BY: AMY HABEN
New Yorker’s gathered together on 57th Street to witness a discussion with Iggy Pop and Jim Jarmusch hosted by the New York Times one month ago. I was lucky enough to find a single seat right up front. I bought a ticket to see Iggy Pop play last year but I was up in the nosebleed seats… too far away to witness the many fine lines and expressive eyes of the talented rule breaker himself.
Iggy, born James Osterberg, shuffled on to the stage as he’s been suffering from major back problems. Once seated, he reminisced on his job as a stock boy at Discount Records, the local college record store in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His duties included selling, stocking, taping up the returns, and grabbing coffee for his fellow employees who called him by his nickname “Iguana.” The Stooges played junior highs and high schools for free in the beginning. Can you imagine being twelve years old and experiencing a sweaty, half-naked Iggy gyrating while you eat your bologna sandwich in the quad? Talk about being introduced to sex on a sonic level…
Jim Jarmusch pronounced his Stooges documentary, Gimme Danger, as a film for hardcore Stooges fans made by one. The challenge was finding material that hadn’t been seen previously. Ben Blackwell and Iggy Pop helped out, while John Sinclair’s wife, photographer Leni Sinclair contributed by providing footage. She was one of only a few people who shot the Stooges and the MC5 back in the day.
Jim Jarmusch: “Rock & roll, if it doesn’t have what we call, “a stupid factor” then it’s not really good rock & roll. It’s not derogatory, it’s like, if you’re just earnest, you are, sorry… U2.”
Iggy has a fantastic memory, recalling grammar school friends and their family in exact detail. Jarmusch described him as “a mutant.” Iggy went on to describe his work ethic as a performer similar to a mental illness. His series of breathing exercises and stretches carried out in an obsessive compulsive manor. When I interviewed Blondie drummer, Clem Burke recently, he mentioned watching Iggy do push-ups on the side of the stage right before the show. A funny juxtaposition from the rocker archetype.
The two Jims from the Midwest, have quite a lot in common. Both only drink wine and coffee, abstaining from harder vices, as well as practice the Chinese art of Qigong regularly. Jarmusch influenced Pop’s musical influences, getting him into Canadian country rockers, the Sadies. Iggy went on to list an extensive bill of bands he is listening to at the moment including Death Grips and Girlpool. His favorite band is the British duo, Sleaford Mods.
We watched clips from Gimme Danger as well as Coffee & Cigarettes, preceded by questions from the audience. One man asked Iggy, “How are you still alive?”
Iggy quipped back, “We used to buy our flannel shirts at the supermarket… yeah, it’s like that.”
Gimme Danger is currently playing in an independent theater near you. Watch the Times Talk in full below: