It is one thing to be at the forefront of the musical frontier of one’s time, and it is a totally different thing to create the frontier that other musicians spend their careers settling. Even rarer is for one to be remembered as a pioneer after the proverbial dust settles, too often bigger careers are built on what’s left by those who got there first, and those who got there first become merely footnotes.
Fortunately for The Stooges, this is not the case. Their music has become revered, even if it was temporarily ignored in favor of those who came immediately after.
Four years before the Sex Pistols released Never Mind The Bollocks, The Stooges released their self-titled debut. Three years and two more albums later, the band imploded just before punk became the center of the pop culture conscience.
The remaining three original Stooges—guitarist Ron Asheton, drummer Scott Asheton and front man Iggy Pop united in 2003 to work on Pop’s Skull Ring album. After some indecisiveness, the band decided to reunite under its original charter for the 2003 Coachella Festival.
“I tell ya man, it’s like either walking to the guillotine or the noose,” Ron Asheton laughs over the phone in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Even after having worked together on Pop’s album, playing together as The Stooges again required some readjusting.
“[It took] through the first tune to get used to it, and I realized I know these songs pretty well. I started looking around and watching Iggy’s show,” Asheton recalls of that first reunion performance.
After playing a few more shows that summer the band decided to go forward with an all out reunion, including a new album.
That album, The Weirdness, is the first Stooges album since 1973’s seminal Raw Power. Aside from being the first album released by the band in over 30 years, it may also be one of the most honest reunion albums ever. It sounds like The Stooges of yore, only in a way that they couldn’t have sounded without their trials and tribulations.
The recording of this new Stooges album varied greatly from past albums by the band.
“It was a great experience working with Steve Albini. We had a good battle plan, two songs a day. We’d show up in the studio at 12:30 in the afternoon and work until we had our two songs for the day,” Asheton explains between periodic updates on a snowstorm moving across the country. This snowstorm is of great concern to Asheton who early into our conversation declares, “I just got home, I have stuff to do, and now I’m going to be snowed in.”
Later, after being asked where I’m located, I’m told that the storm is moving in my direction, and that I can expect at least eight inches of snow. The very next day, NYC is hit with its first snowfall of the season, and I was ready thanks to the periodic weather updates courtesy of Ron Asheton.
The efficient approach to recording quickly becomes boring in its regimentation.
“It was like that movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. In the hotel the clock would go off at the same time everyday. I started setting the clock ahead one minute, so it wouldn’t go off at the same time everyday,” Asheton laments between bursts of laughter.
This efficient method to recording may have been a little maddening, but it wasn’t enough to deter the band from already discussing a followup to The Weirdness.
“It’s been talked about a bit, it would be the end of 2008,” Asheton teases.