Iggy and the Stooges: Big Day Out 2006: New Zealand and Australia



Excess all areas
January 29, 2006

It's not one big happy family backstage at The Big Day Out. As several up-and-coming acts discover, being part of the scene behind the scenes doesn't mean you're cool enough to hang out with the Stooges and the White Stripes. Guy Blackman reports.

It's the first leg of the Big Day Out's annual trek around Australia and New Zealand, and the gradually assembling rock stars have one thing - or more accurately, one person - on their minds.

"I'd like to meet Iggy, for sure," says Jared Willowill, 19-year-old bassist with US rockers Kings Of Leon.

"If I met Iggy, I'd say 'Eat some more food'," says Sean Gannon, hirsute drummer for London retro-pop act the Magic Numbers, with a plastic Coke bottle half-filled with whiskey in his hand. "He needs fattening up."

"He's just looking more and more bizarre, isn't he?" says a mischievous, sun-burned Ian Parton, leader of UK sample-delic pop group The Go! Team. "It's so odd to see an old man in that kind of toned condition, halfway between scrawn and brawn."

Even the festival's growing assortment of hip-hop artists, from New Zealand's amiable Dei Hamo to moody Bostonian Edan Portnoy, express their curiosity. "Iggy is crazy," says Portnoy. "I'm definitely looking forward to that."

But it takes Living End frontman Chris Cheney to sum up the situation. "The guy's just going to get hassled from start to finish," he says with a laugh. "Everyone's like 'Gotta meet Iggy, gotta meet Iggy'."

James Osterberg, aka Iggy Pop, played the Big Day Out back in 1993, when the festival first lumbered out of Sydney and took off around the countryside. But this time, he's back with his original band the Stooges, one of punk music's true progenitors, and the 13 years between drinks has seen him rise from elder statesman to a new level of reverential status.

"He's amazing isn't he?" adds Cheney. "A living legend, I suppose."

But today at least, no one seems to be meeting anybody. Auckland is always the first of the Big Day Out's six annual dates and the atmosphere backstage is diffident at best. Around midday, international bands start to arrive at the oval that serves as the backstage area at Auckland's Ericsson Stadium. They pull up in their grey vans and, seeing no one they know, head straight for their dressing rooms.

For most bands, this communal touring situation is unique, wholly different to their usual headline shows. The Big Day Out has outlived its peers to become one of the world's last remaining touring music festivals. Dwindling ticket sales saw Lollapalooza, the American festival tour that that was the Big Day Out's inspiration, cancelled in 2004. Other recent contenders, such as the women's own Lilith Fair, have disappeared completely. Only the more genre-focused American festivals, such as the pop-punk Vans Warped Tour or Ozzie Osbourne's heavy metal Ozzfest, still soldier on.

So, with 22 international acts playing multiple dates on the 2006 tour, as well as 24 Australian and New Zealand artists, the Big Day Out is a novel exercise in co-operation for people more accustomed to having things their way. "It's good fun travelling together, and it's kind of cool the way we're all staying in the same hotels," observes Ian Parton. "But you just hope that there aren't too many egos."

This year's line-up seems specifically designed to avoid conflict, an even blend of middle-tier bands, with teen-pleasing behemoths like Slipknot, Metallica or even the Black Eyed Peas conspicuously absent. This has made for a noticeably smaller Auckland crowd, 35,000 compared with last year's 38,000, but according to Big Day Out organiser Vivian Lees, the approach was deliberate.

"We had a great success with the Beastie Boys last year, having a band to close the show that wasn't a big bombastic rock heavyweight," says Lees, who staged the first Big Day Out with partner Ken West in Sydney in 1992. "And we thought 'Well, we can do that again'. So we have the White Stripes and Iggy."

For some, however, the balance isn't quite right - at least not yet. "It was a lot easier last time around," says Willowill, referring to the Kings Of Leon's previous Big Day Out appearance in 2004. "We had a bunch of friends on the tour - the Strokes were here, the Dandy Warhols, the Datsuns - just a bunch of people that we already knew and had played shows with. This time we don't really know anybody, so we have to start all over."

It doesn't help that Auckland's backstage is hardly geared towards making new friends. The dressing rooms are a discrete compound set apart from a small communal area, so far from the main stages that it's easy to forget that anyone is playing.

"I like it when it's closer, so you can just go from the dressing room to the stage, and you can keep abreast of what's going on," says Wolfmother bassist Chris Ross, sitting in the lounge area next to a so-far unused air-hockey table.

In fact, most Big Day Out veterans sing the praises of the Gold Coast set-up, with its dressing rooms in a wide circle around a communal centre, and its close proximity to the main stages. Also, the subtropical heat can't help but bring out a more casual atmosphere, although bands still attempt individual fashion statements.

"In the foyer of the hotel, you look over to your left and there's System of a Down in their boardshorts with white socks, and then there's the Hives in their casual matching beachwear, and then John Spencer walks in with a towel around his waist," says Wolfmother drummer Miles Heskett of last year.

By the time the Big Day Out reaches Melbourne, bands have started to relax, and things get looser and more debauched. "I remember being pretty out of it in Melbourne last year," says Chris Ross. "I saw the pictures and it was like, 'Woah, I was having a good time'."

Jared Willowill's 2004 experience was similar. "We just got wasted with all our friends. In all the pictures we look like f---in' Motley Crue, we're so bloated and ill with beer."

"You see a lot of people unwind as the tour goes on," notes Burke Reid of Sydney trio Gerling, who are playing their fourth Big Day Out. "It's a fantastic festival to be on."

Gradually, the Auckland backstage area starts to show signs of life. Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker, from female rock trio Sleater Kinney, stage an air-hockey play-off with the road crew for Ohio group the Greenhornes, who have been included in this year's line-up only at Jack White's insistence.

Ubiquitous Australian rock photographer Tony Mott sidles up to the first major celebrity summit of the day - when Iggy Pop sticks his head out of a dressing room window for a brief chat with Jack White - but is shooed away by the White Stripes' tour manager before he has a chance to take a photo.

Although the White Stripes keep very much to themselves, remaining in their dressing room all day, their road crew add visual interest, dressed in matching black suits, red shirts and fedoras.

This year's major hip-hop artists - Edan, Dei Hamo and spiritual US rapper Common - are as reclusive as the White Stripes, perhaps feeling a little out of place in the rock-focused line-up.

"I feel like this is not totally a hip-hop crowd," Common admits in his dressing room. "Some of the fans may not be aware of Common, but I like getting my music introduced to new audiences and winning them over."

The Go! Team, though, are feeling decidedly playful after their well-received mid-afternoon set, and are ready to start mingling. "I want to challenge Henry Rollins to an arm wrestle," jokes Ian Parton about the hefty former Black Flag singer, who is on this year's bill as a spoken word performer. "I reckon he could take us all with one arm!"

The only band The Go! Team really know here are brother-sister quartet (and fellow Londoners) the Magic Numbers. "They just seem to follow us around," Parton says. "We were doing a TV show last week and they were there, we did the Mercury Awards and they were there, and every festival we play, they're there. They must be f---ing sick of us!"

The Magic Numbers actually began their mingling the night before, when they met the similarly sibling-based Kings Of Leon. "We were drinking with them until six in the morning," says singer Romeo Stodart looking somewhat rueful.

"We just have to watch out for our little sisters around them," adds Sean Gannon slyly. The three young brothers and one cousin that make up Kings Of Leon have an infamous reputation for on-tour sexual conquests, but Gannon won't specify exactly who has to be protected from whom. "I'll just leave it at that," he laughs.

A few hours later, things are less cheery for the Magic Numbers. Their own reputation is for alcohol-induced squabbling. Everybody around them goes silent for a moment when Gannon swears loudly at his sister Angela and storms off into a nearby Portaloo, although he returns sheepishly to their table a few minutes later.

The closest thing to rock-star antics comes from Australian bands with prior Big Day Out experience. Their set over by one in the afternoon, Gerling have an outdoor setting strewn with empty beer bottles by three o'clock, and are getting noticeably unruly.

Singer Darren Cross commandeers a golf buggy full of wide-eyed competition winners, and bunny-hops a few metres across the turf before giving up and returning to his drink. Later in the evening, he and some Aussie comrades take turns riding a miniature Harley motorcycle around the site. When Wolfmother's Heskett tries out, he drives straight into one of the compound fences, invoking gales of hysterical laughter from his drunken pals.

Far away from the backstage area, over Ericsson Stadium's seven performance spaces, the music continues through the afternoon and into the evening.

In the Boiler Room, psychedelic hip-hop MC Edan struggles with technical problems, plugging in leads and cables while he raps and trying to DJ through a wall of white noise, before eventually throwing his set list out and freestyling the rest of his show.

"There was no soundcheck time for our shit," he says later. "And they just stuck me in the room where all the dance stuff went down, so that was a little unfortunate. But you do the best you can."

Franz Ferdinand take to the main stage as the sun goes down, remaining mostly static while their stomping glam-inflected tunes get the crowd bobbing in formation. The Stooges' tour manager watches them carefully, then during their last song moves to the edge of the backstage oval and peers over towards the artist compound.

Two golf buggies are parked expectantly nearby, motors still running. After a few breathless moments, a shirtless Iggy appears and is ushered from the dressing room onto the back of a buggy. He stares wild-eyed into space, departing backwards with his bandmates over the grass towards the main stage. Soon the metallic clang of Ron Asheton's guitar rings out over a screaming, enthusiastic crowd.

It's true, Pop does look more intense than ever, especially blown up by the huge screens either side of the stage, with the whip-thin body of a 19-year-old boy, but the sagging skin of a 60-year-old man. Ron and his drummer brother Scott Asheton play their instruments with no extraneous movement while Iggy writhes off stage and into the sweaty embrace of fans a third his age, giving the microphone over to the crowd for a raucous rendition of I Wanna Be Your Dog.

The White Stripes finish the evening in disjointed fashion, a seemingly distracted Jack White doing two takes of Dolly Parton's Jolene, although the vocal problems that saw him cancel a Japanese tour just before arriving in New Zealand are nowhere in evidence.

And then the show is over, bar some mash-up DJing from Belgians 2 Many DJs, and a little late-night dub from New Zealand institution Fat Freddy's Drop. Slowly the backstage area empties out as bands depart for their hotels (and more ice-breaking in the lobby bars) until the Stooges and the White Stripes are the only stars remaining. Vivian Lees drops by to pay his respects, then gives a brief overview of the first Big Day Out for 2006.

"It's been a pretty low-stress day," he says, unperturbed by the lower than average turnout.

Lees acknowledges the social intricacies implicit in gathering so many celebrated musicians together, but in his experience, choosing the right headliner is the key to a smooth-running show. "Someone like Iggy can bring a statesman-like demeanour," he says. "It's the same with Jack White - it's a responsible position being on the top of the line-up. Whether it's Lars from Metallica or Mike D from the Beastie Boys, they start to become a centre of gravity, and they take it very seriously. It's nice to see."

One of the last to leave the compound at 10.30pm is Stooge's guitarist Ron Asheton, taking some time to bask in the warm afterglow of the Stooges' success. If Iggy Pop is the star that most other stars want to meet, it seems 57-year-old Asheton is the one most likely to respond warmly to their advances.

"I feel a little shy about it, but when people come up to me and say 'Oh man, it's because of you that I play,' I really appreciate it," he says with disarming humbleness. "I feel a little embarrassed about it, but it means a lot to me."

After more than 30 years of relative obscurity since the Stooges broke up in 1974, Asheton has none of the ego or aloofness characteristic of more successful performers. And his attitude to meeting the younger generation of bands on this tour suggests that this Big Day Out will wind up being as relaxed and sociable as others before it. "I get the feeling that as this tour progresses, I'll meet and talk to more people," he says. "I like befriending people, and just talking."


Iggy tops
The Australian
From: By Iain Shedden
January 26, 2006

Tracker: Who's with who in our star couples list » IT'S a one-off scenario. A handful of famous frontmen are huddled together side of stage, rocking back and forth, punching their arms in the air and singing along.

One of them is Tex Perkins, singer in Australian rock miscreants Beasts of Bourbon. Next to him there's American heavy rock and spoken-word exponent Henry Rollins. And close to him stands the tall figure of Jack White, one half of this year's Big Day Out headline act, the White Stripes.
The cause of their excitement - their awe - is a short, middle-aged gent holding about 30,000 people at Queensland's Gold Coast Parklands in his grasp: taunting them, leaping into them, inviting them up on to the stage and, yes, telling them in no uncertain terms that he would like to be their dog. It could only be Iggy Pop.

The attention afforded to his stagecraft - from the VIPs and the audience - offers measure of Iggy's influence on rock'n'roll and of the respect that he commands more than 40 years after he began performing.

His band from the late 1960s and early '70s, Detroit's the Stooges, is the model on which a thousand punk outfits have launched themselves at the world. Iggy's status as an uncompromising performer has endured past that initial blaze of glory into a successful and then not so brilliant solo career. Now he has come almost full circle, enjoying a Stooges renaissance that began three years ago at Coachella Valley rock festival in California on the 30th anniversary of their initial break-up. He is joined by original members Ron and Scott Asheton on guitar and drums respectively, along with bass player Mike Watt and saxophonist Steve MacKay.

The band's stint on the Gold Coast is the second on the BDO trail, which will keep them in Australia for the next 10 days. It's a happy accident that the White Stripes, another product of the Detroit school of rock'n'roll, should be following the Stooges on to the main stage each night.

At the moment they are doing just that, I'm sharing a sofa in the dressing room of 58-year-old James Osterberg, who shows little sign of just having spent an hour throwing himself around and spitting bile. He has done so while delivering classic material from the Stooges' first two albums: songs such as TV Eye, Fun House, Dirt, 1969 and I Wanna Be Your Dog.
Suddenly the guitar riff of that last song comes wafting over from the stage. It's White, working a little homage into one of his own compositions.

"Is he doing what I think he's doing?" says an animated, shirtless Iggy, glass of red wine in his hand and a steely glint in his eye. "That's not in their repertoire."

He's pleased to hear that his 30-year-old admirer was watching him from the side of the stage and describes him, somewhat surprisingly, as "a pretty nice bloke". That's not the sort of term one imagines coming from a man who used to smear himself in peanut butter and cut his chest open with broken glass in the course of his work, but there's an obvious camaraderie that has been struck up between the two musicians, part of it inspired by the Motor City.

"There are certain key elements we share," Iggy says. "Tonight we were talking. We both knew the same cuts on the same rather obscure Bob Dylan albums, the ones that don't have producers and nobody hears."

Iggy is probably the first and last critic to describe White - along with his drummer colleague Meg White - as the new Joni Mitchell.

"There was a midwestern Michigan coffee-house band sound and their big exemplars were a band called Chuck and Joni Mitchell," he recalls of his fledgling career in the mid-'60s. "I played gigs with them when I was in a blues band called the Prime Movers. We'd play gigs at a church social or someone would turn their house into a coffee house. It was more to get to play than anything. Then they split up and she became" - he puts on an MC's voice - "Joni Mitchell! But, yeah, they reminded me of that."

He may also identify with the energy that goes into a White Stripes performance. That has been a cornerstone of Iggy's stage persona and despite his age he certainly isn't slowing down. And it's not just physical energy. The songs and the sentiments are delivered with a commitment, an authority, that must require some mental as well as physical preparation.

"The psyching myself up part occurs involuntarily," he says with a laugh. "I wish it would stop. I keep waiting for it to go but it doesn't."

He spends a few hours before each show getting primed. Intrusion is not welcome.

"What I do is simple shit, like a pilot does," he goes on. "I have a check list. It takes an hour in the hotel. Then an hour here at the gig. You take about half an hour at the hotel to wake up your bod, 'cause that's necessary at my stage in the game. Then there's half an hour ... you visualise the set. It's just stuff like, 'Don't forget to hit that phrase there', and always 'What's the ending? What's your part in the ending and the beginning of the next song?"'

Iggy took his name from one of his early bands, the Iguanas, but it was when he hooked up with the Ashetons and bassist Dave Alexander in the Psychedelic Stooges, and then simply the Stooges, in 1967 that his rock'n'roll path was determined. The first two albums, The Stooges (1969) and Fun House (1970), were commercial failures. Their primitive, angry rawness was at odds with pretty much everything else that was happening in American rock at the time, and although they didn't sell they became - and would remain - benchmarks of anti-establishment rock'n'roll.

"I was doing what was logical at the time," Iggy says. "I came from a real small town, quite obscure [Ypsilanti, Michigan] near an obscure city at the time ... except for Motown, but for white people it was obscure."

There were a lot of covers bands there, but they weren't for Iggy. "You have to do your own thing and then try and do what should happen next. I did what happened next."

The Stooges existed for six years, but by the time of their third and most influential album, Raw Power (1973), Iggy was a mess from heroin. Ron Asheton was demoted to bass for that album, with James Williamson taking over guitar duties. The politics of that scenario means that none of the classics from Raw Power - Search and Destroy, Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell, Shake Appeal - are part of the current set. Nevertheless it remains, in its original form, a nasty, magnificent slab of undiluted rock'n'roll.

Iggy went into rehab after the split, but three years later, having moved to Berlin with friend and fan David Bowie, the pair conjured up Iggy's two best albums. Produced by Bowie, The Idiot and Lust for Life launched Iggy into the big league as a solo performer. He has released many albums since, but none has surpassed the magic of those two.

"If you haven't written a memorable song by the time you're 30, you ain't gonna," Iggy reasons. "I had written about 10 or 12, or co-written them by the time I was 30, half between these guys [the Stooges] and the Raw Power band, and half with Bowie. If I hadn't done what I had done with the Stooges, Bowie wouldn't have been motivated to do what we did. The proof wouldn't have been there."

He's had hits since those glory days, such as Real Wild Child (adapted from The Wild One, co-written for Johnny O'Keefe by Australian John Greenan) and Candy, but although albums such as Blah Blah Blah, Brick By Brick and American Caesar have helped to maintain his rock credentials, they pale against his '70s output.

"After that you hit one once in a while," he admits. "It's worthwhile and there's all sorts of things to find in the music, but it's different. It's not going to go [he makes the noise of an explosion]."

The success of the Stooges' return means that Iggy has no interest in solo projects for the time being. When asked about it, he seems tired of himself, as if he has exhausted the possibilities for an Iggy Pop record.

"There is no solo career right now," he says. "I'm trying to wind that down. I don't really want to make a solo record. I've done country. I've done spoken word. I've done jazz. I've butchered the blues. I've done solo acoustic. I've done enough of all that. I want to do this! I'm on a mission from the devil. I'm going to make a Stooges album. That's what I'm on."

That album is already at the writing stage, but it won't be recorded until next year. If Iggy gets his wish, the renowned producer Steve Albini will be at the helm.

In the meantime there's the Stooges live, and the man at the front writhing, jumping, squealing and demanding attention is still at the top of his game.

"You ever see a rat bite through something you didn't think it could bite through?" he asks. "It's incredible what a rat can bite through when it has to. I'm like that. The rest of the time I'm a gent, when I can get away with it."


Iggy schools BDO
The Mercury
Review by Iain Shedden

BARKING like a wild dog, crawling on his hands and knees, throwing himself into the audience - there is only one Iggy Pop. The 58-year-old rock legend has lost none of his edge or his attitude since he first started making music in Detroit 40 years ago. With his band, The Stooges, Iggy gave a lesson in the essence of rock and roll stardom as 50,000 people, including many stars sharing the bill at this year's Big Day Out, looked on. One of those stars was Jack White, another Detroit rocker whose band, The White Stripes, is the headline act at this year's Big Day Out, which began its Australian run yesterday on Queensland's Gold Coast. Stripped to the waist and taunting the audience and his fellow musicians, Iggy performed material from The Stooges's first two albums, released more than 35 years ago. Their set was the icing on the cake of a festival that had an old-school rock flavour.

Also in the line-up were US rockers Kings of Leon, whose Southern-tinged angular rock songs proved one of the highlights of the day.

Melbourne's festival stalwarts The Living End showed their credentials with a strong set that included new material from their upcoming album, State Of Emergency.

At the poppier end of the scale, Scotland's Franz Ferdinand pumped a string of hits into the night air, while Londoners The Magic Numbers, making their Australian debut, showed shades of the Mamas and the Papas in the early afternoon set.

Earlier in the day there were powerful performances by some of Australia's up-and-coming acts. Perth outfit End of Fashion was a standout, with its brand of power pop adapting well to the festival stage.

Bad weather in recent days caused a power cut, but temperatures in the high 20s made it a typically pleasant Big Day Out at Parklands.

About 60 people were treated for dehydration and other minor ailments earlier in the day.


New Day Out dawns for all ages
The Weekend Australian
Iain Shedden, Music writer
January 23, 2006.

OLD school rock 'n' roll is the strongest flavour at this year's Big Day Out rock festival, but that doesn't mean you have to be old to play it.

While Iggy Pop, 58, and his original band, The Stooges, were one of the main draws at the opening Australian BDO on the Gold Coast yesterday, at the other end of the bill a band from country Victoria, Airborne, were proving that rock 'n' roll at its most basic has no age barrier.

The band members, all in their early 20s, are tipped to follow fellow Oz rockers Jet and The Vines and become our next international sensations.

They have signed a recording contract with Capitol records in the US and will release their debut album this year.

Before then, however, the four musicians will be paying their dues -- doing the BDO opening slot at 11am. Singer Joel O'Keefe said the band was doing what it believed in. "It's about girls, good times and parties," he said.

Another up-and-coming local act are power trio Wolfmother, but they were the victims of a power failure, caused, it was thought, by heavy rain on the festival site in recent days.

There was silence on the main stage for an hour as engineers fixed the problem. "It was a bit stressful," said promoter Ken West. "But if that's our biggest problem after the past few days I can't complain."

Some acts later on the bill had to cut their sets in order to keep the program on schedule.

Raw power has never been a problem for Iggy Pop, who, along with fellow headliners The White Stripes, brought a relentless barrage of rock 'n' roll to the 50,000 fans at Southport's Parklands.

Also on the bill this year are English pop band the Magic Numbers, Scotland's Franz Ferdinand, US southern rockers Kings of Leon and experimental rock band The Mars Volta.

Sydney will stage the next BDO on Thursday, followed by Melbourne on Sunday, Adelaide on February 3 and Perth on February 5.


Let it all hang out

By Patrick Donovan
January 20, 2006

The last thing you want to know about Iggy Pop is that he isn't wearing any underwear. The mere thought strikes Patrick Donovan blind.

There are some questions you shouldn't ask Iggy Pop, the reptilian rock dinosaur not known for his fondness for clothes. Like what he wears on weekends, for example.

"At home, usually, and right now, I'm wearing a vintage robe with no underwear," he says. "If I go off my own property, then I just wear knee-length swim trunks. Seventy-five per cent of the hours I'm in one pair of camouflage swim trunks - no shirt, no shoes. General surfer vibe. I don't surf, but I hang out and look like one. I wear jeans and no T-shirt when I get tarted up to go to work."

But somebody also asked me to interview him for a column about the perfect weekend. What does the weekend mean for the Florida resident who doesn't work 9-to-5, then?

"It means a bunch of families with their dirty little kids and beer coolers and grandmas and fat wives are going to go to my beach and ruin it, and I can't wait for Monday when they all have to go to work."

And what would a Saturday breakfast entail?

"I usually play Friday night, so it would be two double espressos and a headache. If I'm not on tour, somewhere as quiet as possible to avoid the crowd of weekend fools."

He should have a mighty big headache after playing the Big Day Out then as he says the Stooges are even more intense than his last band, the Trolls.

"It's a big big difference this tour - and that's not a slight on the Trolls. This is fine arts, as opposed to fine darts or something - the Trolls are more like a pint and a game of darts, then a couple of shots of whisky then some balls-out rock'n'roll. The Stooges have a much finer edge. And these are four musicians worth listening to."

Clearly, Pop considers himself as a mere cog in the Stooges wheel.

"Working with them does wonders for the confidence. It's a really strong band - it's right up there, one of the very very best that exists. I'm real pleased to be in it, and there's a heck of a high attention level to do our best. The guys are really hungry everytime we go out, and it's showing in the work.

"My style remains my style, and I try and tone it down in certain ways when I work with the Stooges because there is more to listen to, so I tend to try and remember that I don't have to carry the group."

He says he's thrilled to be headlining with fellow Detroit band the White Stripes.

"It's a good bill; I imagine it will have quite an edge to it. We are two real Detroit bands, as opposed to people that latch onto the concept."

The Stooges have never been close to making it to Australia before this.

"We had trouble getting out of the door," Pop says. "There was only one show outside the continental US, and maybe one show in Windsor, Canada, and that was in King's Cross in London. We didn't even know where France was, really."

Is everything a lot more together this time around?

"Take out the word lot. It's more together, it's the same bunch of people and the same fundamental lunacies prevail, but each member has found a way to mute and regulate his particular peculiarities to allow them to operate in society."


TMC.net News
(New Zealand Press Association Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)(pics available at www.nzpaimages.co.nz
January 20, 2006.                    


(New Zealand Press Association Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)(pics available at www.nzpaimages.co.nz)

Auckland, Jan 21 NZPA - A 35,000-strong crowd were unrelenting in their energy and screaming yesterday at the marathon 12-hour Big Day Out music event at Auckland's Ericsson Stadium. As night fell the tempo was lifted and after already eight hours of booming sounds from 70 international and local bands divided over six stages, the crowd continued to heave to the big names in this year's line up. Scotland's Franz Ferdinand began the frenzy, and the masses gathered in front of the main stage for their pop-rock ballads.

The standout stage performance was to come next however, and for anyone in the crowd born after 1980 they may not have been expecting the power of Iggy and The Stooges. Iggy, the royalty of rock, showed the young ones how to do it. Shirtless and dressed in skin tight jeans, he writhed on the stage, jumped into the crowd and dragged 15 stunned concert-goers back up with him. ``He's mesmerising -- he's the most cutting edge here today,'' Philippa Price, 32, said during Iggy's set. She said he was ground-breaking in the 60s, and if the younger members of the crowd knew anything about rock and punk music they would know Iggy. ``It's generational. The Kings of Leon (US) looked like school boys, but they were great.''

Next was a striking red and white show from Detroit's two-piece band The White Stripes, bringing the crowd to a crescendo with their single, Seven Nation Army. While the Djs satisfied the dance music lovers in The Boiler Room tent at the end of the night, New Zealand's acclaimed seven-piece roots band Fat Freddy's Drop were the grand finale up on the green stage. The bikinis and scant clothing from the midday heat remained, with one man entertaining the crowd with a dance set in his lime green speedos. Concert-goers had plenty of other entertainment choice if the legs or ear drums grew tired -- a giant water slide, super-loop, hurricane fairground ride, food and clothing stalls, and the Lion Red beer bar for those old enough.

The twelfth Big Day Out was relatively calm for security and medical services. Paul McKessar from CRS management said police had arrested nine people up to one hour before the concert ended at 11.30pm -- half the number of last year. McKessar said one arrest was drug-related, but the rest were from drunken behaviour. ``Police said it was a really good crowd this year -- just enjoying the music.'' St John's said they treated 500 people, but only two were taken to hospital. One for a knee dislocation, the other an elbow dislocation. ``There was no real trouble -- it was a resounding success,'' McKessar said.


Iggy's big day out
The Sunday Mail

Paul Stewart

HE is arguably the wildest man in rock 'n' roll history, so it is somewhat unusual to hear punk's elder statesman, Iggy Pop, talk about one of his favourite spots in Australia.

"I really like the gardens there in Melbourne where Captain Cook's cottage is on display," said Pop, who will soon arrive in Australia to headline the Big Day Out music festival with his original 1960s band The Stooges.
"I've been to Australia many times and have lots of great memories from my visits, although the highlight would have to be the time that guy Ian Meldrum got me to go on his television program, Countdown.

"Do you still remember Molly Meldrum down there? Is he still on television?

"The problem was I had too much free time on my hands and I went on his show well and truly tanked, and just mimed a version of my song, I'm Bored.

"All these little kids in the studio started crying and yelling at me, 'You are not a pop star . . . You're not nice – go away'.

"I think I terrified them."

Pop's over-the-top performance on Countdown is now the stuff of Australian TV folklore.

Given his reputation for self-mutilation and flinging himself around during performances, it is remarkable that Pop, 58, still gives his all on stage.

"I do a daily routine of a martial arts exercise, kind of like tai chi, with all these old Chinese people every morning," he said. "It takes care of me, and I'm always ready for work.

"I still love a nice bloody steak every now and then with a bottle of red wine, but can just as easily eat a nice vegetarian meal and drink water."

The key to Pop's longevity is pace. He and The Stooges average 25 big gigs a year.

"I work at a constant and steady rate. The Stooges and I are always match-fit."

Pop is based in Miami and his home did not escape last year's deadly hurricanes.

"Unfortunately, we got the shit kicked out of us," he said.

"Half the trees in the jungle around here are gone, my gazebo has gone. We're in bad shape."

Luckily Pop missed the storms.

"No, I don't show up for hurricanes," he said with a laugh.

"When I got there though, the electricity was still down for 48 hours, so I had a first-hand taste of some of the hardship that happened there."

Many have described Pop as something of a human hurricane.

Assembling a bunch of fellow rockers in Detroit in 1967, Pop, born James Osterberg in a Michigan trailer park, set out to rail against the predominant hippie music of the time.

He had decided on a music career after seeing a performance by The Doors.

The Stooges were all about the seedy underbelly of society – sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

Over three classic albums – the debut 1969, 1970's Fun House and Raw Power in 1973 – the band found power in the primitive.

It was a dangerous band that played dangerous music, with Pop contorting his shirtless torso, rubbing peanut butter and raw steaks over his body, gouging his skin with broken glass, diving into the crowd, and throwing punches.

The intensity of their live shows saw The Stooges implode in 1974.

In 2003, original Stooges Scott Asheton (drums) and Ron Asheton (guitar) reunited with Pop, and the trio could not be happier.

Looking back, Pop recalled how hated they were when The Stooges arrived in Britain for their first gig in "flower power" era London in the late-'60s. Many critics defined that show as a turning point in popular music.

"Many people have told me they were at that show," Pop said. "The funny thing is there were only about 100 people there, not the millions who now claim to be."

One fellow who did see Pop in action on that tour was David Bowie, who became fixated with the stage act of the wild American. Bowie later played in Pop's support band and co-wrote the hit song China Girl. Their relationship was explored in the 1998 film Velvet Goldmine, with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Ewan McGregor playing characters loosely based on Bowie and Pop respectively.

"I like listening to the Doves, Gregory Isaacs, dance hall, voodoo music, African music, the holy trinity of course – James Brown, Miles Davis, John Coltrane – and anything on Fat Possum Records," Pop said. "My music tends to be black and it's usually funky."

Iggy Pop and the Stooges play the Big Day Out at Gold Coast Parklands, Smith St, Southport, next Sunday.


The wild world of Pop art
The Sun-Herald
January 16, 2006

Nearly 40 years since the Stooges, Iggy Pop has reformed the band - and is heading to Sydney, Jane Rocca writes.

Lust for life: Iggy Pop says the Stooges never really broke up - they just took a 'nice nap'.

When Iggy Pop emerged from Detroit's music scene in the late 1960s with his band the Stooges, he had no idea his teen angst would be bottled and recycled three decades later. The Stooges released only three albums between 1969 and 1974 (The Stooges, Funhouse and Raw Power) yet by doing so shaped punk rock and influenced generations of younger bands who borrowed heavily from their Motor City exploits.

Nearly 40 years since they started playing, the Stooges are back and will play the Big Day Out festival in Australia and New Zealand.

For Pop, being on tour with the Stooges is not about reliving the past. He believes the band never ceased being. "We are really looking forward to coming to Australia," he says. "What I have noticed is that I have the same feeling toward the group, the same pride and kind of a special feeling for these guys I hung out with in Detroit. Then there is the pain in the ass of being in a group you know. It is always complex because it's a group effort and it involves compromise. But I think we've finally worked it out after all these years. To me, it's one band and we have had an interruption. It's been like a nice nap or something."

Pop reunited with bassist and drummer Ron and Scott Asheton just three years ago when they performed at the Coachella Music Festival in Palm Springs. "That was the beginning of us coming together," says Pop, who before that hadn't really kept in touch with his former bandmates. "Since then we have played a lot of club shows and we're going with it."

The Stooges was a dangerous outfit for its time. Their music was raw and loaded with filthy energy, making them the pioneers of an unruly garage sound that would only be appreciated years after it was recorded. The late '60s was all about psychedelic rock, created through a haze of drug taking (mostly LSD and marijuana) and hippie free love, and here were the Stooges steering the ship in unchartered waters with an emphasis on vulgarity.

They signed to Elektra in 1968 - after being spotted supporting the political group MC5 - and released a self-titled debut album that was barely noticed. By the time the second album Funhouse was made, the band was heavily involved in drug taking.

"I never thought I was going to die when I was a drug addict," 58-year-old Pop says. "I must have a big head on me or a big ego or something like that, but I never thought I would die taking drugs. I have always thought in terms of I have got to survive if I want to be in the game of life."

The Stooges recorded Raw Power in London in 1972 with David Bowie at the production helm. Just after the album was recorded, Pop committed himself to a mental hospital on the verge of a breakdown after years of drug abuse. "I was totally out of control. I was easily lured by the unknown and wanted to be there right on the edge, doing all I could to experience everything. I was also very sick. I mean I was sick, man."

These days, Pop prefers red wine and hanging out with his girlfriend of six years Nina Alu. He doesn't smoke cigarettes or take drugs.

"I think you have to take your cue sometimes, don't you think?" he asks. "I live a clean life now, I have survived for a reason."

As for Bowie, the pair still remain friends of sorts (Bowie was pivotal in shaping Pop's solo albums The Idiot and Lust For Life in the late 1970s).

"We don't go fishing if that's what you're asking," Pop says. "But we have a lot of mutual respect for one another. I know he looks fondly on the time we spent together making my records and I do admire David."

Bowie once described the Stooges as nihilistic rock, others referring to Pop as extreme, more spontaneous and unpredictable than the Mick Jaggers or Alice Coopers of the world.

Here was a frontman, born James Osterberg in 1947 who grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, learnt to belly dance in his 20s through a love of Balinese culture, took a leaf out of R&B singers from time spent in Chicago in the '60s and jumped around on stage like a child with attention deficit disorder.

"I am sure the template comes from a sick, suburban, weird, twisted, white American drugged-out teen who borrowed from the R&B soul singers," Pop says.

He would smear himself with peanut butter while performing, cut himself with glass, throw himself at a crowd only to be teased and begged for more and get sexual favours from girls who tried to rip his jeans off while performing (Ugano's in New York early '70s).

"I would go into intensive care after the shows," he says, laughing.

"I don't behave so wildly as I did back then, I'm a little more grown up."

The Stooges will headline the Big Day Out in Sydney on January 26.


Music: Pop idol

Sunday Star Times
15 January 2006.

**this article contains some innacurate info.

It's rock'n'roll's equivalent of the second coming as Iggy and the Stooges head to the Big Day Out, writes GRANT SMITHIES.

Imagine Iggy Pop in some dilapidated New York tenement, dozing fitfully on a greasy mattress. Cockroaches scuttle about between the used syringes that litter the floor. Every flat surface is covered with half-finished lines of cocaine and half-eaten boxes of Chinese noodles. In through the open window, borne on traffic fumes, come the shrieks of hookers fighting for the most profitable spot on the corner outside. Now and then Iggy gets up and wanders down to the all-night liquor store on the corner, shirt off, his pipe-cleaner legs thrust into tight black jeans. Picture that weathered face, that lank hair, the skinny frame, those seen-it-all eyes, those scars up his arms where he used to slash himself with broken bottles on stage.

But this is all in my mind. I've bought into the mythology of Iggy Pop as the archetypal white-trash junkie low-life, gaunt and nocturnal, haunting the tear-stained New York back streets like a vampire.

In reality, Iggy Pop lives in Miami, Florida, home to numerous retired American millionaires and huge populations of Cubans, Colombians, Puerto Ricans and other heat-seeking Latin immigrants. He lives right beside the sea, loves the hot sun, laughs almost constantly, and has been off the junk for years.

"My little cottage is in an old part of Miami where less than half the population speaks English," he drawls, his voice deep as a dungeon. "It's right on the bay, but the house is so old and run-down they were gonna set fire to it on camera for the movie Mississippi Burning. Fortunately, somebody saved it, and I love it here. Florida used to be a swamp, you know, so when I play my old blues records it sounds just right."

In a few days, Iggy Pop exits his sunny swamp and comes here to play at the Big Day Out with his recently reformed band, the Stooges. This is a big deal, believe me. At an increasingly teen-focused and fashion-driven event, the presence of the Stooges is significant. It adds substance to the day, and the chance to see this pioneering band will be what gets many older rock fans buying their first Big Day Out ticket.

Formed in Detroit in the late 60s, the original Stooges consisted of singer Iggy Pop, bassist Dave Alexander, and the two Asheton brothers, Ron (guitar) and Scott (drums). Alexander died of a heroin overdose in 1975, but before everything sank into a mire of bad feeling and drug dependency, these four men made 1967's The Stooges and 1971's Funhouse, two thrilling records that have influenced every decent punk, post-punk and alternative rock band that has followed over the past 35 years.

It's mostly songs from these two landmark albums that the reformed Stooges (Pop, the Asheton brothers and new bassist Mike Watt) will be playing at the Big Day Out.

"So many other bands have ripped those records off that I feel like the proud father to a million bands," laughs Iggy, now 58. "Theft is a terrific form of flattery, and it enhances our position as originators. If bands of teenagers starting out last week sound like one's own band, especially when one's own band is now full of people in their late 50s, then it's good for your ego."

The Stooges and Funhouse have been re-mastered and re-issued and it's marvellous to listen to them again and try to imagine their impact at the time they were made. It was the height of the hippie era. Peace, love and psychedelia were the order of the day, yet Iggy was writing primitive, nihilistic songs about boredom, frustration, lust and bad luck: "I Wanna Be Your Dog", "1969", "No Fun", "Down on the Street", "Loose", "Dirt".

Iggy wasn't interested in heading for San Francisco with some flowers in his hair. He was a reckless and demented working class hot-head who'd been raised in a small-town Michigan trailer park. On stage he barked, he shrieked, he slashed himself with broken beer bottles, smeared himself in peanut butter, rubbed himself with raw steak and stabbed himself with broken drumsticks. And in the studio the band mixed Iggy's beloved blues with an electrified wallop as brutal as a brick-in-the-head mugging down some junkie-infested inner-city alleyway.

"In the 60s when we started out, there were very few other bands articulating our concerns," Iggy says.

"In a very short time music had gone from Bob Dylan's `It Ain't Me, Babe' to Sonny and Cher's `I Got You, Babe'. Feelgood crap was everywhere, and the Stooges never fitted into that. We never set out to piss anybody off, but people got so pissed off anyway!"

How pissed off? The best way to find out is to listen to Metallic KO (Skydog Records), a recording of the last Stooges' show before the band split up in 1974. As rock critic Lester Bangs once noted: "It's the only rock album I know where you can actually hear hurled beer bottles breaking against guitar strings." Iggy is in splendidly confrontational form throughout, abusing the crowd, inviting them to throw things at him. They oblige, initially with eggs they've brought along for that purpose.

Then you hear the sounds of bigger objects smashing off the stage.

"You pricks can throw everything in the goddamn world, but your girlfriend will still love me!" he shouts over the dying chords of one song. Recalling that concert now, Iggy chuckles away in a deep slow gurgle. He sounds like an amiable grandad looking back through a photo album from his younger days.

"I was feeling pretty belligerent that night, and I'd also had a run-in with a member of a motorcycle gang the night before, and I'd goaded the guy to bring his gang down to the next gig and take his best shot. And, you know, he did. They threw these huge four-gallon beer jugs, bottles, chairs, some light bulbs, and even a shovel. It hurt, man, but some girls in the front row threw their underwear too, which was kinda sweet. Eventually I was knocked out cold by a beer bottle."

So how does he feel now, 32 years later, to be back with the Asheton brothers, playing these songs all over the world?

"On one level, it's great. When we played these songs back then, a lot of audiences were more hostile than enthusiastic. Intellectual hippies and disaffected high school students embraced us right away, but it took a lot longer for everyone else to catch on. So it's great that those songs are finally getting their due. But on another level, being back in a band is a huge pain in the arse. It's like being in a three-legged race. You feel handicapped because you're used to being solo, running free, and now you're hitched to somebody else."


Big Day Out: Back to good old days and name checks from all eras
The New Zealand Observer
BDO pix
By Russell Baillie, Scott Kara, Rebecca Barry

This annual gathering of the music tribes was a little less tribal than previous years. Maybe it was the heat. Maybe it was the lack of a mass-market headliner.

Maybe it was the combined effect of less hip-hop in the day's diet along with a dance tent line-up that shouted very few must-sees. And less metal too (though as their vests told us, the Waitakere Team Policing Unit was there in case any westies turned up). The numbers seemed back down to comfortable levels and the music ... well it felt like a festival of what we used to call "alternative rock". Just like the good old Big Out Days.

Actually, the days must seem to stretch further back than that. Name a rock era and there was a BDO band referencing it - or in the case of Iggy and Stooges, reliving it in wild style. In his penultimate slot the Igster and band (two-thirds of the original Detroit outfit which originally split in 1974) all but stole the show with a happily unhinged performance of their primitive but influential early works (TV Eye, I Wanna Be Your Dog among others). And Mr Pop, as shirtless as ever, was in fabulously disgraceful form throughout, even arranging for a minor stage invasion.He was the day's best guess-you-had-to-be-there moment.

So, having set our attention-spans on "shuffle" as is the yearly habit, we offer some impressions - good, bad and otherwise of the day's musical overload ...

Our new favourite band: The Greenhornes - the rock trio with White Stripes connections out of Ohio who delivered acracking set showing a definite influence of the 60s British blues explosion. Well, the Yardbirds cover kind of confirmed it.

Best local comeback: Veteran southern janglers The Bats, who set up their own chugging grooves in what could have been an audio argument with the next-door Boiler Room.

Most demanding clap-along: Pluto's set-closer Dance Stamina with its Radio Ga-Ga-like manual percussion requirements. The song capped off a surprisingly muscular set for the Auckland band on the main stage.

Best of British I: The Magic Numbers, whose harmonies and summer-struck pop were a balm for the ears. Yes they do look like Peter Jackson and his co-writers (before the money) but they sure could play too. Especially the bassist. For employing a melodica, they also win best use of an instrument we last saw at primary school.

Best of British II: The guttersnipe punk metal of young English trio The Subways who delivered many a disaffected teenage anthem. Funny to hear a punk band singing in an English accent who are actually from England.

Best blot on the landscape: Mudvayne. This year's sole visitor from the now ancient land of nu-metal. Played like demons of course. But the usual double kick-drum ritual aggression which felt out of place on a sunstruck afternoon.

Best outfit: Apart from Jack and Meg from the White Stripes of course and the guy down front in the green speedos. It was Ninja from the Go! Team in her cheerleader-meets-double dutch uniform. But, after all the hype, shame about the chaotic mess of music the Brits inflicted upon us.

Best sample: DJ James Murphy gets the Boiler Room sweaty with a snippet of the Bee Gees' You Should Be Dancin', Yeah. Reminded us what that big sweaty tent is all about.

Best no name: Blindspott have some new songs but they don't have names. Singer Damian Alexander asked fans to email their suggestions. Yeah the dog ate my homework too.

Best band of brothers: Savage and the Deceptikonz (and other members of the Dawn Raid entourage) didn't have much competition in the tough guy stakes. Hip-hop they might have been but "bang your head" they did.

Best hair: Shihad's Jon Toogood. Seriously, how did he grow it so fast? Did he perhaps borrow and dye the leftovers from Phil Knight's old mop? We had a sweepstake on how many songs it would take before Toogood ended up in the front row. He left it until after the last song so no one won. But Shihad's greatest hits set was a mighty thing. Only the Warriors dig deeper at Ericsson Stadium.

Best close shave: Kings of Leon. The formerly hirsute US southern men were barely recognisable with their new clean-shaven visages. But their set - which caused the first big main stage crowd surges of the day - was ruggedly handsome all the same, care of their weird and wiry songs.

Best use of furniture: Breaks Co-Op's all-seated performance (memo: use bar stools next time so more of us can see). Unfortunately, something was amiss in their live sound and those rich folk-soul harmonies were a mite flat and Gregorian for much of their set.

Best scull: The frontman from Wolfmother who said cheers and we made him scull his beer and he spilled most of it down himself. Those Aussies can't hold their liquor.

Best dance song not in the dance tent: Take Me Out by Franz Ferdinand, which caused one of the day's most uplifting moments in the main stadium - their rock music didn't bludgeon like so much of the day's offerings.

Best way to clear a room: The sustained feedback of a particularly filling-rattling frequency near the end of the White Stripes' oddly indulgent performance. Sure, it scorched with Jack White's flamethrower guitar fired on the big numbers, but care of two takes on Dolly Parton's Joelene among other perplexing tangents, it was never in danger of finding its own momentum. Often brilliant but frequently baffling.

Best brothers from another planet: The Mars Volta. Psychedelic Santana-esque Latino styles mixed up with a spot of space metal. As only they can do. With that sort of sound you can imagine why they were half an hour late coming on. But like the rest of the day, worth the fried neurons.


Big Day Out '06: At that Stooge of life
The New Zealand Herald
By Graham Reid

A few years ago, a cartoon in a rock magazine captured the essence of the Stooges. It showed a guy in headphones whose head had exploded and his friend in the other room saying over his shoulder, "So what do you think of the remastered version of Raw Power?"

The Stooges, fronted by Iggy Pop, delivered that kind of sonic intensity on albums like their drug-addled, self-titled debut in 1969 and the rowdiness of Fun House and Raw Power.

They were a band destined to self-destruct, especially when Iggy's heroin addiction sidelined him for a couple of years. In 1974, Iggy, the Asheton brothers Ron (guitar and later bass) and drummer Scott, and guitarist James Williamson (who replaced founder Dave Alexander) split acrimoniously.

But in the five years from their astonishingly muddled debut, produced by Velvet Underground's John Cale, to a typically riot-inducing farewell show, the Stooges became legendary and infamous - even if their albums barely sold.

Today they are widely acknowledged as the godfathers of garage rock, the spiritual figureheads of a movement which includes the Datsuns and the D4. And some say the Stooges also defined punk rock and created heavy metal with albums like Raw Power.

It was certainly extreme rock - in volume and intensity. Iggy would stage dive (some say he was the first), often perform in little more than a G-string, and self-mutilation wasn't uncommon. Obviously, it couldn't last.

After the break-up they went their own ways - the Ashetons into less-than-successful projects, while Iggy worked with Williamson on the thrilling noise-fest album Kill City and then a wobbly solo career.

In 1977 he enjoyed a remarkable comeback, thanks to two Bowie-produced albums: The Idiot, which included their co-written China Girl, and Nightclubbing which turned up in Trainspotting, and the terrific Lust For Life, the title track also in Trainspotting. His cover of the 1950s song Real Wild Child shot up the charts in the late 80s.

Since then, Iggy, whose stage name came from his mid-60s high-school band the Iguanas, has been acclaimed for just being himself: famous for being infamous. "I've been dirt and I don't care," he sang once.

Today there is something of the Elder Statesman about Iggy Pop. In recent years he has recorded with former members of Guns N Roses and the Sex Pistols, worked with Larry Mullen of U2, Green Day, Sum 41 and Peaches.

He has also appeared in the movies Cry Baby alongside Johnny Depp, The Color of Money with Paul Newman, and Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes .

The other solo Stooges didn't fare so well. The Ashetons formed New Order (not to be confused with the British band) which quickly fell apart. Ron later joined Destroy All Monsters with MC5 bassist Mike Davis but it had little success.

Other than for their Stooges career, the Ashetons looked destined to be a footnote in rock encyclopaedias.

Then in 2000 J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr was playing shows with bassist Mike Watt, former Minutemen/Firehose, in which they paid tribute to the Stooges.

They convinced the Ashetons to join them and these substitute Stooges - without Iggy - took to the road playing Stooges material, to excellent reviews.

In 2003, the Ashetons got together with Iggy for the first time since 1974 for four tracks on Iggy's album Skull Ring which, as the Guardian reviewer noted, were so powerful they cast the rest of the album tracks in an unflattering light. Among them were songs with Sum 41 and Green Day.

The Stooges with Iggy were up and roaring again and, with Watt, they took to the road. Their opening gig at Clarkston, Michigan in 2003 drew unanimous acclaim.

Of the stage-invasion one reviewer wrote: "It was this reckless abandon and high-voltage connectivity between both artist and audience that made this night go down in history as, quite possibly, the greatest rock'n'roll reunion of all time."

Iggy has played with a lot of bands and musicians since the demise of the Stooges, but none has ever seemed to matter so much, or sound so dangerous, as the band he brought with him last Monday.

Of their Seattle show last September one web-reviewer wrote simply, "There is no better band working the planet today".

The Stooges' present set-list includes their classic, nihilistic, energetic songs like 1969, I Wanna Be Your Dog, TV Eye, No Fun and Dirt.

They have also shared billings with bands from at least two generations that they influenced - Sonic Youth, the Von Bondies, Mudhoney.

They are playing classic Stooges songs which have been covered by the Sex Pistols, REM, Joan Jett, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns N Roses and Rage Against the Machine.

Band reunions can seem cynical (the Sex Pistols' Filthy Lucre tour), self-serving (MC5) or just sad (any 1960s British pop band playing the Bruce Mason Centre).

But against the odds of time, their self-destructive tendencies and musical fashion, Iggy, his battered torso still toned and muscular, and the Stooges have proven the adage that second time round is often sweeter - and more noisy - than the first.


Jack White looking foward to hanging out with Iggy
The New Zealand Herald
10.12.05 5.00pm
By Troy Ferguson

Jack White of the White Stripes is amused that he's coming halfway round the world to play the same festival stage with another band from his hometown Detroit.

But - like a fair swag of the folk heading to the Big Day Out - he's relishing seeing Iggy and the Stooges perform.

"Usually, these festival things don't intrigue me very much, but this sounds pretty interesting. Especially all the days off - I wonder what me and Iggy are going to be doing with all our time, walking around on the beach together."

As a teenager, White rode about Detroit on his bicycle listening to the Stooges' Funhouse, exhilarated that the greatest rock'n'roll record ever made had come from his hometown.

He once thought the closest he'd get to Iggy Pop was trying on the cheetah jacket Iggy wore on the cover of Raw Power after it passed into ownership of White's former record label.

The notion of co-headlining the Australasian BDO tour strikes the unaffected White as amusing. It's been only five years since the White Stripes' first New Zealand visit which was their first tour outside America - where they played the Kings Arms. They played one of the minor stages at the Big Day Out in 2002.

"I saw some quote [about fame] the other day: 'It's not you that changes, it's people's perceptions of you that change.' I think it was a lot easier for Hank Williams to just go out and play some songs he wrote and be happy about it. But then again, I saw a quote from Hank Williams: 'I'd give it all back if I could just have the same friends I used to have, and make the same money I used to make. At least I knew who my friends were'."

White says the band's breakthrough in the wake of 2003's Elephant hasn't affected the way he approaches his art.

"I still attack the music the same way, I know that. I know I'm doing it the same as when we recorded our first record. And we're still making them for the same amount of money, for God's sake."

While the last album, Get Behind Me Satan, did strive to sound different with its marimba and piano-powered tracks popping up among the guitar songs, the Stripes' trademark energy remained.

"I'm sure it's hard when you're a fan of music and you've seen so many shows, your standards are raised to a different level. But you know what it's like when you see a band that really inspires you, and you feel that same energy you felt when you were 10 or 14 years old? You get that experience back again, and can't wait for the next fix."

White says that feeling of excitement has been more evident in the audiences they've been performing to recently while touring outside of the usual circuit.

"I think me and Meg [White, drummer, and his ex] are spoiled from [playing in] South America and Eastern Europe, [because] Americans have so much stuff coming at them in so many different ways. People are really into the idea that everything is at your fingertips - you can have whatever you want, when you want it, and you don't have to do any work for it," he says, frustrated. Going to the movies, you pay your two bits, and you sit there and watch the movie. It's not the same when you go to a rock'n'roll show - I mean, you pay your two bits, but it's also your job to push the artist as much as you can. It's an interactive experience - 50/50, crowd and performer. That's the whole point: there are live human beings there in front of you."

Off the road, White hasn't been idle. His wife, model Karen Elson, is expecting the couple's first baby in the New Year. He's been back in the studio producing local Detroit bands like father-and-sons punk rock trio the Muldoons.

"They're an 8-year-old singer, an 11-year-old guitar player, and their dad on drums," he explains. "I heard a little demo they made, and I just couldn't stop listening to it. So they came over and we tried to do fuller versions of the songs - I set up some mics, did the best I could, and we made a 45. Those kids are really brilliant songwriters, coming out with so much excitement, innocence and danger. I think, lyrically, the stories that this 8-year-old is telling are pretty interesting. Sometimes, experience can kill vitality and energy."

And early next year his other band, the Raconteurs, will release their debut album.

"That's coming together really great. I can't wait for the record to be done and out next year," he says.

"People keep writing little things about it, calling it a side project or whatever, but that's really insulting to those [other] guys. I really want to stress that it's a whole new band - a dual attack, with dual guitars, dual vocals, and dual songwriting. It's me and Brendan Benson, a singer/songwriter you may have heard of; and Patrick Keeler and Jack Lawrence, the rhythm section from the Greenhornes, who also played with me on Loretta Lynn's Van Lear Rose album. I can't wait for people to hear it."

The Raconteurs may give White a way of deflecting the spotlight away from his celebrity - this was a guy who dated Renee Zellweger before marrying Elson - and let him simply play music.

"[Public opinion] goes up, and it goes down; it goes back around again, it goes backwards but it's constantly changing. I think people like Iggy Pop can reach a crescendo, and they're that for life. He's Iggy for life, and you can't touch him."

Unless, of course, you are co-headlining an Australasian tour with him.


Big Day Out 2006

Friday, 20 January 2006 rydges.com
Happening at Ericsson Stadium

BIG DAY OUT is more than a little chuffed to announce the return of THE WHITE STRIPES. Since their last BDO visit in 2002, our old friends Jack and Meg have dropped two universally acclaimed albums, “Elephant” and this year’s “Get Behind Me Satan”, not to mention an era-defining single in the shape of “Seven Nation Army”. They are the rock icons of our time, topping charts worldwide and selling a quarter of a million albums in Australia alone. Their simple, two-person, guitar and drums line-up belies a huge blues/garage/country/folk/rock’n’roll cacophony. There is no mistaking and no resisting the sound of THE WHITE STRIPES, direct from Detroit to BIG DAY OUT.

BIG DAY OUT is rolling out the red carpet to herald the arrival of rock royalty – IGGY & THE STOOGES. “Search and Destroy”, “I Wanna Be Your Dog”, “No Fun,” “Down on the Street” – THE STOOGES’ dangerous and grimy ‘60s-‘70s catalogue was the blueprint for every punk rock, garage rock and metal band to come. After 30 years apart, THE STOOGES reformed in 2003 to contribute to Iggy’s album “Skull Ring” and to play a string of rapturously received shows. Now it’s Australia’s turn, but be warned, this ain’t no nostalgia trip – this is the iconic IGGY POP and the original underground sound of THE STOOGES. We’re not worthy!

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