Iggy still raging at the halfway mark
GGY Pop waxes poetic when considering the coincidence of releasing an album within months of his old cohort David Bowie.
‘‘I noticed that and I also noticed Johnny Marr is coming out with something after a long, long time and I think it’s a very beautiful thing,’’ he says.
‘‘As corny as it is, I couldn’t help but think about Dylan Thomas: ‘Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light’.’’
And raging he still is. It has taken Iggy and The Stooges four decades to release the long-awaited follow-up to Raw Power, the first record to bear their immortal logo.
The ironically titled Ready To Die, due out on April 26, is proto-punk outfit The Stooges’ survival manifesto, delivered 40 years after they were written off by an industry that considered them too dangerous to matter.
As he prepares to blow everyone off the stage at the Byron Bay Bluesfest, Pop is nowhere ready to die. But he is enjoying the last laugh.
‘‘This has been a great century for me – the last century really f***ing sucked. I think maybe society and I have met halfway for a little while now. I would prefer to be a breathing gladiator than a sort of dusty piece of angelic statuary, if I had to choose,’’ he says.
Since reuniting The Stooges a decade ago, Pop has been worshipped as the Godfather of Punk and won new generations of fans via the world’s festival stages and the ‘‘level playing field’’ of the internet.
He doesn’t mind the historic revisionism of his career which has placed him firmly back in the spotlight in the past decade but would prefer it wasn’t conducted through rose-coloured glasses.
For the man born Jim Osterberg, the bitter bile of the rejection he suffered in the late 1970s and 1980s still rises occasionally.
You sense he likes to use it to fuel the rage required to spit out Real Wild Child or I Wanna Be Your Dog.
‘‘The fact that we are daring to open our ancient mouths and show our faces so blatantly is going to cause a revisionism,’’ he says, chuckling.
‘‘The beautiful thing about reuniting the group is we have finally made it – we didn’t make it before in certain wordly terms. If we were that terrible the first time around, we wouldn’t have to bother with this shit.
‘‘I am proud I can look at some of the bands I loathed at the time and our records are still selling and theirs aren’t, so f*** them.’’
Watch Iggy Pop walk around backstage at a festival or before a gig and you witness the effects of those drug-fuelled, hedonistic and often violent early years in his rolling gait.
You also see the deference and awe from his peers. If there is one rocker everyone wants to meet, it is Iggy.
And he gets more up close and personal with his faithful than your average rock god, often inviting swarms of fans to join him onstage in an impromptu moshpit.
Asked about the generation gap he recalls an encounter with fans who epitomised the bookends of his fanbase.
‘‘I was in the airport the other day in the Cayman Islands; it’s a very English place where I got to r’n’r,’’ he says.
‘‘There was a lovely, lovely greying couple from Pleasureville, Kentucky, who I talked to and they were very nice people.
‘‘They were immediately followed by two young louts who were 18, in baggy T-shirts and said ‘Are you Iggy Pop? What are you doing here? We never thought we would see you in a place like this.’ I told them I have to be somewhere or I’m nowhere. ‘‘The full spectrum in one minute.’’ Pop and the Stooges join the roll call of rock survivors – including Robert Plant, Paul Simon, Santana, Steve Miller Band, Bonnie Raitt, Status Quo, Roger Hodgson and Jon Anderson – at Bluesfest. But the man he says he is looking forward to catching up with is our own Tex Perkins, with the Beasts of Bourbon supporting The Stooges.
‘‘I am happy to see Tex and those guys; they are a good bunch of people and he’s a star-like person to me. That band rocks,’’ he says.
Iggy and The Stooges play the Byron Bay Bluesfest on March 30.
The Stooges: guitarist James Williamson, frontman Iggy Pop and drummer Scott Asheton.