Saturday, September 26, 2015

Book: Henry Rollins - Get in the Van (2.13.61, 1994)


Henry Rollins was the contentious vocalist for the pioneering hardcore punk band Black Flack from 1981-1986. This book is made up of diary written during their long tours around the United States and occasionally Europe. Rollins' writing is as controversial and your face as his lyrics and on stage personae. Like much of the hardcore scene the band lived hand to mouth and on the margins of society, playing in the most rundown clubs where violence was away of live and the threat of police brutality was omnipresent. Rollins misanthropy and self-imposed isolation is a major theme of the book, when he is off the road, he lives in a shed in guitarist Greg Ginn's backyard, and on the road he will avoid fans and fellow bandmates to the point of belligerence. There are some fascinating aspects of the book that diverge slightly from the nihilistic narrative. The brilliant and disturbing flyers drawn by by Raymond Pattibon, make the case for him as the R. Crum as the hardcore scene. There are also a number of fine pictures of the band at action and at rest. But the hate simply streams from the book, advocating the killings of pigs (police)and their entire families and the (justifiable) loathing of skinheads. At it's best, the book describes the sheer rush and freedom that hardcore offered the musicians and the fans. Wasting away in your house isn't the answer; even if leaves you alienated from much of society. He fights loneliness and self-hurt (psychological and physical) and uses that to create energy for is ferocious stage performances. The revelation that the idea of not fitting in is not failing and that no one is at fault resonated with the audience and gave them hope when the "real" world is full of backstabbing, lies and unreasonable expectations. Rollins and Black Flag were true outsiders with an us vs. the world attitude that drove them relentlessly forward to record and tour at an insane pace, and create amazing music inside a crucible of pressure and pain. Get in the Van - amazon.com

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