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Here is the second part of the interview with Iggy and The Stooges’ guitarist James Williamson, whom The Toonari Post had the chance to meet during the European leg of the band’s tour. The band is currently touring promoting its latest album ‘Ready to Die,’ released last April on Fat Possum Records. In this fragment of the interview, the ‘Raw Power’ co-author talks about reuniting, writing the new album, the live shows and hints to possible future releases. To read the first part of the interview, please click here.
Toonari Post (TP): We talked about reuniting the band. You have been touring together since a few years now, but how was the come back and writing together again? The latest album “Ready to Die” is the first one you co-wrote since Raw Power. How was the process that led to that?
James Williamson (JW): The first couple of years, for sure the first year, was really trying to get the band back to work and play a professional level show. It took me maybe 6 months before I had my first show, I needed to work on my guitar, remember how to play the songs and stuff, luckily they’re my songs [Laughs]. The band got really strong within the first year or two, and then beyond the second year, you know, you get tired of being a jukebox, you don’t wanna be playing the same stuff all the time. We started talking about writing new songs, I probably even nagged a little bit about writing new songs, I felt like I wanted to try it, I didn’t know if we could do it or not.
Finally, we started doing that on the road and so forth a little bit, turned out it was no problem. We have a natural way that we can work together, it’s pretty easy for us. So, we started doing that and then about the third year, around last year, we sort of said “Well, you know, these are coming out pretty well, so why don’t we write something earnest and try to get a record deal?” Eventually, Fat Possum wanted us, Iggy had some background with them and some of the artists that they had released; they really wanted us, so we decided to go with them and we worked about maybe six months leading up to the completion of the album. A lot of that was some pre-production, then the writing was going on, some production, and then finally post-production; the whole thing I’d say in the end was probably 6 months. I’m very happy with the result, it sounds like us.
TP: I think it sounds exceptional, mostly because it is not a copy of Raw Power, although I read that was the problem for some people. So now you’re Iggy and The Stooges, keeping the rock soul but with enough experience and wisdom to put into ballads such as “Unfriendly World” and “The Departed.”
JW: Yes, right.
TP: When composing, did you feel the pressure deriving from Raw Power being considered the first punk rock album? Like you could not really explore too much with your music, because you had to satisfy people’s expectations, and people expect Iggy and The Stooges to play a certain kind of music?
JW: No, I’m lucky in that, I have been away from it for so long that I’m not so sensitized to that sort of thing. Iggy kinda had some pressure because, first of all, they recorded the album ‘The Weirdness’ and people hate that album, and he felt like “Am I gonna do this again?” I just didn’t feel that way, we made Raw Power already, we didn’t need to do that again. All I wanted to do was just write authentic music; there are few tracks that are left off the record, which I thought were quite good, but you can’t put everything on, and they’ll come out in some other form. I like the ballads some people like the ballads the best. I think to me the whole album holds together, and the sequence of the album is quite good, and God knows I have listened to it, ‘cause I produced it to, so I had to really listen a lot. I think to me it’s the tribute to the album that you don’t get sick of it, a lot of albums sound good at first and then you can’t listen to them anymore.
TP: Maybe it’s a new Raw Power, for future generations.
JW: I hope so!
TP: You talked about tracks which were left off the album but will come out in some other form. Do you already have plans for future releases?
JW: All the stuff goes to the publisher, if there’s an opportunity for a movie, or a commercial or whatever…they look for those kinds of opportunities. I mean, one of the songs is called “Popular Pants” for example, it’s very funny, and you know, Abercrombie & Fitch or whatever could pick something like that, you never know.
TP: Let’s talk about live shows. I believe an Iggy and The Stooges concert is one of the greatest experiences a music lover can ever have. Everybody knows about Iggy’s way of being on stage, which is almost insane, but all of you, even though you’re not jumping around or something like that, create such a strong flow of energy going towards the audience which is unbelievable. And it’s clear there is a smooth relationship among you. How do you keep that for the entire tour?
JW: I think we just get along well, we’re respectful of each other as musicians. We spent a lot of time together to get to this point. So yeah, I think we’re tight and rocking out.
To read the first part Click Here
Photo Courtesy of Heather Harris