In the begin­ning, there was Iggy And The Stooges. It was 40 years ago that Raw Power was released, and the shock­waves are still rat­tling build­ings today. Here was an album that com­bined hor­monal fer­vour with juve­nile aban­don, sar­cas­tic wit with pure expres­sion. An anti­dote to the peace-and-love folksy stuff that bub­bled up in the after­math of the peace and love gen­er­a­tion. And 40 years later, we’re get­ting a follow-up: the first full album of new mate­r­ial since the Raw Power ses­sions. Sched­uled for release on April 26, Ready To Die fea­tures Iggy Pop, gui­tarist James Williamson and drum­mer Scott “Rock Action” Asheton, along with bass player Mike Watt (Min­ute­men, fIRE­HOSE). Iggy asserts that, “my moti­va­tion in mak­ing any record with the group at this point is no longer per­sonal. It’s just a pig-headed fuck­ing thing I have that a real fuck­ing group when they’re an older group they also make fuck­ing records. They don’t just go and twid­dle around on stage to make a bunch of fuck­ing money…”

But first there’s the mat­ter of Blues­fest. The Stooges are return­ing to Aus­tralia to play the now-legendary event as well as to per­form their first head­lin­ing shows since the ‘70s. “I don’t really know what to expect at Blues­fest,” Williamson says. “My first time to Aus­tralia was two years ago at the Big Day Out and that’s a big, fun event, and this Blues­fest seems to maybe be a more seri­ous thing, and I’m not sure what to expect of the crowd. Maybe they’re a lit­tle older or what­ever, but we do the same thing no mat­ter what, so we’ll see how they like it! Maybe not every­body knows that our band has a lot of back­ground in the blues. We’re actu­ally pretty excited to be play­ing the Bluesfest.”

Williamson’s gui­tar work def­i­nitely has a bluesy feel and attack with­out nec­es­sar­ily slip­ping into blues forms like the 12-bar blues or spe­cific blues turn­arounds. Were did the blues come into it for him? “Well there was a lot of influ­ence early, early on by bands like the Paul But­ter­field Blues Band, so even though I never actu­ally played in a blues band like Iggy did — he was in a very good blues band actu­ally, that would maybe be right up there with the But­ter­field Blues Band — but every gui­tarist in my era had to know how to play the blues and you had to be able to jam on blues pro­gres­sions. That was just part of learn­ing how to play the gui­tar. I’ve always liked blues play­ers and I’ve lis­tened to a lot of them but the style has never been one I’ve used. But you can hear cer­tain things in my play­ing that come from that.”

Williamson’s gui­tar quiver includes a replica of the Gib­son Les Paul he used dur­ing the band’s Raw Power era. “I don’t know that I’m going to be tak­ing that gui­tar to Aus­tralia or not though,” he says. “I have two sets of gui­tars: one in Europe and one in the US. And due to the logis­tics of this we haven’t decided which set of gui­tars are com­ing to Aus­tralia. But they all have the pick­ups that were made for me by Jason Lol­lar that were reverse engi­neered from the T-Tops that were in my ’69 Les Paul Cus­tom. So basi­cally I sent him that gui­tar and he took the pick­ups out and did a lot of mea­sure­ments on them and so forth. They’re very low imped­ance for Les Paul hum buck­ers, and that gives them that char­ac­ter­is­tic sound where you can turn up really loud and get attack but not get the same super bright attack like a lot of really hot pick­ups these days have. That’s the sound. I also have a Les Paul fit­ted with piezo pick­ups on the sad­dle, so I have a switch to go between the piezo for a semi acoustic sound, and also to the mag­net­ics for the elec­tric sound, and I can also blend them together.” This pseudo-acoustic sound is fed through a Fish­man Aura proces­sor to make it sound more like an actual acoustic. “That makes them sound more like a real acoustic, but it’s not super-convincing, but as good as you can pos­si­bly do. And with our sound guy being pretty good it works!”

Williamson’s amps are a col­lec­tion of Black­star mod­els via a pedal chain. “Back in the day I never used any ped­als at all, but I’ve started using a tre­ble boost pedal by a guy named Steve Gilles, who runs an oper­a­tion called Advanced Pedal Work­shop in Eng­land. He’s also a pretty famous designer of the JMI reis­sue Voxes and things like that. He’s very steeped in the Vox tech­nol­ogy and he came up with this tre­ble boost that’s very, very good, and that’s all I need. I just need a lit­tle extra edge on the gui­tar for solos and things, and that’s per­fect for me. I do use a Wah Wah pedal very infre­quently on the early Stooges stuff. I use three amps all together: an A100, an A30 and a 30-watt combo. I have an amp selec­tor from Voodoo Labs that lets me buffer the amps so it doesn’t load the gui­tar down, and I can switch them on and off as I need to. That’s it. That’s all I use.”


Ready To Die  is out April 26 through Fat Pos­sum Records/WMA. Iggy And The Stooges will be tour­ing along­side their appear­ance at Blues­fest with spe­cial guests The Beasts of Bourbon.

Mon­day 25 March – The­bar­ton The­atre, Ade­laide SA
Wednes­day 27 March — Fes­ti­val Hall, Mel­bourne VIC
Tues­day 2 April — Hordern Pavil­ion, Syd­ney NSW
Sat­ur­day 23 March — West Coast Blues ‘n’ Roots, Perth WA
Sat­ur­day 30 March — Byron Bay Blues Fes­ti­val Byron Bay NSW

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