Henry Rollins On Retiring From Music: “There’s No More Toothpaste In the Tube”

The punk legend discussed why he stopped making music in a recent interview on producer Rick Rubin's podcast

Henry Rollins, photo by Philip Cosores

    Few — if any — artists have left as much of a legacy on punk rock as Henry Rollins, so it makes sense that fans were surprised at the former Black Flag frontman’s decision to stop making music 15 years ago. In a recent appearance on producer Rick Rubin’s podcast, Broken Record, Rollins explained how he arrived at the conclusion.

    “The smart thing I did as a younger man was one day I woke up in my bed and I went, ‘I’m done with music. I don’t hate it. I just have no more lyrics. There’s no more toothpaste in the tube,'” Rollins said. “Luckily, I had enough movies, voiceover, documentary work, writing, talking, where that just filled in, and now I’m busier than ever. But I walked away before I had to start saying, ‘Hey, kids, remember this one?’ So I didn’t have to put it on and go up there and put on the dog and yelp for my dinner.”

    The hardcore legend discussed his natural progression of becoming disillusioned with the music world, and his disinterest in appeasing to fans on a large scale. “If [fans] happen to like what I’m doing, cool,” he added. “If they don’t, they can bite me.”


    Rollins continued: “I’ve had gentle discussions with major rock stars. I [say], ‘You go out and you play those same songs every night for the last 40 years?’ And one of these people, who I love dearly, said, ‘Yeah, that’s what people want.’ I go, ‘You wanna give ’em what they want?’ ‘Yeah.’ He’s an older-school guy — even older than me. And he said, ‘Yeah. You wanna make people happy.’ I’m, like, ‘You do? Huh. I never thought of that. That never once occurred to me.’ And he went, ‘What do you do?’ I go, ‘Just what’s on next.’ And he went, ‘Huh. How’s that treating you?’ I’m like, ‘Well, I need bus fare to get home!'” Listen to the full podcast episode below.

    Just because Rollins has stepped away from music doesn’t mean he isn’t finished performing. Next spring, he’ll hit the road in North America for his massive one-man show, the “Good to See You” tour; grab tickets for that on Ticketmaster. He also recently appeared in a hilarious Tyler, the Creator-directed Converse ad, as well as Punk the Capitala documentary about the early years of hardcore in Washington D.C.