L – How soon after the Stooges get to London, when they were doing the album, does it become apparent that they’ve some serious problems with drugs?
A- A lot of times people don’t understand that there are a lot of people that have done incredible work high as kites. And it really doesn’t become a problem until you’re trying to deal with them on a personal issue, like, what time they need to leave the hotel, or what time they need to be at the airport, you know what I mean?
L – Yeah.
A – But that in actual fact the quality of their work is fabulous. It’s just the peripheral shit.
L – It’s amazing that the quality of the work is so amazing. I mean, you know, to what people were doing to themselves.
A – Yes, exactly.
L – Which brings to mind a point that, maybe people do some of their best work when they’re fucked up.
A – Absolutely. I don’t know about you but I have no moral trepidations in saying as far as I’m concerned I think drugs have had a really bad, uh, blast as far as how they’re considered, I really do.
L – Yeah, I do too.
A – I think it’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. You know, it’s perfectly alright for people to join AA and talk about how alcohol, and this and that and the other thing, but there isn’t a writer that lived overseas that reported the news that wasn’t an alcoholic, you what I mean?
L – Right, I know.
A – Some things . . .
L – Which is why the book is called Please Kill Me. And the way we sold it was: never did so many people have so much fun killing themselves.
A – Exactly. Damn great title.
L – There’s something to be said for that. Because now we live in the age of “just say no” and everybody’s on Prozac because they’re so fucking depressed, because there’s no possibilities left.
A – Well that’s exactly right.
L – I mean, that’s my opinion.
A – No, no, I think that’s a very interesting feeling. . . I don’t know but personally I just think drugs have such a bad rap and it’s not politically correct to talk about it and seeing as how I hate being politically correct I talk about it at every opportunity. Anyway, I’m sorry, where were we?
L – The recording of Raw Power. Did you drop by the studio and watch how it progressed?
A – I think probably as a question of politeness I probably didn’t go until David invited me to hear some mixes.
L – Did you hate going into the studio?
A – Oh no. No, no, no. I loved going to the studio. I was just real respectful because I wasn’t sure, you know, if they gelled yet, if they were having fun or whether they were not having a good time, yet I wasn’t sure . . .
L – If they were getting it down?
A – Yeah. And I didn’t want to get in the way or be there if they were bonding, and I was always very sensitive and intuitive about that part of the creative process in the studio with David . . . I have watched him, Tony Visconti, and I had been from that first album, Man of War, Man of Peace, and I’d gotten good at it. By then we’d done four or five albums and I’d gotten pretty good at it. I knew . .
L – So you knew when to show up and when not to?
A – Uh-huh.
L – What did you think when you finally heard what they were doing?
A – Anything David did was good as far as I was concerned.
L – So you loved it?
A – I was crazy about it.
L – Are you still?
A – Oh, yes. No, I mean there’s been nothing that David has done– apart from a couple of feeble pop attempts in the last ten years– that I have not thought was brilliant. Anything he does that’s really exotic and difficult is wonderful. I think the only time that I’ve ever been disappointed in his work is when he tried to lighten up. And I find that, I don’t know about you, but I find that true of most people who are very intense. You know what I mean?
L – Yeah, right.
A – I would rather that they were just intense and make me endure it and that’s fine.
L – Yeah.
A – It’s like if Lou Reed did a Coco Cola jingle I would have a problem with that, know what I mean? I’m glad if he’d making the money but I still wouldn’t listen to it.
L – Yeah, we’d rather have Lou be Lou.
A – Exactly! Lou be Lou, and I only really started to appreciate him and to realize his great talent after years and years of being with David and to listening to that album that David finally got out of him and realizing that it was really great …
L – Transformer?
A – Uh huh.
L – You said “finally got out of him,” was it a struggle for him to pull it out of Lou?
A – I don’t think it was a struggle so much as I think that there was a… I think Lou is pretty sure of what he wants and I think that David is also very sure of what he wants and I think that “Sweet Jane”… if I had the album in front of me I could actually name like four or five to you that I know David really had to flirt him to agreeing to try it a certain way; he had to really sweet talk him into it and say, “Look, just try it.”
L – Was “Walk On The Wild Side” one of those?
A – Yes.
L – It was. Did they butt heads?
A – Oh no, no, no, no. It was a huge fucking love affair. No, I mean it wasn’t a love affair, I don’t mean sexual I mean one of those ..
L – Things where they’re just …
A – “We’re in the studio,” you know…
L – Right, they’re excited about working together and excited about the possibility of what might come about.
A – Yes, and it was just one of those real…
L – … and very seductive.
A – Yeah, it’s seductive, it’s enchanting and it involves a lot of tip-toeing. It was very much like that, I stayed well away from that one until I was told to come because he had a little brother and sister..
L – Yeah, you talk about that in your book.
A – Yeah, and I mean they were adorable, you know what I mean and they were at the studio so David had to kind of maneuver around all of this New York.
L – So he was fucking both the brother and the sister?
A – I don’t think he was fucking either of them. I mean, he might’ve been but I think it was just like, it was all, he was being New York you know, I’m bisexual, I bring it with me. It was all image and he was doing it; he was doing a damn fine job.
L – Were you shocked when he said, “Oh, this is my girlfriend and this is my boyfriend?”
A – No. Things like that didn’t shock me.
L – Think it was funny?
A – No, I get shocked by ridiculous things; no, it would’ve been funny if they were ugly. They were great looking, so it wasn’t funny. It was fucking awesome, that’s what it was. No, the things that made me laugh at that time was the embarrassment if someone didn’t know what a shrimp forte was. That kind of thing embarrassed me because I never wanted to feel out of place and I wanted him to have all of the great experiences I had had, because I had been to a great school and done everything in this big tradition, so I assumed that I could sweep everyone along in that same way and make everyone equal and enjoy the same thing, so it didn’t matter who you were fucking or what you were fucking or how often you fucked it as long as it didn’t interfere with your work.
L – Did you find Lou sexy?
A – No, I’ve always thought that he was totally asexual.
L – Did he just seem self-involved?
A – Yeah, self-involved, self-obsessed..
L – Did you like him?
A – Intellectually yes.
L – Did you have conversations?
A – Yes, yes, yes and I loved that, he’s so stimulating, so intelligent and so obnoxious, I mean, I love that obnoxious part of him because sometimes the first couple of weeks that he was there he was really straight, I mean, without chemical substances so I mean I talked to him a lot then, then I talked to him in New York later, and he, I’m sure, you read that book of mine, Backstage Passes, you may remember the quote where I say that he says that you have to do drugs because of the pollution in all the cities and that really shocked me. I’m sure William Burroughs, I’m sure thousands of New York people had said it to him, way before he ever repeated it to me, but I had never heard it, you what I mean, no one had pulled it out of the air and said it to me and I thought, “Wow, okay,” it certainly was no excuse to do drugs, I don’t mean like that, but I just thought it was really interesting. I had never thought about anything like that.
L – The city being so toxic that you need some kind of toxic antidote.
A – Yeah, and it was such a great line, isn’t it? You know, it’s so stinky, it’s so disgusting– what difference is it gonna make?
L – Yeah.
A – Thought, yeah, fuck it, you’re right, ha ha ha what difference is it gonna make, ha ha ha.
L – In hindsight I know this is one of those Monday morning quarterback questions, but did you have any idea that Raw Power would influence generations of kids?
A – Are you kidding, my fucking ego is so enormous, I knew that everything we did was gonna change musical history ha ha ha. I can’t believe I said that but it’s true.
L – Well Raw Power actually did though.
A – No, but see I’m not being specific, no, if you ask me did I know Raw Power was going to, no, but everything we did, that’s how I felt about it. There wasn’t one artist, or one song that David recorded, one song that Mick Ronson recorded, one song that Lou Reed recorded or Iggy recorded that to me wasn’t totally and utterly planet tilting because I believe and I have always believed that things that I was working on and the things that we were touching was that exciting and that important.
L – Remember any intellectual conversations you had with Lou, what kind of subjects you were talking about?
A – I can remember because I didn’t do a lot of talking, I did a lot of listening when they spoke about New York and David would draw him out and get him to talk about what was going on in New York and it was very easy to impress David because England, was very backward, I mean, it was against the law to commit sodomy. So you gotta understand where David was coming from is not because he was stupid, or because he was juvenile, or naive, it was because he was looking at it with this whole look of an English…