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Get in the Van: On the Road With Black Flag

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  6,179 Ratings  ·  237 Reviews
As a member of the seminal punk band Black Flag, Henry Rollins kept detailed tour diaries that form the basis of Get in the Van . Rollins's observations range from the wry to the raucous in this blistering account of a six-year career with the band - a time marked by crazed fans, vicious cops, near-starvation, substance abuse, and mind numbing all-night drives. Rollins dec ...more
Paperback, 303 pages
Published November 18th 2004 by 2.13.61 (first published October 1st 1994)
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Community Reviews

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East Bay J
Feb 14, 2010 East Bay J rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music-bios, travel
I've wanted to read Get In The Van since it was published sixteen years ago. Getting around to it after all this time has proven to be a loopy experience. When I was a teen, I was all about Black Flag. I thought they were incredible. Damaged, their first LP, was hard to take in and an immediate favorite. Each chapter after that was an education. Black Flag ruled. I identified with the sum of the parts in a variety of ways. I found it frightening as hell, too. These guys were like demons to me, l ...more
Erika
Oct 01, 2014 Erika rated it really liked it
Shelves: crazy-crazy
I think this has been one of the hardest books that I have read in a long time. It isn't the writing that makes it hard, however, I will say that it is all taken from Henry's journal entries so the flow is rough. No, the reason why it is such a hard read is that Henry's depression, self loathing and general hatred to the world is SO palpable that you can feel it wafting off the pages. He literally gave everything he had to his music and performances that there was nothing left for himself or ...more
Nate
Dec 04, 2008 Nate rated it it was amazing
I can't really take too much of Henry's self-mythologizing, but this book chronicles the work that he'll be known for forever: fronting Black Flag. Working on Greg Ginn's farm wasn't easy and Henry's story is funny, bracing, and paints a staggering picture of young men overcoming unbelievable obstacles to push their rock band out into a very hostile world. A must read for fans of 1980s American rock.
Matt
Mar 15, 2009 Matt rated it liked it

Best story:

Rollins writes about how he and another guy in his band (might have been Greg Ginn) are out on the road in some godforsaken place, have no money and are starving and want to go to this Wendy's type establishment to eat. There's a salad bar there where the price is three dollars for all you can eat. Their eyes light up and they run over, stacking mound upon mound of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc 'till the plate is three feet high.

The manager comes over and kind of pokes his head o
...more
Matthew W
Henry Rollins used to be Greg Ginn's prize white slave.
Lauren
Apr 27, 2008 Lauren rated it liked it
Recommends it for: punk rockers
So Henry Rollins is someone I want to spend the rest of my life with.Some think he is a complete asshole, which he is, but that does not bother me much bc it's henry fucking rollins!

Anyways if you had a childhood/teenage blah blah life similar to my very own you love Black Flag. Maybe you even have the bars tatted up on you.

Their painful coolness is what punk rock dreams are based on, but this book shows you in some instances the mundane existence of a touring punk rock band from the 80s. there
...more
Mark Desrosiers
Jan 01, 2009 Mark Desrosiers rated it liked it
Shelves: music, memoirs
As a misanthrope and a solipsist, young Henry Rollins is the midpoint between Gene Simmons and Arthur Schopenhauer (with whom he bears more than a passing resemblance). This book chronicles his transformation from an insecure D.C. ice-cream sales associate to a self-absorbed glossolalia Cardassian. Compassion, malice, and egoism (the nascent traits that Henry calls his "Discipline, Insanity, and Exile") are vividly enacted here, everything from skinheads interrupting Henry's taking a shit to his ...more
RandomAnthony
Jul 28, 2013 RandomAnthony rated it liked it
Shelves: music
Okay, I'm going with three stars here only because 2.5 isn't an option. Get In the Van features three distinct categories:

1. Rollins in the "shed" (an actual shed behind Greg Ginn's house, if I'm not mistaken, where he lives when not touring),
2. Rollins free-associating through weird poems/visual fantasies, and
3. Black Flag tour diaries.

The first and last are solid, sometimes more than solid, but the second is bad/embarrassing to the point where I skimmed most of them. I can't give an unquivoca
...more
Josh
Dec 06, 2007 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone thinking about taking over vocal duties in a fairly established hardcore punk band
This is the only thing of Henry Rollins's I've ever read, and it was pretty righteous. But when he gets into a funk, that may last for months, the book drags along with it. There are still brilliant insights and passages from it, and it gives the music a whole new spin too, in a lot of ways. My only word of caution in reading this book, is the following: IT WILL REALLY MAKE YOU WANT TO PUNCH THINGS. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT PUNCH THINGS.

Henry Rollins is a very angry man. He has the largest neck
...more
Doug
Oct 16, 2012 Doug rated it liked it
There's a moment early in "Get in the Van" where Henry Rollins recalls listening to Black Flag as a fan and both loving and hating the music. Loving it because it was urgent, energetic and evocative of his own pent-up feelings of alienation and boredom. Hating it because, reflexively, the band's very do-it-yourself existence combined with the music to show the young Rollins what he was not - free and self-realized.

What follows is Rollins' account, almost all of it pulled from his own journals,
...more
Greg Swallow
May 03, 2010 Greg Swallow rated it really liked it
First off, I'm biased. I've seen Henry Rollins with and without his backing band live over 25 times. I never missed a tour until the last couple of years.

How I got to the ripe old age of 34 without reading this book is beyond me. That I never cracked the cover of this book other than to glance through it casually is the same phenomenon as never owning copies of those oh-so-many "crucial" albums that were put out in your youth -- you know, there were just so many other alternatives that you had t
...more
Vache
Oct 07, 2013 Vache rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Henry Rollins was the singer of Black Flag and Rollins Band. He also has written several books, has acted in a number of films, and does spoken word shows. I am a huge fan of Black Flag and, prior to reading this book, have seen many of his spoken word shows on the internet. I immediately connected with everything Henry Rollins said and I soon began to dig deeper into his many careers and works of art. I decided I had to read one of his books, and I chose this one first because it seemed to be ...more
Tony
Feb 25, 2015 Tony rated it liked it
Not sure why I'd never read this cover-to-cover before, I've certainly dipped into friends' copies numerous times over the years. I guess it's largely because (heresy coming... ) despite being into hardcore as a teen and adult, I've never been a big Black Flag fan. I mean, yeah, some great songs here and there, but it just generally wasn't ever a sound that connected with me. But in the last few years I've met him a few times at various book and film events here in DC, and found him to be very ...more
Daniel
Jul 14, 2016 Daniel rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about this one. I think Henry Rollins is a fascinating guy and I had high expectations before reading. My first impression was the difference between the twenty-something Rollins and the fifty-something Rollins. The younger one is a bleak misanthropist. The older one, as I've seen in recent footage, is more at ease with himself and others and is definitely wiser. I think his journal entries are a great documentation of his time in Black Flag. I didn't like the repetition of ...more
Joseph
Feb 17, 2008 Joseph rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: punks, hippies, metal heads, jazzers and everyone else
I've owned this book since the late '90s, when I was a teen getting into punk rock. Black Flag's "Who's Got the 10 1/2" was the fourth punk record I ever bought and made me a fan for life. When I bought "Get in the Van" in early 1997, the history of punk rock (especially American Hardcore Punk) was still spoken in whispers. It was very hard to find out more about punk rock bands than it is today. This book is Henry Rollins' journals while he was the fourth and last singer of the great Black Flag ...more
catechism
Feb 05, 2015 catechism rated it really liked it
There is a reason most of us do not publish the diaries we keep when we are teenies, and that reason is paragraph after paragraph about how the world is cold, no one understands me, maybe I'll cut myself for a while, everything is terrible, I hate the whole world and they hate me back, my girlfriend just broke up with me long-distance and I will be ALONE FOREVER. I spent a lot of this laughing and thinking to myself, CRY MOAR, HENRY ROLLINS.

That said! I enjoyed the hell out of it! It's a great l
...more
Bill
May 02, 2016 Bill rated it it was amazing
I've seen Rollins Band and two Henry Rollins Spoken Word shows live. His voice and story telling carry a lot of the character and experience from the events depicted in the book. It is taken from his journals during those years of touring with Black Flag. There is a rhythm to the audiobook as tours grind on and turn him inward to reflect on his attitudes and begin to break him down into just touching base with the journal as he approaches burnout at the end of a grinding tour with little stable ...more
Jennifer Ozawa
Henry Rollins is one of my personal heroes. I would love nothing more than to sit for hours with him and talk about everything. I made it a personal goal to read all of his books. This book was on my to-read list for years.

While Henry has evolved into an erudite, articulate voice, he was not always. At the writing of "Get in the Van", he was in his early twenties and had barely made it out of high school. He was angry, disaffected and disconnected.

Much of this book is a portrait of a really ang
...more
Brian Fanelli
May 23, 2009 Brian Fanelli rated it really liked it
If you want a really honest, detailed account of what it was like to front a punk band in the 1980s, then check out Henry Rollins Get in the Van, a collection of journal entries from his time as Black Flag's front man. The book addresses the excitement of fronting a band, but also the boredom of being on the road constantly. The entries also detail some of the most brutal fights between the LA police and the punk rockers. Rollins' journals serve as a reminder that punk rock was not always so ...more
Monica
Jun 15, 2015 Monica rated it really liked it
Not the most enjoyable read but I suppose the tedium of touring is reflected in Henry's diary which includes the the never ending physical abuse. Military tropes. And there's a fair amount of crabbiness including complaints about Mike Watt. I was touched by how he was able to become friends with Nick Cave (and Diamanda Galas) by simply writing fan letters. I was very pleased that in the postscript, he apologies for dissing Kira. Kira!
Patrick
Dec 12, 2010 Patrick rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
Listened to the abridged audio version of this back in college, thought I should read the whole thing. This updated version from 2004 has a bunch of old photos and fliers. Five years of journal entries documenting touring as the singer of a punk band called Black Flag in the early-to-mid 1980's, and the hell and heaven it was through Rollins's eyes.
Greg
May 23, 2013 Greg rated it did not like it
"Damaged" is a good album and all, but I wasn't impressed. I even listened to Black Flag semi-regularly at the time. Henry Rollins is just another angry middle class white kid who was in the right place at the right time to get sort-of famous. That was my opinion going into the book, and I didn't read anything to change that opinion.
Brendan
Jul 30, 2011 Brendan rated it really liked it
as much as i wish ginn had kept a tour diary to provide a counterpoint to some of rollins' more emo rantings toward the middle of this, this is easily the most punk rock diary in existence. black flag would eat any skinny band dude in girl jeans and flat ironed hair for fucking breakfast and still jam "my war" as hard as they possibly could without even skipping a beat.
Gillian
Jul 06, 2010 Gillian rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites
As an angry teenager I developed quite a Black Flag problem and Henry Rollins remains on my allowed list, mainly because he makes me laugh like a drain and seems like a genuine, if genuinely grumpy, person. My personal favourite anecdote in this book is the one about him and Nick Cave stealing cheese...yeah. It's a good read if you're interested in that particular little bit of music history.
Stevie
Nov 09, 2015 Stevie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music
Have wanted to read this forever. Got it for xmas. Second greatest gift ever, after NOFX tickets. Only Henry Rollins showed up for this one. God he is one angry, pissed off, dick of an asshole. Not many people he doesn't seem to hate. But, holy shit I love to read what he has to write.
Harley York
Jan 01, 2009 Harley York rated it liked it
I liked Rollins' diary of hardcore punk life. It spoke to me years after I had discovered his ugly, angry music, the perfect soundtrack for my mid-teen years. Rollins is a fine writer. His don't give a shit lifestyle at that time is bittersweet.
Andy
Dec 22, 2015 Andy rated it it was amazing
Earnest, colloquial, awesome. Charts a wide-eyed boy's descent into profound misanthropy, like a nonfiction punk rock Catcher in the Rye (only better--I don't like Catcher in the Rye). Knowing Rollins overcame the state we leave him in here makes this book even better. Absolutely glorious.
Gina
Dec 05, 2008 Gina rated it liked it
I love Henry Rollins, but would probably have not liked his as an alienated young adult. His intelligence is evident at all times, and his facility with language is prominent, but it is so very dark and depression. Probably not for gentle souls.
Kathleen Kosiec
Feb 09, 2016 Kathleen Kosiec rated it really liked it
Henry Rollins' tour diary from his Black Flag days. The second edition has more pictures and amazing, albeit disturbing promo flyers.
Dwayne McIntosh
May 03, 2013 Dwayne McIntosh rated it really liked it
Side of touring and making music you don't see.
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Henry Rollins (born Henry Lawrence Garfield; often referred to simply as Rollins) is an American singer-songwriter, spoken word artist, author, actor and publisher.

After joining the short-lived Washington, D.C. band State of Alert in 1980, Rollins fronted the Californian hardcore punk band Black Flag from 1981 until 1986. Following the band's breakup, Rollins soon established the record label and
...more
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“I'm constantly around people that talk a lot but say nothing. A sad case.” 18 likes
“Discipline is money in the bank. A real friend, true strength.” 5 likes
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