Petites phrases de marteaux-piqueurs
Commérages de scies à métaux
Bourdon agaçant des souffleurs de feuilles mortes dès potron-minet
Glapissements de chiot(te)s m’as-tu-vu
Prêches criards de cloches d’églises
Borborygme monstrueux des mondanités additionnées
Martèlement accéléré des beats monotones tapageurs des nightclubbers zombies qui n’entendent plus battre leur cœur
Civilisation du bruit…
After David Lynch, we continue our amazing series of imaginary interviews of contemporary art icons. Today, The Iguana himself, aka Mr. Biggie (and I saw it !), Vice style. But first, I owe it to my readers to disclose my close personal relationship with the enfant terrible of glam pop music : for years, a giant American Caesar stared at me up close in my teenage bedroom. But I’m doing better now. So, without further ado, let’s jump into it…
Howdy, Sir Pop. I was fifteen when I first saw you live. It was at the Brielpoort in the small Belgian city of Deinze. And it was unforgettable. A few years later, I went to an Henry Rollins gig. With him you share, among other things, the habit of displaying your body on stage. His is covered with tattoos front and back, yours isn’t. Regardless of any easily forgivable self-attraction, do you think of your body as a work of art ?
By 1967, when The Stooges’ first album came out, color made its first significant breakthrough on national television. But the minds were still largely black and white. With its raw energy and provocative lasciviousness, the band was like a colorful explosion in Pleasantville. It definitely broke the musical codes of that time.
As I grew up with that music, that and Led Zeppelin’s, then Sonic Youth’s, one of your rightful heirs somehow, and quite some The Cure as well, I’ll always remain emotionally attached to it, it’ll never lose its power, and it’ll always remain avant-garde to me, as I think it can be to new generations too, particularly considering the amount of commercial trash being produced these days, which has not only become panoramic compared to what it was in the seventies, but is also a lot – and I mean a lot ! – shittier than any of the P&L stuff major labels could come up with back then : “cultural treason” is everywhere now !
But, despite a clear resurgence of puritanism, both in the US and in Europe, sex – or the marketing thereof – is now omnipresent : some fringe rock and rap bands even invite couples to fuck on stage. There’s a ‘been there, done that’ feeling to it. The energy The Stooges were able to produce, which was a direct reflection of how they were dealing with their hormones as teenagers, others might genuinely try to channel and reproduce (and, to some extent, a lot have), but that too would amount to déjà vu. Last but not least, whereas, for better or worse, musical trends were very affirmed in the sixties and seventies, in part due to the majors’ influence, the era of musical fashions is over. In other words, there can never be another Iggy and The Stooges.
If they were in their late teens today, and equally inspired, what music (in any possible genre) could they, could you, produce that would have the same immediate and lasting effect on people and society in general ? How could they challenge their audience between a rock of repetition and a soft place of mellow intimacy ? Where would true rebellion – or just coolness – lie in music these days for “absolute beginners” ? And can it emerge against both what some – maybe even yourself – would call the excesses of the past and the new political correctness ?
Several times, drugs (some a lot more than others) had a nefarious effect on the band throughout its existence. During your press conference in Cannes last year, you encouraged (young) people to leave drugs aside. Is that something one has to say when addressing the flock in a church like Cannes ? Did you mean it ? Would The Stooges have been The Stooges without them ?
What was worse for you ? The drugs or you suddenly being sucked into the celebrity machine as a kid from Michigan who grew up in a trailer ?
Looking back at your Arista years and even later on, how much of your music during that period, if any, do you consider to be a concession to “cultural traitors” ? I guess what I’m asking is : did you lose your edge of your own volition ? Were you coerced financially ? It must have been very hard for you to be asked to perform Stooges songs alone and in playback on TV…
In Cannes – or was it during your Times Talks interview ? – you said language should be as spontaneous as possible. If the other questions didn’t bore you already, this one sure will : generally speaking, in how far can spontaneity be accuracy ? And in how far is it any different from empty automatism ?
The next one is a bit surreal, but I’m going to ask it anyway… I also remember you saying you saw to it Stooges songs were always very parsimonious with words in order to be more efficient and to the point. What about purely instrumental music ? Could Iggy ever have done an act with the same passion without vocals at all ?
I agree with you about Igor, but I know you’re open to all kinds of music. What do you make of the original Detroit techno scene ? Could there be room for guitar or voice inserts in there ? Names like Mad Mike or Jeff Mills ring a bell ?
Throughout your musical career, you embraced several genres, but always remained within the rock, and later pop realm. Can the future of music be anything else than a fusion of genres (in fact, as many as the artistic mind is able to conceive) that would ultimately get rid of established ones and allow creators to explore the entire musical realm as they go without obfuscating their audiences ?
They had to wait for over forty years, but in 2010 The Stooges were formally inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. To anyone who knows anything about rock music however, this was a mere formality. How important was it to you ? And how important was it to Junior Jim ?
Mr. Osterberg, I want to thank you for this interview, and I wish you many more albums to come.
Do I wanna see it again ? C’mon on, man, you could be my dad… Okay then, a quick glimpse…