iggy pop on submission and savile row

We catch up with punk rock’s enfant terrible Iggy Pop to chat about submission, stylish rock stars and how to wreck a pair of giant sunglasses.

by i-D Staff and Elisabeta Tudor
16 April 2015, 12:15pm

What happens when a Brazilian eyewear brand decides they need to spice up their fashion week presentation a bit? They fly Iggy Pop to São Paulo to smash a giant pair of sunglasses to pieces with a scepter, what else? The American rocker was invited to present Chilli Bean's new punk/glam limited edition collection for the 20th anniversary celebrations of São Paulo Fashion Week.

Jimmy, as David Bowie and his close friends like to call him, entered, escorted by three luscious looking models, and made his way through hysteric crowds in order to reach a pair of enormous crystal-studded sunglasses exhibited in the middle of the room. He posed before smashing the specs to pieces, much to the joy of a sensation-hungry audience.

Perhaps an odd way to meet one of the greatest icons of punk, but we still managed to sit down backstage with Iggy. Here's what he had to say.

You were invited to Brazil to break a pair of giant sunglasses. How do you feel about it?
Well, I did love the performance because of the audience. Once I walked up to them and once they realized that I wasn't just about to walk through the room, looking fancy in clothes - when everybody started to feel the performance and exchange - it got really interesting. Exchanges are so hard in today's world.

What drives you when you perform? Where do you get your energy from?
I'm emotionally hungry. I'm starving at all times, I need the love and reaction from other people. That's what moves me, that's how it is!

Do you have a memorable stage experience in mind?
There was one time I played with the Ramones in England. I did I Wanna Be Your Dog and all the little boys in the audience took their big water bottles, filled the bottles with piss, put the caps back on the bottles, and threw them all at once on stage (Iggy laughs)... so, that was a good one that I can think of. Sometimes people just get angry while I perform and throw things at me, it's part of the stage dynamics and it got better with time. I enjoy mixing it up.

So many people have banged their heads to I Wanna Be Your Dog throughout the years. Tell me more about the story behind this song.
You know, the riff, written by Ron Asheton, is a mystic riff. There are a lot of old blues songs that I love which influenced this song - one of them is Baby Please Don't Go by Muddy Waters - and back in the day I could never understand what these old black men were singing. The lyrics were actually "before I be your dog...", and I thought I heard, 'I wanna be your dog' and thought to myself, 'Hey, that's a good idea!' It's a song about emotional desperation, about pushing myself to the point where I was willing to compromise and give in to submission.

Well, submission can be beautiful...
Yeah, a little bit like... well, I'd love to put my head in your lap if you'll fuck me! - is that a deal? [Iggy laughs]

Yes, that's a deal, but tell me more about I Wanna Be Your Dog first!
There is also imagery in it from the burning sand, from the desert, which I thought of when writing this song. I always liked Lawrence of Arabia - the fact that the sand isolates everything, you see that for what it is. And finally, there's the idea of escape. The vision of love and sex as an escape. You know, when you just want to close your mind, don't think about anything, and let it go.

Talking about strong vision, are there any musicians or artists that your admire for their style?
Charlie Watts. He dresses pure Savile Row, baby. And then it branched out to all the very fine English rockers, like Ray Davis, his style was very good and creative at the beginning, and all the other members of the Rolling Stones, and finally, Jimi Hendrix. Looking back, some of the very old blues men influenced me. They dressed with a certain dignity. But then, I also used to just look at beautiful girls and tried to look like them - all of these girls looked better than everybody else, so I had to look more like a girl!

You started a new show on BBC Radio 6 Music? How is it going?
I just started a different format this year. Last year, I was on the radio on Sunday afternoon, so I was doing a more easy-going show, and people would Tweet saying: "I am cooking a roast and weeding my garden, and having a lovely time listening to Iggy Pop." But now it's on Friday night, 7 to 9 pm, baby, and it appeals more to people who are like "I wanna get drunk and put on my sluttiest dress." It's different this year.

What's up next for you? Any news about the upcoming documentary on you and The Stooges?
I just texted Jim Jarmusch the other day, and he said he's just about ready to show me something, the documentary is nearly done.


Text Elisabeta Tudor
Portrait Ricardo Toscani 
Live photography by Gio Staiano

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