Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives


Iggy Pop – New Values

I could easily have gone for Lust For Life or The Idiot but the one I’ve been listening to recently is New Values. I’ve got one of those old Arista twofors – a two-for-one. The other album on it is Soldier. Iggy’s very much like Bowie in that he got musicians in that he’d use for whatever period or month that he needed them before moving on to something else.

I don’t know the mechanics of who’s playing on it or how it was made. I just know that I love the songs on it. And I really love the performance on it and I love the space that he’s in. I mean, I love ‘The Endless Sea’ – that’s one of my favourite songs that he’s ever done. The arrangements on that song and the space that he’s in, it’s almost like he’s experiencing for the first time in his career a kind of profoundness. He’s not having fun any more. It’s like, ‘Holy shit! I’m in this! And it’s profound! And now I’ve got some distance between being a kid and being the Ig and now I’m James Osterberg and here I am!’

I guess it’s the first time that he’s really had to rely on his craft. I mean, Bowie wasn’t with him at this point so he was having to do this himself.

I first got into Iggy probably around the time of The Idiot because I was a huge Bowie fan and I still am. I was living in North America and those albums were far more accessible because there were so many record stores and it was right next to “Heroes” and Low. They were all in the same food group.

I couldn’t really afford to buy a lot of records when I was a teenager so I’d kind of be borrowing friends’ big brothers’ records. The high school I went to in Canada had a big record library and you could go into there and take vinyl out. I had one art teacher who used to play Frank Zappa in class all the time to the point where we just got sick of him. It was like having rock & roll on the curriculum.

I remember being shocked when I went to Canada when I was about 11-years-old and taking my first music class. I still remember this guy – his name was Mr Rebel and he was ginger – and he was playing Jesus Christ Superstar on vinyl in class and I remember hearing that song, ‘The Temple’, and thinking, ‘Fuck!’ I mean, I love that! It’s something that I go back to constantly and play it over and over again. I think Afghan Whigs did a cover of it. I’d love to cover it. I keep looking at my guys and they’re like, ‘What?’ Fuck’s sake’ – I’m the one wearing the furry hat!

But Iggy Pop really set the bar for Tourette’s Syndrome performance. He’s uncontrollable and just can’t stand still. It’s interesting because the people that he admired like Jim Morrison didn’t move around that much; he was a crooner. You see Morrison – he closed his eyes a lot and he went inside himself and would hang on the mic and it’s almost like he was trying to find the sentiment and connect to it. But with Iggy, maybe it’s like an insecurity thing where you feel you’ve got to do something. I watch singers from the school of Iggy Pop like Nick Cave where you have to do something like kick someone in the face or spit on someone or berate the audience. I remember going to see The Birthday Party and his performances where everyone in the front row was up for abuse. Nick Cave is fucking incredible.

When I first got with Billy [Duffy, Cult guitarist] in ’84 we went to see Iggy at the Venue by Victoria Station [in London] and it was fucking unbelievable! It was the first time I’d ever seen him live and it was like, ‘Wow!’ I was totally blown away!

He was always in our lexicon, like The Stooges and Iggy and we’d always go on about that and we ended up recording in Hansa studios in 1984. And then in ’87 when we were on the Electric tour his album Instinct – which kinda mimics the Electric logo – was out and we opened for him. We were doing a soundcheck and he walks in and comes up to the stage and says, ‘Hi, I’m Jim’ and we were like, ‘Errr…’ He was cool.

When we did Sonic Temple he was playing Vancouver and we went down to the show and after the gig we were hanging out with him. He goes, ‘What are you guys doing?’ and I said, ‘We’re in the studio. You wanna come?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, sure’. So I put him on the back of my fucking Harley ‘cos that’s all I did then – drink and ride bikes. I had a proper San Francisco Hell’s Angels rat chopper and I had Iggy Pop on the back of the bike burning through Vancouver!

I gave him a proper German helmet for Christmas one year. And of course he’s on the Sonic Temple record on ‘New York City’. Now if I saw him he probably wouldn’t give me the time of day!

Selected in other Baker’s Dozens: Lord Spikeheart, Tom Ravenscroft
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