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Rollins Band

Rollins Band

Rollins Band was an American rock band led by singer and songwriter Henry Rollins.They are best known for the songs "Low Self Opinion" and "Liar", which both earned heavy airplay on MTV in the mid-late 1990s. Critic Steve Huey describes their music as "uncompromising, intense, cathartic fusions of hard rock, funk, post-punk noise, and jazz experimentalism, with Rollins shouting angry, biting self-examinations and accusations over the grind."In 2000, Rollins Band was included on VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock, ranking at No. 47.Pre-historyRollins was the singer for the Washington, D.C. punk rock band State of Alert from October 1980 to July 1981. Afterwards, he sang with California punk rock band Black Flag from August 1981 to August 1986. Black Flag earned little mainstream attention, but through a demanding touring schedule, came to be regarded as one of the most important punk rock bands of the 1980s.Less than a year after Black Flag broke up, Rollins returned to music with guitarist Chris Haskett (a friend from Rollins' teen years in Washington D.C.), bass guitarist Bernie Wandel, and drummer Mick Green.This line-up released two records: Hot Animal Machine (credited as a Rollins solo record and featuring cover art drawings by Devo leader Mark Mothersbaugh) and Drive by Shooting (credited to "Henrieta Collins and the Wifebeating Childhaters"). The music was similar to Black Flag's, though it flirted more with heavy metal and jazz.First edition (1987–1994)Soon after, Rollins formed Rollins Band with Haskett, bassist Andrew Weiss, and drummer Sim Cain (Weiss and Cain had previously played with Gone, an instrumental rock group led by guitarist and Black Flag founder Greg Ginn). Live sound engineer Theo Van Rock was usually credited as a band member.Critics Ira Robbins and Regina Joskow described this line-up as a "brilliant, strong ensemble ... the band doesn't play punk (more a jazzy, thrashy, swing take on the many moods of Jimi Hendrix), but what they do together has the strengths of both. The group's loud guitar rock with a strong, inventive rhythmic clock borrows only the better attributes of metal, ensuring that noise is never a substitute for purpose."Second edition (1994–1997)Weiss was fired following the End of Silence tour; he was replaced by jazz and funk bassist Melvin Gibbs, who'd been highly recommended by guitarist Vernon Reid; Cain and Gibbs had also both played in different versions of guitarist Marc Ribot's band.This version of Rollins Band had some of the most overt jazz leanings of the band's history: Gibbs had begun his career with the jazz fusion group of drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson, and worked with Sonny Sharrock on albums like 1987's Seize The Rainbow, which along with Rollins' obsession with the late '60s/early '70s era of iconic trumpeter Miles Davis, shaped this version of the band's music. In this era, Rollins Band recorded with flamethrowing free jazz saxophonist Charles Gayle, though these sessions remained unreleased for ten years at Gayle's request to avoid conflicts with his contractual obligations.The first video from 1994's Weight, "Liar", was a huge hit on MTV, with Rollins sporting numerous costumes (including a cop and a nun). The band appeared at Woodstock '94, and Rollins was a guest-host for several MTV programs, including 120 Minutes.Rollins Band signed with the then new major label DreamWorks Records, who released 1997's Come In And Burn. The album was not as successful as Weight and, after touring for Burn, Rollins dissolved the group, citing creative stagnation.Third edition (1997–2003)Rollins replaced the Haskett-Gibbs-Cain lineup with the Los Angeles rock band Mother Superior, retaining the name Rollins Band, and released Get Some Go Again (2000) and Nice (2001). They also released a two-disc live album, The Only Way to Know for Sure. This line-up was a more straightforward hard rock group: their first album featured "Are You Ready?" a cover of a Thin Lizzy song, featuring Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham; Rollins has often expressed fondness for Thin Lizzy and its founder, Phil Lynott.In 2003, the Rollins Band released Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three. The album features a number of guest vocalists (including Lemmy, Chuck D, Corey Taylor, Ice-T, Tom Araya, Rancid and others) singing Black Flag's songs.Fourth edition (2006)In between other commitments (His radio show Harmony In My Head, his cable/satellite TV show The Henry Rollins Show, and his spoken word tours), Rollins also reunited the Haskett-Gibbs-Cain lineup.In a blog entry on, Rollins admitted, "Actually we have been practicing on and off for months now, slowly getting it together ... It's been really cool being back in the practice room with these guys after all these years."The band opened some concerts for X, and played on the first season finale of The Henry Rollins Show on August 12, 2006.Rollins told Alan Sculley of The Daily Herald that this reunion with Haskett, Gibbs and Cain would not become long-term unless the group decided to write new songs: "Let's put it this way. I don't want to go out and hit America again without a new record, or at least a new album's worth of material. Otherwise the thing will lack legitimacy ... Miles Davis would never do that. And I'm not into a greatest-hits thing. I think a band, if you're going to be around, you should be moving forward and putting in the time and working for it, getting after the art. Otherwise you're just playing retreads. ... Imagine a tree that grows canned peaches. It's nothing I want to do."Musical style and influencesThe band have been categorized under the alternative metal, hard rock and post-hardcore genres. They were part of the early 90s LA alternative metal scene, alongside bands such as Tool, Jane's Addiction, Rage Against the Machine and Green Jellÿ. Their influences include 70s metal and rock bands, such as Black Sabbath, The Velvet Underground, Pink Fairies and Thin Lizzy. Rollins' shout-singing style proved influential to later nu metal and alternative metal artists such as Coal Chamber, Korn, Chevelle, Godsmack and System of a Down.


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