"Back in the Black Flag days it was like 'OK, we're playing Philly; I'm gonna get hit in the face tonight,' " recalls Henry Rollins, who will speak at the First Unitarian Church (2125 Chestnut) Sunday night. There he'll be met with a more peaceful reception than the violent punks who saw his legendary band and broke into their van here in the '80s.
The musician, author, actor and speaker is also about to debut a new show on the IFC Channel. The three-episode "Henry Rollins: Uncut," debuts at 10:30 p.m. Nov. 7 and takes Rollins to post-Katrina New Orleans, talks with IRA members and historians in Northern Ireland and investigates post-apartheid South Africa. He says those visits and some of his other travels have caused him to be a less cynical person.
"When you meet generous people who are so broke, people who have nothing and they're so welcoming," it's hard not to be encouraged by that, says Rollins, who has not lost his desire to learn the good, bad and ugly about the world. On his reading list are books such as Maude Barlow's "Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water," and "The End of Food," by Paul Roberts, both of which deal with how humans are destroying our natural resources.
His spoken word tour is called Recountdown because "you need to call it something and in the last few elections, results have been disputed. We're getting ready for another shouting match." Rollins declined to say for whom he's voting. "What I beg people to do is vote. Who you vote for is none of my business and I hope the damn thing is fair. If I don't get who I want, I'm used to that. But that's democracy."
As for Sunday's spoken-word show, Rollins, whose performances are usually a mix of comedy, tragedy and honesty, says he'll focus mainly on his recent trips to Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Iran, Syria and Lebanon. In a few weeks he'll be in Canada shooting an indie film called "Suck," a rock 'n' roll vampire movie co-starring Iggy Pop and Malcolm McDowell. Visit R5Productions.com for tickets to Rollins' Sunday show.