Words of Wisdom: Henry Rollins Talks to Primer

Words of Wisdom: Henry Rollins Talks to Primer
Modern-day Renaissance man and the former chiseled face of the American punk rock band Black Flag, writes to Primer readers a hardened, intimidatingly eloquent call to action.

Famous words and famous lives renowned for unapologetic, unflinching self-assurance transcend the era in which they are written, spoken or lived.

Modern-day Renaissance man and the former chiseled face of the American punk rock band Black Flag, writes to Primer readers a hardened, intimidatingly eloquent call to action. 

Although he's said it in many different ways over the years to varying degrees of esotericism and aggression, Henry Rollins' words, either in song or in writing, echo those written hundreds of years ago from a fellow wordsmith: “This above all: To thine ownself be true.”

(As told to Gin Ando)

I think when you go against what you know and head into more uncharted territory, you take what you know with you into the unknown. This forces you to dig deep and pull from within as past experiences will only get you so far. It’s uphill but in my experience, has always been a good thing. That is to say, whenever I have risked in this way, I have always gained.

Sometimes, failure was the most informative part.

I think those who know who they are will usually end up in good shape. Most people have a job they do just for the money. That is their lives. That is why some of them are fascinated with the lives of the “rich and famous.”

The more you downgrade people’s lives, the more they will look to others to live vicariously through. In the sixties, there is no way you could have the Kardashian sisters get all the attention and money they get right now. Everyone is themselves but not everyone makes that into much. It’s a name and a face on a driver’s license and sometimes, that is all. For me, life is way too short for that.

henry rollins

Passion is a kind of adrenaline. You need it to get through the utter flatline of existence. If you don’t have something you’re into, your life is trapped in the pages of a Jean-Paul Sartre book.

If all you’re going to be is a bully, then what good is it? Perhaps the best thing you can do with an “a-type” personality is to help others in some way.

Life never stops surprising me. Even at its most mundane, there’s always something happening.

Find something that turns you on and see where it takes you. Otherwise, it’s just mere existence.

Gin Ando is a news junkie and coffee addict. He currently works in advertising and cannot stop writing. As a post-college twentysomething, he too is navigating the adult world. And he needs friends. Follow him on Twitter @GinAAndo.


  • Reply February 4, 2013

    Shannon Jameson

    The Media Millinium of today is a blessing and a curse based on what you do with it. But then what you make of life is the same. Some people waste their time on Face Book, being dumbed down by watching bad reality TV and texting drama to each other. Others take the road to self improvement by exploring the internet and actually learning something from networks like the Discovery Channel. It reminds me of the car commercial where a young teenager is communicating with her friends on the computer about how her parents don’t have a life because they don’t have a lot of friends on Face Book. The next scene shows the parents exploring the great outdoors. So much of life needs to be lived outside the four walls.

  • Reply February 4, 2013

    Anyone get the reference?

    He will use his mistakes against you.

    • Reply February 16, 2013


      He went to great lengths to expand his threshold of pain.

  • Reply February 4, 2013


    Rollins 2016

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