On The Radar

Has Henry Rollins gone from hardcore to softbore?

By Steven Wells
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 13 | Posted May. 21, 2008

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illustration by HAWK KRALL

For years I've considered punchy positivist punk rocker Henry Rollins the bipolar opposite of pencil-necked miserablist godfather-of-twee Morrissey.

But could I be wrong? Could Rollins be just as much to blame for the hideous monstrosity that is twee as the Lord Voldemort of pop, Morrissey? For the uninitiated, twee is mock pop music made by insufferably smug kidults who dress up as a pedophile's fantasy version of 1950s upper-middle-class British schoolchildren. It started in Britain in the 1980s, was revived by Belle and Sebastian in the '90s and has been re-revived this decade by the supremely punchable Los Campesinos!

It's tempting to see twee as the antithesis of the brutal, in-your-fucking-face punk rock played by Henry Rollins, who has spent decades ragging on Morrissey, ordering the bequiffed streak of British piss to "get a girlfriend, get a James Brown CD, get some vitamin C, get some fucking clean air and some sunlight, go outside for a walk. Get over it!"

Well hold on to your seats, Yanks, because I'm about to blow your minds with evidence that Rollins--not Morrissey--is the true godfather of twee.

Come with us now to Olympia, Wash., 1984. American punk rock has just shat the bed. Ignoring the diverse range of early punk, U.S. punk has opted for the tedious one-size-fits-all macho monstrosity of hardcore, where just about every band is fronted by a stripped-to-the-waist white boy shouting about how he hates his mom.

A young gentleman named Calvin Johnson decides to subvert this dull macho monoculture with a billycooing fop-and-chick-fronted combo called Beat Happening. By being totally not punk rock, Beat Happening are being totally punk rock. But Henry Rollins--then lead singer of Black Flag--not only doesn't get this, he blows his superbly muscled nut.

Rollins screams abuse at Johnson for almost the entire gig, finally reaching up and grabbing Johnson's cock. At which point Johnson fixes Mr. Hardcore with a baleful glare and says, "Didn't your mother teach you any manners?"

That's why Henry Rollins is responsible for the third-wave-of-twee monstrosity that is Los Campesinos! (who namecheck him in their hideous twee anthem "The International Tweexcore Underground"). Like a bodybuilder who ingests too much testosterone via steroids and counterproductively floods his system with estrogen (causing the testes to shrivel to the size of raisins and female secondary characteristics like boobs to develop), so the macho overdose Rollins and his ilk injected into hardcore provoked a reaction that has since grown from a subversive and amusing parody into a horrible Godzilla-like plague on both sides of the Atlantic.

Henry Rollins, put that Morrissey chew toy down. J'accuse! You are the true godfather of twee.

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 13 of 13
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1. Funkypants said... on May 21, 2008 at 07:14AM

“Burn him! On the other hand, I'm not sure you can lay all the blame upon Mr. Rollins' well-developed shoulders. I think Americans in general really just never got punk. Just watch Repo Man: great movie, useless punks.”

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2. indiemaker05 said... on May 21, 2008 at 07:20AM

“Umm. This is the most retarded fucking article ever. What the fuck is the point of this? I think I heard it best this past weekend while drinking at Mcglinchy's with a minister in training. "Hipsters love talking about how much they hate other hipsters." This is pointless, self-righteous writing. Is this the same guy that wrote that lame article on music zines a few weeks back. I guess this guy's sooo fucking important were all supposed to give a shit about his opinion. I realize he's a columnist, but it'd be nice to have some actual factual information to back up his ranting. Really, this writing reminds me of my own, when I was a pissy little 16 year old working for my high school paper. Is there any proof of this incident with Rollins? Why is there no references cited? Or are you just going to bash someone based on myth? Most of the history of punk rock is horse shit, romanticized, exaggerated horse shit. Completley fabricated, no different from the way people about the sexual revolution. Hippies fighting the power and accepting love. Really just a bunch of junkies fucking, complaining, and spreading diseases. And is Twee really that huge? Or is it just that all your small little circle of Johnny Brenda/ M Room cock smoking hipster friends that are obsessed with Belle & Sebastion. Seriously, it's fucking lame when almost every article in this paper on music has to strive so hard to put up this front about just how punk the writer is. Seriously, if you have to continue waving your punk flag, you're no different than any one else that willingly conforms to fit a certain social niche. Most self proclaimed punks are just as shallow, petty, self obsessed, and consumed with image as any charater from The Hills. ”

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3. Funkypants said... on May 21, 2008 at 08:38AM

“Steven - you're an idiot.”

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4. ta said... on May 21, 2008 at 08:40AM

“It was worth reading this crappy article just to read your response.”

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5. Funkypants said... on May 21, 2008 at 08:56AM

“Would this be evidence for my contention about yanks not getting punk? Could be. Nice rant, though.”

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6. ta said... on May 21, 2008 at 09:38AM

“Steven - you're an idiot. ”

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7. Funkypants said... on May 21, 2008 at 11:17AM

“No U!! Seriously, people, let's see a little creativity here, please.”

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8. Steven Wells said... on May 21, 2008 at 05:20PM

“"Is there any proof of this incident with Rollins? Why is there no references cited? Or are you just going to bash someone based on myth?" fact checking Rollins ragging on Morrissey http://members.cox.net/_rollins/text/nme92.html Rollins vs Calvin Johnson incident. Our Band Could Be Your Life (author’s copy) p. 470 see also http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Content?oid=661 http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/feature/10242-twee-as-fuck/page_2 ”

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9. Funkypants said... on May 21, 2008 at 05:57PM

“Ah, Steven - you are an embarrassment to yourself and to your profession. You even lack the entertainment value of a tool like Bill O'Reilly. Did you run out of things to write about this week? I guess Britney let you down by not shaving her head again - I'm sure she'll be devastated to know. Does your editor know that your "fact checking" is merely a few articles written over a decade ago? Not to mention that you site an article that actually insinuates that Rollins gave you a second thought? Nemesis? Your self esteem must be lower than I thought to attempt to broadcast yourself as such. It is evident that you have a massive hard-on for Rollins (and from a female standpoint, I can't say that I blame you); he rebuffed your advances, and you have clearly never gotten over it. Perhaps if you learned more adjectives he would take a second look? Maybe more than "fuck" and "shit"?. Then perhaps you would have someone defending your nonsensical temper tantrums other than peons that spell 'you' as "U"? But then again, perhaps not.”

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10. ta said... on May 21, 2008 at 06:57PM

“Ah, Steven – you are an embarrassment to yourself and to your profession. You even lack the entertainment value of a tool like Bill O’Reilly. Did you run out of things to write about this week? I guess Britney let you down by not shaving her head again – I’m sure she’ll be devastated to know. Does your editor know that your “fact checking” is merely a few articles written over a decade ago? Not to mention that you site an article that actually insinuates that Rollins gave you a second thought? Nemesis? Your self esteem must be lower than I thought to attempt to broadcast yourself as such. It is evident that you have a massive hard-on for Rollins (and from a female standpoint, I can’t say that I blame you); he rebuffed your advances, and you have clearly never gotten over it. Perhaps if you learned more adjectives he would take a second look? Maybe more than “fuck” and “shit”?. Then perhaps you would have someone defending your nonsensical temper tantrums other than peons that spell ‘you’ as “U”? But then again, perhaps not. ”

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11. Steven Wells said... on May 21, 2008 at 07:41PM

“What fun. Are you going to be around every week?”

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12. Steven Wells said... on May 21, 2008 at 08:41PM

“What fun. Are you going to be around every week? ”

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13. toby said... on Jul 3, 2011 at 03:23AM

“What a load of garbage. Rollins has spent his life educating people, putting on powerful shows and taking any shit from hip wannabees. What the hell has the limp lettuce Calvin done for anyone?”

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