When I was 11 years old, I started to gain an interest in the music my older brother was getting into. The first song I really liked was “Come As You Are” and it’s because of that song that Nirvana is the first band I felt a passion for (other than Split Enz). I didn’t really know who Kurt Cobain was when he died; I didn’t know his music or his words that only couple of years later I would completely fall in love with. Within the next few months of this ‘discovery’ of Nirvana, my brother played me a few other songs he thought I might like; I wasn’t particularly interested in most of them. I just listened to Nirvana incessantly. Then one day not long before turning 12, I walked past my brother’s room and heard a song playing and stopped dead. I went and asked him what it was and he said, “I’m not sure. It’s the second song on that single I played you the other day. All I Want. It’s by The Offspring, I don’t remember what this song is called.” I picked up the single and checked the track listing. “Way Down the Line. It’s called Way Down the Line.” That day changed nearly every aspect of my life to come. It’s because of that band, that song, that I became enamored with music with no return. I had to know everything about them; I learned the lead singer and bass player had a record label – and I had to know all of the bands on that label. (Oh, AFI, how much amusement you have given me over the years and how you changed my life.) It’s through that obsession of knowing everything about that one band and the musicians that they associated with and the music they were associated with by others that I fell in love with a little thing called punk rock.
When I was 14 and I had access to the internet and international online sites where I could order CDs that were impossible to find (or ridiculously expensive) in Australia, I could finally gain access to numerous albums I’d been wanting for a while. I also decided I wanted to learn more about the ‘classic’ punk bands from the 1970s and 1980s. Two of these were Black Flag and Minor Threat. I learned what straight edge was, a movement which still fascinates me a decade later. But more importantly, I learned of the most recognisable ex-lead singer of Black Flag: Henry Rollins. By this time time it was 2000 and Henry was in Rollins Band and, to be honest, the first thing that made me want to know more about him was his tattoos. I became obsessed with tattoos when I was 14 and just never moved past it. Luckily for me that I did develop this obsession, because delving further into the brilliance of Henry Rollins is easily one of the best things I have ever decided to do.
In the last ten years, I am yet to come across someone whose intelligence surpasses Henry Rollins’. His musical talent, his knowledge, his ability to work with such intense energy at all times, his writing, and his love of travel are only a few of the reasons why I find him truly amazing. The fact that I can sit and listen to him talk for three hours and still not want him to stop really does show his incredible ability to speak and keep his audience interested. As a lover of books for my entire life, finding out he wrote books based on his journals was wonderful to me. The first Henry Rollins book I read in early 2001 was Smile, You’re Traveling. It was the latest of his books when I decided to order one from Amazon to see what his writing was like, but I mostly chose to order it because I loved the title. This book was largely focused on the writing and recording of Rollins Band’s last album and, despite the fact that I’m not even a huge fan of Rollins Band, I still managed to finish this book wanting to read everything else Henry Rollins had written and would write in the future. The way he writes about travelling makes me want to get on a plane then and there and go somewhere I’ve never been before and experience a whole new world. As it turns out, all of his books do this for me.