He's secured his pension. So Iggy Pop treats himself to an excursion into avant-garde and jazz filmes. His new album "Free" is an escape from the animal rocker, whom he has been giving since the end of the sixties as convincingly as no other. And at the same time it is a flawless "piss off!" towards its critics.
From Marcel Anders
Iggy Pop needs thick horn-rimmed glasses, walks slightly flexed, hears badly and the muscle under his upper arm hangs from the bone in sun-tanned skin. A sight that is a bit shocking, because the 72-year-old was always the wiry stand-up man on duty. The prototype punk, the rebel with jeans and free upper body. Today he needs a personal assistant to take care of his appointments, make him coffee and drive him through Miami where Mr. Pop presents "Free". His 18th solo album is a cooperation with jazz trumpeter Leron Thomas, which stands for a break with Pop's typical steamroller skirt. And for which he has only one explanation: "I can afford it."
eclipsed: Mr. Pop, did you hang up rock music?
Iggy Pop: No! For example, I was only in Australia a few weeks ago - and rocked like hell. (laughs) The producer of this album, Leron Thomas, accompanied me - he played Stooges songs with a brass section. So can he. But that album was something I wanted to do. Simply because I have a weakness for wind instruments and especially for trumpeters. I've been into Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie since I was a kid. Guys who had a mad sound and who were very interesting characters.
eclipsed: Their new album should surprise everyone who expects another work in the manner of "Post-Pop Depression". Was that the intention?
Pop: Indeed. Simply because I'm not the type to want success. I've never been interested in him before. OK, now and then, I have to come to terms with the mainstream world. Just to show that I can and to keep my back free. But it's just not where I belong.
eclipsed: Weren't you surprised yourself by the success of the last album - the most commercially successful of your long career?
Pop: No, I wasn't surprised. Simply because I worked with competent people like Josh Homme, Dean Fertita and Matt Helders. So absolute top guys who formed my band. At first I didn't even know that it would go in this direction. Because I had asked Josh, and actually expected him not to contribute more than a few blues riffs. Similar to what he does with Desert Sessions. I thought I was flying to Palm Desert for a weekend and that warʼs. But he wanted more. And when I realized that, I thought, "Let's try it." It was a wonderful thing. But I'd be stupid to repeat it over and over again.
eclipsed: This also seems to be true for Leron Thomas. Be it in terms of humour, which is reflected in his lyrics. But also with regard to his curriculum vitae and not least his trumpet playing. How did they meet?
Pop: May I interrupt for a moment? I'm waiting for a coffee to be brought to me. Can you open the door for a second? Thank you. I'll take care of it. Where's my fucking coffee?
Assistant Henry: Already on the way!
Pop: Let's continue as good as we can. You asked about Leron..
eclipsed: Yeah, how did they meet? After all, it was hardly likely at any of their concerts, was it?
Pop: No. Ben Ratliff, the jazz critic of the New York Times, is a good friend who always listens to my radio show on the BBC. That's how he knows I like trumpeters. And Leron is a real jazz luminary. He has played with many good hip hop and R&B artists - and at some point had enough of them. He also makes other kinds of music, which are not necessarily my case - like experimental HipHop. But his intention was to try something that would give him more recognition, where he would have more opportunities for artistic expression and earn more money. So he created a character called Pan Amsterdam and started to put entertaining hip hop tracks over nice motifs, which he mostly composes with drum loops. He plays a little trumpet over it. Ben sent me some of these. I was going to bring it to my show and started a correspondence with Leron. Just to find out a little more about this interesting artist. That's how we started exchanging ideas. And at one point I wondered if I should sing on some of his pieces. So to help him get a record deal and make his own album.
eclipsed: But you hadn't thought about a collaboration like the one you find on "Free" now? And which goes so far as to interpret five of his pieces?
Pop: Originally I just wanted to help him release his own album. But then I liked some of the material so much that I wanted to sing on it myself. I said to him, "Come to Miami and record a singing session with me, singing two or three of your numbers." In the end, all the tracks that are on the album - and with which I am very happy - have become the ones. At the beginning and end I also have contributions from Noveller, an atmospheric electronic avant-garde guitarist. Everything you hear on her pieces - apart from Leron's trumpet solos - was created with a Stratocaster and a bunch of effect devices. By the way, she does the same live - only she alone with the guitar. She's brilliant. And I just wanted to do something outside the rock format. I already tried that on Post-Pop Depression. This is not a real rock album either, but it was made with guys playing in rock bands. And it did me so good - because of the album and the following tour I don't have to worry about anything anymore. I was fine before, but the two years after the release made sure that I was well.
eclipsed: What do you mean, so good?
Pop: I had incredible success. And now I can do what I want. It's just my way and anyone who doesn't like it has had bad luck. Tell him to fuck off. And as for this album: I am proud of the music I made there. I know I'll touch certain people with it. This has always been my goal - that's why I do this.
eclipsed: Hence the album title - because you live out your freedom?
eclipsed: Whereby the opener seems like a real manifesto - with the words: "I want to be free"?
Pop: He really is. And it took some time to realize that it takes just five words to get to the point. (laughs) It shouldn't have been more.
eclipsed: When you listen to the pieces that you didn't write, the question arises, how could Leron write something that suits them so well? Which seems tailor-made?
Pop: This is really interesting.
You can find the complete article in our online edition eclipsed 10/2019