It's been forty years now since Raw Power, the third and final Stooges chapter before the band’s first official split, in a drugs and broken glass explosion. A decade ago Iggy brought the band back together, and in a few days, they'll be touring Australia. I spoke with the Pop on the phone about fucking up, changing guitarists, and finding time to sleep.
VICE: So the fifth Stooges record is called Ready To Die…
Iggy Pop: That sort of thing's in the air right now. I still wanna do something that has meaning, and I’m willing to risk it. ‘Cause if I fuck up, I’m ready to die. [laughs] Kinda like that.
The band looks stable this time.
Unlike the other large punk groups, ours is the only one between 1969 and '74 that you can hear a constant change on record. If you listen to Sex Pistols' or Ramones' records, they all have the same approach. The New York Dolls, it’s all the same approach, and that’s not too different from the Heartbreakers. It was a great thing, and I think that in the long run, it will still distinguish us. The downside of that, once the door is open, and I really learned it the hard way, if people are coming in and out of a band, it destabilizes it. I’ve been more careful this time around.
What’s the difference between playing with original Stooges' guitarist Ron Asheton and James Williamson, who played on Raw Power and is back in the band now?
In Ron’s case, when we made the first record, he was coming up with those killer riffs, but he was kind of a messy guy. [laughs] We do a reharsal, and he couldn’t remember them from one day to another. I was like his secretary, I was taping them and gave them a name. James is the opposite. A fucking compulsive, super organised guy, like an American middle manager or something. All I have to do is sing with him.
You always seem to be be involved in a lot of side projects. When do you sleep?
I sleep pretty good. I go to bed early, I’m very consersative. I put most of the energy that I have into my work. Everything that I like to do that’s not conservative, I try to do it very privately because after a while, you learn not to trust other people. But I do, I collaborate with a lot of other people, ‘cause it’s fun. And also you learn a lot. At some point, I have to try to stop, ‘cause people are gonna get irritated, I suppose. I’ve done everything in the last years, from Joe Jackson, all over to Ke$ha, that’s a big stretch!
Rock ’n’ roll has become kinda polite and safe these days.
Yeah, yeah, most of the rock bands, they don’t even rock at all. Even the ones who rock a little harder, they have a little gimmick. Some of those groups, there is no real. The whole thing has become like a pyramid scheme, where you’ve got a bunch of investors who give you money to invest for something false, and then you take their money to get more investors.
You’re about to bring back the Stooges in Australia, with the Beasts Of Bourbon as support act.
They’re good guys, they rock good. I like Australia, I like it hot. I like Perth and Brisbane, physically. And culturally, I like Melbourne very much. And Adelaide has something very appealing, it reminds me of America, maybe in the early 60s. Quiet, spacious, and down to earth.
A lot of people have been traumatized from a TV appearance you did here in the late 70s.
I was drunk a lot at the time. Somebody told me I gotta do lip-synching and promo, which I really hate doing. But I did it, and looking back on it, I’m glad I did it. You have to start a relationship somewhere.