“And it’s all about the edge. And all it’s all about the dancing kids. And all about the sex. And its all about done.”
A very insightful lyric from the song “In the Lobby” on Iggy Pop’s new (and perhaps last) album, Post Pop Depression (officially out tomorrow). Originally a secret collaboration between Iggy and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age and The Eagles Of Death Metal, the duo have been trading notes, poetry and ideas on the project for about a year on the DL. They were both clear with one another from the very start – they wanted as few people as possible to know that they planned to record together, and didn’t want record companies involved at all. They weren’t even sure if they planned to release it.
Iggy and Homme met a few years ago at the Kerrang! Awards. It began with a text to Homme, who was a longtime Iggy fan. Homme told Beats1 presenter and NME writer Matt Wilkinson of Apple Music that he had to mask the urge to write a gushing response or throw his phone, thinking a buddy was messing with him.
The iconic Stooges frontman sent Homme a package containing everything from notes on his interests in furniture, German trivia, sex, music and things that people had written about him to detailed notes from his days in Berlin. Homme was a big fan of the two albums from that period of his career—The Idiot and Lust For Life. Along with Dean Fertita, also from Queens of the Stone Age, and drummer Matt Helders of the Arctic Monkeys, a band formed and moved into Rancho De La Luna studio for three weeks to begin work on what would become Post Pop Depression. The four lived, worked, and ate together at the three-house compound in the remote desert. Without the usual outside distractions of of the big city, the group became close friends worked on what they all thought could be Iggy’s last album.
The term “Post Pop Depression” was coined by Fertita. After Iggy was done with his vocals, he left the band to record the rest of their parts before the finishing touches were put on by Josh at his Pink Duck Studios in Burbank. Dean said the group fell into a bit of a funk because Iggy left the studio while the rest of the band worked on without him – he called the feeling “Post Pop Depression.” He later elaborated in the Apple Music interview that if Iggy really quits the music industry for good, that the band won’t be the only ones who suffer from this “horrible condition.”
“I feel like I’m closing up after this,” Iggy said during the Apple Music interview. “That’s what I feel. It’s my gut instinct.”
Homme and Fertita bring their psychedelic desert stoner rock sound and recording style to the mix of Post Pop Depression, which pairs well with Iggy’s more mature baritone vocals when accompanied by backup singers. The new record stands out as something different from his earlier works. Many reviews have opined that Post Pop is a follow up to The Idiot and Lust For Life, but I disagree. Save the comparisons to those classic albums for ones that actually followed them – New Values, or my favorite Iggy album, 1980’s Soldier. Post Pop Depression definitely stands out as much more personal than any of Iggy’s past work. There’s story to it, one that gives us insight into his life and feelings on his own mortality. In “American Valhalla” he sings “death is not an easy pill to swallow/ I am not the man with everything/ Im nothing but my name.”
The album starts off strong with “Break Into Your Heart,” which sums up my feelings about this album. Iggy may finally get his due after almost 50 years. Maybe he can finally release an album that doesn’t take two decades to catch on. Perhaps it will finally happen for the Godfather Of Punk. Iggy’s delivery on Post Pop leans further to the crooner stylings heard on his French recordings of recent years than to the rock and blues delivery of his Stooges days.
The second track and first single from the album is “Gardenia.” The song has a catchy hook and chorus and is a fun story about an older guy lusting after a beautiful younger woman (perhaps a little autobiographical?). On “American Valhalla,” Homme’s almost hypnotic yet soothing melody pairs well with Iggy’s lyrics which are inspired by his love of Roman history and his ponderings on the existence of heaven.
Homme says the title for “In the Lobby” was inspired by the feeling that the track originally sounded like music that would play in the lobby of a fancy hotel. The lyrics feel as though Iggy is giving us a glimpse of one his infamous stage shows from his perspective. “An ocean of bodies and then there’s me/ and I hope I’m not losing my life tonight.”
“Sunday” is a surprisingly upbeat song but it’s somber lyrics (“I’ve got it all, but what’s it for?”) belie its seemingly lighthearted surface. The contrast is made even clearer in the next track, “Vulture”, which is the album’s lone acoustic song. Even upon first listen, it’s clear that the desert had an effect on the album. With just the right amount of rickety-ness and some growly vocals on Iggy’s part, it feels like the guys could be out in the middle of nowhere around a campfire having a good time.
In “German Days,” the band gets to demonstrate their musical prowess by showcasing powerful guitars and drums working together in a melody for the chorus that, according to Homme, was inspired by Elmer Fudd’s “Kill the Rabbit,” except “groovy as fuck,” according to recent interviews. It has a strong QOTSA feel to it until you get to the chorus, which is all Iggy.
“Chocolate Drops” gives listeners another glimpse of the inner Igg, not the indestructible rock God we think of when we hear his name. The lyrics are the words of James Osterberg reminiscing on his life, telling someone how he feels and hoping whoever he is talking to can avoid a little sadness in their lives by following his advice. The haunting backing vocals and the sound of bells really gets stuck in your head.
Closing the album is a roller-coaster ride called “Paraguay.” It starts off with bluesy harmonizing by Homme and Fertita and becomes sort of a ballad about despair and leaving it all behind, moving ultimately to a place where no one knows or cares who you are.
“I’m gonna go where sore losers go/ to hide my face and spend my dough/though it’s a dream it’s not a lie/ I won’t stop to say good bye.”
The song then morphs into a hard-rocking Stooges-esque jam with Iggy improvising a goodbye-to-all-of-you-assholes rant atop the band’s wailing guitars and pounding drums. Iggy lets us have it with one last lyrical middle finger.
“I wanna be your basic clod who made good and went away while he could,” Iggy sings. “To somewhere where people are still human beings where they still have spirit. You can take your motherfucking laptop and just shove into your goddamn fowl mouth down your shit-heel gizzard you fucking phony two faced three timing piece of turd.” It’s a perfect song to end the album.
The band is setting off on a small tour that jump-started last Wednesday at the Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles, with comedian Sarah Silverman as the opening act. Only a total of 21 dates have been announced so far, making the short tour all the more special. Tickets to smaller venues go fast. Wednesday’s show sold out in less than a minute, which was not surprising given the Telegram’s maximum occupancy of 600.
I first had the realization a few years ago during the Stooges tour that Iggy is part of a dying breed – literally. Since then, I have made an effort to see him at every possible opportunity, and I have never been disappointed. If you haven’t seen Iggy live, this maybe your last chance. If you have, I don’t have to tell you that should go. There are still a few tickets left for his upcoming show at The Greek Theater in Los Angeles.
Anyone who has seen Iggy with or without The Stooges knows that no one knows what’s going to happen once he hits the stage – not even Iggy. When he “lets one go,” as he likes to say, he just might end up walking on a sea of hands, or throwing his mic stand across the stage, or climb on something, knocking it over and then, in an instant, disappear under the audience and emerge to crowd surf his way back to stage as if he invented it – because he did. This sounds unbelievable for a man in his twenties let alone one in his late sixties. The fact is that I saw him do all of these things less a year ago and, believe it or not, this is after he had mellowed from his previous tour fronting The Stooges.
Even at age 68, he’s still a security guard’s worst nightmare. But there is another side to the rock and roll icon as a musical artist that comes into play on this album and tour, there is the crooner. I saw a bit of this two years ago at Carnegie Hall for the Tibet House Benefit Concert. One of the highlights of that evening came when Iggy performed with members of Joy Division, doing their epic “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” I have hoped since then that he would further explore that side of his talent.
The live group consisted of Queens Of The Stone Age’s Dean Fertita and Troy Van Leeuwen, Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders, Chavez’s guitarist Matt Sweeney on bass, and of course, Homme.
They all looked suave in their black suits as they launched into “Lust For Life.” Out popped Iggy, also wearing his black suit but no shirt (of course). By the time he belted out “Here comes Johnny Yen again!” the place went crazy. They moved straight into “Sister Midnight” from there. Before the song was over, the jacket was on the floor and shirt-on Iggy was gone. The band was super tight and the extra guitar and the group’s interpretations really added to Iggy’s classics.
The set seamlessly switched back and forth between new songs and standards. You could tell Homme was very excited, singing along with Iggy off-mic on the older songs. I found it a bit amusing that by the time they were half way through the set, the band was sweating up a storm, except for Iggy. He gave us his all for the whole show, even pulling a lucky lady on stage during “Tonight” for a dance.
At more than one point I could tell he had to fight off the urge to jump into into the crowd. The highlight of the set for me was when the band broke into “China Girl.” Despite seeing him play well over a dozen times in several countries, I’ve never seen Iggy do this song live before.
At this point I could see Sarah Silverman through a window on the right wing of the stage, As she was dancing and enjoying herself, a man who was behind her said something in her ear. Silverman stopped dead and gave him a look that felt like a slap all the way over where I was standing. I am not an expert lip reader, but I could tell exactly what she said. “NO, it’s Iggy’s song. He did it first!”
They closed the show with the show with another song Iggy hasn’t performed in a few decades—the very fitting, “Success.” After the show I was lucky enough to speak with Homme for a moment as he was signing my concert poster. “You look like you are having a pretty good time up there,” I said. His response couldn’t have been any more apropos.
“Yes, I am. I am honored to be here,” he replied as his pen hand whisked over my poster. “It’s Iggy-fucking-Pop, man.”