Iggy Pop sat down with Red Bull Music Academy in Montreal for an extensive 90-minute discussion. The punk icon touched on everything from his early, avant-garde music and relocation to Miami, to his refusal (even at age 69) to wear a shirt onstage. “[There are] not a lot of men who have made such a point of displaying their bodies for audiences,” music journalist Carl Wilson told Pop at Montreal’s Ludger-Duvernay Theatre.
“When I dropped out of college to start the band, I kept my library card. I’ve always had a student mentality, so I would go to the library, and take books. Cult books about culture and religion, and think about how I could apply those, and I kept seeing these pictures of the Pharaoh. He never wore a shirt,” Pop said. “That just looks about right, you know? I don’t know why. I feel lost in a shirt. I just get lost.”
Pop maintains his shirt-free lifestyle in balmy Miami, his home of the past 15 years. “When I hit about 53 or 54, I’d been duking it out with New York City for 20 years. I left and I went to Miami Beach to start my afterlife,” Pop said. “This is the only afterlife I know is real. I don’t know if there’s another one, you know. I didn’t even know if I’d get away with being able to move to Miami Beach which at the time was not in any way, shape or form a cultural center. It’s still known for being a pretty dumb place in a lot of ways although hey, we’ve got art, we’ve got museums, we’ve got money.”
Turning to his earlier music, Pop talked about the long struggle to properly mix the Stooges‘ 1973 LP Raw Power, his breakdown of the three types of fandom and his choice for the favorite song he ever wrote. “There was one, I wanted to hug the little song, because when I finally started getting statements of my copyrights, this song every 3 months, would make one penny. It’s called ‘Gimme Some Skin,’” Pop said.
Popular on Rolling Stone
“The lyric was, ‘Typhoid Mary, she’s got soul, suck all night on an old asshole.’ So it’s not a commercial number, right,” Pop added of the little-known Stooges B-side. “No melody, anything like that. But every three months I’d get one penny. I thought, ‘Oh, poor little song.’ You know? You have such a good spirit, you know? So when I got the chance to curate Greater Hits albums, I would put it on there so it, come on, you can make some money too! You know? Everybody will feel like you’re a real song!”
Pop, who released his Post Pop Depression earlier this year, also talked about how the music industry has changed in recent years and his concerts for the future of music.
“I don’t know how the form is going to last either,” Pop said. “I mean, I’ve noted that when Rihanna makes an album now the big focus tends to be on the streaming of a single number, so that’s a step more in the direction of the early Sixties. Even then it was more about the single, and an album would be just like, “Well, we put the single on it and then 10 crappy songs. And people will buy it.” You know? That used to be very common. Then suddenly everybody felt they had to up their game, and that’s a nice thing. I’m not sure that’ll be something I can pull off in another 5 years.”
The Montreal outpost of the Red Bull Music Academy continues throughout October with events like the VR-powered Björk Digital Exhibition and concerts by Sampha, Chilly Gonzalez and Montreal’s reunited Turbo Crunk crew.