Iggy Pop's Reunion with the Stooges Iggy Pop has reunited with his band, The Stooges. The legendary rock icon pauses for an interview after a Los Angeles concert promoting their first CD in 30 years, The Weirdness.
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Iggy Pop's Reunion with the Stooges

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Iggy Pop's Reunion with the Stooges

Iggy Pop's Reunion with the Stooges

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This is DAY TO DAY from NPR News. I'm Alex Chadwick.


I'm Madeleine Brand.

You know, Alex, not all rock legends die in a pool of their own vomit.

CHADWICK: That's not what I read, Madeleine.

BRAND: Well, take Iggy Pop. His seminal rock group, The Stooges just released a new album. It's called, "The Weirdness," and it's their first in more than 30 years. Now, they're on tour to promote it.

Mr. JAMES OSTERBERG (aka: IGGY POP) (Musician): Hello people. We are The (beep) Stooges. Yahwwwwww(ph).

(Soundbite of song, "TV Eye")

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

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRAND: 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 laughter)

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 soundstage.

(Soundbite of song, "TV Eye")

Mr. OSTERBERG: (Singing) She got a TV eye on me. She got a TV eye. She got a TV eye on me, yes.

BRAND: The show is 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. OSTERBERG: Dude, I might violate and just play the next three numbers in a row, because I'm getting sick of waiting for television.

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

Mr. OSTERBERG: I'm getting annoyed.

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

BRAD: Hey, fellahs, how's it going? How are you?

Mr. OSTERBERG: How are you doing? What's your name?

BRAD: Brad.

Mr. OSTERBERG: Brad, Brad. Yeah!

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 heroine addict for many years and even spent some time in a mental hospital here in Los Angeles.

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

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. OSTERBERG: And that would happen a lot.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. OSTERBERG: A lot. Now I just go to one or the other.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. OSTERBERG: 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.

BRAND: Cheers.

(Soundbite of clinking glass)

BRAND: This is really good.

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

BRAND: Oh, is this part of your…

Mr. OSTERBERG: Oh, yes.

BRAND: …your rider.


BRAND: The famous rider.

Mr. OSTERBERG: Yes, the famous rider. Right. I know. Where's the live crocodiles?

BRAND: Yeah, exactly. I'm disappointed.

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

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 - was not your average concert hall, concert venue. And as you say, there was some cheese factor there.

Mr. OSTERBERG: There was - there was a cheese ring.


(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. OSTERBERG: But it never touched us. I didn't feel it touched us.

BRAND: Good.

Mr. OSTERBERG: 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.


Mr. OSTERBERG: Including my own trips, because I will. You know, I'm a human being. I'll go hey, look at me. You know, there's some of that.

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

Mr. OSTERBERG: (Singing) Now I wanna be your dog. Now I wanna be your dog. Now I wanna be your dog. Well c'mon.

BRAND: That song, "I Want to 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 ten 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. OSTERBERG: (Singing) Well, it's 1969, OK. All across the U.S.A. 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 onstage 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.

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

BRAND: What are you preaching?

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

(Soundbite of laughter)

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 the 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. OSTERBERG: Yeah. I'm not - I'm still - 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: Hi, we're The Stooges. 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. OSTERBERG: Great, super-great, really good.

(Soundbite of cynical laughter)

Mr. OSTERBERG: A little bit of that, you know. And also just a nice - it's nice to be a - mister…

BRAND: A Mister Pop?

Mr. OSTERBERG: Yeah, it's nice.

BRAND: Well Iggy Pop, thank you very much.

Mr. OSTERBERG: Thank you. It was a real pleasure.

BRAND: Yeah, thanks.

Mr. OSTERBERG: I had fun talking to you.

BRAND: Me, too.

Mr. OSTERBERG: All right. "No Fun."

(Soundbite of song, "No Fun")

Mr. OSTERBERG: All right, come up on stage. Everybody, get the (bleep) up here.

BRAND: Iggy Pop and The Stooges are on tour now. Their Yahoo concert can be seen for free online beginning Sunday.

(Soundbite of song, "No Fun")

Mr. OSTERBERG: (Singing) No fun to be alone, walkin' by myself. No fun to be alone, in love with nobody else.

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