Iggy Pop on Making Kill City, Life in '70s Los Angeles, and the Jim Jarmusch Stooges Doc
Foot mended, Iggy and the Stooges are ready to hit the stage in S.F.
Earlier this year, before Iggy Pop was aware that he'd broken his foot during a Stooges show in Romania, he had a delightful, cuss-filled conversation with us from his home in the Cayman Islands. Afterward, when Pop found out that his foot was seriously busted, the band rescheduled its S.F. dates to next week -- the Stooges play Sunday (Dec. 4) and Tuesday (Dec. 6) at the Warfield. Their approaching show seems like a perfect opportunity to share some of the parts of our chat we couldn't fit into the original printed interview. Here's some more from Iggy about last year's re-release of Kill City (the excellent album he made with Stooges guitarist James Williamson after the original band separated), Pop's views of L.A. at the time he wrote the album, and whether the footage Jim Jarmusch has shot of the Stooges will see public release.
Kill City, your first post-Stooges album, was re-released last year. How do you remember the making of that, and does it feel good to have it out in a new remastered version?
Yeah, and it was really, really important to James [Williamson]. The thing about that that I'm proudest of is that the writing was done very very quickly, in the living room of his illegal squat in Hollywood. And the technology was, he had his Les Paul and a Pignose, it's a tiny little amp with a three-inch speaker, and I just put my hand up by my mouth like a megaphone so that my holler would be a little louder, and that was it. I sat there with my notebook, and basically wrote what I think was a very good -- if Raymond Chandler had been alive and made albums -- a very good, Chandleresque description of life in L.A. at that time for a lot of people. And I think the title track, or a few of the tracks, are the first place where you'll hear themes that were developed later by Eazy-E, Ice-T, and Ice Cube. And you'll hear 'em first, right there.
Like what themes?
Well, this place is a playground for the rich, but it's a loaded gun to me, and if I've gotta fuckin' die here, first I'm going to make trouble. The mentality of my young friends of the female gender is verging on theme prostitution, love is for sale, the people you meet socially are generally dressing up trying to be somebody else. I could go on and on.
The laws of behavior are false -- so there was some good portraiture on the thing. And I guess James thought he was making a demo to try to make some sense out of our career, but I thought, every time I open my mouth and put pen to paper, I'm making great fucking art, dude. So I thought this is it, Iggy Pop speaks, man, that's just how I think. [Laughs]
And for that album I read that you recorded the vocals on the weekends while you were staying --
Yeah, then after we did the writing, I switched residences to the Neuropsychiatric Institute, and after about a month there, I was strong enough to get a Saturday and Sunday daytime pass for two daytimes and went to a -- there was a demo studio in [singer-songwriter] Jimmy Webb's backyard. We were there with his big ol' Southern family, kinda like being on the Jackson's estate, like The Beverly Hillbillies. And basically his nephew wanted -- [nasally Southern voice] "I wanna be a recording engineer," and somehow James said, "Well, you can practice on the Stooges." So that was the tradeoff, so that's where we recorded it. And that was about it. I went in and did it, and it was sort of in the "I'm about to fall down, I'm about to faint" style. It was alright -- it fit the material, I thought.
Was that before you did any soundtrack work? Because a lot of that sounds to me like it would make a great soundtrack.
Yeah, yeah, sure -- I know. No, I hadn't done any yet. And it was interesting that when it -- I had never thought about this, but some people, when it came out, mentioned that, well, here's a missing link in this guy's work between the rockism and then what was to come in The Idiot and then some things I did later. It wasn't my doing, all that was, there was a guy Scott Thurston, who now works in the Heartbreakers, for Tom Petty, and who played with the Stooges, contributed a lot of those ideas. And some of them were James' -- like "Night Theme," which we play live, was James' composition. It had nothing to do with me except a very minimal vocal.