U.S. punk icon Henry Rollins has officially turned his back on music because he can no longer summon the desire to get up onstage and perform.
The former Black Flag and Rollins Band frontman reveals he actually stopped performing music three years ago but he only recently made his decision official in his weekly column for Los Angeles magazine L.A. Weekly.
Rollins tells Wenn his announcement led to a backlash from some fans but he insists he can't step up onstage and fake the ferocity of performance he is known for.
He explains, "I stopped doing music years ago, I stopped being played by music. Music used to compel me to play it, so I never had an easy night onstage doing music, it was physically an a**-whooping. It was really hard, insane and very painful. I would train for weeks getting ready for tours and you're playing in places like (fabled New York venue) Cbgbs and it's, like, 115 (degrees Fahrenheit) and there's no real breathable air... it's gonna be a really long evening and afterwards you're gonna be pretty brain dead. And that was five to six nights a week for months at a time and every night I'd have to nerve myself up to go out there.
"I wasn't playing the music, the music was playing me... and once that went away and I had the feeling I was playing music, I had to stop. The need to go onstage and get my brain flattened every night left me and what I didn't wanna do is go onstage and perpetrate a fraud... You cannot fool an audience.
"As painful as it was to leave music, I had to be as reverent to it as when it was still putting fire into my veins, and so, as a respectful Samurai, I had to re-sheath the blade and walk away."
The confession means Rollins, now an in-demand spoken word performer, has no plans to team up with any of his former Black Flag bandmates, who have splintered into two groups for gigs this summer (13), or revisit his past on a nostalgia tour.
He adds, "Some of my peers, for one reason or another, can't seem to walk away when it's obviously after the fact... It's their lives, I'm very busy with mine and when people ask why are you not doing music anymore I say, 'Presently, my future is obscuring my past'... I'm not that dead yet and so that's why I do not do the past, really... I don't need to be 18 again.
"If all of a sudden I felt the need to write lyrics, I would heed the call, but if you told me right now, as like a homework assignment, to write a song tonight, it would be like I'd never written one before. I have forgotten so much... When it left it was like an animal dropping me from its jaws and I really don't remember what it was like to see or hear or feel something and be compelled to stop what I was doing and write a song."