The director and Iggy Pop talk about the just-released celebration of the proto-punk band
How much does director Jim Jarmusch love the Stooges? While making his just-released documentary Gimme Danger, which details the career of the Iggy Pop-fronted proto-punk group, he considered turning it into the O.J.: Made in America of rock docs — at least in terms of length.
“There was one point where I thought, ‘Why don’t we make this into 10 one-hour episodes?'” he tells EW. “But [in the end] we thought the best way to make a delivery system out of our celebration of the Stooges was an hour-and-a-half, two-hour kind of film.”
Read on to see what else Jarmusch and Iggy Pop had to say about the doc, and watch the trailer below.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did the idea for the documentary come about?
JIM JARMUSCH: Well, it was eight years ago or so. He was saying, a lot of stuff’s going to come out about him — some films, there was this talk of a biopic thing, and books. He said, “I wish there was a really good film about the Stooges and I wish you would make it.” I was like, “I will make it! I’m going to make it, man!” Took me a while.
IGGY POP: I thought it was very important. That’s the first thing I ever did, and I wanted to complete the job of what should be done to communicate on behalf of the group before I go on to complete my own job in life and my own stuff. That was my idea, and my strategy was to find this specially qualified person who would be able to see and say the things about the group that we ourselves could never do, or that someone with an avaricious, ulterior motive could never do. That was the idea.
Iggy, how much material did you have from the Stooges days? Are you a pack rat?
POP: The opposite. I didn’t have anything, except for one old photo, and I had a painting that I’d done of the group. I had the photos of my mom and dad that appear briefly. That was it. He and his staff found everything. But I knew who a lot of the people were who had stuff. I said, “Talk to Kathy Asheton (sister of Stooges members Scott and Ron Asheton), talk to this one, talk to that one.”
Iggy, you talk warmly about your parents in the film…
…I think “treasure” is the word you use about the time you spent with them.
To be honest, I assumed you had a terrible upbringing…
POP: [Laughs] You mean, because of my personality?
Not because of your personality, but because of the nature of your musical output, and your persona onstage with the Stooges. I had assumed you were rebelling against—
POP: I was rebelling against some things. But they weren’t things that my parents imposed on me, although my father was a very formidable and, in certain ways, strict man. But they did nothing but try to help me in life.
JARMUSCH: The thing about it is, yes, he was alienated by a lot of forces of society, and bulls—, and lies, and just the whole thing. Obviously there’s alienation. But the thing about the Stooges, and Iggy in particular, is the incredible amount of love that comes out of that. I mean, [when] you see them live, it is love. When you see this from Iggy [raises the middle finger of both hands], that’s like an “I salute you!” That isn’t “Go f—k yourself!” It’s a joyful thing. When he goes into the audience, he’s making them one thing; he’s breaking down that wall. That love comes from his parents, too. That’s a big deep thing. When I got to see the Stooges reunited, I was high for days afterwards. There are dark things in Stooges’ songs, and they investigate a lot of corners, but what you come out with is something with a lot love in it. And I think some of that had to come from his parents. I don’t know. I don’t like psychoanalyzing.
Iggy, there’s no interview footage of you from back in the day in the film. I couldn’t help wondering what that would have been like.
POP: [Laughs] Well, the first serious interview I ever did was with Dave Marsh, and it was for Creem magazine. He did come to my filthy bedroom at the Fun House, at the Stooge house, came up and interviewed me at length, and he wrote a piece. It wasn’t filmed, obviously. But I was quoted. I can’t remember it. But I know he left the place, like… [Laughs]
JARMUSCH: “You actually live in this room?”
Iggy, what did you think of Gimme Danger when you saw it?
POP: I’ve seen the film three times now. I think [Jarmusch] thought, “Well, what happened here?” And ultimately, the story of our group is basically what happened each of the times we tried to leave home. [Laughs] That’s what really happened. We went to New York and all this stuff happened. And then we got back home. And then we went to L.A. and this stuff happened. Ultimately, that’s about it. A bunch of very naïve people — except for the art part. We were a certain kind of people from a certain kind of place, and we took everything in at face value, through literature, art, and musical works. But we were not of the machine. And so there were things that happened — interesting things that happened! — when we went. And then we’d come back in a certain situation, and he showed that, I think.
JARMUSCH: They were making basically experimental music, too, without trying to be too academic about it. But this was not Crosby, Stills & Nash, you know what I mean? This was Midwestern stuff, so that speaks to me always, still. There’s an interesting thing Danny Fields (ex-Stooges manager) says, like, “Well, the demise was partly [because] they weren’t professional, they didn’t really take care of things, but there was also an anti-art element that was not going to receive them.” And still won’t, probably.