AUSTIN, Texas — Whatever you do, don't lump Iggy Pop and the Stooges in with all those other bands attempting to bury the hatchet and hit the road this year. Cornered behind his dressing room at Stubb's around 3:30 a.m. on Sunday after a lightning-rod performance that closed out the South by Southwest festival, Pop said his reunion with Stooge mates Ron (guitar) and Scott Asheton (drums) — which actually started in 2003 — has nothing to do with bandwagon-eering.
"Yeah, because Sting [of the recently reunited Police] woke up one day and told his yoga instructor [affects effete British accent], 'I say ... I hear the Stooges are doing rather well. Can I have a print-out synopsis of their success, and perhaps we'll run a study of our reunion?' " he said, unleashing a maniacal grin.
"And then there's Van Halen, who thought 'Hey, everyone's doing it. ... Oh sh--, we hate each other!' And Genesis ... are they going to wear the masks again? Maybe they can form a company with Kiss — you know, Kiss-Esis ... Gene-Kiss."
Pop noted that the Stooges — who have been performing together again with former Minutemen bassist Mike Watt filling in for deceased member Dave Alexander (see "Apocalyptic' Stooges Close Out SXSW With A Bang") — never had to make an announcement that they were back. "We never hired an agent from Hollywood, being like 'OK, we're going to push this thing and make an announcement,' " he said.
"We just snuck up on it, and when everybody told us four years ago, 'This is your celebrity moment — make a record now,' we just told them to kiss off. We earned it," he continued; the band just released its first album together in 33 years, The Weirdness. "We're the last good band in the U.S.A."
Whether Pop was kidding or not, the proof may be in the explosive energy the band displayed at Stubb's, where the singer, who turns 60 in a few weeks, crackled with a fury that exceeded even his own typically spastic stage moves from previous decades. And he's clearly loving introducing a new audience to the band's patented mix of so-dumb-they're-smart lyrics and bare-bones rock and roll. "To me, it felt great, because the audience was young and beautiful, and fresh and clean, and just nice and not all Limp Bizkit-ed out yet," Pop said of the SXSW crowd. "Not all porno-ed out or heavied-out or anything ... just nice."
Subdued guitarist Ron Asheton added, "It's honest, straight-up music. It's simple rock and roll. It's to the point, it has energy. So what's not to like?"
And, though some critics are praising The Weirdness — recorded onto old-fashioned audio tape with no overdubs in less than two weeks by renowned minimalist Steve Albini — for hewing to the Detroit punk godfather's "classic" sound, Pop wonders when the Stooges became such respectable gentlemen.
"When we made the records that everyone said are so great now, nobody said anything good about them or us [then]," said Pop, whose devilish smile and boundless energy were still pumping hours after the show. "So we don't have that problem. We're in our own world, and we interface once in a while. It's kind of like we have our own individual spaceship. It's a nice reaction, but it's not like, 'Oh my God, these guys are geniuses.' People seem to like us, and they're happy when we play."
One of the new song's lyrics the band has taken some flack for is the line "my idea of fun is killing everyone" from "My Idea of Fun." Pop was unapologetic about the tune and the line, explaining, "I coulda said my idea of fun is just getting rid of everyone and just being alone, but it wouldn't have had the same impact," he said, leaning in, his eyes wide open. "If you wanna live a good life, learn how to kill everybody, but not physically. I think Jesus said something to that effect ... he said you have to forget about what you're taught."
Though silent for most of the interview, content to let Pop steer his ship of stream-of-consciousness weirdness into whatever rock he chose, Ron Asheton added that he, too, has an unorthodox idea of fun. "My idea of fun is walking my pit bulls on the shores of [Michigan's] Lake Huron and wearing my Glock 9mm pistol, with my AR-15 over my back, and my AK-47 sitting on the deck, because I can shoot at my house," he said with a deadpan smile.
And, in a perfect example of the way the two old friends vibe off each other, onstage and off, Asheton's riff inspired Pop to amend his idea of fun one more time. "My idea of fun is waking up at two in the morning on my filthy riverbank and sitting there and contemplating the moon as wild, muscular raccoons forage for garbage," he laughed. "And I hope they don't bite me."
The band has scheduled a string of U.S dates in April and will roll out more later this year.
Stooges tour dates, according to the band's publicist:
· 4/5 - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
· 4/7 - Boston, MA @ Orpheum Theatre
· 4/9 - New York, NY @ United Palace Theatre
· 4/11 - Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
· 4/13 - Detroit, MI @ Fox Theatre
· 4/15 - Chicago, IL @ Congress Theater
· 4/17 - Denver, CO @ Fillmore Auditorium
· 4/19 - San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield
· 4/21 - San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield
· 4/23 - Los Angeles, CA @ Wiltern LG
· 4/27 - Seattle, WA @ WaMu Theater