“I have a healthy fear of my audience and healthy fear of failure. I fear failing my audience and that keeps me very upright, very awake, very leaning into it – never taking it for granted.” – Henry Rollins from the interview.
A singer and writer known for his time in one of the most influential hardcore punk bands of the early 1980s comes to Ann Arbor on Thursday. Not to rock out, but to talk it out. Henry Rollins – former lead singer of Black Flag and his own group known as Rollins Band – comes to the Michigan Theatre for a stop on his “The Long March” spoken word tour.
Rollins has been doing spoken word performances telling true stories of his travels and observations since the early 1980s.
Rob St. Mary spoke to Rollins about the tour, his recent journeys and his creative drives.
“It’s a struggle to make it. It’s a struggle once you do make it, to stay there and it’s a struggle to survive even if things go down. It ever ends. And all I want to do is just keep doing it. I’ve been living the dream and I’m so grateful and every moment is being appreciated ten times to the level it might have been if I had made it when I was young.” – Steve “Lips” Kudlow, guitarist/lead singer of Anvil (quote from the interview)
You have probably never heard of Anvil. But, if you take the time, the story is amazing.
See a few years ago, a former roadie of the band decided to tell the tale in a documentary, a film that is an inspiration to never give up on your dreams and to always keep your best friend nearby.
Anvil is a Toronto-based heavy metal act that goes back to the 1970s. For a time in the early 80s, Anvil was expected to be the next big thing. Their shows and records were popular with fans and even other hard rock bands such as Slayer, Guns n Roses and Metallica.
But by 2005 the band was hitting a rough patch. Gigs were hard to come by and the day jobs for the band’s two original members, Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner, were a serious drag on their creativity.
Then an old roadie who went on to have success as a Hollywood screenwriter decided to make a documentary about his old friends, Anvil.
“I don’t know if their music is any good. Their fans think so. The doc doesn’t show one song all the way through. But they swore a pledge when they were 14, and they’re still honoring it, and at 51, Lips knows he still has it and that Anvil will be back on the charts. Maybe there is hope for Susan Boyle.” – Roger Ebert
In September 2011, I had a chance to talk to Steve “Lips” Kudlow about the band, the film, life and previous gigs in Detroit (we haven’t been the best or biggest fans).
What is it in the water here in Detroit? For some reason we seem to create the most critically loved (Eminem) and hated (ICP) white rappers in the world.
Detroit seems to be the place where a predominately black art form can mix with the over-culture and create something completely new & innovative.
Meet Doc Waffles – a man creating new ideas and attitude out of the mix.
Over the past six months, I’ve fallen in love with the sonic stretching and innovative word play of Ben Ness AKA Doc Waffles. I saw him earlier this month at the Magic Stick in Detroit. That’s where I made this bootleg of his show.
Doc Waffles throwing down at the Old Miami (Detroit) in September 2011
Waffles is a rapper who paints in colors not often used in the hip-hop palate. He goes into areas most other rappers would rarely, if ever, venture. As a genre, hip-hop seems limited. Those limits are usually self-imposed. Countless MCs maintain the conventions of braggadocio and maintaining a hard edged, cool persona. For Ness’s alter-ego, he brings a willingness to be funny, absurd and surreal all filtered through his experience of growing up in his “hood” – the exurbs of Oakland County – one of the richest counties in America.
Doc Waffles "Seizure Suit Farms"
The former high school golf team captain, and collector of antique books, released his latest EP in the fall of 2011. “Seizure Suit Farms” is a short, solid example of Waffles’s obsessions and observations. The record features odes to the sorrow that socks are “never quite the same” once you wear & wash them, the story of Billy Joel’s attempted suicide in the early 1970s & how “We Didn’t Start the Fire” was a milestone that “re-invented rap” as well as a story of a privileged & young “princess” who is totally irresponsible, not only with love but with her cat and her life.
But for me, Ness’s filtering of the suburban experience finds its height on “Golf View Drive”. Waffles’s 2006 album shows an almost autobiographical sense of the despair many have felt growing up in the suburbs. Couple the narrator’s despair with a parent who has given up and wallows in his own self-destruction and the record takes on qualities akin to David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” or Sam Mendes & Alan Ball’s “American Beauty”. “Golf View Drive” introduces the listener to the great and horrible things lurking in the world of big houses and manicured lawns. Doc Waffles songs feature topics that can be as soul crushing and jarring as anything coming from a rapper who has lived in the streets of urban American decay. Waffles walks listeners through a world of alcoholic fathers & the concern of growing up to be just like the old man, working to strip away the fronts we all seem to live with and even having to put your mother in a nursing home & all the emotions that go along with it. These are not the typical fields rappers till. But for Doc Waffles, it is fertile ground – sonically and lyrically speaking.
I seriously went to thee Pencil Sharpener Museum in Logan, Ohio over the weekend. It’s pretty much a glorified shed with an assortment of sharpeners throughout the ages behind plexiglass, because you know, they don’t want you sharpening your own pencil. Make sure you have other things planned throughout your day though if you make the trip to the “museum” because you’ll be done with the tour in less than 5 minutes. But what do you want for free anyways, cheapskate!? After that, I suggest Old Man’s Cave… no pun intended.
As a designer, I’ve noticed a growing trend on sites’ discussion systems that force users to join Facebook to be able to leave a comment on articles and posts. I realize this isn’t news since it was introduced months ago but I find this not only scary but a little like putting all your comment eggs in one threaded basket.