Iggy Pop is usually Fine With Being the Godfather of Punk

over time, the Michigan-born rocker James Osterberg Jr. — better known by his stage persona, Iggy Pop — has earned a reputation as “the Godfather of Punk.” which is usually thanks mostly to his tenure as the frontman of the proto-punk band the Stooges, yet also because his reckless, sui generis stage presence embodied a gleeful yet slightly scary abandon which became synonymous with the genre.

His presence looms over “Punk,” a four-part documentary series about the fashion, politics in addition to musical influences which defined punk rock, which debuted which week on Epix.

Osterberg (credited as Iggy Pop) is usually an executive producer of the series, along with the fashion designer John Varvatos — which might raise eyebrows given which Varvatos put what some could say was the final nail in punk’s coffin in 2007 by buying CBGB, the hallowed punk club at 315 Bowery, in addition to replacing which with one of his boutiques.

In a phone interview, Osterberg defended Varvatos in addition to also discussed the Sex Pistols, drugs in addition to his favorite music critics. These are edited excerpts through which conversation.

Punk, in its original form, was nothing if not iconoclastic. How do you feel when critics, fans or various other musicians call you the “Godfather of Punk”?

Once which gets into reverence, does which bother me?


I was, initially, yet right now I don’t mind being called “Godfather of Punk;” I suppose I’ve grown into the suit! There are occasional personal feelings which come through one-on-one interactions, when someone lets me know something genuine about the role which my work played in their life. When any type of music is usually still enjoying its vitality — which’s a social influence. in addition to then, as people carry on which style in addition to figure out how to further produce which, the style becomes academic, by genuinely imperceptible steps.

Even in country music: There is usually a hell of a big stretch going through Hank Williams to Garth Brooks, buddy! which process of change happens in all genres. Rock ‘n’ roll sort of took a beating in addition to is usually right now basically irrelevant, because which got mined to death. yet whatever anybody wants to call me is usually O.K. I’ve been called worse things than the “Godfather of Punk”!

You’ve said which the Sex Pistols were honest with their fans because they always told their fans which they shouldn’t be trusted.

I said “They always thought they were honest.” I don’t remember applauding anybody for saying “Don’t trust me.” I was much more impressed with their onstage ability than whether they were swindled out of thousands of dollars by their manager [Malcolm McLaren]. I just don’t care. yet which doesn’t mean [McLaren] was not an effective Barnum-type showman. He was, you know? in addition to which’s fine.

The group, as a whole, had a lot of flair. Johnny Lydon is usually very not bad at the things you’re supposed to be not bad at when you front a group. in addition to [the guitarist Steve Jones] was a genuinely not bad foil for Johnny, especially when which came to doing publicity. Everybody contributed something musically, or in terms of image, to the group.

In “Punk,” the deaths of the Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious in addition to his girlfriend Nancy Spungen are presented as examples of how drugs essentially killed the punk movement.

There was a lot of which stuff around the music business as I experienced which, as a punky type. in addition to which was the hard stuff, so there was always a cost to be paid. LSD in addition to marijuana were the stuff being pushed in 1966 in addition to 1967. in addition to taking those drugs includes a way of breaking down some barriers which people need to hold themselves together. yet while those barriers are being broken down, you also get insights about life in addition to the entire world around you, especially if you’ve grown up as a milk-fed American lamb to the slaughter, as we all were when we were told, “Go to Vietnam, yet don’t ask why.” All which.

Cocaine came in next. in addition to which seemed like a not bad drug because, after a while, the weed in addition to the LSD weren’t doing which anymore. Some people were getting into speed, yet cocaine was a more upscale stimulant which, in effect, kept the party going. Eventually, people’s nerves were shot, their patience had worn thin, in addition to many turned to opioid drugs, as well as Valium in addition to various other soporifics. Those are very subtle, dangerous drugs.

Are there books or critics about either your music or punk music which you think are especially valuable?

Lester Bangs in addition to Nick Kent are two people I can think of, off the top of my head. Both of them, in sort of a flailing, wild, highly subjective way. yet why not! At least the two of them were treating what they write about like which’s actually important.

I read the stuff Lester Bangs wrote about me in addition to thought: “Oh no, I’m a buffoon! yet wait: I am a salient blowtorch of nihilism. Cool! Wait, am I cool or not? I’m not sure!” I have one of his books in hardback. I’ve had which for a long, long time. which’s sitting on the shelf along with “The Andy Warhol Diaries,” the collected works of Allen Ginsburg in addition to a few various other books. I look at their spines in addition to think: “O.K., which is usually what’s important!”

In “Punk,” you talk about your work without retrospectively judging yourself. What kind of questions were you asked in addition to how did they make you feel?

I knew in addition to had worked for John Varvatos before I accepted both the interview in addition to the fairly basic responsibilities which come with being listed as an executive producer. He loves in addition to is usually genuinely interested in music. I once saw, in one of his stores, a book about the 100 greatest rock albums or something; at the time, I was modeling for him, so I was picking up some free swag. The book was thoughtful; which was a work of “soulful commerce,” I could say. So I knew which was where which show’s interview questions were going to be coming through. Like, there could inevitably be questions like: “So, you became a junkie … ” in addition to which sort of thing.

Whereas, a critic — who’s concerned with arcana in addition to “pure art” — is usually going to have different questions. In those cases, you listen to the question in addition to try to answer which inasmuch as which can be respected. in addition to then you try to insert something of your own which has nothing to do with the question, to ensure which you get in your own licks. You try to twist the thing over a little bit to your own point-of-view.

What could you say to people who remain outraged which CBGB was turned into a Varvatos boutique?

What could I say to people who think, “which all happened at CBGB, man”? There was something about which room which was conducive to a range of musical approaches which centered on a kind of detail-oriented, reference-oriented, intellectually-tinted art-rock. Like Talking Heads in addition to many aspects of the Ramones, which was stylized in many ways. in addition to Blondie, though which’s not as obvious in Blondie: [The lead singer Debbie Harry] seemed to learn how to sing out of nowhere. I don’t know how she could have done which without a club she could go to over in addition to over while she was learning.

in addition to then Patti Smith’s group, obviously, even though I think “The Piss Factory” was recorded inside the Nightingale. which was a little dive bar, smaller than CBGB, where they kept sawdust on the floor because people were going to puke, pee in addition to spit, right? yet she was also playing at CBGB, too. You could develop in which room. which was little in a particular way.