It's no secret that Henry Rollins likes to hear himself talk. Since the dissolution of seminal L.A. hardcore band Black Flag in 1986, he has spent a great deal of time touring the world as a monologuist and recording spoken word albums. In the last two decades, he has also taken a slew of acting roles, generally as some sort of seething tough guy, as in Aryan Brotherhood-affiliated biker gang enforcer AJ Weston on Sons of Anarchy.

Since 2011, he's written a column for the L.A. Weekly, which serves as a brain-dump repository for musings about life on the road and the news of the day (surprise: he dislikes Donald Trump). In 2015, he started a podcast with his longtime personal assistant Heidi May, in which the two of them run through their daily encounters and Rollins, with May serving as a perpetually interested, indulging foil, recounts tour anecdotes from back in the day, and laughs more than may be comfortable for those acquainted only with his surly, pompous '80s persona. He also DJs a weekly, punk-heavy radio show on L.A.'s NPR affiliate.

Rollins is busy—busy in a way that's not unique among show business people, but given that much of his work consists of announcing his experiences and opinions, busy in an unsettling way. His self-referential logorrhea leaves you (the reporter researching in preparation for an interview) wondering if there's anything left to ask, or if there are any private thoughts left in his head. Given that his art consists mainly of chronic sharing and continuing to be Henry Rollins, he is open too about being a single, 55-year-old workaholic who is unable to maintain human relationships. Speaking to the BBC's Stephen Sackur earlier this year, he explained, "I'm not lonely. I'm solitary. It's a solitary mindset. I'm not missing anybody. I wanna be onstage tonight. I miss the audience." Rollins said that he'd "been with gals," but it has never worked out. Go figure.

He continued, saying, "I want to work very vigorously, travel hard, and have a crazy itinerary that demands that I get up at 8:40 and do this and don't be late, and prep for this thing that I'm really not that good at doing, but I signed up for it anyway. Keeps the blood thin."

So it is that Rollins came to act the part of a serial-killer preacher with a penchant for customer-service catchphrases in the movie The Last Heist. It's a straight-to-on-demand action movie (out today!) about a bank heist with a twist: the presence of Rollins in the bank cutting people's eyes out. The primary source of dramatic tension in the film is whether or not the flare coming off the muzzles of the automatic weapons is cheap CGI or not.

There was no reason to say this to Rollins, but the movie is godawful. Instead, in our allotted 10 minutes on the phone, I tried to compel some kernel of further understanding out of him about why he's still doing all this, and also what his relationship is to rap music, and Ru Paul.

What made you want to take on the role of this serial killer preacher Bernard? I thought I could make a good creepy bad guy, but the script got offered to me, they basically said, "This is yours if you want it." And I read it, and I said, "Well, let me meet the director, and give him my idea of what this guy would be like. And if we both agree, then let’s do it. Or if we can agree on something that I can pull off, that wasn’t my idea, as long as I’m not slowing the guy down."

So I met Mike Mendez, the director, and said, "Here’s my idea of how this guy would be." And he loved it, he said, "Yeah, that was kinda my idea, too." You know, soft spoken, oddly friendly, and completely lethal. We both agreed, so that’s why I said yes, because I thought I could do it well and have some fun.

But mainly in any film I’m in, or TV show or whatever, I want to be an asset. I don’t want to be the thing that drags the production down. And so if it’s an audition, you see my idea of it in the audition. If it’s a meeting, like here’s the part, I say, "Well, before we do it, let me talk to some people and try to audition during the meeting so we’re both on the same page."

Or if my idea’s not what they what they want, what they want I can actually do. And so we met and everything went fine, and then days later we’re throwing ourselves at it with great abandon.

Seeing past interviews you’ve done, it seems like you kind of take a journeyman approach to acting but also that— Everything, yeah.

—but maybe also that you’ve focused on acting more in the last decade or so. Do you have any sort of overarching goal in the industry, any particular type of movie you’d like to be in or actor or director you’d like to work with? Not at all. No. It’s not a lack of ambition, it’s just that I don’t strive for career—I have no career aspirations.

I’m just an opportunist who hates boredom and normality and mediocrity. And so I go anywhere where things are moving fast. And if it’s an interesting documentary and they want someone to be the presenter, I’ll take it. Film works are coming my way, it looks interesting, and so I started going for it.

But I’ve never left my initial mindset of my youth where I worked at a minimum wage job. That’s what I did before I got into rock and roll and everything else, and so I take all of this work, and I go at it in a very utilitarian—I show up prepared, because I don’t want to get fired. I don’t consider myself artistic in any way. I just do stuff that is artistic. Or is considered artistic. But I’m not artistic myself.

Rollins as the serial killer Bernard in the movie The Last Heist. (XLrator Media)

Sure. As far as your other facets of, I guess what you’re not calling your career, you’ve got this spoken word stuff, you’re a columnist, you have a podcast, so throughout all that you do a lot of talking about yourself and your opinions. So I guess I’m wondering what it is: you’ve been quite successful at it, so what do you think it is about your personality or your way of communicating that makes people want to hear you continue to talk? Good question. I don’t know exactly and I’m not really interested in self-aggrandizing. I will say this: I work very, very hard, very hard to come up with, to form my opinions. I will say that.

So when I’m on stage, if you’ve ever endured one of my talking shows—and I don’t necessarily encourage you to do so—you’ll notice that I never talk about a country ever that I haven’t been to. So I’m not going to speculate, and I’m not going to call myself an expert, but if I talk about Pakistan, I talk about the time I was there, not what caught on fire there last week.

And so, I go from genuine experience, and so, my opinions are derived from either a lot of research, or just what I saw. Like my take on the Iraq War was largely based on my time in Baghdad and the surrounding areas in the Green Zone. As with anything I’ve ever said about Afghanistan, was my two visits to Afghanistan. That doesn’t make me an expert. But I talk about my time there.

So maybe that is what draws some people. Perhaps I have a life that is in many ways very unconventional. The way I’ve comported myself is nothing like what my parents have seen in their lives. Or people I went to school with, I really have no one to compare myself with as far as exactly what I’ve pulled off.

Do you ever worry that you might run out of things to say or get tired of constantly pouring out your views? Well I don’t ever get worried about it, because years ago when I stopped doing music, it’s just because I stopped having lyrics to write. And it came very quickly. One day I woke up and went, "Wow I’m done."

So I don’t want to be an oldies machine. If I can’t do material, I won’t do any. And so I left music abruptly, much to the dismay of my manager who enjoyed his 15 percent. And so when I have nothing more to say, then I’ll just shut up. And I’m sure it’ll be painful, but isn’t life full of pain anyway? And so, I just do things until there’s nothing more in the room to demolish. And then I go find something else to do.

And I’ll be dating myself here, or I guess whatever the opposite is: I wasn’t alive for very much of the '80s. I know a lot of interviewers probably ask you your take on the election. But from a historical perspective, do you think that we’re living in a more or less fascist and dystopian time than the 1980s, as it relates to this election? I think we live in a more corporatized time. When someone like Sheldon Adelson can get almost as much attention as a presidential frontrunner, it really lets you know where it’s at. When corporations are indeed people, so sayeth the Supreme Court with the Citizens United, you realize you’re living in more of a corporatocracy than a democracy.

And so I don’t know necessarily about the fascism part in that. I think that argument has traction, but I definitely think you’re living in a corporatized America, where Americans have been induced to be real kickass consumers. And we’re really good at consumerism. We love buying stuff, not necessarily things we need all the time, with the risk of credit debt that we don’t seem to be that afraid of. When we see how many people really owe a lot of money to people who really don’t care about those people. And so, that’s what I think you’re living in.

And how did we get there? Advertising the good life. And saying you can attain it. It’s gonna cost you, but here’s the card. The money’s free, you’ll get it later. Because what’s coming your way? Good stuff. Great day to be an American. Keep your chin up. And it led to the steady dissolve of the middle class.

And for some people, it really does matter who the president is. And it really does matter who the congressional and senatorial members are. For other people who have the money, it doesn’t matter as much. Because there’s money. If you have money in America, you’ll be fine.

But at the same time those are the people who seem to have the most ability to influence the political system. Yeah. I think the political ends are being conduced presently to aid old moneymakers: Big Pharma, Big Agriculture, Big Oil. And everyone else they just get caught up in a fracking nightmare, where you see someone field-strip a cigarette, you know, they rub it between your index finger and your thumb and basically disintegrate it. That’s what’s being done to American natural resources and the American middle class. And these people are just getting field-stripped, by not only their politicians, but the people who buy and pay for them: your Koch brothers, your Sheldon Adelsons, all these politicians on both sides of the aisle.

As Gordon Gekko said, they’ve been bought and sold, like a dozen times before they reach their election position. And so you have the few serving the fewer to disenfranchise the many. And like I said, it sucks to be poor in this country.

We’re running low on time so I was going to switch gears - do you listen to much hip hop ever? Do I do what?

Do you listen to much hip hop? [pause] Do you listen to much rap music? Sorry, got it. No. Never a genre that held much for me.

Are there any rappers whose work you appreciate on some level? Yeah, I have been a fan of Chuck D. He’s a guy I’ve known for 21 years, and I just think he’s a really amazing guy, and I really like all his early Public Enemy records. I just thought they were very commanding, and I like what Chuck was saying, I like the awareness that he brought.

Are you in touch these days? Every once in awhile he and I are in touch. He’s very friendly. He’s an incredibly energetic guy. He has a very active mind. And it’s always great to talk to him or to see him or to email back and forth. He and I cross paths every other year or so. And I’ve always admired him, I met him at a festival in Germany many years ago and we’ve been pals ever since.

I noticed in researching for this article that you have been friendly with Ru Paul in various capacities— Ru Paul has been a friend of mine since 1993.

I saw that you were a panelist at DragCon recently, and I was wondering if you could explain what you covered in the drag panel. The panel was basically the cross-section between punk rock and drag, and those lines crossed very much in the '80s. When I was in Black Flag, we’d sometimes have drag queens open for us. We were friends with drag queens because no one wanted them and no one wanted us either. And In the Washington, DC punk rock scene I came from, we have a lot of gays, we have a lot of LGBT people in our scene. We were all one unwanted mass of people.

And I learned very quickly after members of the U.S. Military would chase me home from work yelling, calling me "punk rock faggot," I saw that they saw punk rockers and gay people as one indistinguishable mass of unwanted people, and so I always felt an affinity to gay culture, because I figured we had more in common—basically people reviling us—than we had in dissimilarity. And while I’m not homosexual or bisexual, I understand being judged very quickly, and being hated upon by local municipalities, law enforcement, and other tough guys. And I saw the same happen to gay people. And so I’ve always felt very united in that scene.

And when Ru Paul said, "Hey, you want to be on our panel on DragCon?" I said, "Yeah, yeah!" But last year my schedule didn’t allow it. So he said, "What about 2016?" And I said, "Yeah, man, you got it." So thankfully, this year the schedule allows. I’d love nothing more than to be back there next year doing something.

I appreciate your time. Are there any upcoming projects you want people to look for? I’m just on tour for basically until February of next year, so I’m just bouncing all over the world to wherever, so that’s kinda my life until February.