The signing of Henry Rollins by General Motors to hawk its autos gives new meaning to the phrase, “It’s not your father’s Oldsmobile.”
Normally, some eyebrows might be raised by the automaker tapping the former Black Flag frontman to tout its cars in voiceover.
But the signing is the latest in a long list of upcoming endeavors to raise Rollins’ profile, including a role in “Frost,” a film starring Michael Keaton and Kelly Preston; a book; a concert video; and a double-disc spoken-word album “Think Tank.”
The set, which features Rollins’ edgy observations on a variety of topics, was recorded during performances in Chicago and Australia. It will be released next month along with “You Saw Me Up There,” a longform video capturing Rollins at L.A.’s El Rey Theater.
“Think Tank” marks Rollins’ first spoken-word outing since 1993 and is his first such release for the DreamWorks Records label, which he joined in 1996 after an acrimonious split with Terry Ellis’ Imago Records. His Rollins band bowed “Come in and Burn” on DreamWorks early last year.
The 37-year-old Rollins noted that the first disc of the “Think Tank” set is “from a show I did on my birthday at the House of Blues in Chicago. I came up with the idea of doing a show in Chicago on my birthday when I was in Africa last December.”
The other disc is culled from shows Rollins did in Australia in October 1997. “The audiences are tremendous there,” he said. “I’ve been doing talking shows there since 1989 and go back as often as possible.”
The multihyphenate Rollins — singer-songwriter-author-monologist-actor — just wrapped the role of Coach Gronic in “Frost,” a Warner Bros. film about a man who dies during a snowstorm, but returns as a snowman during Christmas to help raise his son. It is produced by Mark Canton and Irving Azoff and is scheduled to hit theaters this fall.
Rollins is also on the soundtrack to the DreamWorks film “Small Soldiers” in a collaboration with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Flesh-N-Bone, Tom Morello and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers on a remake of the 1970 hit “War.” He is also featured prominently in the “War” video, in which he plays a character much like the film’s action-figure commando Chip Hazard.
Also on the boards is “Do I Come Here Often? (Black Coffee Blues, Part II),” a book Rollins will publish on his own 2-13-61 imprint. It follows “Solipsist,” which appeared on the label in July.
“I’ve never considered myself a writer,” Rollins said. “Thomas Wolfe, Dostoyevsky, that’s writing. I just try to externalize the internal. Critics usually treat my books harshly, which leads me to believe that I am on to something. We all know how pathetic those little ants at life’s picnic are.”
But does the GM pact signal a newfound need for mainstream acceptability from the enigmatic performer who chronicled the seedy side of life on the road with Black Flag in “Get in the Van.”
“A wife and children is not going to cut it for me,” Rollins said. “I’d rather have confrontation, exhaustion, failure and glory.”