A Visit With Henry Rollins…
Still one of my favorite Shure endorsers to visit when he comes to town is Henry Rollins. Performing with Rollins Band, Black Flag or conducting one of his speaking shows, Henry impacts the crowd while on stage at any venue around the world. On this rainy spring day in Chicago at the Vic Theater, Rollins was in town for a speaking engagement tour that started in March and will take him around the world and wrap up in August.
Prior to our visit, Henry reached out to us to request a spare SM58, his favorite mic on stage and in the studio, and the only mic he’ll use in either application. Of course he travels with one everywhere he goes, it has its own compartment in his luggage, but in the event that something happened to that one mic, a spare would be quite handy to have. While it’s true most venues probably have a 58 lying around, Henry prefers his own sweat and spit, so he travels with his own vocal tool.
Typically Rollins goes through an SM58 about every 3-4 songs during a band performance, branding each one with his signature thumb-sized dent in the grill. It’s a very carefully choreographed process of switching out a sweat drenched SM58 for a clean, dry one, wrapping the cord around his hand and erupting into the next song. Wrapping the cord around his hand is a little something that carried over from the early days of Black Flag when Henry ran the risk of someone trying to grab the mic from his grasp, a mic he scraped every last penny to purchase at his local music shop.
For the speaking shows, Henry’s SM58 does not get as tasked and he was about 30 shows in on this tour. He showed me the 58 that has traveled with him since this tour began, and it looked pretty good, dent and all. Now, Henry has been a long time SM58 user and knows the abuse the mic is capable of taking. Just like every car should travel with a spare tire, Rollins must travel with a spare SM58. Life throws a lot of circumstances at you, and this is how Henry makes his living. He’s not one to compromise how he sounds by using a different mic on any stage at any time because someone pilfered his only SM58 or he literally squeezed the life out the thing during an intense moment in his diatribe about DJs being touted as musicians.
Rollins is a true ambassador of Shure, especially the SM58. He’s used the mic on every recording he’s ever done, with the exception of an SM57 on the first Black Flag album he recorded. We brought Henry a “care package” to show our appreciation of his loyalty, complete with enough SM58s to get him through the rest of the speaking shows and about nine songs of a Rollins Band set.
If you haven’t heard Henry speak or have never picked up a book written by him, do yourself a service and partake in the words this man weaves together, it’s truly entertaining in all forms. A Rollins speaking show is an experience that really makes you think about your perspective on the world at large.
Henry, it was great seeing you again. We’re always happy to provide the tool which enables you to be heard by the masses around the world, the Shure SM58.