Henry Rollins Puts Weird Rants Down In 12th Book

The industrious singer/author/actor/spoken-word artist has released another collection of essays.

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

literary world.

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

candid writings.

"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

class."

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."