Henry Owings is an asshole -- and he knows it. In fact, he ranked No. 32 on the list of “100 Biggest Assholes in Rock” according to Chunklet, the biting and often hilarious magazine of music and cultural criticism that Owings himself founded fifteen years ago in Athens, Georgia. From easy targets like nü-metal and ska bands to cult favorites like Broken Social Scene and Steve Albini, nobody is safe from Chunklet's vindictive insults and brutal honesty. Owings recently visited St. Louis on a promotional tour in support of The Rock Bible, a how-to (or rather, how-not-to) guide for bands and fans alike. He was kind enough to share some nuglets of wisdom along the way.
Ryan Wasoba: Why does The Rock Bible exist? Henry Owings: It's a condensed heckle. We think the world needs more informed (read: better) hecklers. That's our best protection from creative bankruptcy. We think mockery is more fun than criticism, and we're generous with it. Also, the Chunklet staff have all been pretty immersed in music, and we don't know how much longer it'll last as we know it, so we documented its excesses. Consider it "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," but for those dorks at Coachella or Lollapalooza.
Hypothetical situation: You go see a band you like and when you walk into the club, you're floored by the sounds of the opening band. It's the most refreshing thing you've heard in ages, but when you get a good look at them, you see that the bass player has a six-string bass, the guitarist has a seven-string guitar, they're all wearing shorts, the drummer has his shirt off, and the singer is wearing a cowboy hat. These things are all against the doctrine of The Rock Bible. Does this change your opinion of the band? No. I'd buy their album, on Vice Records. Every flaw is now a shtick.
According to The Rock Bible, is there anything a band can do right? Absolutely. It's ALWAYS okay to break up. There's no shame in it at all. There are a lot of other, more useful things a person can do. A music career is a thankless "job." Most musicians would be better off as a long-haul trucker. There's no reason to do it unless you truly can't stop yourself. Barring that, committing a felony on stage is always good. It lets people know they're ALIVE, man.
In The Rock Bible, you mention "The Buddyheaded Pitchforkagon." How do you feel about the accusation that The Rock Bible is simply an extended version of Buddyhead's "Rules Of Rock"? Ours is more broad. And 90% less cocaine went into ours. And, with our version, we can swat flies. That's why it's "extended."
If the followers of doctrine stated in The Rock Bible started their own religion, what would it be called? And does writing this book make you their God? Could you handle the responsibility of being God? It would be called Crystal Christ, and it would be really solid for about three years, before it splintered off into a dozen worthless side-projects. I don't know that I'm needy and insecure enough to be God and smite infidels, but I do accept PayPal.
How many crimes listed in The Rock Bible are [Chunklet contributor/ex-Man or Astro-Man? member] Brian Teasley guilty of? The most self-righteous zealot is always the guy who has fucked up the hardest. Teasley is The Rock Bible's Apostle Paul.