Iggy and the Stooges: Musical and stage power still influencing punks in Austin and beyond

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Iggy and the Stooges: Musical and stage power still influencing punks in Austin and beyond

ACL Fest 2012

Iggy and the Stooges play at 6:15 p.m. on the Bud Light Stage (they’re also scheduled to be part of the stream at youtube/aclfestival).

One more day! Our live coverage continues at austin360.com/acl and in the Metro section.

Coming Monday: A special Life & Arts section wrapping up the fest with highlights, photos and fashion from the fest.

Free e-book. Our award-winning editorial staff has chronicled the evolution of ACL Fest from its regional beginning in 2002 to a premiere music destination today (we’ll add this year’s highlights as well). It’s available – again, for free — for download to a variety of devices, or reading on the web, at austin360.com/go/aclebook

There’s close to zero percent chance that when Iggy Pop (born James Osterberg) joined a group of shaggy degenerates called the Stooges in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 1967, anyone involved figured they’d wind up altering the course of rock music.

That sounds admittedly hyperbolic, but more than four decades after helping to pretty much invent punk rock — along with Detroit’s MC5 and the Sonics in Tacoma, Wash. — just try to find a contemporary rock musician who doesn’t call “Search And Destroy” one of the most important songs in their musical upbringing.

By pushing their music and stage shows to the extreme every chance they had, Iggy and the Stooges made it OK for freaks everywhere to fly their flags proudly. You can see that spirit all over Austin these days, with a crop of amazing young punk bands regularly wowing crowds at Beerland, 29th Street Ballroom and other clubs in town.

With Iggy (now 69 – how did that happen?) and the current lineup of the Stooges joining more than a 100 mostly far younger bands at this year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival, it seemed appropriate to poll some local musicians on the band’s larger influence and how the Stooges continue to make an impression.

Mike Wiebe, lead singer, Riverboat Gamblers, High Tension Wires, Ghost Knife

When I was younger, it seemed like that name “Iggy Pop” and “the Stooges” was always lurking around somewhere. I remember having this vague feeling that though the name seemed nice and my parents wouldn’t know what it was, I could get in some real trouble for listening to that music if they found out.

As a rock performer, you hear how it’s all over once you reach 25, but Iggy just kept on going. He’s kind of like my Jesus in that way — something you can aspire to. He’s had these weird career dips, too, as a solo artist, but that’s what happens when you keep taking chances. No matter what, there’s this core of intensity and coolness that is always there with him. People always talk about the sweaty, extreme live shows and the outrageousness, and I’m way on board with that, but the fact he kept moving forward artistically is, to me, just as important as the times he’d smear himself with peanut butter on stage.

Rick Carney, guitar/vocals, Jesus Christ Superfly; music director at School of Rock Austin

You can include them in so many conversations, whether you consider them punk, proto-metal, and there’s elements of blues and jazz, and the regional Detroit sound of that time. As a guitarist, James Williamson is very precise rhythmically and very tight and nuanced, almost like some of James Brown’s records. It’s really loud, of course, but it’s so precise, and that’s something that gets overlooked a lot when you hear about the band.

James Williamson is going to join a group of my students on the Kiddie Limits stage at the festival to do “Search And Destroy,” and he made them a YouTube video to show them his parts to learn. People think it’s all three or four chords and that’s it, but it’s mostly this downstroke playing, and there’s a real discipline involved, and all that power you get from his sound doesn’t happen haphazardly. People think of punk and the Stooges especially as this bludgeoning thing, and you can’t ignore the primal aspect of it, but there’s a lot of finesse and discipline in their music, too.

Jesse Sublett, bass and vocals, the Skunks

They came along when the rock world badly needed a battery acid enema. Iggy was one of the few people doing interesting stuff, and he was so out there all the time. You’d hear about where he jumped into broken glass and just know if you saw them, it was going to be great. He played Armadillo (World Headquarters) in ’75, and it seemed like every cool person in the whole town was there because we were just looking for something different and exciting. I’ve seen him a lot of times since, and it’s not always as wild as people say, but you can’t always go flinging yourself all over everything.

With the Stooges and on his own, he never abandoned the whole nihilism of being an adolescent and the feeling of how when you’re a teenager you feel like you might as well be a mutant from Mars. Everything is so primal; it’s like it’s been injected straight into your soul, like you don’t have to think about it. Sometimes that stuff is ugly, but Iggy pulls it off better than almost anyone else.

Andy Bauer, guitarist, A Giant Dog

The Stooges have been there as long as I can remember, and it seems like my band and our friends have been listening to the Stooges at parties or just hanging out since we became a band. They’re such a direct influence on all of us and the bands that we hang around and play shows with. I mean, who hasn’t heard “Raw Power”?

The biggest thing was the raw live show they were known for. The whole thing was an adrenaline rush, and that whole scene moved so fast because it was a lot of people with a lot of bad habits that wanted to play something really hard and in your face. Our scene today embraces that, the idea of going out, having a wild time and make something that you can’t hear or see anywhere else.

Brian Rowland, singer, Elvis

The first time I heard “Search And Destroy” just blew me away, like someone kicking your teeth out. You can’t top that, because it’s pure rock ‘n’ roll and might be the loudest record ever. Lots of people it seems like put up fronts when they sing and act crazy, but you really feel like that’s the only way he has to get this thing out of him. I’ve been let down by so many bands live, who are just up there staring at their feet, so when I sing I really take things into my own hands, and that’s when I feel the most alive. If you don’t feel that way, which I think is how Iggy feels, then what’s the point?

Lots of the bands around here right now, like A Giant Dog, the Nouns and OBN IIIs, the influence of the Stooges really shows musically but also just in the amount of fun involved. When you see them, you know they’re going to bring it musically but also in the presentation and what they’re going to do to you on stage.

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