and kick their butts,' and they're like, 'Whatever.' "
Though he had no problem talking about his book and his movie role, Rollins had little to
say about his latest job doing voice-overs for a General Motors television commercial. "I
auditioned" is all he would offer on the matter.
He was also coy about a solo album, pegged for a spring release, that he's finished 10
tracks for, saying only, "I'm the producer, so you know it won't be subtle."