Redux: Iggy Pop's reunion With The Stooges

In 2007, singer Iggy Pop turned 60, and his band The Stooges released its first album in 30 years. In this archived interview, host Madeleine Brand talks with the rocker about going on the road to promote the album, The Weirdness.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

This is Day to Day from NPR News. I'm Madeleine Brand.

ALEX COHEN, host:

I'm Alex Cohen. Madeleine, you know, I recently read that rock legend Iggy Pop has a new, quieter album coming out in May, it's called "Preliminaires." It's a little bit of a French touch. Iggy Pop and French - instantly, Madeleine, I thought of you.

BRAND: Because of the French or...

COHEN: Both.

BRAND: The washed-up rock star.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRAND: Anyway, just - not washed-up, I love Iggy Pop. In fact, I love him so much, two years ago, I met him. He was on tour to promote his latest album called "The Weirdness." It was actually the first album he and the Stooges had put out in more than 30 years. And when I came back to the studio then, that was in 2007, I couldn't wait to tell my co-host then, Alex Chadwick, about everything Iggy and the Stooges were up to.

(Soundbite of concert)

Mr. IGGY POP (Rock Singer): Hello people, we are the (bleep) Stooges.

ALEX CHADWICK: I hear a big bleep in that song, Madeleine.

BRAND: (Laughing) Well, it is Iggy Pop and that is the classic Iggy intro to a classic Stooges hit, "TV Eye." There he was bounding around on the stage, tight, tight jeans pulled low, no shirt on, sun-bleached hair swinging. Alex, this man is turning 60 next month. And he looks, well, at least from the neck down, he looks like he did 30 years ago.

CHADWICK: Iggy, my idol.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: Mine too, which is why I wanted to check him out at a recent concert. Alex, this was far from the dingy Detroit clubs the Stooges started in back in 1969. The show I went to started promptly at 7 p.m. on a Fox studio sound stage.

(Soundbite of song "TV Eye")

Mr. POP: (Singing) She's got a TV eye on me She's got a TV eye She's got a TV eye on me, oh...

BRAND: The show was being filmed for a TV concert on yahoo.com, so everything was carefully controlled. No smoking, no drinking, definitely no drugs. And after every song, for Web purposes, the band would have to stop while the technicians reassembled.

Mr. POP: Dude, I might violate and just play the last - next three numbers in a row because I'm getting sick of waiting for television.

Unidentified Man #1: Back up so I can get this camera back to the other side.

Mr. POP: I'm getting annoyed.

BRAND: But Iggy played along, even agreeing to take questions from fans in the audience.

Mr. POP: Hey, fellows. How's it going? I'm all right. How you doing? What's your name?

BRAD: Brad.

Mr. POP: It's Brad. Wow!

(Soundbite of audience cheering)

BRAND: Brad wanted to know if Iggy and the other guys in the band had any regrets. Well, they skirted that question. They've all lived rough lives. Iggy was a notorious heroin addict for many years and even spent some time in a mental hospital here in Los Angeles.

Mr. POP: I'd go to jail. I used to go to jail. I used to go to the hospital. When I lived in L.A., I would do a - like a double and I'd go to the hospital and then get out and go straight to jail.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. POP: And that would happen a lot, you know. A lot. And now I just go to one or the other.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. POP: I haven't been in jail in a long time. The last time in the hospital was...

BRAND: OK. So instead of spending his nights in jail, he spends his leisure time now practicing Tai Chi, taking care of his girlfriend's pet birds. One of them is a pink-breasted cockatoo he says misses him when he's on the road. He even insists on a bottle of red wine to be in his trailer for after the show.

(Soundbite of interview)

BRAND: Cheers. This is really good.

Mr. POP: It's not bad for a gig. They're supposed to do better.

BRAND: Oh, is this part of your...

Mr. POP: Oh yes.

BRAND: Your rider?

Mr. POP: Yes.

BRAND: The famous rider.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. POP: Yes, the famous rider. Right. There's - where's the live crocodile?

BRAND: Yeah, exactly. I'm disappointed.

Disappointed? Hardly. I am drinking red wine with Iggy Pop.

(Soundbite of interview)

BRAND: So, what is it like performing, you know, the old numbers, if you will, now in such a different venue? The venue tonight for instance was not your average concert hall - concert venue, and as you say, there was some cheese factor there.

Mr. POP: There was a cheese ring.

BRAND: (Laughing) Yes.

Mr. POP: (Laughing) But it never touched us. I didn't feel it touched us.

BRAND: Oh, good.

Mr. POP: I tell myself before I work - I say three words: sing the song. The more annoyed I get about everything, or more like hyped... Sing the song. The song has very good words, has a very good beat and it has an evocative theme, musical motifs. It will take you somewhere. Remember to sing the song. Don't get caught up in the surroundings, including my own.

BRAND: Huh.

Mr. POP: Including my own trips because I will, you know. I'm a human being...

BRAND: Yeah.

Mr. POP: I'll go, Hey, look at me. You know, there's some of that.

(Soundbite of song "I Wanna Be Your Dog")

Mr. POP: (Singing) Now I wanna be your dog. Now I wanna be your dog. Now I wanna be your dog. Well, come on. ..TEXT: BRAND: That song, "I Wanna Be Your Dog," was on the Stooges' first album, released in 1969. It was the same year Simon and Garfunkel recorded "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and the Beatles had a top 10 hit called "Come Together." All that harmony, and then there was Iggy Pop and the Stooges. They were angry. They were rebellious and disaffected.

(Soundbite of song "1969")

Mr. POP: (Singing) Well, its 1969, OK, all across the USA. It was another year for me and you, another year with nothing to do.

BRAND: The band split in 1974 after just three albums. Iggy would continue to make music influencing everyone from David Bowie to Kurt Cobain, and every punk rocker in between who took his shirt off on stage and dived into the audience. He still stage dives, by the way. Iggy Pop has been called the godfather of punk. He hates that label, though, just as he hates anyone who wants to make rock music more than what it is.

(Soundbite of interview)

Mr. POP: When a certain vacuum opened up socially in the '60s and '70s, people like me, only bigger, became the only credible leadership for youth. Twenty years later, starting somewhere in the '90s, even late '80s, professional musicians learned to codify and professionalize that to the point where you really - I have difficulty seeing the differences in marketing and stance between TV evangelists, agile politicians, and the major arena rock performers.

BRAND: You don't want to be up there preaching to the people down.

Mr. POP: Well, I am kind of doing that. I know that. You know, there is a - if I'm not preaching, I don't know who is, you know.

BRAND: What are you preaching?

Mr. POP: I don't know. That's the difference. That's the difference. I don't know.

BRAND: Here's the thing about Iggy, he always has been the reluctant rock star; that's why he invented stage diving. He wanted to erase the boundary, the hierarchy between the stage and the audience. It was democratic and anarchic and what punk rock would later try to be. No one got it at that time, and the music industry turned its back on Iggy Pop and the Stooges.

But now here you are. Your concerts are sold out. You're beaming via the Internet around the world.

Mr. POP: Mm hmm. Yeah. I'm not - I'm still on - I'm kind of skeptical about that part. I'm picturing like, you know, some chick is like watching Diane Sawyer with one eye, checking out what's on Yahoo and up comes a little, hey, we're The Stooges.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. POP: Who are these guys? So I don't know, you know, if that's - I don't know if the thing's going to translate to anyone who wants to swallow it.

BRAND: How do you feel about it? Do you feel...

Mr. POP: Great. Super great, really good. (Laughing) Little bit of that, you know. And also just a nice - it's nice to be a mister...

BRAND: A Mr. Pop?

Mr. POP: Yeah, it's nice.

BRAND: Well, Iggy Pop, thank you very much.

Mr. POP: Thank you. It's a real pleasure.

BRAND: Yeah, thanks.

Mr. POP: I had fun talking to you.

BRAND: Me, too.

(Soundbite of song)

BRAND: My interview with Iggy Pop from 2007. There's more to come after this.

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