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Henry Rollins says anger keeps him aware -

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Musician Henry Rollins tells Lateline that he believes music, rather than the military, has the
power to create lasting change.


EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: Over a career spanning 35 years, the American songwriter and poet Henry
Rollins has kept to a simple personal creed: make music, not war. Henry Rollins believes in the
power of music to affect real change, and he is willing to go to the world's frontlines to prove it
by touring both Afghanistan and Iraq to entertain US troops.

Hamish Fitzsimmons reports.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS, REPORTER: Henry Rollins has pursued art and politics all his career. Rising to
prominence in the 1980s punk band Black Flag to smuggling music to spread international goodwill.

HENRY ROLLINS: I did a social experiment many years ago in Iran where I smuggled in an 100 gigabyte
hard drive of music and I gave it to one person who I will not name. And I said "Do you have the
equipment available to distribute these mp3 files all over the country?" And he said, "Yes I do". I
said "Then let's get going, let's let the virus of P-Funk, the Ramones and Devo take over from this
one small hard drive."

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: In the last 10 years Rollins has entertained US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan,
and believes more than ever in the power of music.

HENRY ROLLINS: I think the greatest Western import besides maybe the internet and penicillin and
things like that would be music: jazz, blues, rock 'n roll. And just the gift that music is, how it
liberates people, how it emboldens people, how it's a great ... it cuts through all borders, it
cuts through ... you don't need a passport for music. It's a wonderful invention, not to say that
America or the West has a lock on music, are you kidding? But as an export item I think the West,
that's one of its gifts.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Relentless travel and curiosity drive Henry Rollins. He spends much of each
year on the road, performing spoken word shows, or working with aid organizations, most recently in

HENRY ROLLINS: I think by and large the impact of the West on Africa has been deleterious. When you
really see what Thomas Friedman's great dream of globalisation looks like, when you have to walk
through it, and see little kids walking by with a Slayer t shirt on. Or see some Dinka tribal
leader with a Nike baseball cap on - which I've seen - you know, really? And to see McDonald's in
all of these places. To see beautiful people of Thailand with a McDonald's uniform on in Chiang
Mai. It's like ... what a slap in the face to these cultures and these people.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: While many of his contemporaries have settled into comfortable middle age,
staying angry helps fuel Henry Rollins.

HENRY ROLLINS: Satisfaction to me is the enemy and so my anger keeps me aware and sharp eyed. It
doesn't lead me to drink, punch holes in walls, destroy public property or kick dogs - not at all.
It leads me to do more benefit shows, ask more questions. Question my apparent representative
democracy for its transparency and how much it really is representative, and on and on. And I think
all good things come from - not a jaundiced eye - but like "Mmm, we got to make that better - that
was good but you got to make it better".

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Henry Rollins is currently on the road in Australia.

Hamish Fitzsimmons, Lateline.