SMoCA hosts Spoken Word artist Henry Rollins

Liam Huggins, Reporter

Henry Rollins the musician, writer, human rights advocate, and all around renaissance artist spoke at The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) on Thurs., March 30th. The hour-long talk consisted of topics of art, equality, and social justice.

For some context, Henry Rollins has been active since 1980, starting as a musician in the D.C hardcore band State of Alert but would soon front the highly influential band Black Flag. During Rollins time in Black Flag he started writing poetry, and doing spoken word performances that managed to mix the aggressive and intense tendencies with Rollins more poetic and introspective ideas.

After the break-up of Black Flag, Rollins continued performing as The Rollins Band and during this time he released “Get in the Van”. “Get in the Van” was an audiobook done by Henry Rollins, which consisted of memoirs of Rollins during his time in Black Flag. His audiobook would later go on to be awarded a Grammy.

Nowadays Henry Rollins has put down music to commit more into writing and his spoken word performances. Rollins has also made a lot noise with his columns in the Los Angeles Times, that focus on music, art, and equality. Those being the topics that Rollins focuses most on in his talks and were the main focal points in his discussion at SMoCA.

To me, Henry Rollins is nothing short of a superhero, from hearing stories of his trouble youth to his energetic performances, Rollins represents a sense of dedication and energy that I envy. While many say “don’t meet your heroes” I couldn’t help but jump at the opportunity to watch my greatest inspiration live.

It was clear as I walked into the auditorium that I was one of the youngest, with the majority of people seeming to be closer to 30 or 40. They all seemed interested in the same things though, politics, art, and punk so there was always a sense of connection with everyone there. Finally, after what felt like forever, Henry Rollins is introduced and even at 56 he has this immense sense of energy that resonates through the crowd.

Throughout the talk, Rollins brings nuanced yet relatable points on the current situation in America. Such about making change, Rollins lays out the uncomfortable position that America is currently in talking about the injustice those  disenfranchised face and how those who can help must help. He then brings a realistic solution, start locally, go to the corner of your neighborhood and face the problems that those around you face. 

Rollins really gave his best at SMoCA and really showcased his skills and knowledge as an artist. From his unbelievable stories like house shows in D.C. and his touring with Black Flag to his endless knowledge on highly intellectual author and musician, it made the talk as a whole a highly entertaining and inspiring event