Iggy's Trail of Destruction
Nothing makes sense unless you know who Iggy Pop was. back then, right around 1969, while the rest of the world was going psychedelic, he presided over quite some reign of perverted rock & roll terror. He would slather his body in peanut butter; barf on his audience; cut himself up with broken glass; wear silver-lamÈ evening gloves onstage; shoot heroin; make frequent use of his big, beautiful penis; crash his car into trees; beg horrified record-label executives for drug money; pass out in bathrooms with the spike still in his arm; check himself in to a mental institution and score coke off David Bowie while there. Just in general, he lived the totally messed-up life and wrote the totally messed-up songs without which there could have been no angry punk-music explosion of the 1970s, much less anything that has evolved since, angry-punk-music-related.
He is fifty-six years old now, has recently released a new CD (Skull Ring, featuring songs recorded with Sum 41, Green Day, the Trolls -- his latest backup band -- and the reunited Stooges) and lives quietly among doddering blue-hairs and faggy hipsters in Miami Beach. Today, he's cruising along coolly in his 1981 Rolls-Royce Corniche, with the top down, long hair fluttering. He looks grizzled and cheerful, his long face gaunt and weathered, wearing jeans and a tattered pullover shirt (by Versace, costing maybe $500, a massive extravagance that started to shred within days. It really pissed him off, so he has vowed to "wear the thing to death, because that's the way I am"). Oddly enough, he's also wearing a thin-soled loafer on his left foot and a thick-soled boot on his right foot.
"Yeah, I know, I look like a fucking freak," he says, in that gravel-pit-deep voice of his. "But one of my legs is shorter than the other and I was recently told to start evening things out or I'm going to be fucked up later in life."
By implication, of course, this suggests that he is not fucked up now, and he says that this is in fact true. It's been twenty years since he last did heroin, four since he smoked dope or snorted coke, five since he enjoyed a cigarette. Except for a nightly glass of red wine and too much strong Cuban coffee, he's clean and leading a very regular kind of life. For love, he's got his statuesque, extra-buxom, super-sweet girlfriend, Nina Alu, who is half Nigerian, half Irish and twenty-five years his junior; for extra warmth at night, he's got their fluffy little dog Lucky. He eats bacon and two eggs sunny side up for breakfast almost every day, eats a steak or two for dinner, is fascinated by what appears nightly on the History Channel, the Discovery Channel and C-Span ("I just love C-Span!"). He goes to the beach often, which has left him with a tan the color of a baseball mitt. Among those past and present who have been influenced by him: the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Ramones, Boy George, Nirvana, R.E.M., Sonic Youth, Snoop Dogg, Mudhoney, Good Charlotte, the White Stripes, the Hives, the Vines and David Bowie. But he lives almost in isolation. He doesn't have friends here, he says, only acquaintances, like Lamar, his gardener, Harry at the gas station and the guy at the car wash. He's removed. And that's how he likes it.
But then, all of a sudden, it's promote-a-record time and he's back in our midst once again, reunited with the Stooges -- brothers Ron (guitar) and Scott (drums) Asheton; a miracle in itself, given that he has often publicly said they're a couple of pretty dim bulbs -- playing dates around the country and presenting an award at the recent MTV Video Music Awards, and opening up his Miami bungalow to Nosy Parker lowbrows intent on learning what age has done to the original punk monster, what knowledge he's gained, what it means that he's survived as long as he has and how often he and Nina have sex.
Unlike Ozzy Osbourne, his contemporary and another fabled, drug-addled terrorizer, Iggy has never been huge or even had a hit record or a chart-topping single. A few of his songs have entered the vernacular -- Bowie's recording of "China Girl," which Iggy and Bowie co-wrote, was a big hit in 1983 (and gave Iggy his first taste of financial stability); and the 1996 Scottish heroin movie Trainspotting made a fetish of the tune "Lust for Life," which Royal Caribbean cruise lines then picked up to hawk its fun-filled cruises (minus seedy drug references, etc.), with snippets of other songs worming their way into such movies as Laurel Canyon, Bedazzled, Almost Famous and School of Rock. But unless you're already an Iggy fan -- and know, for instance, that he was probably the first performer to leap from the stage and walk on the upstretched hands of his audience, as well as the first to take that same leap, as he did in New York in 1971, and have the audience scatter, him hitting the ground like a total loser fool -- you might not know that any of those songs are his.
His last two albums, 1999's Avenue B and 2001's Beat 'Em Up, sold only 20,000 copies apiece, which is all his first couple of albums (1969's The Stooges and 1970's Fun House) sold, too, though eventually they became classics, featuring some of the best punk-before-punk-even-existed songs ever recorded, including "1969," "No Fun," "Loose," "T.V. Eye," "Dirt" and, most famously, "I Wanna Be Your Dog." Actually, all the songs on both albums are great, and that goes for 1973's Raw Power, his third album, as well. It's simply the most hard-charging, garage-sounding, two- or three-chord rock ever made, with not a heartfelt, sentimental love song in sight. Back then, critics loved Iggy and the Stooges (the notable exception being this magazine, which called the Stooges "stoned sloths making boring, repressed music"). Despite the acclaim, however, Iggy has most often labored in semiobscurity. And such public as he did have was not exactly the cream of the crop, especially at the beginning. "It was like early Christianity," he once said. "The ugliest chicks and the most illiterate guys -- people with skin problems, people with sexual problems, weight problems, employment problems, mental problems, you name it; they were a mess."
Much of this is a matter of circumstance and personality. When he first started out, in 1967, in his hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Summer of Love had just passed, and Iggy Pop, nÈ James Newell Osterberg Jr., age twenty, raised in a dusty trailer park, was about anything but that. He despised the whole hippie thing, believing it was some kind of ruse or sham, with its leaders just as money-grubbing and power-hungry as "the old-guard leadership, with all their wockety-wickety-wackety-woo. Plus, it didn't even rock. I mean, 'Marrakesh Express'? It may be the worst song ever written." And so it's been for Iggy ever since: He has almost always operated either slightly out of touch with the mainstream, in the manner of visionaries, geniuses and cretins everywhere; or, as when he was drugged up and junked out, in touch only with the gutter -- all of which has resulted in those many strange, wondrous and queer stories about him.
There's the Max's Kansas City episode of 1973. Iggy was playing a gig at the famous New York club, in his customary loincloth, to an audience that included Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, Todd Rundgren, scenester Bebe Buell and other heavies of the time. Broken glass littered the stage, and Iggy was crawling over it, cutting himself up maybe worse than he'd intended. Blood gushed from his face and body, and from under his loincloth. Twenty minutes into the set, his soundman asked him if he wanted to stop. He didn't. He soldiered on, a bloody mess. After the show, he allowed Alice Cooper to take him to the emergency room. On the way out, the only thing Iggy said was, "Is there a professional photographer in the house?" Later on, Buell said, "Everybody thought the stitches were really sexy."
There's the time he played in ripped-up jeans, balls hanging out; the time he took out his penis and rested it on top of an amplifier, letting it vibrate around for all to see; the time a girl from the audience gave him a blow job onstage. In 1978, during some London gigs, he performed in only a black leotard and fishnet stockings, afterward saying, "I wore that because it makes me look beautiful. I stare at myself in the mirror and I think, 'Wow, I'm really great-looking.' . . . I think I'm the greatest, anyway."
"But the best of all of them is what happened when he played the Whisky in Los Angeles," says his early manager and friend Danny Fields, already chuckling. "It was a very star-studded, Jack-and-Anjelica-and-Warren night. He was waiting for his dealer, to cop, intent on getting his shot of heroin before he went on. But he had no money. So he went to the VIP booths one at a time and explained the situation. He said, 'Look, you're here to see me, and I can't go on until my dealer is here, and he's waiting to be paid, so give me some money so I can fix up, and then you'll get your show.' He got more than enough money. He stood off to the side and shot up. The lights went down, the music went up, he stood onstage and collapsed. Without a note being sung. He'd OD'd in front of everyone. And had to be carried off.
"I think that was one of his greatest shows ever," says Fields. "It was so minimally perfect. It just says a very great deal."
When he gets a hold of a newcomer to Miami Beach, the Iggy of today loves nothing better than to avoid talking about himself and, instead, take that person on a tour of the town, whizzing past big ships and tall buildings, slowing down frequently to illuminate and monologue in the attitude of a history professor with tenure.
"This is one of the largest maritime ports in the country, with serious shit coming and going," he says. "And right there, next to it, is the fucking Carnival Cruise Line, a fucking total wedding-cake dream ship. And there's Fisher Island, where Bebe Rebozo lived. And in this condo, [London-Sire Records chairman] Seymour Stein has a place. I was up there once: expensive and very tacky. And there's the Cameo, an old theater I played in '89. You could smell the pee. And now it's a hip-hop bar. And that - that's the stinkiest, nastiest strip bar in Southern Florida. They put a big red throne out front and girls sit in it - scantily clad, repulsive girls. This town is diverse as shit. I like it here a lot."
It's fun listening to Iggy ramble on like this; he's warm, enthusiastic, friendly, open and apparently very well-balanced, when you'd think he might be anything but. It's an experience that most people have meeting him for the first time. "I was kind of nervous at the beginning," says Deryck Whibley of Sum 41, who collaborated with Iggy on "Little Know It All," the first single from Iggy's new album. "I didn't know what to expect from him. But he was one of the nicest guys ever. It was like talking to an old friend."
And he's not above treating you like an old friend, either, taking you to his house, on North Bay Road, for a little show and tell. It's an old Mediterranean Revival-style home, unassuming but funky-cool, and for a while he sits out on his front patio, hidden from the street and the hot Florida sun by a forest of ficus trees and the remains of a once-grand palm. This is where he often drinks his coffee in the morning, sometimes conversing with Lamar. He says he couldn't get along without Lamar. He calls Lamar when hurricanes are coming ("Lamar! What do I do?"), when the kitchen is flooded, when there is sewage in the bathtub.
A few cats come wandering around. "Hello, Butchie; hello, Betty," Iggy says, tenderly. "They were homeless, but now Nina spoils the shit out of them."
How he met the stupendous Nina is roundabout. He divorced Suchi, his wife of fifteen years, in 1998, moved from New York to Miami, went through a couple of relationships, was single again and one day was riding around South Beach with the top down on his humongous 1968 cherry-red Cadillac convertible. He passed two striking women on the street, watched them go into a pizza parlor and himself went into the pizza parlor next door, where he sat sneaking peeks at them.
"Yeah, I was checking them out, thinking, 'What the hell am I gonna do?' " he says. "I'm really not good with the pickups. I'm a klutz and don't have a line of gab. I'm only good if they know who I am. So I'll just sit and wait for somebody to say, 'Aren't you . . . ?' and then go from there. But that wasn't happening. So, anyway, I got back in my car, pulled up to where they were and said, 'You girls want to go for a ride?' And they did! So then I started dating Nina."
That was four years ago, when Nina was still a US Airways flight attendant, having decided not to go into broadcast journalism, her major at Howard University, where (as Iggy likes to say) she graduated "summa fuckin' cum laude, pardon my French." Today, she travels everywhere with him and essentially takes up where Lamar leaves off. She makes his meals, pays his many parking tickets, packs the bags for trips, does, he says, "all the shit where I just can't deal." He says that he "absolutely, absolutely" loves her and never looks at other women.
In certain ways, this is a stunning thing to hear him say, especially given his long and squalid sexual history. He didn't lose his virginity until he was twenty, but once he did, he went on a decade-long sex bender. He had a penchant for girls in their early teens: At the age of twenty-one, he was briefly married to a fourteen-year-old; at the age of twenty-two, he had a child (his only, Eric, now thirty-three) by another teenager; and at one early point, he had a thing for a thirteen-year-old named Betsy, of whom he has said, "She looked at me penetratingly. So I suppose you can figure out what happened next." After shows, he'd return home with some fan or other, have sex with her and tell her to get lost. "As for sexism, well, I hate women," he once said. "I mean, why do I even have to have a reason for that? . . . My terms are simply phoning them up, telling them to be at such and such a place at such and such a time, in good physical condition, to be fucked. And then leave, goddamnit."
"It used to blow my mind how Iggy could get the girls to flock around him," Scott Asheton has said. "Once I saw him pick up the usual five girls, [and] he's got all them just grouped around him: 'Oh, Iggy; oh, Iggy . . . ' All of a sudden, he blew his nose into his hand and then guided it right down into his mouth. And they were still gazing at him like they didn't even notice."
But it wasn't just the girls who liked to gaze at Iggy. It was also the guys, especially when he first arrived in Manhattan, in 1969, and became a fixture at Max's Kansas City, hanging around with the whole hip-deviant Velvet Underground/Andy Warhol crowd. "When Iggy showed up, he had a big sexual vibe," said photographer Mick Rock, who was there. "Everybody knew he had a big chopper on him, an incredible body, everybody wanted to fuck him, boys and girls." Said one of those boys, "I think I offered to give Iggy head once, and he said, 'Oh, just lick my stomach, OK?' So I did that, and it was pretty satisfying."
This is all long in the past, though, and all stuff Nina apparently knows.
"Yeah, she's heard the war stories," Iggy says today, smiling gently. "I tell it all to her. I think one has to, because one wants to know somebody, and one wants to feel that somebody knows one. I mean, the embarrassment quotient has been going down for a long time, and the fond amusement has been rising. And, as society has changed, what had formerly been unacceptable has become colorful, even the broken-glass thing. Although, you know, there's an archetypal element to that anyway."
He shifts in his chair, deftly moving his booted foot around, leaving the loafered foot still. "It's about the blood," he goes on. "The Christians used that riff with Christ. What did Christ really do? He hung out with hard-drinking fishermen. And when they asked him, 'Why are you hanging out with prostitutes and fishermen?' he said, 'Because they need me.' What a line, you know? But what your martial society really wants is blood. We need some blood. We need some suffering. Like, the individual must suffer for the good of the whole. I toy around with that. Early on, I wasn't looking at Jesus Christ, saying to myself, 'What an angle.' I wasn't trying to be Christ-y. But, after all, on one level, this is showbiz."
He grins, takes a stroke of his luxuriantly stubbled chin, then stands up and without further reflection limps slowly into his house. It's a curious thing, though. Iggy seems totally at ease with himself and his past, and yet when one starts referring to oneself as "one," you have to suspect the opposite might be true as well, that maybe he's not as comfortable in his own leathery skin as he would like you to believe.
You've got america in the Fifties, with a lot of open spaces," he says one evening. "It's the Midwest, an alluvial plain. I'm on the outskirts of the outskirts, between two towns: Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. I'm in a trailer camp called Coachville Gardens Mobile Park, and I live in Lot Ninety-six. The first trailer was a Spirit, then my dad got a better job and we got a New Moon, all kind of Jetson-y inside. There's 113 trailers in the trailer camp. The only people in the trailer camp with a college education are my mother and father. I slept on a shelf above the kitchenette."
They lived in the trailer park because Iggy's father, Newell, thought trailers made sense. He used to say, "This is the way to live." He taught English at Ypsilanti High, had once been a pretty good semipro baseball player, had also once been an ace-number-one bill collector. As regards his son, he believed in the belt and the hickory stick. Iggy's housewife mom, Louella, who died in 1996, did not stand in Newell's way. But that never mattered to Iggy, and he loved his father with all his heart: "My dad's a cool dude, he really is." He is eighty-two now and nicely situated in an assisted-living facility in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where Iggy visits him as often as he can.
While still Jim Osterberg (he remains Jim to his close friends and Nina), Iggy played drums in a number of high school bands, among them the Iguanas, whence comes his first name. Graduating in 1965, he studied anthropology at the University of Michigan for a semester, dropped out, decided to become a full-time musician, dug up a couple of slack-jawed local yokels (i.e., the Asheton brothers) whom he could mold to his liking, formed the Stooges and one evening in 1967 went to see the Doors perform.
"Jim Morrison had on Cuban pointy boots, a big, ruffled shirt and a black Leatherette suit -- Leatherette, not leather," he recalls. "His eyes were complete saucers, the hair every bit as stylized, cut and oiled as Hedy Lamarr's in Samson and Delilah. And then he lurched onstage, and every time his band started a song, he'd refuse to sing it. He'd go up to the mike and then walk away. And then when he finally did sing, he sang it like Betty Boop. I swear. I witnessed this. I do not lie. It was so hilarious, at which point I thought, 'Well, jeez, cool!'"
In the aftermath, Iggy decided to out-Morrison Morrison, the basic idea being to get up onstage and let loose his angriest, nuttiest inner impulses. "You say I look goofy? OK, great. You say it's comedy? Great. Whatever anyone thought, I didn't care. Could be goony, could be sexy, could be stupid, could be cool. I didn't know, but as long as it was something, you know?"
That something came out of Iggy almost fully formed, no big evolution required, at the Stooges' very first show, on Halloween night, 1967, complete with Iggy playing both a food blender and a vacuum cleaner into his mike while the Asheton brothers basically droned on. "It didn't rock, it didn't roll, but it was powerful," said one witness. He was soon signed by Morrison's label, Elektra; released those first two great but little-selling albums; found heroin in 1970; found himself dropped by Elektra because of heroin; cleaned up; hung out in New York with the Warhol crowd; snagged German-born Warhol superstar Nico, who instructed him in the virtues of German wines, French champagnes and cunnilingus; met David Bowie in New York, in 1971; got along great with Bowie, who saw in Iggy the genuine loon he wasn't but, with his smarts, could appropriate for his own developing persona; did more drugs; was crapped on by Lou Reed ("Iggy is stupid. Very sweet but very stupid. He's not even a good imitation of a bad Jim Morrison"); in 1975, woke up one morning in an abandoned building, puking "weird, green bile"; immediately committed himself to a Los Angeles psychiatric hospital; copped some coke from Bowie while there; got out; hung out with Bowie in Berlin for three years; said, "Bowie's a real man, and I'm a real woman - just like Catherine Deneuve"; released two great Bowie-produced albums in 1977, The Idiot and Lust for Life; was embraced by the punk movement; was a lost soul during the stupid disco years; once again fell into the embrace of heroin; began billing himself as "the world's forgotten boy"; detoxed; was signed by A&M in 1986; released Blah Blah Blah, which peaked at Number Seventy-five; was called the Godfather of Punk; is not pleased by the tag ("How tacky!"); patched up his relationship with his son, Eric; released some so-so albums in the 1990s; left Avenue B in New York for Miami; and is looking pretty damned fine today, his torso as lean and muscled as it was thirty years ago, with only his face, creased with lines and starting to sag, showing his true age and history.
"His body hasn't changed. It's perfect," says one of his pals. "If you look at him from behind, he looks like he's fifteen. But he turns around and he looks like the iceman they dug up in the Alps."
Like the Iggy body, the Iggy penis is also quite remarkable, as anyone who has been close to it can tell you. Not too long ago, the uncategorizable artist known as Peaches showed up at Iggy's pad in Miami Beach to shoot a video of him singing, so she could sing along to it during her performances, duetting with Iggy in absentia.
She remembers her impression the first time she met him at his Miami home. He opened the door to greet her. "He showed up, no shirt, the tightest pants you've ever seen, and his package was peeking out," she says. "And then, in the video we shot, you see it. Whenever anybody first sees the video, they're like, 'What! Is! In! His! Pants!'"
For most of us, the only way we're ever going to see exactly what's in those pants is to buy a copy of Iggy's excellent 1982 autobiography, I Need More, flip to Page 83 and stare in wonder at the black-and-white photograph Gerard Malanga took of Iggy in the nude, in 1971. Half in shadow, half in light, he's standing against a white wall, his stringy hair wet, his lower lip jutting forward, one arm at rest by his side, the other hiding his hand behind his back, and then there's his penis. It's a chopper, all right, but the effect of seeing him naked from head to midthigh like that is to apprehend several things about Iggy all at once, because the impact is sudden and deep, not really sexual and almost entirely aesthetic, which is an expected pleasure.
In 1999, following the release of a VH1 documentary about his life, Iggy said, "This is the key thing that has always been misunderstood about me. All this fucking crap they said I did . . . I only did it because I believed I was playing the actual music that was appropriate and good to reflect that time and place. . . . Frankly, I've always felt I was completely innocent."
The words are hard to believe. But looking at the photograph, you believe them; he does look like a genuine innocent, and, oddly enough, the innocence is only compounded by the size of his penis. Then again, that picture was taken in the morning and is only a captured moment; by nightfall, Lord knows what the former Jim Osterberg of the alluvial plains was up to.
Actually, Iggy has always had a deeply conflicted love-hate affair with the thing.
"I will admit that, every once in a while, at some point, maybe early on, I'd enjoy it," he says one afternoon. "I would think, 'Whoa, yeah, wow -- check it out!' And every once in a while, I still have some of that. But I have had times in my life when I was on the zero. Many times, and recently, too, throughout the Eighties and Nineties, when I couldn't do it at all. I was really worried. I had girlfriends during that period, but they were short-lived. It's rough when you can't do it at all."
He takes another sip of coffee, puts down the cup, listens, shakes his head, shakes it again, then resigns himself to the lowbrow matter at hand.
"Sometimes you're not lucky with women, and you're just not cracking, but other times . . . " he says finally. "Well, with Nina, it's as often as ten times a week, though not when I'm working as much as I am now. This is so embarrassing. But at least once a week. So, one to ten. When we're touring, it'll tend to go up, because of the nervous energy and, when you're not out in front of the diddly-do, you tend to be in bed a lot."
He giggles, rolls his eyes and makes some rough-sounding guttural noises, all of which makes for a great moment, because, with all he's seen and done, you'd think it'd be impossible to embarrass the man, but here he is, flushing, geegawing and shy. And yet that's always been one of Iggy's redeeming qualities -- his vulnerability. Even at his most egomaniacal, there's been something soft about him, and though it's never shown up in his music, those closest to him have long recognized it. A friend of his once said, "He's wounded, brilliant, fragile but made of steel, insane, demented," and, of himself, Iggy once said, "Nobody understands me, I'm really sensitive. Everyone thinks I should be so happy, fucking all these chicks, and all the drugs and being a star. But I hurt. And I'm lonely."
Iggy and the Stooges kill 'em in Coachella, kill 'em in New York (the New York Times: "Mr. Pop . . . made his countless latter-day imitators look like poseurs") and are all set to kill 'em in Detroit, when the power goes out all over the Northeast. So, instead of flinging himself across the stage and into the crowd that night, all shirtless and sweating, top-of-his-lungs shrieking and barking, flicking his tongue at the audience, hips gyrating ? la Elvis, only with more squalor, with his Nina watching from the wings, lucky dog Lucky cradled in her arms, he eats a couple of cold roast-beef sandwiches in the hotel dining room and frets over the decision to cancel the show, especially if the power should suddenly come back on. If that happened, then how would the mighty Stooges look? "We're gonna look like fuckin' pussies," he says, miserably. "I'm going to be sitting here feeling like, 'What a regular chumpington!' "
Soon enough, however, his restless brain shifts gears. He says a few words about modern music. "Today's rock is just embarrassing. The stuff's just fucking horrible. It's white men on MSG, you know, and 'We will crush the opposition with our rain of product.' If you boil it down enough, the base metal is vulgarity and stupefaction. I think about these things. . . . " He says a few words about Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. "I've always thought they are interesting. They have those serious Mouseketeer skills, good entertainment skills, and I like to watch them work. Especially Justin. He's a very poised young man." Then he finds himself saying more than a few words about his long, sometimes difficult and painful relationship with David Bowie and the fact that lots of know-nothings seem to think that he was not only Bowie's lap dog but also Bowie's creation, when the truth is that each gained from knowing the other, Bowie probably more than Iggy. First came Iggy wearing silver-lamÈ evening gloves, his hair cut short and dyed red. Then came Bowie as (Z)iggy Stardust, his hair cut short and dyed, too, wearing silver-lamÈ everything. Iggy's genius lay in creation, Bowie's in canny assimilation and commercialization.
"I'm bright enough to bury most of my feelings about all that, so it doesn't come up directly," Iggy says. "But I used to catch myself -- maybe we'd be having dinner with the future king of Spain, and I'd be grumpy, like, 'What are we doing here, hanging out with these swells?' And then, right away, I'd realize, 'Dude, you're jealous.' It got very hard on a certain level. He was a person of affairs, in the worldly sense, with a lot of choices laid out on his smorgasbord. I had no choices whatsoever. I was a pariah. But a very fortunate one, in that he saw something worthwhile in me, and he made me two terrific records. He gave me the break I needed to continue living life. He is my benefactor."
Were he and Bowie ever lovers, as is often assumed? "Well, I've never had any sort of macho revulsion of fags, but Bowie and I -- never, never, never, never. Everybody would think that, but I never saw him be that way anyway. I'll tell you this. That guy got more p-u-s-s-y. I couldn't believe it. Talk about a bitch magnet. Damn! Actresses, heiresses, waitresses, skateresses. And me? I was just left holding my dick most of the time. I had this short haircut, and I looked like a duck. But I got lucky sometimes. I got a good song out of a girl I was knocking off at the time, and it became 'China Girl.'"
Just then, a fan angles up and says, "Hi, I'm Dan, and I watched you eat a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich at Coachella," to which Iggy kindly replies, "Well, it went down good, that PB&J!" After that, it's time for him to return to Nina in their room; only, on the way, he gets stopped by this tipsy, frumpy woman in an unattractively pleated, low-cut denim dress.
"Could you sign this napkin for me?"
"Yeah, sure," says Iggy.
"I love you." the woman says. "I mean, you know, in a very platonic way. You know what I'm saying, baby?"
"Indeed," says Iggy.
Then, suddenly, the woman starts bowing and scraping and humiliating herself by saying, "I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy."
"All right," Iggy says. "You take care."
He's moving toward the elevator; she's moving toward him, desperately trying to make eye contact. She reaches out for him, but he's already turned, and her hand just hangs there, in midair. Twenty-five years ago, Iggy might have left Nina alone a little longer, slipped off to this frumpy woman's room, done the thing (or attempted the thing, depending on the year) and left. But tonight, he is already out of sight.
A few weeks later, in new York, he and Nina step out of a limo and onto the red carpet at the MTV Video Music Awards show. His name is announced over the PA system, but the huge crowd of kids gathered on Sixth Avenue don't recognize him. So there's no burst of applause nor any loud shouting of "Iggy! Iggy! Iggy!" It's all reserved for names like Justin, Christina and Kelly. But Iggy, ever gracious, is all smiles as he limps his way toward the auditorium.
"DMC greeted me warmly," he reports afterward. "And Dre and Big Boi were very nice. And I met James Hetfield, who I respect. He asked about maybe getting together with the Stooges. It just astounded me how many people were aware of that little band. I just didn't have any idea. I tend to get a little isolated."
Later on, he and Nina return to Miami, and one night go out to dinner at a Smith & Wollensky's steakhouse. Iggy says he never goes on the road without Nina, because he couldn't bear "the physical and emotional loneliness of it." Nina says, "It works that way." She also confirms the details of how she and Iggy met at the pizza parlor but adds a few of her own. "We spotted him right away. He was wearing slippers and was all alone, looking pensive. We felt kind of sorry for him." Nina says her mom was nervous about her daughter dating Iggy Pop but that "after she met him, she was reassured."
Nina says, "He never lifts the toilet seat."
Iggy stares at her, incredulous.
"Do you?" she says to him, pointedly. "Do you ever lift the toilet seat?"
"Well, I don't use the toilet much to pee in," he says. "I almost always pee in the yard or the garden, because I like to pee on my estate. But, inside, I would just never go, 'Oh, before I pee, I must lift the seat.' I wouldn't think of that. Why would I lift the seat?"
"Exactly!" says Nina. "But you never leave any residue. You're good that way."
Iggy smiles, maybe because that's the Iggy he always believes he is, a misunderstood innocent whose aim is good, even when his behavior is bad.
The question then becomes, though, why is he so misunderstood? When Ozzy Osbourne discusses his messed-up, drug-saturated, once hyperviolent life, he can trace the root cause back to his childhood, to his severe dyslexia, to his anger at being called a futureless dolt in school. He hated himself and used booze, drugs and violence to try to annihilate himself. He's open about those things and knows that he is not an innocent.
But Iggy has no similar explanations and no similar understanding to offer one who wants to know one such as him. He's charming and colorful, dates decidedly non-Sharon Osbourne-type women and uses amusing phrases such as "wockety-wickety-wackety-woo.'' But sometimes it all seems like so much deflection, if not deception, like he's got some things to hide or is hiding some things from himself.
"You know," Nina says after a while, "I love Iggy Pop, and I respect him, but I don?t think I could live with him. But Jim, Jim is sweet and peaceful and romantic; when we're having dinner or making love, that's Jim, and sometimes I'll catch him just looking at the trees and birds. It's endearing and almost childlike, just the way he looks at the world with those big eyes.
It's not that Jim and Iggy are two separate people; more that Iggy is the place Jim goes to create, to perform and to act out his darkest impulses. It's all he knows how to do. "If I don't terrorize, I'm not Pop," he once said. But in being so committed to terrorizing -- even in the relatively muted form such terrorizing takes today -- he also commits himself to always being misunderstood. Then again, maybe he has no real choice in the matter.
The inside of his house is dim, with high ceilings and lots of open space and lots of spooky Haitian voodoo art placed thoughtfully throughout. He likes old things, has some nice Early American furniture and a nice Louis XVI couch, and feels that it's better to be spending his money on those things than "going and buying dime bags." The truth is, Iggy's reputation and predilections have always tended to overshadow his finer, more civilized qualities. He has an abiding affection for Frank Sinatra and the subtleties of the diminished-fifth chord. He likes to read books, especially those that tell him about the past, including Hugo and Dickens, and Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He paints. He has painted portraits of Nina, as well as portraits of himself.
One of those self-portraits hangs on the wall in his bedroom, which has black-velvet curtains in front of the windows, a cashmere blanket and four white pillows on the bed, and his silver-lame evening gloves of old stuffed away in the closet. In the painting, two little pointy creatures hover in midair next to his face. Looking at it one afternoon, Iggy says, "The face is me in my torment, and the pointy object to the left of the face -- I call it the Flaming Tit of Temptation -- is talking in my ear. He's like, 'Just go do it. Take that fuckin? coke. Get rid of that girl. You don't need her.' Have you ever noticed that a small creature, like a mouse or a mole, when faced with danger, they just stop? I've had big, long periods in my life when I was a lot like that. I just froze. It was not fun, but it was what I thought I had to do. And that's how I lived, pretty much, at one time. I have a hot memory, but I know I've forgotten many things, too, just squashed things in favor of survival. The only thing missing from my life right now is what I've got, and it's peace. I have more than I ever had . . . and not as much as I would like."
[From Issue 937 — December 11, 2003]
Iggy to Reunite
Iggy Pop will reunite with guitarist Ron and drummer Scott Asheton, his original bandmates in the Stooges, for an April 27th performance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California. Former Minutemen bassist Mike Watt will join Iggy and the Stooges for the show, taking the place of original bassist David Alexander, who died in 1975. The performance comes in advance of the summer release of Iggy's next record, which will include four newly recorded songs from the Stooges as well as his solo work.
Along with Alexander, Iggy (then known as Iggy Stooge) and the brothers Asheton formed the Stooges in 1967 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Their John Cale-produced self-titled debut came out in 1969, followed by Funhouse in 1970. The now-legendary record's visceral wallop presaged punk and alternative rock; but it did poorly on its initial release, and the Stooges all but broke up while for the next two years Iggy battled drug addiction. David Bowie reformed the band in 1972 as Iggy and the Stooges; he also produced their Raw Power in 1973, another legendary set that flopped the first time around. Its commercial failure led Iggy and the Stooges to split until now.
Iggy Pop will perform with a reunited version of his first band -legendary Detroit proto-punks The Stooges - for what's being described as a "one-off" performance at the Coachella Festival in California next month. Pop will be joined onstage by brothers Ron and Scott Asheton, the guitarist and drummer from the Stooges' original line-up, while Minutemen/firehose bassist fills in for bassist David Alexander, who died in 1975. The reformed Stooges line-up also backs Iggy on a few tracks on his forthcoming album - which also sees the punk godfather backed by Green Day. Iggy Pop will perform with a reunited version of his first band -legendary Detroit proto-punks The Stooges - for what's being described as a "one-off" performance at the Coachella Festival in California next month. Pop will be joined onstage by brothers Ron and Scott Asheton, the guitarist and drummer from the Stooges' original line-up, while Minutemen/firehose bassist fills in for bassist David Alexander, who died in 1975. The reformed Stooges line-up also backs Iggy on a few tracks on his forthcoming album - which also sees the punk godfather backed by Green Day.
Iggy Gets Green
Day -- Stooges also reunite on Pop's new album
IGGY POP AND MATES MAY PLAY TOGETHER
not a full-tilt Stooges reunion, but at this point it might be
would be the first time in 3 decades the trio has played
Now I Want To Be Your Old Dog Learning New Tricks
the Prestige That Counts
The prize is far from a household word like Grammy, but it is a long-overdue idea, intended to recognize quality over quantity. Started last year as the American equivalent of England's prestigious Mercury Music Prize, the Shortlist Prize is awarded to the best album released in the past year with sales under half a million. (The Recording Industry Association of America certifies records as gold once half a million copies are distributed to stores.)
"I feel like this is a cavalcade of losers," said DJ Shadow during his set at the awards ceremony at the Henry Fonda Theater here. Also performing were N.E.R.D., the rapper Cee-Lo and a supergroup consisting of Iggy Pop, two members of the Hives, the bassist Mike Watt and, taking a rare turn on drums, the singer Pete Yorn. "We're like the people who couldn't go gold," DJ Shadow continued. "We're the best of the worst, y'all."
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Shortlist Prize is the selection process. A collection of artists and journalists are put together in a room, where they eat dinner and discuss the music. It is a haphazard, random and highly subjective process at best, but certainly yields more artistically interesting results than the Grammy Awards.
Besides the N.E.R.D. CD "In Search of . . . ," in the running this year were albums by Cee-Lo, the Icelandic singer Bjork, the Swedish rock band the Hives, the psychedelic rock band the Flaming Lips, and the electronic-music-oriented acts the Aphex Twin, the Avalanches, the Doves, DJ Shadow and Zero 7. Among the judges were Iggy Pop, Jill Scott, Mos Def and the director Spike Jonze.
"It's amazing to me how informed all the list makers were on all the music," said Tom Sarig, a founder of the event. "Jill Scott even had notes prepared on the Hives."
Last year's meeting, participants said, was a tense one, breaking down along racial lines and fiercely debating between two albums: one by the rapper Talib Kweli, the other by the Icelandic post-rock group Sigur Ros, which won.
This year's meeting was less antagonistic, though again the debate narrowed to just two hotly contested albums. One was by the Avalanches, which panel members, particularly Mos Def, admired for its rich, textured and highly musical approach to sampling. The other was the N.E.R.D. album, an impressive genre leap for the hip-hop producers the Neptunes and a signpost pointing to a way out of the shrinking corner that contemporary African-American music has painted itself into.
For some musicians, however, being critics was not necessarily an enjoyable experience. "It wasn't too bad, but I'll never do it again," Iggy Pop said. "It was like a parlor game where everyone reveals their personality through music. I kept saying to myself through the whole thing, `How did I get roped into this?' "
Next year, the Shortlist's founders plan to expand their scope and offer a similar prize for fiction. "We want the Shortlist to be a trusted source for cutting-edge recommendations about culture," said Greg Spotts, the other founder of the organization.
Being yet another unknown institution offering awards, however, has its drawbacks. When the founders were onstage preparing to announce the winner, an audience member yelled, "Who cares?"
Taken aback, they asked the crowd, "Then what are you guys here for?"
The answer was resounding: "The music."
Nicknames Creep In
One nice thing about music fans is that they keep the pretensions of the artists they love in check. Just ask the Beatles, Metallica or Led Zeppelin. They tried to make albums without proper titles, but fans named them anyway: "The White Album," "The Black Album" and, for Led Zeppelin, it was a toss-up between "Led Zeppelin IV" and "Zoso."
Now that we are in the Internet age, this process is even more thorough. On Tuesday, last year's Shortlist Prize winner, Sigur Ros, released its first major-label American album. The band, which has a reputation for wanting to do everything its own artsy way, decided to leave untitled not only the CD but also all the songs. But fans attempting to play the record on their computer using Real Player earlier this week received a strange surprise: names appeared for all of the songs. Real Player has a service in which fans type in the song titles on their CD's, which are then sent to a central database so that anyone listening to music can see the track order.
They can see that the first track is titled "Vaka," after the drummer's son; that the fifth is "Alafoss," after the band's studio; and that the last is "The Pop Song," because it is probably Sigur Ros's idea of making populist music. The band's music doesn't follow traditional song structures: it's fantastically cinematic and spell-binding, best thought of as one step beyond Radiohead's "Kid A."
But where did these song titles come from? Several representatives of the band were contacted, and eventually it became clear that fans took the names from the band's set lists. The names, it seems, are just the band's working titles, so that they know what to play when performing live. Now, it seems, the names are the working titles for record buyers also. A spokesman for MCA said that Real Player had removed these song titles from its database.
Things could be worse. Fans, seizing on the large cutout cover image that looks like parentheses, refer to the album in writing as "( )," and a few refer to it orally as "The Black Cheetos Album." Fortunately for the band, only the symbol is currently appearing on Web sites.
Marketing Meets Anti-Establishment Music
By NAT IVES
HE CLASH'S "London Calling," with its lyrical images of nuclear winter, looming ice age and engine failure, might seem a particularly annoying musical choice for selling an elite brand of cars. But for Jaguar, the 1979 song was the perfect accompaniment to the television commercials for its new X-Type car.
Jaguar is not the only company blithely using songs whose lyrics come off as downright contrary to the images of the brands they advertise. Commercials for family friendly cruise ship vacations with Royal Caribbean are set to Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life," a rousing ode to drug life from a punk firebrand who has acknowledged his own copious substance abuse. Television ads for Wrangler jeans combine images of denim-clad Americans with lyrics from "Fortunate Son," a blistering Vietnam-era protest song by Creedence Clearwater Revival. And marketers promise there will be more.
These odd couplings of anti-establishment music and conspicuous consumption could end up alienating the very consumer the ads are meant to seduce. Nike prompted an uproar in 1987 when it used the Beatles' "Revolution" in a shoe ad. In 1995, Mercedes-Benz of North America, now part of DaimlerChrysler, made a commercial using Janis Joplin's ironic "Mercedez-Benz" as straightforward advertising copy, drawing its share of ire. But the outrage has faded even as advertisers push the discrepancies between pop and products even further.
"Rarely is there a risk in using popular music in advertising," said Bill Ludwig, chief creative officer at Campbell-Ewald in Warren, Mich., a unit of the Interpublic Group of Companies. His office built a new Chevrolet campaign this fall around rock songs that mention Chevy brands, like Prince's "Little Red Corvette," which is drenched in sexual innuendo. "People accept the song for the song and don't get into the background of the artist," he added.
Executives at Jaguar, a division of Ford Motor, knew there was something funny about juxtaposing their bourgeois brand with "London Calling" and the Clash, which once released a triple album called "Sandanista."
"I was a little concerned, because the lyrics weren't appropriate for our message," said Mark Scarpato, retail communications manager at Jaguar. Young & Rubicam in Irvine, Calif., part of the WPP Group, created the spot.
Skilled editing, however, transformed it from apocalyptic to energetic, helping Jaguar project a hip image. "It's a fairly dark song when you listen to it, but we used it in a positive way," Mr. Scarpato said.
The campaign for Jaguar's X-Type was not a smash with everyone.
"On its face, it's preposterous that anyone would associate selling Jaguars with the Clash singing `London Calling,' " said Mark Crispin Miller, professor of media studies at New York University. "Back in the 70's it would have seemed like inspired satire," he added. "But now, really, all bets are off."
But it probably works, Mr. Miller said, adding, "Their hope is that as people drive their Jaguars, they'll feel like outlaws."
Royal Caribbean International in Miami could do without Iggy Pop's outlaw image; its marketing executives just liked the pounding beat of "Lust for Life."
"Iggy wasn't someone we were going to put out front," said Jay Williams, managing partner and group creative director at Arnold Worldwide in Boston, part of Havas, which created the campaign.
And the song, which gained new fans after it appeared on the soundtrack to "Trainspotting," a 1996 movie about heroin addicts, was a dubious lure for the suntan-and-shuffleboard set, too. It begins:
The commercials handily trim it to three optimistic words from the refrain:
Lust for life
"We were using a portion of the song that musically and lyrically fit with what we were doing," Mr. Williams said, pointing out that the ad was intended to broaden the appeal of cruises to a younger generation. "The energy, enthusiasm and raw feel was right."
Moreover, by Mr. Williams' reading, the song actually eschews liquor and drugs. "The guy in question is actually giving up his nasty habits in a lust for life."
That seems to be a minority view; a newspaper article in The Guardian once referred to "Lust for Life" as one of the "soundtracks of choice to discerning smack users."
"If this cruise can deliver the Iggy Pop lifestyle experience, then I'd love it," said Conor McNichols, editor of New Musical Express magazine. "But if I tried to do it, I reckon I'd be chucked off the boat."
The success of advertisers with these ads suggests that making radical songs saccharine is actually easy. "Meaning is extremely malleable," said Gary Burns, professor of communication at Northern Illinois University and editor of Popular Music and Society, an academic journal. "Songs in general lose meaning over time." Giving songs new meanings works for the advertisements, he said.
Whether it works for the music or its fans is less clear.
When John Fogerty wrote and performed "Fortunate Son" with Creedence Clearwater Revival, he meant to savage what he saw as the American establishment's hypocrisy. Three decades later, the song turned up in a feel-good campaign for Wrangler jeans.
"I was protesting the fact that it seemed like the privileged children of the wealthy didn't have to serve in the Army," said Mr. Fogerty, who does not own the rights to his music.
"I don't get what the song has to do with pants," he added.
But the VF Corporation, which owns the Wrangler brand, and Toth Brand Imaging, its agency in Concord, Mass., thought the audience got it.
"I've gotten a few e-mails from people who mistakenly felt like it was an anti-American and antiwar song," said Craig Errington, director for advertising and special events for Wrangler. "It was written and produced more as an antiprivilege anthem, as an ode to the common man."
"We sell millions and millions of jeans to those kinds of people and always have," he said.
For marketers who would raid the jukebox, the greatest worry is making an ineffective ad.
"This is a real tightrope," said Eric Hirshberg, creative director at the Los Angeles office of Deutsch, part of Interpublic. Deutsch created the popular Mitsubishi campaign that shows an everyday pastime, singing in the car, to wed pop music to its product. "Music can be used as a shortcut to make a connection with people, but it will be fleeting unless there's a real reason to use it."
And some music aficionados do not see any harm in the practice.
"If it's a good riff, people are going to listen to it," even in a commercial, said Jason Fine, senior editor at Rolling Stone magazine. "It doesn't particularly bother me or steal the song's meaning from me. I know a lot of people do feel that way, but that's become an outdated way of thinking."
The first big impression Joey Ramone made on me was as a lyricist, with early Ramones songs like "Beat on the Brat" and "Blitzkrieg Bop"--the lyrics were really fresh and well cut. It reminded me of the way a diamond cutter shapes a stone just right to get the facet to gleam. Joey's songs were really clear with not a wasted word, and they sounded vaguely evil. That was the part I really liked. I thought, Wow, who is this guy? I'd known about the Ramones because we had a connection through Danny Fields, who had discovered me when he was at Elektra, and who had a lot to do with putting the Ramones together.
I remember when I saw their first album cover around 1976 and they all had ripped jeans and little moppy haircuts and I thought, Oh, it's another brood of Stooges. But it wasn't really; they took something from there but they were very Queens. Soon after that, I went to New York on my way from L.A. to Europe--I was hanging out with Johnny Thunders and Dee Dee and a couple of other guys in the Ramones, and I bumped into Joey. We were up at the infamous Ramones loft which was around the corner from CBGBs--it was also the first time I'd been to that club. It's really interesting when you visit the place musicians live because you can usually tell a lot about them: If there're too many flashy clothes on the floor, they're generally only going to last three or four years. And if it's too nice and you see a deco object it means they're either past their prime or they're more of a recording studio artist. But this place definitely said "in-it-for-the-long-term." It was just this very bare little room. It was a nasty little loft and you could tell right off that these guys were really doing something. You couldn't even call it a loft in the New York of today, because now that means luxury living. It was this barely heated, barely habitable, ugly little space. But it had the right posters on the walls and it had the mattresses on the floor and I thought, Yeah, this looks about right.
After that I would bump into Joey here and there, and he was always a good hang and nice enough but he had a very sly quality about him, a sly sense of humor. He was always ready with a little sarcasm--he wasn't the Easter bunny. I remember bumping into him at this nasty little club called the Continental where, just for fun, I played for free a couple of times. Trigger, the owner of the place, was always very hospitable to Joey. I'll always remember him leaning against the wall saying something to me like, "Yeah, what were you thinking about when you got those shoes?" That kind of thing-"What about those shoes, Iggy?" But he was a good guy.
I actually toured with Joey and the band once. I think it was the early '90s in Scandinavia and we would trade off nights; I'd go first one night, they'd go first the other night. They had become pretty darn good live by that time. I also opened for them once in Argentina--in the States people don't really know about this, but the Ramones were a phenomenon in Argentina, they were like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. They headlined a 67,000-seat stadium and sold it out and asked us to come down and open for them, and I said OK. By that time they'd become formidable and they had a ferocious live show. It must have been 1996, right near the end of their time, and boy, it was really rough. I mean, I walked out there and out of 67,000 people, 57,000 of them were 10- and 12-year-old little Ramone clones and they all had the T-shirt and they all weighed about 72 pounds, and they were all yelling, 'Ramon-es, Ramon-es, Ramon-es!' which is how they said their name down there.
It wasn't easy for Joey on the road--they'd played so long and stood up to so much. I remember Danny Fields telling me once about Joey's inhaler, which he had to use for asthma or something, blowing up in his face. At first he had this kind of stolidity, but later it kinda became more a sort of fragility, which had its own theatrical quality. He looked special; he was physically, like, WOW! You'd see him and you'd go, "Check that out." He had a kind of Pre-Raphaelite- or Renaissance-quality face. It was very aquiline and the way the hair fell and everything was night and day from the rest of the Ramones, even though you wouldn't notice it at first because they all dressed in the same uniform.
I've got the new record [Don't Worry About Me, Sanctuary] he made [from 1996 through 2001, before he died] and it's really, really good--the vocals are great with really important lyrics. It's of much better quality than what's being sold as American punk right now. There was a musicality to the Ramones that was never in the Sex Pistols. Ultimately, their choice of subject matter was more universal and more long-lasting. It's always a quick fix to go for the political theme in a lyric, but Joey avoided that--instead, he gave us portraits. They were sarcastic or sardonic portraits, but what he was really interested in doing was portraying teen America, youthful America. He makes those vocals sound easy, but it takes quite a bit of skill. Joey was one of the only ones that was able to make something sound pretty but still punk. The more commercial ones today all sound a bit whiny or cute. The Ramones avoided that. I remember Joey expressing his anger when neo-punk first became commercial in the U.S., bands like Green Day and the Offspring. He was very, very angry about it, but I don't think he had reason to be. Stuff that isn't cute just isn't meant to be massively commercial. It's not fit for that particular machine, but there are other rewards.
I used to live on Tompkins Square Park and I remember being out one night at dusk, walking to buy something at the liquor store, and seeing Joey in the twilight walking like a ghost or a wraith through the park. I remember he just had this certain hunch to him but this certain height, also. He wasn't dressed in a leather jacket or anything; he was very, very unobtrusive. I remember thinking then, Wow, this guy's a
The D-FILED Interview: ALVIN GIBBS: on his IGGY POP book with Iggy in D-Filed here.
Iggy Pop doesn't fuck around. He spent most of the '70s and early '80s in fast cars with a brick on the gas pedal, and no map, doing illegal things with one hand on the steering wheel. Since then, he cleaned up and discovered chi-gung but kept rocking. The fact remains, Iggy turned his life into a joyride and then turned that into music and, even more amazingly, survived. His new album, Beat 'Em Up (Virgin) does not come with seat belts. There is no air bag. It's all about being willing to crash. DIMITRI EHRLICH
ROYSTON LANGDON: Hello?
IGGY POP: Hey, Royston. How are ya?
RL: Great. I really like your new record. I got it sent for free. That's a first for me, as far as your records go. So I'm really blessed.
IP: Nice of you to say so.
RL: What was your plan when you started to make this album?
IP: The idea initially was to do an old-fashioned, kind of handmade, heavy '70s-style rock record. I'd always liked the period where rock was trying to get heavy, but it hadn't sort of--what's the word--coagulated into heavy metal yet.
IP: A lot of the inspiration came from this car I got. I bought a 1968 cherry-red Cadillac convertible Deville, when I moved to Miami.
RL: Is that the car that you hear at the start of the album?
IP: That's the car! Yeah. [laughs] It's the guest star on my album.
RL: Did you drive it straight into the studio? Because I hear a horn on there, too.
IP: Yeah, I wanted to do a horn solo. [both laugh] I can play a car horn! [both laugh] So we miked it up one day. But, anyway, that was the inspiration for the record, and then also the fact that I'm living out in the sort of capital A America, in Miami. It's kind of a mixture between that influence, and some sort of a strange-like Brazilian thug art movie or something.
RL: Right. I'm sorry if I'm a bit nervous speaking to you,' cause I don't know if you remember, but I saw you play about 10 years ago in Leeds, England, which is where I'm from.
IP: No shit, not that little bum-ass club?
RL: Yeah. I wrote you a letter, my one and only fan letter I've ever written, and you wrote me back.
IP: I bet I did.
RL: Yeah, it was amazing.
IP: That must have been about '93. I remember.
RL: That really inspired me to come here to New York, and get down to doing some music. And I just wondered what inspired you when you first started getting into rock 'n' roll.
IP: Well, there were things--they used to call them sock hops--on Saturday nights near my high school. They would rent a barn and hold a dance. One night, when I was about 14, Jerry Lee Lewis was supposed to play live. He came in and he just glowered at us all--everybody else always smiled a big showbiz smile, [both laugh] and he didn't. He grimaced at us, and his hair was the color of artificial com silk, he looked like a blond Dracula. He had a tux on, and he went up to the piano. And to try it, he kicked it once and he said, "I ain't playing that." [both laugh] He determined that it wasn't in tune and walked off the stage.
IP: That was inspiring. But the key ones were all the old black guys that I learned about by reading the writer credits on Stones albums, like Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry.
RL: Tell me about the song "V.I.P." It's the only spoken word song you've done on the new album. What's the story behind that?
IP: I think it was something I heard while I was doing some work for Donatella Versace, and her assistant insisted that I only use the celebrity bathroom. [laughs] I really liked that, you know. "Of course, I'll use the celebrity bathroom, I'm a fucking VIP!" [both laugh] I thought, Well that's a good subject. Especially these days, everybody is talking about celebrities.
RL: I think it's brilliant, I really do. I'm sure the album will do incredibly well. Do you have any more acting plans in the future?
IP: No. The last offer I got called for me to perform oral sex on camera [both laugh] and my manager didn't even send me the script, he was so insulted. It was pretty funny. I ran into the director, at a VIP hotel, actually, [both laugh] at a celebrated hotel, because he is a celebrated director, and he said, "Oh, I sent you a script, didn't you get it?" And I played dumb. The last thing I'd done before that was a kids' movie, Snow Day, with people like Chevy Chase in it. I was the guy they hired to stick my hand in a toilet bowl. [both laugh] So I tend to attract these things.
RL: Well, it's been amazing talking to you. It's been a real honor. All the best.
IP: It's been really nice to get to know you a bit better, too.
Royston Langdon is the lead singer of Spacehog.
For Musicians, Microsoft's Xbox Is No Jackpot
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 14, 2001 Tomorrow the Xbox, the new video-game console from Microsoft, arrives in stores on the heels of a $500 million marketing blitz. But it doesn't seem as if much of that money is going to the thousands of musicians who have provided the company with songs to use in the games that will be played on it.
Though a band can typically make $10,000 to $20,000 when a song is included in a video game, Microsoft has been asking musicians to contribute their music to video games for pennies and in some cases no money at all, with no upfront fee and no royalties on the back end. Musicians, from small, independent punk bands to major-label artists, have been accepting this deal, hoping for the promotional boost that comes with being heard in a game that is played obsessively by teenagers across the country.
Joining a band is not a lucrative career choice for most musicians. Many who are signed to major labels spend their careers in debt to those record companies, trying to earn back advances and expenses. But the increasing use of contemporary songs in movies, video games and advertisements has meant an unexpected windfall for lesser-known and midlevel artists.
Microsoft, however, is changing that dynamic. "I asked if we could get any money, and they just said no," said Larry Cooper, who runs Revelation Records, a punk, metal and hardcore label that has several songs on the soundtrack to Amped, a snowboarding game. "I almost thought that out of principle, if there's no payment, we shouldn't do that kind of stuff. But I didn't want to snip out an opportunity for a band that might want to do that kind of promotion." Of the bands Mr. Cooper asked, all but one agreed to provide free music to Microsoft.
"I think they were just looking for cheap music, and that's why they called a lot of small labels," Mr. Cooper continued. "I asked them who else was on the soundtrack and made some suggestions, but they said they wanted to stick with certain labels because they didn't have to pay for licensing."
Brenner Adams, a product planner on Amped, said that on his game Microsoft was looking not for cheap music but for an opportunity to expose as many small underground bands as possible. Under Microsoft policy the interview with Mr. Adams was conducted with a company publicist on the line, taking notes on the conversation.
"We're not saying, `Hey, we want to use your music for nothing,' " Mr. Adams said. "We said, `Hey, we really want to promote these artists and promote who they are and what they stand for.' "
Though Microsoft didn't give any money to musicians on such independent labels, it did offer small amounts to bands on major labels. It made a deal with Virgin Records, obtaining songs from acts like the Gorillaz, Iggy Pop, the Chemical Brothers and Timbaland & Magoo by paying "small fees and publishing," said Brad Fox, the director of artist development at Virgin. The amount of course remains a big contrast to the millions of dollars that Microsoft is believed to have paid to use Madonna's "Ray of Light" in its 60-second Windows XP advertisement.
"We're looking at this as a marketing exercise," Mr. Fox said. "There's no way I could get 10 to 15 different artists in somebody's house in front of an active consumer audience for 20 hours a week. If I could get 20 percent of those kids to go buy a record, that's great."
But the Xbox isn't like other systems, nor are these deals like other deals. Many record labels are operating on the faith that Microsoft will make efforts to promote their bands. Mr. Fox said he hoped that the Virgin artists used in the games would be mentioned in Xbox promotional material, game catalogs and game boxes.
But a trip to the Xbox Web site showed that the artists on games like Amped were not mentioned on the box or promotional poster shown online, nor were the bands on any game highlighted in any special way on the Web site. Other promotional efforts, however, have been made: there was a link at the site to a radio station playing music from Amped, and at a recent Xbox promotional party in Los Angeles Microsoft gave away a CD with music from Amped.
Mr. Adams noted that most of the cash deals were made with better- known bands that don't need the publicity as much. "So," he said, "why not turn the decision around, bring the smaller guys up and give them the promotion they can't get anywhere else?" He said that music from some 240 artists was used on Amped, that in the game the names of the record labels are shown on banners and that players had the option of seeing names of the bands, songs and record labels. He added that the company hoped to stage more promotions with the music.
But there is no guarantee that gamers will hear much if any of the music of these bands. That is because in a feature unique to the Xbox consumers have the option of wiping out the soundtrack to a game and replacing it with music from their own CD's.
Originally music executives were less worried about artists not getting paid than about the potential for Xbox to become a new Napster, since it has a large hard drive and online capabilities. But in a statement prepared for this article Microsoft said that though music could be stored on the hard drive, it could not be copied on "CD's, MP3's or any other devices."
Other executives in the music publishing business now worry that video game manufacturers and even advertising agencies will follow Microsoft's lead and tell bands that in exchange for use of their music at no cost, an extra effort will be made to promote the groups in products and commercials. As it is, artists sacrifice a lot of money and time at the altar of promotion, taking on costly and inconvenient tasks gratis, like performing concerts promoted by radio stations. So, some wonder, in a field in which just about anything musicians do can be seen as raising their profiles, where is the line between promotional and paid work?
Jeff Koz, the chief executive of SubZero, a company that brokers deals between advertisers and musicians, said, "We believe that people should be paid for what they do." Mr. Koz has worked with Microsoft on music and sound design.
He added, however, that there was a give-and-take between payment and promotion, and lesser-known artists were often given somewhat lower fees in exchange for what could be career-enhancing exposure. "There's value to cross-promotion," he said, "and we're not privy to how those Microsoft deals went down. Some of those bands might see it as a tremendous opportunity."
First, the truth.
Pop is the s**t, the real thing, the embodiment of rock 'n' roll. This is no longer
a matter of opinion. As time, discourse and debate eventually proved that the
earth was round, so too have we learned that Ann Arbor native James Osterberg
evolved into a shrieking streak of peroxide peril named Iggy Pop, who subsequently
became the personification of all that we hold dear about the Devil's Music. Anyone
who is uncertain about this truth is obviously unfamiliar with the man and his
music, and is encouraged to buy as much of it as possible.
And most importantly, for those who cling to their memories of Iggy as the psychotically sexy Stooge, it's not a nice listen. It's not the Iggy who crooned through romantic ballads on 1986's 'Blah Blah Blah,' or the reflective singer-songwriter Iggy of 1999's 'Avenue B.' Not that those facets were somehow less potent than the loud and proud Pop displayed on 'Beat 'Em Up' - it's all a part and parcel of the Iggy equation. But by the man's own admission, even at the age of 54, he's really happiest when the amps are on stun, the drums are being bashed to hell and he's, well, barking like a dog.
are three levels where it's hard to make an album like this - getting it made,
getting it heard, and then living with the aftermath," he says with a hearty
laugh that pops up often in the course of our chat. "Generally, there's an
inverse theory I have about my records, and that's the more that I really hate
doing a record, the better it'll do. If I'm like 'Oh, I'm not real sure about
this,' chances are it'll be a hit. And on the other side, if I really like doing
a record, it'll be like 'Shame, degradation, what am I doing?'" His voice
loudly leaps into a howl with that last exclamation, punctuated by another guffaw.
"But with this one, maybe it'll be the exception to the rule. There's some
college stations that are getting into it, so that's a good sign."
Indeed, thank God or the deity of your choice for these college stations, because truth be told, 'Beat 'Em Up' is getting somewhat savaged by the music press, with most critics settling on the opinion that Iggy is, at his 'mature' age, beyond this. The prevailing wisdom is that surely Mr. Osterberg can't be serious about this crazed metallic KO business anymore. But after three decades in the business, you've gotta figure that Iggy is somewhat nonplussed. What matters to him is he has a kick-ass band, a record that he can play to death in his "boomin' system," and that he was able to make the thing in the first place.
had a good time," he says about the process. "The guitar player (Calgarian
Whitey Kirst) is the kind of guy who on some of my past records, when I'd do 'sessions'
and have producers, they'd be looking at him and saying 'Who invited this kid?
He's not a professional! He doesn't polish his strings after every take!' The
drummer's his brother (Alex), who used to be in a band called the Nymphs who put
out an album in 1991 - it came out the same day as Nirvana's 'Nevermind,' which
I remember because I bought 'em both on the same day. He's got a nice hand - he's
a lot like an interior decorator who didn't finish school. He's a little 'wine
and cheese' but he loves to drum. And the bassist, Mooseman (formerly with Ice-T's
Body Count), besides having the best name ever for a bass player, was very sort
like an old car now...I run real good for a while, and then KABOOM! 'Oh f***,
the transmission's gone!'"
'Street-suave' is a term that could be used to describe Iggy as well. He's made it through numerous close calls that are pretty much a matter of public record. He's had several record and management deals collapse. He's been the 'World's Forgotten Boy,' but somehow he's always clawed his way back into the collective consciousness. In the 70s, after being written off as an impending casualty, he decamped to Berlin with pal David Bowie to record some of the most important music of his career.
And it was one of the songs from that period, the unceasingly celebratory 'Lust For Life,' that brought him a whole new audience, via the film 'Trainspotting' and several ads that use Hunt Sales' thrashing drum beat and Iggy's whoop to move product. Maybe Iggy doesn't have to crank the albums out anymore - maybe he is, in his own words, "worth a million in prizes." Thus, it should mean something to the cynics and critics that not only is 'Beat 'Em Up' an album he felt he had to make, he had to produce it himself as well. Perhaps it's not a matter of being too old to rock, it's really a matter of being old enough to know what to do, and how to do it.
"We started out with the idea that there would be a producer, and there were two directions that we could take. There was Ross Robinson (the man behind most of the nu-metal bigwigs, including Korn and Slipknot) and there was Toby Wright (Kiss, Alice In Chains). With Ross, he was similar to the people at Mainman (the management company headed by Tony Defries that oversaw Iggy's early career) when I wanted to make 'Raw Power.' He liked me, and that was it. Didn't like anything about my music, didn't like the people I worked with, and he kind of wanted to create a Ross trip for me, with his friends. And I didn't think that would reflect the reality of my life, it just wasn't rockin', y'know? And then, Toby was like somebody who I've listened to what he does, and I respect the sonic quality of it, he can get a good drum sound and stuff - but my heart wasn't really in it...He was a great guy, and he was really helpful in that he listened to my demos that I made and said 'Y'know this shit rocks, why don't you do it on your own?'"
as it happens, was right. You can hear the camaraderie in the band on the jugular-grabbing
'Weasels' (featuring the wonderful couplet 'Weasels suck and weasels blow/ Weasels
control rock and roll') and the full-throttled attack of 'Drink New Blood' and
'Mask.' And upon Iggy's insistence, technological recording wizardry was scarcely
employed on the record, with the basis of most tracks being live takes. Like the
work of the Stooges, it's the sound of a locomotive barreling towards a cliff,
with heaps of flotsam and jetsam lying its wake.
was the way he played - he played things really straight, like he really knew
rock and roll. He wasn't trying to 'funk-doobie' it, or put it through a flange
or anything like that. And on the Body Count albums he was mixed way down, but
I could hear that he had the tone and the attack on the instrument that's not
usually associated with straight rock players. It took me a while to track him
down - I've done very few auditions in my life, and I don't really believe in
that process. So I called a few people and tried to track him down that way, and
then I got this message on my machine - 'I DON'T KNOW WHO THIS IS, BUT THIS IS
THE MOOSEMAN! PEOPLE BEEN CALLIN' ME ALL DAY ABOUT YOU, SO I'M CALLIN' YOU, AND
YOU BETTER CALL ME BACK!'" He laughs at the memory. "So I called him
and asked if he wanted to play bass with me, and he said 'YEAHHH!'"
that, Mr. Pop laughs another one of his huge, infectious laughs. It sounds like,
for now, Iggy is choosing to focus on the laughs, the good times, and the raw
power of a good, loud, stupid rock and roll song. He's got a place in Miami, a
28-year-old girlfriend, a '68 Cadillac convertible and at 54, he's cooler than
you or I or anybody one-third of his age. And with a tour on the way, he has no
real intention of slowing down.
may he run.
Pop Is Ready To Rumble
By virtue of his legend alone, the 54-year-old Pop stands out from the current pack of young punks working their way up the Epitaph, Vagrant or Fat Wreck Chords ranks. Matching his own legacy is a much bigger challenge. With Beat Em Up recently entering the CMJ Radio 200 chart as the number one debut, Pop is apparently winning the battle. "This record is definitely closer to his hardcore punk roots than some of the others," says Tyson Haller, head of college promotion for Virgin Records. "[Because of its] hard rock edge, we're looking to introduce him to a younger audience that is into the heavier side of music, instead of just [promoting him as] the Godfather of Punk."
is certainly aware of what the new generation of kids is into - from Slipknot
to Limp Bizkit to Kid Rock - but while his label expects him to reach new audiences,
he sees some shortcomings in new music. "It's just going in the wrong direction,"
he says. "And I understand how all that works. But it's not what I choose
to do, or probably what I'd even be good at."
Whitey's brother Alex Kirst secure on drums, Pop completed the circle by bringing
in ex-Body Count bassist Mooseman, whom he describes as a "ringer."
Tragically, Mooseman was shot in a random drive-by shooting in Los Angeles before
Beat Em Up was released. Iggy brought back Pete Marshall, who's been a roadie
and played second guitar in his touring band, to handle the bass lines.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Once a punk rock outcast who was locked up in a psych ward, Iggy Pop is now a celebrity, a Reebok model who rubs shoulders with the cream of society.
But his elevated status does not stop him from noticing the absurdity of the situation, as he told Reuters in a recent interview: the kid raised in a Michigan trailer park is often the center of attention at various phoney-baloney shindigs.
``Occasionally I'll go to one of these VIP affairs or parties, and I always sorta look around thinking, 'My God, how shallow and crass these people are! Not like me!' That is honestly how I feel.
``At the same time I recognize the holes in that theory, because I'm there aren't I?''
So Pop put pencil to paper and composed the spoken-word diatribe ``V.I.P.,'' which is found on his new album, ``Beat Em Up'' (Virgin), the 16th of a storied career.
The seven-minute song, which satirizes the V.I.P. culture of entourages, paranoia, reflected glory and fake smiles, was inspired by a dinner party hosted by fashion maven Donatella Versace in Milan. Pop was about to visit the bathroom, until a minder commanded him to use the VIP facility.
``I used the private bathroom, which I can only describe as palatial in a kind of a Venetian or Near Eastern style. A harem style.''
Pop, born James Osterburg 54 years ago, laughs as he recounts the experience. Indeed, his mood has lightened considerably since his previous album, in which he considered ''the circumstances of my death.'' That album, 1999's ``Avenue B,'' a largely orchestral set partly inspired by his marriage break-up, sold dismally, Pop's fans evidently discomfited by his bleak honesty.
A BIG STAR IN MIAMI
``Beat Em Up'' finds Pop brandishing a renewed lust for life. He decamped from New York City to Miami -- ``the acupuncture pressure point of the browning of America'' -- and found a loving 28-year-old girlfriend. He loves to ride around the city in his cherry-red Cadillac DeVille convertible, a 1968 model for which he paid $5,600. As he relates it, everyone in the city stops in their tracks and waves at him when he drives by in his V.I.P vehicle.
People have been staring at Pop for more than 30 years, since his days at the helm of pioneering Detroit punk group the Stooges, when he would cut his chest with glass, smear himself with peanut butter and dive into the crowd. The scars are still evident on his sinewy body which he bares to full effect when he performs shirtless during his energetic shows.
The Stooges were destroyed by drugs, but their three studio albums, ``The Stooges'' (1969), ``Fun House'' (1970) and ``Raw Power'' (1973), are considered essential listening for anyone seeking a primer on American rock music.
Pop, a mental and physical mess, checked into a Los Angeles psychiatric hospital in 1974, before beginning phase two of his career.
He teamed up with long-time admirer David Bowie for his first two solo albums, ``The Idiot'' and ``Lust For Life.'' The 1977 releases yielded some of Pop's best known songs, such as ''The Passenger,'' ``Nightclubbing'' and the title track of the latter album, a popular jingle for ads.
His output has been wildly variable since then, but usually entertaining. He has become a cult legend in his own time, with music critics -- ``the Mandarin court'' -- fawning over his legacy, to his occasional annoyance.
``I can't really pee or go to the bathroom, I can't open my mouth without being compared to what I did 28 years ago or what I did 15 years ago,'' he said.
SONGS FOR THE ``COMMON PEOPLE''
With song titles such as ``Death is Certain,'' ``Weasels,'' and ''Jerk,'' Pop's new album covers familiar territory, decrying -- usually with a wink -- society's scumbags. The lyrics are often strained -- ``A mountain of feces is rapin' my ear'' -- but Pop says he tried to make the album ``accessible to common people.''
``You do not necessarily have to have read (punk rock memoir) 'Please Kill Me' or heard a Lou Reed album in the last 10 years to like this. But if you have, hopefully you can like it, y'know?''
For the first time in his career, Pop produced the album himself. It is dedicated to his bass player, Lloyd ``Mooseman'' Roberts, a former member of rapper Ice-T's controversial rock band Body Count, who was killed in a drive-by shooting last year. Pop had hired Mooseman to infuse his music with some street soul.
``I didn't really want to turn a baseball cap backwards and pose like a black guy. So I got one ... I can't imagine a better name for somebody that plays that instrument than Mooseman. That's what you want, y'know?''
Pop's band is rounded out by guitarist Whitey Kirst -- a ''fairly simple soul'' from Canada -- who has played with Pop for 11 years and shared songwriting credit on all the new songs; and Kirst's brother, Alex Kirst, on drums.
Like Bowie and Reed, Pop has distinguished himself in other media. He acts, lectures, does voiceovers and collaborates with other musicians, such as French jazz singer Francoise Hardy and techno-trance band Death in Vegas.
In the late 1980s, Pop was performing perhaps 100 shows a year; these days, he estimates it's 25 to 30 gigs annually. One of the highlights is ``The Passenger,'' where he often invites the audience to dance on stage with him.
He is scheduled to begin a U.S. tour in October, a Virgin spokeswoman said. Details are still being worked out.
Pop Sees Himself As Early Influence For 'Jackass'
kicks off a European tour in mid-August and plans some North American dates for
Two illuminating recent tales about Iggy Pop:
A musician pal calls up, having just returned from a European festival appearance. He mentions the typically blinding Iggy performance he witnessed, then adds with a chuckle, "But the next night, Iggy apparently walked out and asked the crowd, 'HOW MANY OF YOU HERE LIKE WEEZER?' And when the audience cheered loudly as expected, Iggy walked off and refused to perform!"
Two days later, an email comes sailing across the electronic transom. Another friend forwards a news item from Reuters concerning Iggy's rider for a Scottish festival date. Amongst Iggy's demands: seven dwarves, American Spirit cigarettes, broccoli.
The latter two requests seem especially odd, considering 1) Iggy apparently gave up smoking years ago, and 2) the item reports Iggy has as much use for broccoli as the President's father. (The item clarifies Iggy will instead sate his delicate palate with "enormous pizzas" and "ginger beer or good red wine.")
Somewhere, David Lee Roth is curdled up with a big bowl of brown M&Ms, laughing in recognition.
Weeks earlier, in a conference room at his label's Manhattan headquarters, an Iggy Pop visibly curdled from a day's pressing of the journalistic flesh still flashes such mischief and defiance. "Stand here!" he laughs, mocking the various photographers he's faced this day. "No, here! Wear this! Now smile! No, frown! ARRGGHH!"
At one point he philosophizes, "Ideally, the music should be so good and connect so immediately to the public that one would be completely supported in all one's activities and desires without ever doing any of this. No interviews, no videos, no pictures, nothing." Still, the tanned, fit, and newly goateed rock legend sitting across from me and my microcassette recorder knows this isn't An Ideal World. No, he's got a new album, Beat 'Em Up, that won't be promoting itself. Hence, knowing it's only a temporary condition, Iggy puts up with a little poking and prodding, if only to clear some space in the public's consciousness for this noisy little beast he's about to unleash.
So, what about this new album? Well, it's raw. No, I mean it's raw! And not in the sense of his early-'70s masterwork Raw Power, the final studio document of his classic band the Stooges which inspired several generations of punk bands. Unlike the rampaging, Rolling-Stones-in-hell bombast of that record, Beat 'Em Up is very much Iggy's heavy metal record. It's even more metallic than 1988's Instinct, the last Iggy Pop record to be dubbed "Iggy's heavy metal record."
Iggy agrees. "It's '70s-inspired, I think, handmade, kinda somewhere between hard rock and proto-metal, the music that later became codified as metal but before it was called that. But it's not quite all the way to [metal]. There's more to it, there's a little more songiness and structure than I associate with a lot of heavy metal. Then within that format, we f--k around with it. It gets an urban twist from the basically South Central ghetto bass player [ex-Body Count bassist Lloyd "Mooseman" Roberts, sadly murdered this past winter in a drive-by shooting], and then it gets a little bit of an academic twist from me, 'cos that's what I do, word-wise."
And what Mr. Academia does with those words is basically what he does best: hurl considerable venom against a world he simply cannot tolerate. Iggy Pop has never gone gently into the good night, and he's not about to start here. Over riffs punishing and ugly enough to border on nu-metal (courtesy of longtime guitarist Whitey Kirst, who was rewarded for "having to play 'Raw Power' for me for 11 years" with the chance to write Beat 'Em Up's music), Iggy screams questions like "WHERE IS THE SOUL?!! WHERE IS THE LOVE?!!" on "Mask." Or else he snarls that "WEASELS CONTROL ROCK 'N' ROLL!!!" on "Weasels." All beneath the first Iggy Pop production job since Raw Power. And as with that record, Beat 'Em Up's sonics are so naked and alive, we might as well phrase that as a "production job."
claims with a laugh that as he turned Beat 'Em Up in to his record label, he was
"unplugging my phone and leaving the country."
C'mon, Iggy! When you handed this one in to your label, you were secretly, gleefully thinking, "SELL THIS, MOTHERF--KER!" Weren't you?
"The second half of it," he admits. "The way [the music business] works is they have to give you enough money to fly everybody where they're goin' and get the project off the ground and pay the studio. And they wanna hear sh-t, they wanna hear what you're gonna do in advance. So, I let 'em hear the stuff on the first half, which is a little more formal. There are a couple that are medium-tempo songs, and they hadn't heard 'Mask.' They heard cuts 2 through 8, something like that, and then they gave me the green light. Then I did stuff like 'Drink New Blood' and 'V.I.P.' and 'Ugliness' or all that sh-t, and nobody'd heard it. We got checked halfway through, and they said, 'OK, go ahead and finish it.'"
Once he finished it, Iggy claims with a laugh that as he turned it in he was "unplugging my phone and leaving the country. I didn't know what they'd say, but the A&R guy's cool, he didn't bat an eye. He just sorta said [affecting a slick-guy voice], 'Well the record certainly takes a dark turn, doesn't it? But that's cool!' Y'know, they're all right with it.
"It's a funny thing, that whole sales thing. Is it glorious to sell, or not sell? I dunno. I'd be happy if it sold, I'd be OK. But, if it doesn't sell, that's OK. But," he smiles, the I-want-seven-dwarves mischief shining through his fatigue, "it would be better if it sells more. Yeah, if it sells even one more, that's better! It's OK!"
Not that Iggy's exactly hurting for the cash one more record sold could bring. The number of commercials and film soundtracks which have used Iggy classics like "Search And Destroy" and especially "Lust For Life" have ensured that Iggy has "enough money to say f--k you, and that's nice, but not enough that I don't have to work. Because like everybody else, I have divorces and my old managers to pay, and my f--kin' car needs an oil change. I have sh-t like everybody else has." He also adds about the commercials, "The song's out there, and the only way you're gonna hear my stuff so far has been that way and not on commercial radio. And I've been happy with it. It sounds really f--kin' great." And c'mon, admit it: Aren't you thrilled the noise selling you that pair of Nikes a couple of years back was provided by none other than James Williamson?
Still, in order to pay off those ex-managers and ex-wives and keep up the mortgages on his houses in Miami and Mexico and keep oil and gas in his cherry '68 Caddy, here's Iggy Pop--the man who inadvertently fathered everything from various David Bowie personae to the Sex Pistols, who hurled himself in the third row and smeared himself with peanut butter and sampled every drug and f--ked every species and dragged himself half-naked across broken glass so you wouldn't have to--sitting happy and fit and healthy in his early 50s, promoting his most uncommercial record ever. He's also the man who began his career with a pair of records that featured him riding his Stooges' Detroit roar, screaming his discontent with the state of the young nation in the years of their making. Which means that the only question which truly bears asking is: If he was to finally follow up "1969" and "1970" with their proper follow-up, what would Iggy Pop be singing about in "2001"?
"We-heh-heh-hell!" the man chuckles, sitting bolt-upright, clearly enjoying the question. "It would probably be a question instead of a statement, at this point. I'd probably ask, 'What the f--k's going on?' I'd probably have to get guest vocalists. Yeah, young ones. To fill in the blank.
"You could ask Sean Lennon, Lil' Bow Wow, maybe Hector Camacho Jr.--I dunno, somebody flamenco. Do you see my point? You'd have to ask somebody younger. F--k if I know."
he knows. He's just not telling! The unfortunate thing is, it usually takes Iggy
a couple of years to get another record out. So, it looks like we'll have to wait
for Iggy to write "2003."
EDINBURGH, Scotland (Reuters) - American rocker Iggy Pop has astonished organizers of a forthcoming Scottish gig with a bizarre list of backstage demands, including seven dwarves, The New York Times and broccoli, according to a report.
However, the Daily Record reported on Tuesday that the former Stooges frontman only wanted the vegetable so he could throw it in the bin -- because he hates it.
Instead, Pop, whose real name is James Jewel Osterberg, will stave off the hunger pangs with enormous pizzas and slake his thirst with ginger beer or good red wine.
The paper did not say why Pop wanted the dwarves.
Punk pioneer Pop, whose latest album 'Beat 'Em Up' is due out this month, also expressed a preference for American Spirit cigarettes -- even though he doesn't smoke.
``They're made of organic tobacco, with no additives. That must be really good for you. In fact, I'm going to take up smoking on health grounds,'' the newspaper quoted him as saying.
Employees at Regular Music, the company organizing the Gig on the Green concert in Glasgow at the end of August, are taking it all in their stride.
all had a good laugh when we saw Iggy's demands. It's hilarious. Getting hold
of seven dwarves isn't exactly a tall order, but it won't be easy,'' a Regular
insider told the paper.
Actually, it's more of a spoken-word piece set to music called V.I.P, as in "very important person."
Pop leaves no spoiled celebrity quirk unturned during the monologue, which clocks in at around seven minutes.
"Now one thing about V.I.Ps, is they never seem to be alone, oh no. The true V.I.P. must travel with an entourage, people who say, 'Right on, boss,' " Pop spits out on V.I.P.
So naturally, given that astute observation, I'm a little surprised at the size of the group with the 54-year-old punk rock hero at a recent interview -- a Canadian newspaper exclusive.
There are four publicists in the swanky Soho hotel penthouse suite, along with a beautiful black woman in a skintight, low-cut white jumpsuit who is later identified as Pop's girlfriend Nina.
At first, having an audience bothers me, but eventually everyone but Nina and a male publicist leave the room. And as they lie down to take a nap -- on a nearby couch and bed, respectively -- it becomes clear they won't be interfering.
"No, you don't get to be alone with me," explains Pop, dressed in a dark denim jacket, jeans and a black tank top, with his long hair bleached out to a red-blond colour and his brilliant blue eyes blazing. "This is formal, it's a meeting and I don't know you and I'm comfortable with someone here."
Plenty of noise
The Godfather of Punk has been making plenty of noise both onstage and off for more than 30 years, first with the Stooges and then as a solo artist. But Pop doesn't care much for people.
After 15 years of living in New York City, he moved to Miami a few years ago after divorcing his wife and says he likes the solitude he has found there.
"My neighbourhood is Orthodox Jew," says Pop, who lives north of Miami Beach. "Most of my neighbours look like the Blues Brothers and then you'll have like Ricky Martin down the street. It's really mixed up.
"On a daily basis in my life, I tend to avoid people, and avoid particularly anything that has to do with celebrity, all that, and I have a pretty tranquil existence. And the reason for that is I hate everything. I do. I hate everything."
The other attraction of the Florida coast, says the Michigan-born Pop -- whose real name is James Jewel Osterberg -- is the surf and sand.
"I'm a beach bum," he says. "I love to be skinny-dipping, or if I'm not, at least one toe in the water. I like the sunshine. Always liked that sort of thing. It's also the capital of Latin American and the African-Caribbean, absolutely the world capital, which means interesting food, great cup of coffee, the weather's great. And then that's all superimposed over a real centre of American redneck culture, which isn't so much to my taste, but I love their kids. Their kids are all rock nuts, just very much people, rock and roll fans, and there's a lot of young bands down there, a lot of little odd clubs. It's just been a good place for me."
Pop, who enjoyed a resurgence in mainstream popularity when his 1977 David Bowie collaboration, Lust For Life, was used 20 years later in the movie Trainspotting, also says he's never too far from the media centre of Manhattan.
He grew accustomed to some of the local specialties while living in the east end of the East Village. His street became the the title of his last studio album in 1999, Avenue B.
"Miami's really like a sixth borough," he says. "There's 20 flights a day, on American Airlines alone. It's like a bus between New York and Miami. I get fresh bagels, The New York Times, that sort of thing when I want it. But when I don't want it, I'm not here."
Pop also grew disillusioned with the changes going on in Manhattan in more recent years, specifically in his neighbourhood.
"When I moved in it was dangerously sub-proletariat, and by the time I left it was dangerously uber-gentrified, you know it was just so
f---in' gentrified," he complains.
"This has really become like Hollywood for people with a college degree. Really, in Manhattan, there are no Indians anymore. It's all f---in' chiefs. The only good energy really left here is Harlem and Brooklyn and Manhattan's a bit stagey. In '85, you could still go to Times Square and pay a buck and see a bearded lady, or go down a flight of stairs below the street level, you could eat a greasy Teriyaki dog, and you can't do that anymore. That's gone.
"There are no pimps, no whores, no transvestites, gone. Now that's more the culture I'm comfortable in. You gotta a lot of that in Miami. I don't like it in the house, you know what I mean, but I like it somewhere around."
Beat 'Em Up finds Pop in a decidedly more aggressive state of mind than the introspective Avenue B, which reportedly documented the breakup of his marriage. The musician himself says the last album was more specifically about moving on.
"This is about reflecting my own true culture," Pop says of the new album. "This, I sort of got loose, and this is what I've done with my freedom, basically. Not divorced, I mean I got loose from a lot of things and I forcibly took more power in all the relationships. I'm the producer of this too, it's the first time I ever got away with that and just did it my way."
The musician says he wasn't purposely trying to be confrontational with songs like Jerk, Death Is Certain, Go For The Throat, Weasels, It's All Sh-- and Ugliness.
"That's kind of something that creeps up on you when you start to rock and then you've got to up the ante a bit, all the time. When I'm going to do a rock and roll album, it's not good to write introspective, you have to write about the world around you. So I sat down and said, 'Well I've got to write about the world around us,' and then everything was all thumbs down."
Turns out, though, Pop did collaborate on all of the material for Beat 'Em Up with Calgary-born guitarist Whitey Kirst, whom he calls "the backbone" of his touring band for the last six years, although they actually first worked together 11 years ago.
"We wrote this entirely together and we didn't sit there with a clicker like, 'Well, I wrote 60% of the words and my manager says that I'm worth ...' We just split it up."
So what must Kirst's family think about him and his brother Alex, who plays drums, working with Pop? Well, apparently they come from a long line of characters.
"I met a childhood playmate of his and she said none of the kids on the block were allowed to play with them," Pop says. "They had a pet monkey named Rodney. They're a rather bohemian family."
Also on Beat 'Em Up is Pete Marshall on guitar and the late Lloyd "Mooseman" Roberts, formerly of Ice-T's old band Body Count, on bass. Mooseman, 38, was killed in a drive-by shooting in South Central L.A in February.
"He was a great character and great player, who unfortunately is deceased, murdered," says Pop. "He was making a comeback with my band.
"He's a great musician who had fallen into disuse and had made some mistakes earlier and he was really good. He looked like a bass player. He had a name like a bass player. He was a mountain for me. That was real tough to lose him."
Marshall, previously a roadie for Pop, is now filling in for Mooseman on tour. First up are European festival dates and, at some point, Pop would like to tour right across Canada.
don't have to be a rocket scientist to play in my band" says Pop. "It's
a rock band of the kind of guys who like to fight once in a while and drink and
they've all made life mistakes and then I'm kind of like their uncle. There's
a little separation there. I'm about 20 years older."
Importance of Being Iggy
Thirty years in, Iggy Pop is still beating 'em up.
James Newell Osterberg, a.k.a. Iggy Pop, once billed himself as the "world's
forgotten boy," but
while Pop is one of rock's greatest survivors, he has not endured by mellowing
out. In fact,
The last album was more confessional and personal. Beat 'Em Up is like your old stuff, a trip in the way-back machine. Where did the light bulb go off when you thought it was time to rock again?
Sometimes my intellect will take over and say, "Well, really, before the
end of your time you must
Having just seen you live, it's occurred to me that your relationship with your audience is almost religious. Early in your career you seemed like a force of nature, but now they seem to come worship at your altar. Exactly how did this happen?
I worked at it.
I'm sure of that, but were you ever uncomfortable in front of crowds?
Well, absolutely I was. There's all sorts of shit that can go wrong doing this
stuff, and when I
You've had almost thirty years in the spotlight. What do you do to stay fit and sane?
Half of it's just the simple shit, like, I try not to work too hard, too often, and try to avoid people. You know how I lurk. I avoid human beings, and I try to like sleep at night and get up in the morning. I eat what people say you shouldn't eat, but really good quality. So I devour gigantic steaks, cooked, fried, in butter and shit. Only really good ones. I don't eat much crud. And then I'll have fried eggs and bread dipped in olive oil. I don't snack a lot -- when I eat it's so fucking good. I have chocolate ice cream for dessert, you know. I get all satisfied, and that's it. And I do this exercise -- that's the one thing that really kind of helps my motor run. I do this sort of Chinese exercise called Qi-gong. It's very similar to Tai Chi, which I also do a little of. And I do that shit for about a half-hour a day.
You're probably thinner now than when you were young.
What size pants do you wear?
Same, it hasn't changed: twenty-eight. I remember we did the Coachella Festival in April and this guy wrote the next day, "Yes, he did this and that, and he then he took off his shirt, and his body looked good considering he's a fifty-three-year-old with his shirt off." I thought, "Oh fuck, maybe I outta hide it, cover it up," you know. If the slippage continues drastically, then maybe I'll start wearing a vest or something.
So what's the greatest misconception about you?
Probably that I'm wild. I think that's probably the biggest one. I'm over that now.
What's your idea of paradise?
Ha, ha, ha! That's right, just sit on my ass in Miami and fart, and not have to do any of this shit anymore. And have every cruise line in America use every one of my songs in its catalogs, and I'm so rich that I have to buy a small country.
At least that beats the question everybody always wants to know about you, about how you feel about your records being used in commercials . . .
I feel great. I love it. I fuckin' love it on about ninety-nine levels.
I'm glad you're getting the payday.
Well, and that's how people are getting to know me and the songs.
You're not the world's most forgotten boy anymore. You're that poster boy for the cruises.
I am a poster boy, for fun cruises, and what do they call it? Rock climbing, or something? Extreme sports.
I understand you've become quite autodidactic. Would you ever go back to college?
If I ever end up in a situation where I'm comfortable financially and I don't have a really good reason for going out and making music and performing. I like languages. Maybe rub a little literature off on the way, but I would be pretty happy just learning how to speak Latin, French, Italian. I know a little Spanish already.
What do you do on your time off? Do you still golf?
Only with my Dad when I see him. Basically, I like to go to the beach; I like to stare at the clouds; I like to ride around. I got an old used car, a convertible Caddy. I like to ride around and listen to music, or just have a quiet dinner. I like to go to the supermarket. I like to shop for food. I've got a library, but I don't read a lot; I like to play with the books. I'm not doing much else but steadily working, and a little bit of loafing.
What about your acting career?
Well, I'm not really running around with a glossy photo, you know. Every once in a while, they call, and if there's a little film involvement that I can do, I do it. But I'm not looking for it. The last thing I did was [last year's] Snow Day.
Do you feel at this age that you're more religious?
Probably slightly so, in the sense that music and love and morality and family and all those things are going around and around in my head, and I'm trying to figure out what the hell is the right way to go. I have deeply held feelings and beliefs, but I don't believe in, like, God, or anything like that. Sometimes, living in America, you're going to run into conflicts. It's a career-oriented, modern, post-industrial, Western world, and sometimes you make choices based on furthering your career or your abilities thereof, and other stuff gets put to the side. That's happened with me sometimes, and I have trouble reconciling that. But on the other hand, I know if I didn't feel like I was any good at doing anything, I'd feel so awful I wouldn't be worth a shit, you know?
I hate to always think I am my job, but, without it, I don't know who I'd be.
Exactly. So that kind of thing comes up, you know. It's questions, so I'm not sure where my religion is, or if it's my job, my bank account, or what I see that I don't have - because, for a lot of people, that becomes a very strong thing, too. Whatever you don't have, you want. If you're a big rock star, and you go to the beach and see some hard-working guy with his six kids, there's a part of you, there's a little twinge that's going to go on, and you're going to say, "Gee, you know, I bet that's really beautiful when he comes home, and there's his beer every night, and the kids, 'Oh, Daddy, Daddy.'" On the other hand, you don't see the part where he's like, "Aaaarrr, I wish these kids would shut up," you know? So I don't know. I'm not religious, but I'd like to be!
OK, let's get the Stooges reunion question over -- any hope of one?
Some vague, vague hope, but no immediate plans.
Do you have a personal motto? Something you say to yourself before you go onstage?
Well, I used to have one that I kept saying. I would say to myself, "You're a champion," when I was down -- er, not totally down -- but wanted to get going. And the one I do a lot now is "Just sing the song, man." I say that because there's so much shit . . . you start getting wound up, and then people ask, "What are you going to do in the show? Are you going to kill yourself? Are you going to roll in glass? Are you going to get covered in poop?" And all this stuff is swarming around you, and the record company's happy, and the record company's unhappy, and you're shit, and you're a star, and all that. So I just keep telling myself, "Just sing the song, man."
Looking back, do you sometimes feel like it was a different person who rolled around in the glass and covered himself in peanut butter?
Yeah, I suppose so. Or the part I make available for mass mollification is different.
August 2001 Q Magazine interview
What's your poison?
Pop Says No Sex With Bowie Or Jagger
Iggy Pop says don't believe
everything you hear, at least as far as his personal life goes. In a recent interview
with German newsweekly Der Spiegel, the former Stooges frontman joked that people
are still fascinated with him "because I'm the guy that slept with David
Bowie." When asked whether that was true, Pop laughed and said, "No,
never. But people think what they want, you can beat the truth into them and they
still don't want to know."
However, Pop added that there was a point in his life in the '70s when he would have changed places with Jagger, but the only thing he envies now is Jagger's ability to attract young, beautiful women: "How does he do it? I mean, he's older than me, and my ass is still really tight. I would have loved to knock up that Brazilian model [Luciana Morad]."
Bruce Simon and David Lacey, New York
QUESTION: It's been a while since 1999's Avenue B came out. What have you been up to?
ANSWER: I got together with my band and started making some loud noises. . . . In the fall, we went into the studio, and I produced my own record. It'll come out in the summer.
Q: Avenue B was rather introspective, and relatively quiet. Will we hear this kinder, gentler Iggy on the new album?
A: It's more - what do they say? - accessible. This one's real loud, real rock-and-roll, real tough and raw. It's still got a personal tone, but it's easier to relate to for "real rock" fans.
Q: Who's touring with you this time around? Any familiar faces?
A: It's just my own little personal band. No big stars. It would have included the bassist from Body Count (Ice-T's metal band), Mooseman. He did the album, but he was murdered about eight weeks ago. It was a tragedy. He lived in South Central (Los Angeles) and was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's just me and my bad friends.
Q: What can we expect from the show?
A: There will be songs from the record I've just made - they'll probably, unfortunately, leave you scratching your head, saying, "I wonder what that song is?" - plus songs that you'll know. It'll rock, as hard as I can make it now.
Q: When you were doing songs such as Search and Destroy, did you ever think that your music would be used in commercials in 20 years?
A: No, but when I wrote those songs, I paid a lot of attention to jingles. I thought there was a beautiful simplicity to the commercial music. The first time the Stooges' music was used in a commercial was for Detroit Dragway. I was so excited that I didn't think whether they paid us or not, which they didn't. I didn't get anything. I was just so proud - "That's my music." Then you heard the guy, "Come see the death-defying nitro-burning funny cars. Big Ed, tons of guts in his killer clown machine!"
Q: Do you still have a Lust for Life?
A: Heh. Yeah, or a thrust or a bust. A must! I have a must for life at this point. That's about it. A crust! You've unleashed a monster.
Iggy Pop attracts attention even when he's conducting a long- distance phone interview, as befits this hyperactive icon of musical extremes.
Hailed as the godfather of punk-rock, Pop was speaking by phone from Miami, where he was doing a photo shoot for his next album. With his shoulder-length hair bleached somewhere between brown and blonde, rock's original wild-child attracted the attention of a passerby.
Perhaps it was because Pop was lounging in his red Cadillac convertible, around the corner from a store called Ziggy Furniture, in Miami's earthy "Little Haiti" neighborhood.
"Who are you?" asked the passerby.
"I'm a musician!" bellowed Iggy, unaware of his visual incongruity in such a setting.
"What are you doing?" the passerby shot back.
"I was doing a photo shoot a block from here, and I'm taking a break," said Pop, "to talk to San Diego. I'm a musician!"
Then, lowering his voice into the phone, he added: "This is a pretty rough neighborhood."
Pop, who grew up in a Michigan trailer-park and moved to Miami a few years ago, has seen his share of rough neighborhoods.
A profound influence on artists as varied as David Bowie and the Sex Pistols (who recorded their own version of Pop's song "No Fun"), he has long thrived on confrontation -- with his audiences, social mores, the music industry and any other target he set his sights on.
In the late 1960s and '70s, Pop's hard-living ways and drug abuse threatened to place him alongside such rock casualties as Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin. So did his stage antics, which saw him crawl across broken glass bare-chested, extinguish cigarettes on his body, pick fights with audience members, and worse.
Against all odds, the man who invented stage-diving 30 years ago has survived. What's more, he's managed to do so without selling out, going soft, retiring, apologizing, becoming a reactionary blowhard or turning into a parody of himself.
"Usually, there has to be some jail time for some of the band members involved for a band to be any good," said Pop, 53, who performs in San Diego tomorrow night at downtown's 4th & B.
"As I get older, I try to be the one who doesn't have any jail time in the band. Other than that, I don't have a theory."
What Pop, formerly known as Iggy Stooge and born James Jewel Osterberg, does have is a track record most of today's punk-rock upstarts can only dream of ever matching.
As the founder of the proto-punk band the Psychedelic Stooges in 1967, he helped create an artistic template that endures to this day. The band, which soon shortened its name to the Stooges, quickly earned a reputation for its primal yet incendiary music, mixing dissonance and noise into a potent whole.
At the forefront was Pop, who earned non-musical notoriety as a boyfriend of the Velvet Underground's ill-fated vocalist Nico.
His quasi-performance-art approach to concerts found him smearing peanut butter on his body and rubbing raw steaks on himself, as a prelude to more destructive stage behavior. And his raw, stark lyrics were at distinct odds with the peace-and-love hippie ethos that dominated rock in the late-'60s.
Recalling "No Fun," a standout song from the Stooges' self-titled 1969 debut album, Pop said:
"On the first record I did, I sang: No fun to hang around / Freaked out for another day. And a lot of people were like: `What do you mean? Everything is great. We're all loving each other. John Phillips for president!' And I was like: `I don't think so.'
"I didn't set out to collide with people, but I did. And I think anytime anybody goes against the party line in America, they get you back by making you look ridiculous. They don't have to lock you in jail; they just make you look like a (jerk)."
As for his extreme music and even more extreme stage actions (which often resulted in no small amount of blood and self-inflicted physical damage), Pop cites a novel inspiration. Namely, his love for such legendary progressive-jazz saxophonists as John Coltrane, Albert Ayler and Archie Shepp.
"What I heard John Coltrane do with his horn, I tried to do physically," he said. "And the simplicity of the compositions was -- how should I put it? -- encouraging to me, because I did not have more than an extremely rudimentary sense of chordings and song structure. And yet I heard these great and very listenable modern jazz compositions being done over a bass line, or a simple snatch of a melody being stated and then returned to.
"It was very fluid and free and flexible music, and therefore convincing to me, in a way that (Procol Harum's) `A Whiter Shade of Pale' was not. That was a rock adaptation of a piece of classical music that worked great, commercially, for listeners who couldn't touch their toes -- old white men, or people who in 50 years would be old white men.
"If I have any honor at all I have to mention that jazz was one more brilliant facet of black music, and all black music is the (best). And I tried to do some of what I heard in jazz through the visual approach I did on stage. I kept the structures loose enough that they allowed for events that were particular and special, and would never happen again on another night, yet still have some structure.
"I heard the sax floating, and I tried to float as a person, in general. I tried to float 24 hours a day. Like, when I first started listening to James Brown, I got rid of all the chairs and sofas in my home."
"I started sitting on the ground," Pop explained, "because I thought I could get in touch with the Earth and learn to dance. Because most white people need a stick of dynamite (in them) to dance. It kind of helped me. I started off bridging the gap between rock and what is generally termed the avant garde, or the artsy fartsy side of life. I also have one foot firmly rooted in vulgar commercial (stuff)."
Pop's most recent solo album, 1999's "Avenue B," found him turning away from rock to desolate torch songs that suggested a meeting between Frank Sinatra and Brazilian bossa-nova pioneer Antonio Carlos Jobim, in a bar that might be called Impending Doom.
The album found Pop crooning such grim lines as: It was in the winter of my 50th year when it hit me / I was really alone, and there wasn't a hell of a lot of time left.
The album's intensely personal tone and shift to understated music gave Pop a new lease on life, artistically, but confounded most listeners. His next release, due in June, returns to his hard- driving rock style.
"With `Avenue B,' in a lot of ways, I was trying to make a middle- aged, desperate, sex-collision record," he said. "And it was also important to me, just as a sort of musical auteur, if you will. I was aware of the importance of rounding out my oeuvre. So I couldn't look in the mirror if I didn't make it personal. Unfortunately, for some people `personal' is really dark."
And where does this rock legend see himself in 10 or 15 years?
"Probably with a chick a lot younger than me, and doing regular work, regular music work," he said.
"Who knows? But one has certain limitations of one's talents. I wonder what I'd do if I had Mariah Carey's voice?" he mused, launching into a falsetto scat vocal. "Maybe I would have been a parakeet like her, because I wouldn't have to develop any taste."
Q: Do you think people in Michigan are sexually repressed? Every time I go through the Detroit airport I get strip-searched.
A: No kidding? I get stopped and searched in various airports. In some of them, they've just given up at this point. Sometimes they just say, "Welcome home, Mr. Sir" and all that. But I haven't been there in a long time. I'm going there on this tour, so I'll see if they search me.
Q: What are they going to find?
A: Not much. What usually goes on in my day-to-day is generally a drink with dinner. That's my thing.
Q: Do you ever get tired of being all naked and humping the stage and slashing your guts out every night?
A: That would be a burden. That would be if I . . . (pause) Well, that's not really exactly the way I see what I do. You kind of just slipped that in.
Q: I was making an assumption there.
A: Right, which is OK.
Q: So are you like that all the time or just when you're onstage?
A: You know, when one is an audience member as I have been and continue to be from time to time, one is so often disappointed. When you really get it and you really get a good show and it's happening for real -- wow! -- there's nothing like it. For me, anyway. So, that's sort of at the core of what I'm trying to do with my work. But there's certain work you have to do offstage to get that together.
Q: That's too bad, because I always had this image of you having dinner at Sizzler with your shirt off and your pants hanging off your back.
A: Listen, dude, I think I've done this for 30 years. The first 15 years were highly creative and featured a low discipline level. The second half has been a reverse. There was overall less striking creativity but more discipline.
So, in effect, luckily for me, during the second half once I quote-unquote got my s-- together, I started getting paid for when I didn't have my s-- together. Do you know what I mean?
Q: So, the secret is to make a complete fool out of yourself for a few years and then just sit back and live off your notoriety?
A: I think the thing I'm most famous for is just being Iggy Pop. That's my best trait.
Q: But it hasn't always been easy. Do you ever consult that reggae psychic woman on TV for career advice?
A: From my point of view, my career is probably not as jagged as it might look from the outside, depending on who the person is who's doing the looking. These days, rock 'n' roll has absorbed attention from a much wider spectrum of the society than it enjoyed when I started. So you get attention from all sorts of people who would have a different outlook from what I do. So a smokestack industry worker who goes to a lot of (strip) bars might say, "Oh yeah, Iggy. He rocks. He's done a couple of good tunes." That's that. Whereas someone who spends a lot of time in chat rooms on their computer and is approaching the history of rock as an academia may have a different viewpoint about all that.
Q: Being one of those who fall into the latter category, do you think people didn't get what you were trying to do with your last record or were they just mad that Iggy Pop was growing up?
A: I think you have to be careful. You can't use the G-word around me. You can't generalize people. There were people who really appreciated the record because it was a serious piece and because it had some real content there and wrestled with more things. I think there are a lot of different circles of opinion. But in general, I think it was Fatboy Slim who mumbled something to me: "Just rock, because that is what you should be doing." And I thought, "Well, you're a DJ. Shut up and have another drink. Who are you?" I think it was a good record. It was a real record.
Q: But I hear you're a complete gorilla on your new record.
A: It's a hard-rock record. Super hard rock. Not heavy metal or punk. Hard rock.
Q: So you took Fatboy Slim's advice?
A: No, I just felt like making a hard-rock record. It was time to do it quick. The f-- record company was barking for one. I wouldn't have enough time to marshal all my angst for another moody record. I just did what I knew how to do.
2001 concert reviews here, some of which are available, TRADE ONLY, at Dirt's Iggy Pop Tradelist