|04.13.2007, 10:53 PM||#1|
Join Date: Mar 2006
Ron Asheton Words: Thurston Moore As you join us, it’s Halloween night and Thurston and Ron are discussing the new Stooges album, which has just been recorded with Steve Albini…
Thurston: What’s going on? It’s like mischief night.
Ron: “How appropriate that we’re done on devil’s night! We did two songs a day. It was the best fucking time.”
Albini was cool?
“Albini was super-cool. The studio was super-cool. It’s homely. Steve’s way into really good coffee. These special Albini fluffy coffees at the end of the day.”
Yeah, he’s into coffee, and good cigarettes, and billiards.
“It was set up well. I was up north a year ago, at my house on the lake. There was an eclipse of the moon, but all that night it was cloudy and obscured. And it was set up for Steve Albini to call me. After I talked to him, all the clouds parted and I saw the full eclipse. And I’m going, ‘This is the sign’. I’m serious.”
He’s probably the most non-bullshit guy you could work with.
“I said to Jim [Iggy >, ‘When I go in the studio, I want it to be fun. I want some laughs.’ And the vibe was awesome. It’s the most time I’ve spent with Jim since back in 1974.”
That’s so cool, because I remember when we were working together all those years ago, it really seemed like this wasn’t ever going to happen.
“The genesis was the Wild Rats thing. We went out with J Mascis, my brother [Scott > and Mike Watt, and did a Stooges set in Europe. That’s why [Jim > asked me to do that project, Skull Ring [Iggy Pop’s 2003 album, to which Ron and Scott contributed >. He was nervous, I was nervous: how was all this time in between? Were there animosities? But when he showed up, all those years melted away. “ I wrote 42 songs, and he [Jim > chose the songs that he wanted to put on this thing. Once we put all the sequences together, it was like, ‘Wow’. Steve put together the CD for us to listen to in whatever order we wanted. He was so methodical. I called him and Jim Captain Kirk and Mister Spock. Steve goes, ‘Is it because of my big nose and my big ears?’ No. It was simply an awesome anatomy of two guys working together.”
How long were you guys working?
“Three weeks. We rehearsed the first week of August. My brother, crew dudes and Mike Watt drove to Chicago, off-loaded the stuff at Albini’s. Jim and I flew in on the seventh, and we did a song, did the whole thing. I put solos on it so we could just get our teeth in. Then, every day, two songs. I think everyone’s going to really like it. It’s everything that you would want from The Stooges. Jim’s lyrics are even more provocative and timely. I’m talking like I just won the World Series! It was really that good.”
You’ve got to go and play live too.
“We’re going to Macedonia and Latvia. Just to warm up. Then we’re coming to see you guys [at Nightmare Before Christmas > and we’ll play some of the new songs. Coming to your show, dude!”
Yup. That show’s going to be crazy. There’s a whole ‘Michigan meltdown’ going on one day.
“MC5/DTK? Jim and I both agreed: ‘Let’s just be the baby band, and let them do the headline, like it used to be’. I think that because we got back together, and got some success, it’s stimulated others to try. I love it, man. I think it’s so fucking good. MC5 was one of my most favourite bands in the whole world, and I wish them the very best. “Also, Steve Albini can’t say enough about that particular festival [ATP >. He said it’s the best thing, everyone has apartments…”
Yeah, and it’s England in December so it’s not exactly like you’re in Palm Beach or something, but you get to have your own little motels.
“That’s why he liked it so much. If you stayed up ‘til six in the morning you can sleep ‘til 11.00, and get up and see your band. Six in the morning, a band might set up and play right outside!”
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|04.13.2007, 10:53 PM||#2|
Join Date: Mar 2006
So you’re back to Michigan tomorrow?
“I’m going back tomorrow to hand out candy to the kids. Jim’s leaving at 4am because he loves Halloween. It’s the only holiday that I do anything. Forget about Christmas, and I just go to a restaurant on Thanksgiving. I don’t do Easter. “Halloween’s always been one of my favourite holidays, Halloween and the Fourth of July. Fireworks and monsters.”
I met Scott Richardson [of SRC, Sixties Detroit band contemporaneous with the Stooges > in LA. Do you still keep in touch?
“I saw him last October. He’s in Alabama now. He’s a very talented man, but he’s had a hard road and he’s got a lot of bitterness.”
You’ve known him since high school?
“It was Jim – Iggy – that introduced us. Jim was working at Discount Records; he called me up and said, ‘There’s this guy here and he seems pretty cool and he’s looking for a bass player, so I recommended you’. So I met him. His manager lived in Ann Arbor and he became The Stooges’ first manager, Ron Richardson. I spent the day bullshitting with them, I fell asleep on the floor after drinking a quart of beer, and I ended up going back to Birmingham, Michigan, to rehearse with the band. It was my high school band, it was so cool: ‘Man, I’m making 125 bucks a week!’ When high school was over, the band broke up – the other guys were going on to college. And then Jim called up and said, ‘I want to start a band.’ I was offered the job as the bass player in SRC, 300 bucks a week. That’s a lot of money back then. But I went with Jim! That’s when we started The Stooges.”
You knew Dave [Alexander, original Stooges bassist > then too, right?
“I’d known Dave since 1964 when we moved to our family home. Me and my brother were sitting on our front porch and there’s this guy coming down the street like 100 miles an hour in a brand new Chevy, and I’m going, ‘Is that a girl or is that a guy who’s got long hair?’ And one day he stopped, and my brother went and talked to him. He had the longest hair I’d ever seen. We started The Dirty Shame, which was a band that couldn’t really play. We knew two songs – ‘We’ll Take Our Last Walk Tonight’ by The Sir Douglas Quintet and ‘The Bells Of Rhymney’ by The Byrds. We never really played, but we bullshitted our way into pretending we were rock stars because we looked it and dressed it, and got the job.”
Dave had a good look.
“He was way ahead of his time. We were babies compared to Dave. He was already versed in being a free soul, a renaissance man, drugs – not heavy drugs, but he had a jar full of reds, and he was the guy that turned us on to pot. He was a great dude. I think of him often. We missed Dave [the bassist died in 1975, aged only 27 >. I just felt bad for him that he fucked up and got himself fired. But he did it to himself. He forgot the songs. It was so bad that the roadies just turned his amp off. You can see it on some of the old films, he’s like: ‘Erm, there’s nothing coming out of my amp…’ But he was so high he couldn’t remember the songs. And Jim was angry. So he got fired.”
Did he get really strung out? Is that what happened?
“He wound up drinking too much, and his pancreas was inflamed. He went into hospital for a non-life threatening disease, but his immune system being low, he died of pneumonia. I was just putting the New Order band together, and I got the news from Jim. I didn’t make it to the funeral because I had no money. We used to be inseparable. He picked me every day from school on the motorcycle or his car, and we’d go listen to music. Then when we did our English trip, we sold our motorcycles.”
That’s right – you went to London and saw The Who and all that kind of stuff?
“Yeah. I had a friend, Gary Simons. I wrote him a letter, but he didn’t tell his parents. So we sold our bikes, got one-way tickets and customs said, you have one month. We spent some time in London. It was really enlightening. Imagine being 16-years-old in London, England, smoking cigarettes and, wait a minute, you can drink in the bars at 16? Then we took the train across to Southport, which is about 45 minutes south of Liverpool. So we show up at night at my buddy’s house, ‘Hello, here we are!’ and his mother answers the door and goes ‘huh?’ The next day his mum rushed us to a bed and breakfast, we orientated ourselves and figured it’s only like a cheap train ride to Liverpool, and that’s were we want to be. For a buck or less they had afternoon sessions at The Cavern, and every day we went and listened to music and tried to pick up chicks. “We met a guy, Robert, and he took us to really cheap places to buy outrageous Beatles clothes. One time, he said, ‘For one pound, from 6pm to 6am it’s all local bands, but The Who are going to play, and Hedgehoppers Anonymous.’ He said, ‘Don’t go outside, it’s Mod and Rocker fights so you’ll get your ass beat!’ The Cavern was tiny, and it was just ringing. It was my first experience of stuff coming off the stage through big amps. During ‘Can’t Explain’ Pete Townsend busted up a 12-string and Robert got me a little tiny piece, a sliver. I still have it. “Imagine trying to go back to school after that – I still had all the clothes that I bought there, my hair looked like your hair when it’s long. My school counsellor said, ‘Why don’t you just come back next year?’ I took night classes – all I needed was one semester of English to get my fucking diploma. That was it, there was no turning back: there’s no fucking way you’re gonna fit into the ‘square John’ world.”
Cool, man. Have you ever met a Beatle?
“Ringo Starr came to one of our shows, with New Order [Asheton’s post-Stooges band >, at the Starwood in LA, and we did a little act. It was a fake assassination by John Spacey, dressed up as Fidel Castro. I thought it would be so bogus everyone would realise it’s a fake. So he was an agitator in the audience, ‘You can’t play!’ So the skit was, ‘You asshole, you get up here!’ We’d already taped homemade ketchup packs to our bodies, and he shot the pistol. We hit our packets, and I thought everyone would know it was a joke. But they didn’t. I heard the Starwood bouncers were saying, ‘Ringo was scared’. I’m in the dressing room and the cops come in with guns looking for Spacey. He’s hiding under the pinball machine! The cops go, ‘You created a riot, and you’re all under arrest!’ “The only time I’ve met a Beatle, I didn’t meet him. Alice Cooper had one of those special booths on the second level of the Rainbow. John Lennon had been banished by Yoko, and was hanging out with Harry Nilsson and drinking brandy alexanders. I found out later he had been kicked out of the Troubadour for wearing a tampon on his head. So I went up there, and I go, ‘It’s Alice Cooper’ – and there were the three of them. It was so weird. I left because they didn’t acknowledge my presence. Alice could hold his booze; Alice Cooper was never drunk. But Lennon was drunk, and Harry Nilsson. They just ignored me and I left. But I got to see John Lennon!”
“That was enough for me. I always loved The Beatles.”
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