Record Store Day Ambassador, Iggy Pop – “It’s A Theater And It’s A Laboratory. It’s A Lot Of Things.”

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Photo by Simone Joyner//Getty Images

Photo by Simone Joyner//Getty Images

Punk rock star, Iggy Pop, has a personal and musical history that is equal to some of the best independent record stores.

The 64-year-old musician has played by his own rules for decades, rebelling against the status quo and stale music business models, and he’s still considered one of the most inspiring, interesting modern-day artists.

Pop’s influence on the music industry combined with the fact his birthday falls directly on Record Store Day (April 21), makes him the perfect ambassador for the 5th annual celebration of what co-founder Michael Kurtz says may be “the biggest music event in the world.”

In an exclusive interview with CBS Local, Iggy Pop voiced his opinion on why the “physical personal animal contact” at records stores is important, the nature of little stores within the big business model mentality of American culture, how the music industry has changed since Pop’s start in the ’60s, and how “selling-out” isn’t a bad word.


CBS Local: 

“I wanted to dig right in and get your thoughts on a) being an ambassador, b) what effect can it have on the way that we devour music?”

Iggy Pop:

“You know, I knew we were going to speak today and I was looking up at the clouds thinking about that. One direct time the anecdotal evidence is in the Steve Jobs biography in which they talk about how we came up with the concept for iTunes and how different that was than the idea from the big record companies: ‘We’ll just rent the music out.'”

“His whole idea came because he was a guy that loved going to the f**king record store and buying the album. Even though the medium changed, he thought of the site as a store rather than a sort of lending library or a source.”

“The concept is important and other than that you usually, when there’s a really, really good producer or group of producers making any sort of breakthrough in popular music, you’ll inevitably read in interviews about a little store or two where they’ll go to grab their beats or find the old records that inspire them. Like Mark Ronson. Or the Dapkings. You know the bunch out of Brooklyn. People like the Black Keys. Basically, there’s a depth and subtlety of information that is still unique to actual, physical personal animal contact.”

CBS Local: 

“At the end of the day, are we just waxing poetic about the way record stores used to be or is it an effort to make sure iTunes doesn’t stomp out physical stores?”

IP:

“And it’s a theater and it’s a laboratory and it’s a lot of things: it’s a hang. And I get that. Well, yeah, it’s cool and it’s fun to look at whatever it was that you enjoyed about something that is in the past and maybe try to find a way to bring that into whatever’s going to come into the future.”

“Then there’s also the doomsday preservation scenario which is, I keep saying to myself, ‘Well, there are things that could happen and could start knocking out cellular towers, data storage centers and stuff like that and once that happens, sort of like in the Middle Ages, basically no one could read or write unless they were in a monastery. That sort of thing. There is that.”

CBS LA:

“Do you think that Record Store Day is about young people picking up a piece of vinyl for the first time because they don’t want to be considered the ‘norm’ or ‘I don’t want to be the iTunes shopper?'”

IP:

I was watching a video of Azealia Banks singing the other day and I got the feeling of, “Mmm. Spunky little chick.” And I thought I bet she hangs out in shops in her neighborhood, you know, not just record stores but clothing stores, crazy stores, junk stores, it really doesn’t f**king matter. I used to go to Let It Rock which was Malcolm McLaren’s store on King’s Road in London before it became, I think it became SEX next.”

“And, you know, what did it really have for sale? He had a big cardboard box full of hideous old pointed shoes, they call them winkle-pickers in England, but they’re greaser shoes. And, you know, you had to find the pair yourself. It was like five quid for this piece of hardened shoe leather, but it was the place for people to come and go and him to work out his notions.”

“He might as well put a sign that said ‘ME’ and eventually that morphed into a group. They did some music that everybody heard. Things can really change form really quickly. Even the littlest. God, in Memphis, Stax/Volt, they made all those great records and just up in to the mid-80s when there wasn’t much money there, there were lots of characters that had their own little art galleries. Their own little clothing stores out of that. Their own little auditoriums and bars and dives and a lot of great stuff came out of that.”

CBS Local:

“What do you look at when you see some place like Starbucks? They’re trying to create a community and music distribution hubs.”

IP:

“Yeah, well, that’s a funny, you know, I don’t want to put them down because yeah, they’re doing that, fair enough.  On the other hand, I live in Miami and you can get for 80¢ you can get a huge cup of really delicious, rich personality-laden Cuban coffee that you sit around and sip. One thing about Starbucks, you go to Starbucks and everyone is sitting there working productively. But if you go to like a good Cuban coffee joint or like a place that serves Coladas, everyone is just like eating desserts or gossiping. Checking each other out. “

CBS LA:

“It’s community. That way it’s supposed to be.”

IP:

“Yeah, but it ain’t Café Regio.”

CBS Local:

“I don’t know if enough people know about your history, but you’ve been through so much of the industry, from its heyday to near demise. You’ve been through a full cycle.”

IP:

“I tend, at this point, not to get overly impressed or intimidated by any particular state of affairs because I think, ‘Hey, wait a minute. I thought the same thing the long box.’ The Long Box was going to be this big f**king deal.”

“Yeah, it’s kind of a shi**y industry [laughing]. It was really at its best, I think in America, when, basically what happened was there were a lot of sort of poor blacks, hillbillies, cranks, and nutters that had these regional, local, independent mini-businesses putting out great music that could not get into the big industry which was everything from Rudy Vallee, to Tommy Dorsey to Perry Cuomo, ‘Doggie in the Window’ and all that.”

“Just like the crap on the top of the charts now, that stuff was put out in the mass to deal cynically to be dealt like a drug to the most vulnerable people who were too busy working or just too ignorant to have formed any taste.”

“So, all this movement came out and then eventually what happens is say, if you’re Elvis, and you’re in your mid-20s and you’ve already realized that you can’t really spend five more years touring seven gas stations in three nights or something and taking speed to drive from gig to gig and making a few hundred dollars, you’re going to have to go legit, so you end up in a crappy movie soundtrack and playing ball. Things change. Money talks to some people.”

“I’m fortunate. I do not sincerely wish to be rich. I’m rich enough now.”

CBS Local:

“But that’s what’s earned you the ultimate respect of fans and musicians… few artists have stuck to their guns the way you have.”

IP:

“I think selling out isn’t a bad word. Promote. Chart. Whatever, there’s money involved in everything. Usually, when you think you’ve gotta go for it, you’ll usually lead to a mistake, you know, it usually doesn’t work out the way it’s supposed to.”



Iggy & the Stooges Raw Power Deluxe Edition includes:

  • Raw Power – Original 1973 David Bowie Mix (Out of print for over a decade)
  • Georgia Peaches Disc – The previously unreleased one hour performance at Atlanta’s notorious rock club Richards in October 1973, plus 2 Bonus Studio Tracks, “Doojiman” & “Head On
  • Bonus Disc of Rarities, Outtakes and Alternate versions from the Raw Power era.
  • 48 page softcover book with essays by Henry Rollins, Brian J Bowe and Kris Needs; plus testimonials by Tom Morello, Slash, Lou Reed, Jim Jarmusch, Cheetah Chrome, Jim Reid, Perry Farrell, Hugo Burnham and more.
  • 5 exquisite 5″x7″ square prints, suitable for framing
  • Japanese 7″ picture sleeve reproduction of “Raw Power” b/w ‘Search And Destroy
  • Search And Destroy: Iggy & the Stooges Raw Power DVD documentary by Morgan Neville featuring new interviews with Iggy Pop, James Williamson, Scott Asheton, Mike Watt, Johnny Marr and Henry Rollins; plus live performance footage from Festival Planeta Terra, Sao Paulo Brazil – November 2009

– Jay Tilles, CBS Local and Nadia Noir, CBS Radio Los Angeles

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