Henry Rollins - Punk Rock Hyenas - Uncensored

Psychedelia 02/24/2016 Views: 18,689

Punk icon Henry Rollins tells a story about a woman taking him on a terrifying journey while they were both tripping on acid in the 80s. (19:24)

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And she starts driving really fast.

I go, like,"Why are you driving so fast?

There's all these people upthere crossing the street."

She goes, like, "You pussiesin Black Flag always talk about

"the end of the worldand destruction!

"The destruction starts now!

We're gonna kill all thesefucking people!"


[electronic music]

- [laughing, rattling]

- [growling]

- [heavy breathing]

- Welcome to"This Is Not Happening."

I'm your host, Ari Shaffir,

and tonight the topicis psychedelia.

Please give it up

for Mr. Henry Rollins, everybody.

- Like a lot of youyou live in Southern California,

in Los Angeles, as do I,and for a few of you,

this is not your native cityof your birth.

That's my story,and many, many years ago,

I arrived here in 1981in the summer,

and I graduatedfrom a military prep school

in Potomac, Maryland,on the east coast

with a--an awful education,'cause I resisted education.

I just--I couldn't get it.

High on Ritalinfor most of the time,

so I was tightly controlled,

yet a-a psycho underneath.

And so I graduatedfrom high school,

and I stopped takingthe Ritalin, and my body said,

"Okay, the arrow'sbeen drawn back,

and now it's timeto let it fly."

And so I went in througha series of minimum wage jobs

thinking, "Well,that's going to be my life.

"I'm gonna livein a Bruce Springsteen lyric

for the rest of my life."

♪ He's working--

You know, just--it's gonna be tough.

My feet are gonna hurtand I'm gonna get

really acquaintedwith Top Ramen noodles.

And right around that timeI found out about a band

called Black Flagfrom Los Angeles,

and they were as angryand as crazy as I was.

I'd hear their musicand, like, "Finally!

That's--that's whatI'm talking about,"

and they came back to theeast coast, and they saw me,

and they said,"You're pretty crazy,"

and I said, "You have no idea,"

because I'm very polite,

and that throws people off.

I say,"Yes, ma'am, yes, sir."

"Are you in the military?""No, sir."

"Are you a cop?""Never."

"Then why are you so polite?"

"Ritalin, and, uh, a lotof schooling, actually."

I'm unnervingly polite,

but I'm also capably violent.

[laughter and applause]

So when you do it with a smilesomeone almost thanks you.

Uh, and so they said,"Hey, you want to audition

to be the singer in this band?"

I was like...[hyperventilating]

"Yeah, yes."

Everything said--my DNA screamed "yes."

And so I made it,and so I jumped in this van

and I came outto southern California

and I am now runningwith a group of men

who are older than I amby about five or six years,

and they are the wise eldersof Black Flag.

I am--I am the grasshopper.

I am the stepchild,and I learned

to keep my mouth shut,and my eyes and ears open

'cause they knewway more than I did,

and so there's oneparticular guy in the band

who I was in awe of immediately.

I am in awe of him to this day.

He was an intellectualterrorist.

He's the first truly cerebralperson I ever met in my life.

He's not a tough guy.

He does not fight.

He doesn't do any of that.

It's his mindthat terrifies you,

and he would have this book.

He'd be always writingin this small book.

He'd say,"Hey, Henry, come here."

Like, "Yes?"

And I'd sit on the floorand look up,

and he'd read out of his book.

[as bandmate]"One day

"we'll give everyoneknives and guns

"and let themkill each other off,

"and the people who remain

will be the true rulersof mankind."

[pops mouth]

And you're like, "Really?

How about we justgo to band practice?"

But he was so persuasive.

He wore shirts with no sleeves,

so he had the biceps going,

and he had this scuba knife,and he would plunge it

into a can of pineapple...

and he was able to open itjust with his...

Like, how does anyone do that?

Like, he's, like, the alpha

and he would stab the pineappleand come out,

and he'd justhand you the blade.

"Pineapple?"You're like...

Thank you.

And he was alwaysreally intense,

and one day he looked at meand said,

"Come on, let's go."I'm like...

And so big dog takes little dog,and we're walking--

we were living downin Redondo Beach,

and so we're walkingand walking and walking

towards the sea,and we make a left

into some huge supermarket,

and we go rightto the meat section

and he grabs a steak

in its cellophane and Styrofoam.

Tears it open.

Rips the meat in half.

Just hands me half of it.

And he plunges part of it intohis mouth and he's eating it.

I'm like...And I start eating it too.

The entire supermarketis just silent

looking at these two men...[grunting]

And like,and I'm such a good boy.

I was raised honest.

I worked for a living.

"Well, golly, don't wehave to pay for this?"

And, like,alpha males don't pay.

Like, we're on the Serengetiof the South Bay.

We just take meat.

We are punk rock hyenas.

We do not pay.

And if this meat stood stilllong enough to be eaten,

we deserve to have it.

And so we walk outand everyone's like,

"Yeah, that's okay.Have a great day."

We're like...

"We'll be back later."

And we walked all the way backto SST Records

where we were living and ourhands covered in gristle,

and I ate the whole damn thing.

I was that hungry.

And we would go to gigs,and my life was changing

with these, like, these adultswho were incredibly intense.

We would go to shows,check out other bands,

and I'm a young guy, I'm lookingat all these beautiful girls.

I'm like, "Whoa, there'sa really beautiful girl."

[as bandmate]"Go up and talk to her."

Ah, you know,I don't have a line.

I don't know what to say.

"Tell her about death."


"Walk up to her and say,'Hey, my flower child,'

"'before the streetsbecome rivers of blood,

"'let's get down.


You really want meto say that?

"Yeah, go ahead."

And so I took everythingthis guy said really seriously.

"Come here."Yeah?

"Love is the monster."

Okay, thank you.

Like... [chuckles]

It was like being in a band

with Colonel Kurtzfrom "Apocalypse Now."

And so everything he said,I hung on every word.

And to this day,

I'm still in awe of this guy,'cause he hasn't changed.

I mean, his mind is terrifying,

and he's a really nice guy,

but his mind is dangerous!

And so one day

we're at SST Recordsand he said,

"You know, you should do LSD."

I'm like...

And I am not a drug type.

I'm one of thosewhere I would probably

have a very bad reactionto any stimulant.

I mean, it wouldn't go well.

And so I said, "Well, golly,why should I take LSD?"

"'Cause you're a real asshole...


And it would help."

And since he said it,well, by golly,

I better get some drugs.

And so I go at everything

with kind of a boy scoutsamurai zeal.

"Well, I better get on the phone

and get intosome LSD acquisition."

And so there's one

utterly psychotic,brainiac woman

I knew who did drugs

and I had her phone number,so I called her.

"Uh, excuse me, this is--

"this is Henry Rollinsfrom Black Flag,

"and I'm calling you today.

"I need to acquire some LSD

"and I don't haveany money, really,

"so I can only afforda couple of ounces, so--

"so if you could find a dealer

"or some kind of vendorin the South Bay area

"who could maybe tradefor a Minutemen cassette

"or a releaseby the Meat Puppets,

it would--that I can vendpretty easily."

She said, "Oh, I've got LSD.

"I've got LSD I boughtfrom a leper in Studio City.

It's some great shit!"

Well, fantastic.

I need to buywhatever it comes in.

She goes, "Oh, no, no,no charge.

"I'll bring it over right now,

but the only rule isI get to watch."

And I said, "Well, fantastic.

It'll be a date."

And so within 45 minutesof this guy saying,

"Take some acidbecause you're an asshole.

It'll help,"the car pulls up.

She had, like,a Gremlin or something.

Just somethingthat just says, like,

"I'm crazy.This is my car."

And she comes in, I think,with her boots up to her knees.

She just looked like an outtakefrom "Josie and the Pussycats,"

and she pulls outa small, plastic bag

with small squares of paper.

She said,"Here's a tab of acid."

Well, fantastic.What do I do with it?

So she says, "Put it onyour tongue and let it melt."

I go, "Well, paper doesn't melt,

"and at 98.6 degrees, it's--

a carbon-based product,certainly, but--"

She said, "Just hush.

Don't swallow it, and justlet it melt on your tongue."

And so after a minuteit goes away.

So we wait like 20 minutes,and I'm waiting--

I'm waiting to be on acid.

And she says,"Well, how do you feel?"

I'm like,"Uh, I'm fine, thank you.

How are you?"

And she said, "No, no.

Do you feel high?"

I'm like, "I don't--

"I'm unable to answerthat question

"'cause I really don'tunderstand

what I'm supposedto be feeling."

She goes, "Okay, take another."

I'm like, "Well, fine."

Thank you--I thanked herfor her generosity.

I took another one.

I know how to let it melt...[hums]

And it melts, and--and so she said, "And?"

and we've been sitting therefor, like,

you know, 30 minutes or so.

I said, "I don't know.

"Feeling okay.

"I feel a little warm,

"but I think that's justthe temperature.

"I'm sweating a little.

"A little sweat on my upper lip,

"but otherwise, I don't know.

"Am I high on acid now?

"'Cause I think I'm stillan asshole.

So I don't know."

And she says,"Well, take a third one."

And meanwhile, just--in all transparent--

she's taking them with me,

so we are going one-for-one,two-for-two, three-for-three,

and so now we've waiteda long time.

She said,"Does anything seem strange?"

I'm like, "Nope, just spendingthe afternoon here with you,

"eating bits of paper.

Are you--are you surethis is good stuff?"

Trying to speak in her patois.

And she goes, "No, no, no,I've used this stuff before.

"I saw through wallsand Jesus touched me,"

and so she was like,"Let's do another."


And I figureI'm so young and intense

the acid can't get to me.

That's why.

I'm acid-proof.

And so we both havefour hits of acid

circulating through our system,and she says,

"Okay, I'm bored, let's go."

So we get in her car

and we start driving westtowards Santa Monica,

and she said, "Are you hungry?"

and I'm, like, always hungry.

I said,"Yeah, I'm always hungry,

"but I don't have any money.

I have, you know,like, three bucks."

And she said,"Don't worry, I got this."

She said, um, "We're gonna eatsome hamburgers."

And so we are at an intersectionwaiting to go into a parking lot

to get the fast food, and I lookout the window of her car

and there's a motorcycle parked

right next to meat the red light,

but its wheelsare still spinning.

I'm like, "Wow."

I said, "The wheels of thatmotorcycle are still spinning."

She's like, "Oh, here we go!"

[laughter, applause]

And then she said,

"Acid 101, look at your hand."


I could do thisfor the rest of my life."

She goes, "Oh, you're high."

And so we pullinto the parking lot,

she goes, "Let's go inand get some food."

I'm like, "People, food--I can...

[gasps, squeals]

And she said, "No, no, no.

Sit, sit, sit, sit.What do you want?"

"A hamburger...[slurring gibberish]

And so she comes back,like, days, eons later,

with this food, and shehands me a hamburger,

like, there... [imitates bang]

and I open up the foiland I look down at it,

and I start eating--I juststart smashing it into my face,

and then I pull it down,I just look at it doing nothing.

She goes, "What are youdoing over there?"

I said, "I'm eating aninfant's head.

I'm eating an infant's head."

She goes, "Wow!

This is great."

And so we finishthe meal or something,

and then she says,"Let's go to the beach,

'cause you'll likeseeing water."

I'm like,"I'll talk to the water."

And we're driving, and noweverything is happening.

You're living next toyour own mind.

It's--it's incredible.

And you're like,"Wow, am I breathing?"

I mean, you--it's reallya different experience

for a guy who's never doneanything more than

three or four Michelobsand promptly vomited.

And so there's thoselong parking lots

along the shore, a littlebit north of Santa Monica

as you get towards Malibu,

and it's a Tuesday, Wednesday.

It's mid-week.The weather is nice,

so it's not weekend traffic,

but there are some peoplein the parking lot,

and so she starts drivingthrough the parking lots

going north up the coast,

and she starts drivingreally fast.

I go, like,"Why are you driving so fast?

There's all these people upthere crossing the street."

She goes, like,"You pussies in Black Flag

"always talk about the endof the world and destruction!

"The destruction starts now!

We're gonna kill all thesefucking people!"

[laughter, applause]

And when she floors it,

you see everyone look up

as they hear an enginescreaming in fury

as like a cheap caris being floored

and the engine's like,"I can't really do this...


And you see people startmoving differently.

"I'm walki--I'm running for my life!"

And you see people grabbing kidsand picnic items and running.

She's like,"They're just like ants."

I'm like, "This is--really isn't happening.

"The sky is talking to the sea,

"and the sandis screaming at me,

"and the firstJimi Hendrix album does

"sound really good right now,

"and if I pretendI'm Casper the Ghost,

"I can float out of the carand land as a blue ball,

"and roll all the way back

"to the hovel by the seawhere I live.

Please, don't killthese people!"

And she slows downand looks at me like,

"God, you're so lightweight."

Like, "All right, for you

I will kill everyone I can."

And so I'm like, "Okay, okay,

so let's--how aboutwe just drive?"

I'm trying to be sane nowrocketing on four hits of acid.

And so we now are driving upin the canyon somewhere,

and it's very, very nice, andwe're driving up and up and up,

and then we start driving down

and the speed goes fasterand fas--and I go like,

"Shouldn't you be drivinga little slower?"

She goes, "No, it's just likea video game."

[mimics engine roaring]

I'm like, "Whoa, oh,this is really dangerous!"

She looks at me, she said,"Tell me right now

"why I should not drive this car

off a cliff and kill us both."

And I'm like, "You know,that is a pretty amazing idea

"because the car will float andwe'll live in a different life,

"and we'll call each otheras eagles in the sky

"from our vision quest--No!

No, I don't want to die!"

She goes,"Give me one good reason."

And I'm going throughmy LSD-poisoned mind

trying to come up witha sane reason

for her not to sendthe car flying

Thelma and Louise-esqueoff the--some cliff,

and finally, I come up with it.

"I have to finish the vocals

"on the next Black Flag album,and if I don't finish it,

the rest of the bandwill be really mad."

[mimics engine slowing]

She goes,"Yeah, I like those songs.

"Okay, okay.

You can live."

And so we come downand I honestly

do not really knowwhere we are at this point.

She just, like,"We'll go to a Zen garden

and we can look at flowers."

I'm like, "Fantastic, flowers."

And so in about an hourand a half, I went from,

"I'm in Black Flagand I hang out with this guy

"who wants the end of the world,

and I'm a--reallyan intense guy."

and this, like, 90-pound woman

just, like,tried to kill people.

I'm like, "Oh, please,don't kill people!"

Like, you're in Black Flag.

"Yes, but I don't wantanyone to die."

And so she's the heavyweight,

and she totally showed me out

for the fairly rational humanI am most of the time

where vehicular manslaughteris really not my thing.

And so we go to some gardenand look at flowers,

and the flower's, like,"Hey, Henry, how are you?"

They are talking right back,

and it wasa wonderful afternoon.

Then we go back to her home.

She lives with her parents,and so, like,

"We're gonna walk bymy mom and dad.

Just don't say anything."

I'm like, "But that's impolite."

You have say,"Hello, I'm Henry."

And she goes, "No, your eyeslook really crazy--don't worry."

'Cause she's--she's goodat taking drugs.

She can maintain.

I'm all over the place.

And so we walk into her house,

and there her two incrediblystraight parents.

"Uh, is this your friend?"

I'm like, "Uh--"

And so she puts me in her roomand closes the door.

She says,"Sit against the door."

I'm like, "Okay," and I'msitting against the door.

And I said, "Why am I sittingagainst the door?"

She said, "To block itif my parents come in.

I'm gonna shoot some herointo take the edge off."

You're going to do what?

So she ties off and she startsheating up a spoon of heroin.

I'm like, "What, am Iin an episode of, like,

the "Serpico" sitcom?"

I mean, like, you're doingheroin, like, wow!

And so she does heroin.I'm like,

"I don't want to look.I don't want to look."

And she goes, "You want some?"

I'm like, "No, no, no, no, no.

No, no, I don't wantany heroin,"

and I did somethingI've never done ever since.

I opened up the windowof her room

and just jumped out.


Not even thinking,like, what's below.

Thankfully, ground floor.

I went...the ground was right there.

I mean, the window's herebut I kind of went, "Aah!"

Like, 'cause I don't want to be

in a room with heroin

'cause I'm too high on acidto deal with it.

And the most amazing partof this incredible day,

was I got from somewherein Santa Monica near UCLA,

all the way backto Redondo Beach.

Two public bus rides, at least

with no memory whatsoever

how I got back there.

And I come staggering in to SST

like, I don't know,like 12 hours later

and I come in, I'm like...[groans]

And there's, uh,there's the guy in the band.

[as bandmate]"Hey, how was it?"

I'm like...

"It was incredible!

But I think I'm stillan asshole!"


[cheers, applause]

[electronic music]