IGGY AND THE STOOGES: Bring the Weirdness

Electing to work with Steve Albini was also Ron’s idea, but as a one-time drummer, Iggy figured he’d bring forth an ideal drum sound to the Stooges’ live-in-the-studio approach. “I pieced it together that he’d be good for the drums,” Iggy says, “but I was sort of worried because he’s an ‘anti-producer.’ A normal producer will paper over your disagreements, smudge out your weaknesses, bolster your strengths, tighten up your arrangements and sort of referee your differences. With Albini, he’ll look at any of those things with sort of a scornful glee [laughs]. Like, ‘Well, you fucks really showed up unprepared for this one. That really sucks!’ [laughs] But once you understand what you have to do in that sort of environment, it all comes together. He gives a very strong effort. If he was a football player, he’d definitely be in the Pro Bowl for what he gave us during his eight hour stint.”

If the title song’s waltz-like quality sounds terrific and unique, the song sort of happened by mistake. “Ron was fuckin’ around. And he didn’t think he was doing anything, but the fuck-around he was doing had a real strange modular climb and timing,” Iggy says. “And I thought, ‘Whoa. Cool.’ I immediately thought of ‘Harlem Nocturne,’ which is a beautiful song by Earle Hagen. And that’s one of the nicest things that’s ever been recorded by saxophone. And it just seemed right for the title track. For some reason it felt really wrong to try for some really spunky or violent title; everybody would be expecting that. Something…Stoned. Something witty and cheeky. Something slightly obscene. We thought about Free and Freaky a bit, which is a tune from the album, but it was a little too cute for me. The Weirdness is definitely a curveball.

With some of the strongest and most amusing Iggy lyrics in some time, he taunts and provokes thought. With “Trollin’,” replete with the sentiment, “My dick is turning into a tree,” he describes it as, “A bit of ecology.” Elsewhere in the same number, he rants “Rock critics wouldn’t like this at all,” leaving one to ask, “Why would you draw a line in the sand like that?”

“Well, that’s me, you know,” he responds. “It just came out of my mouth. I usually write these songs in chunks, where they’re half written and then I verbalize. I think I might have been reading some particularly dry fare at the time. And I just thought there’s a whole school of rock leadership now, and I just thought, fuck it. Let’s see where it goes. But most of my songs now fly in advance.

“I can’t write in the studio,” he adds of his creative method. “The stuff flies out of me when I’m creating it with the group. The stuff comes out in the rehearsal space and, with The Stooges, it used to start at the gigs with a catchword and we’d go out and play it, and it would change 20 times until it felt right. Now, we’d record the sessions on a MiniDisc player and they’d take shape that way. About half of them were written word, and usually if that’s going to be any good…it comes out fast. So you get pretty close to the studio, and then there are little things you change.”

The Weirdness boasts a lot of social observation, be it war (“My Idea of Fun”), greed (“Greedy Awful People”) or disciples of Dr. Phil. Iggy crackles, “Yeah, I’m pleased Dr. Phil could make the record. It’s nice to have a guest star that everybody knows. Too bad I couldn’t find a place for Oprah, Rachel Ray-maybe Rosie O’Donnell. The list is endless. It’s nice if I can touch on some words or some things that other people have noticed. It gives you a starting point.”

So does he really “hate it when people look at me the wrong way?” as he barks on the roaring, forceful “Free and Freaky?” “That’s one of the ones where I’m not singing entirely as me,” Iggy says. I live here in South Florida and there are a lot of hair-trigger people, particularly some of the people who are from…how should I say? Elsewhere. And you really don’t want to look at them the wrong way. It’s also an old country and blues music cliché, where you’d shoot a guy who looked at you wrong.

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