The Stooges Share Formative Tales At SXSW Panel
Iggy Pop and his Stooges bandmates Ron and Scott Asheton reminisced about their formative late '60s days in Ann Arbor, Mich., and discussed their improbable comeback today (March 16) during a South byIggy Pop and his Stooges bandmates Ron and Scott Asheton reminisced about their formative late '60s days in Ann Arbor, Mich., and discussed their improbable comeback today (March 16) during a South by Southwest Q&A with journalist David Fricke. The group will play one of the festival's biggest shows tomorrow at Stubbs BBQ; a new album, "The Weirdness," was released last week via Virgin.
Pop sent the audience into hysterics when he recalled tripping on LSD, turning his Farfisa organ up to its maximum volume and then propping his feet up on the instrument for four hours to bask in the drone. Ron Asheton fondly discussed making whole grain waffles for his bandmates when they lived at the Fun House in Ann Arbor, where watching an old black-and-white TV and smoking pot were day-long activities. "We were foodies early on," Pop said. "I made the salad everyday," Asheton added.
The Stooges are now viewed as one of the most important American rock acts of all time, but in their early years, they earned the respect of hardly anybody. Fricke read a Rolling Stone review from the era that branded the band's sound as "moronic metal," but Asheton countered, "I never got upset. Bad reviews are better, because more people will come and see the Elephant Man or the circus freak."
Communal living and non-stop jam sessions honed the Stooges' sound, which could have gone in a much different direction, according to Pop. "I had little love beads and a Hindu mustache," he said. "I was playing little rock operas about a guy who lived with a little mouse in a bucolic world. These guys were trying to back me up. Nobody would want to listen to that."
Instead, the group became famous for its in-your-face brand of rock'n'roll and hard-partying lifestyle. It all proved unsustainable though, and the Stooges eventually dissolved in the mid-1970s, never to work together again until almost 30 years later.
"No one ever said, hey, I quit," Asheton said. "It was just like, I need a break. It was a long break, but we needed a break." Seeing Pop play Stooges songs as a solo artist was no easy pill to swallow, but Asheton acknowledged, "It's show business and it's a wicked animal. You take the offers you get and see what happens."
However, all parties said nothing beats the original group playing the original material. "The most artistic, psychic pain I've known in my life would be the many years of covering those songs with other players," Pop said. "It was a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, I hated how it sounded. On the other hand, [the songs] are incredible vehicles. You can come to town, play them and rock the house. I had a fair stretch of slogging it out."