Monday, March 30, 2015

Henry Rollins on those Charles Manson tapes

Below is an abridged version of an abridged version of an interview with Henry Rollins, on playing a vampire, the indignities of auditions, his relationship to radio and what happened with all that Charles Manson music business. Aside from the promo clip below from "He Never Died", I only re-posted the section dealing with Manson music:


There's a film called "Manson Family Vacation" [which played at SXSW] and it touches on Charles Manson's music career and about the draw to the myth and the man. You had been involved with some of his musical output in the 1980s…

Well let's frame it correctly. His attorney sent SST Records – I'm not an owner, I just work there, SST and Touch & Go and every other indie label -- a copy of a C90 and a C60 of Manson playing at Vacaville [Prison].

All the labels passed. SST didn't. Greg Ginn and Chuck Dukowski said yes to the project. There was no one there to edit it, everyone's busy. And I said "I'll do it." I put on the tapes and listened. It's good! Like there's an album here of acoustic folky bluesy scat improv vocal music.

I write Charles Manson a very Boy Scoutish letter. "I read Helter Skelter in ninth grade so I'm aware of your career." I said "I'm your editor and I've been working on edits. I'm going to fade in and fade out. I have a 35 minute record. I think it's good." Like, I'm your editor. Not a producer because the tracks were produced in a prison cell.

And he wrote me back immediately. "I've seen you on MTV, man. You and I look alike. We're brothers of a different time." I'm like okay, he's trying to get in my head.

And I had this correspondence with him that lasted from ‘84 to 1987. And like I have letters, photographs, maps, drawings, things he'd make me out of yarn. Crazy stuff. But the record got as far as the six test pressings. Word of the record came out, the L.A. Times got a hold of it. We started getting the most incredible death threats. Like, "Here's your address and I will cut your head off if you put this record out." And "I know you practice here. You live here and you walk this way to practice." I'm like wow, this is real.

I wanted to put the record out. I said screw these guys – let's do it. Greg and Chuck cancelled it.

Manson took it all out on me, like "I knew you'd rip me off!" He called me a bunch of names. I tried to explain the cult politicism of SST Records and our stated station in L.A. I tried and he's like "No, you ripped me off. The Beach Boys ripped me off. All you guys…" – All kinds of language.

Yeah, he just flipped out on me. I'm like, "Charlie, it's not me. I'm on the label but I'm not the label." You can't explain something like that to a guy like that. I did the best I could and finally, on the last letter he cooled out a little so I think he did have a moment to… I said it's not me. It's Frank and Chuck and they're afraid they're going to get cut up. I said fuck it, let's just put it out.

The last letter I ever got from him he said okay, we're cool. And then I never heard from him again. And so it's not my property. It's not even SST's. They dropped it.

So it belongs to Charlie I guess. A good record. It's been bootlegged. It's out. I called it "Completion" from his poem he sent me. And if you type in "Manson Completion" [in a search], that's because that's the edited tape. It made the rounds and I've seen it online. In fact, I've seen a CD of it. And so you can find it. Of the six test presses, I have two. So that's probably the rarest thing from it. But it'll never be released by SST, I doubt it. But it's out there, it's around.

Other labels have put out his music.

Yes, quite a bit. He sent me about 40 hours of stuff that I'm sitting on. The album, though, is from only the two tapes. But his lawyer is like "Well Charlie wanted you to have this" and it's these books of cassettes. I'm like "Thanks." I've played some of them. Some of the sound quality just sounds like a bunch of people in a prison just slamming doors. But I have many hours of Manson that he gave me.

Would you like to put that into the world?

Well it's not mine. And I'm very – I'm proprietary of other people's stuff, in that it does not belong to me. It is not mine to put out. How dare I. And people give me stuff all the time. I've got rare music like you've got hair on your head. The kind of stuff like, that I shouldn't have, like this never happened. All kinds of music that's never gone anywhere because I promised I wouldn't play it.

I know what's mine and what's not mine and I don't betray. Like, you could give me a million dollars and leave. Come back in 20 years, I go "You left this." I'm not going to rip you off. I'm just not that guy. It's been done to me. I don't want to do it to someone else.

I have a big music archive, a lot of things that I have one of a kind, cover artwork, correspondence. I buy estates, you know, like if a guy dies, I'm like, "Are you going to sell that?"

You need a house for that, right?

Well it takes the capacity of a three story building, all the stuff.

So anyway I'm very honest with all that stuff and so the Manson stuff, that's up to him and his people. I haven't been in touch with the guy for 30 years or so, so I don't know what his life is like.

Original article found HERE

Thanks, Chatsworth Charlie!