The true “King of Pop” – Iggy Pop that is – performed a rare live radio session for KCRW with an all-star band of musicians that you can watch now.
We taped this live session as the band — Iggy, producer/guitarist/songwriter/bandleader Josh Homme, Homme’s Queens Of The Stone Age bandmate and Dead Weather-man Dean Fertita and Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders (with QOTSA multi-instrumentalist Troy Van Leeuwen and journeyman guitarist/bassist Matt Sweeney) — were in the midst of rehearsals for their first tour behind the Post Pop Depression album, out now.
Sparks were flying from the second the guys walked in the studio together – wearing their customized YSL suits. (of course, Iggy’s jacket wasn’t on for long)
Their camaraderie was instantly apparent. In the control room, Dean STILL seemed amazed that it was all happening, and he was playing alongside the punk rock icon. In fact, Iggy seemed to keep everyone on their toes, calling out songs as they went.
MBE host Jason Bentley had a chance to chat with Iggy and Josh at SXSW and you can read highlights of their conversation below:
Jason Bentley: So I can tell you guys get on very well, how long have you really known each other?
Iggy Pop: Oh about 10, 12, 15 years. Something like that. I met him back at the Kerrang Awards. I guess the joke is that I got a Lifetime Achievement award and he got a drunk boot out. (laughter)
JH: I did get thrown out. Well, I was asked to leave. But that’s okay.
IP: It’s hardly a sin to get thrown out of the Kerrang Awards…
JH: That was really early to get a lifetime achievement award.
JB: Josh, tell us about working with someone who no doubt you looked up to and is iconic. Was there a sense of, you know, just responsibility or even panic, in a way?
JH: No, I didn’t feel panic. Because life, in my opinion, is about stacking of events and you have a right road for you and a wrong road and you need to pay attention to those road signs.
I felt like I had been working a long time and I felt ready to throw myself into something like this. It almost felt like this is the moment to do everything you’ve learned for someone that you really respect and care about. And so, in that way, I was like ‘oh, I’m going to really enjoy this.” For each of these events, as this has expanded, it’s been wonderful to close my eyes and just enjoy it.
IP: I wanted to work with somebody who would have been a unique catch if I could land him. (laughter)
I caught a big one.
I had a little something that I wanted to say, but it didn’t go far enough to communicate with the Anglo American music scene. I was going to need some help. And it really was a unique opportunity that Josh existed, because the range of skill sets and attitudes is enormous, from Shepherd’s Pie – if you know that cut, if you don’t, play it sometime — to Make it Wit Chu, to Like Clockwork, to the heavy stuff.
There’s a hell of a range. And there’s composition. There’s songwriting too, there are memorable lyrics, fantastic vocals, and there is a general style like the best people… like the very best people, like, Hubert Sumlin with Howlin’ Wolf, like Keith Richards with the Stones.
Anything he plays leaves space for other people – it’s never about him, it invites other people. So that was wow.
So the process was really getting a hold of him and seeing if he would be interested in doing something.
So I tried to call him, but he doesn’t take voicemail. I’ve got this flip phone, it’s so old now it’s got grunge all over it. My wife won’t touch it. And it has ABC on one key. So I had to send a text.
So we started shooting the idea back and forth and, basically, I was looking for a producer. I wasn’t gonna tell him that. I was looking for a co-writer, I could tell him that right off, and I was looking for a composer, but I knew that the subject of the composition was going have to be me, because otherwise he can go do his own thing, and I didn’t ever, ever expect it to be a big old, capital R, rock record.
First of all, he excels at doing that in a certain that he feels like doing that with his own group, which is still growing and its mutating rock. But I didn’t expect any of that. That’s his, not mine.
But I suspected that this was one of those people who probably had a whole lot of other creative things that crossed his mind and didn’t always have an outlet. I thought maybe I could be his outlet. All I really wanted to do –I wanted to sing good.
That’s what I wanted to do. Then we started from there and then the thing kind of took twists and turns and worked its way up.
JB: I want to ask you about the song “Sunday“, which is one I’ve really been playing quite a bit and enjoying. It’s interesting that the end of that piece is this whole sort of orchestrated part — tell us about that idea and kind of getting to that point.
JH: Well, “Sunday” was one of the last…we worked together in Joshua Tree for three weeks and we took a break before we went to my place, Pink Duck Studios.
By that time, we were really immersed in our relationship to create and, so, things just started coming. This riff was happy, I think it’s the happiest thing I’ve ever been involved in.
I showed it to Iggy and we got excited over it and I think it started to encapsulate the record in a way — all the hard work to deserve the chance to have earned a “Sunday”, you know.
And so the end was something that, it was almost like wanting a gift of something we’ve never done together. I was excited like *gasps* I’ve got this thing for you at the end, it’s a present. And perhaps, from my end, I look at that song as very — although a collaboration — very autobiographical.
I think of Iggy when I think of that song, like, he makes it to Sunday.
IP: He ghost wrote a lot of those, a lot of the lyrics, as me. That’s what he did. He took a look at me and said this is what you are: you’re black and blue, you’re tired, it’s Sunday. It’s very good, it’s direct and honest.
I had the line coming in early on, “I got all I need and it’s killing me.” And I was singing that over and over and he said, sing ‘and you’.
And that totally changed it. It’s killing me and you. Suddenly, you have a different picture, it’s more relatable, it’s more honest, because most of us have relationships. Also, it would have been weird if it was just “it’s killing me, its killing me” and the violins come in. But me and you…me and you allows the violins.
JH: It’s funny that we’re talking about the song and realizing that because of when that song came to be in the session — and in our relationship with making something — that song is the most US together.
IP: Yes, that was a real meld.
JH: That song it really exemplifies the apex of us working together. It encapsulates us.
IP: Yes. I’m tired.
JH: But, we both make it to Sunday. You make it to Sunday, I make it to Sunday. There’s so many wonderful sentiments on the record from the perspective not oft represented — the 68-year-old rock and roll icon perspective is not very represented, you know?
It’s a unique vantage point. And so there’s so many of those very pure, uncollaborated moments of lyrical poetry, and so it allowed us to get to that point where we could make this song “Sunday“.
The band plays a sold out show at the Greek Theatre on April 28. If you can catch them on tour, I highly recommend it!