Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

January 20, 2009

Mental Health

"Tom", a 1972 film sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health. If this is an anti-drug film, it definitely fails.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ron Asheton


"I owe him so much. Number one, just for the opportunity to actually be a Stooge. And then just for forming the Stooges, which meant so much
to so many. Getting to play with him, looking across and seeing the guitar man from the Stooges playing with me was mind-blowing! It was a dream come true — and he used to tell me that a lot [laughs]. Because I was always foaming and so happy to be playing with him.

I'd gotten very sick — tubes in my arms; the first time I couldn't
play bass. When I finally got well, I was freaked out because my
fingers had atrophied. So I started playing along to the Stooges'
albums to get my fingers and my rhythm and my music back in shape.
Because there's not a lot of chord changes involved. So, ironically, I
was putting together some Stooges [tribute] bands in L.A. and New York just to play during that time. I could barely stand but I needed to
get back on the horse. Right after that, J. [Mascis] released his solo
album and asked me to go on tour. After Ron joined us, the first part
of the show was J.'s tunes and the second part was all Stooges stuff.
[Sonic Youth's] Thurston [Moore] was curator of the All Tomorrow's
Parties festival in L.A. and said, "Why don't you get Scott [Asheton]
to play drums and do a Stooges tribute?" So that was the first time I
got to watch the brothers play together and it was incredible. Ron was
a team player. He was a great guitarist but he was concerned with how
the band sounded as a whole. He was a great listener and very generous as a musician; he wanted to play along with you. It really takes a giving person to play like that.

We ended up doing some gigs in Europe and I think that's probably when Iggy heard about the brothers playing together again. Not long after that, Ronnie told me that Iggy had called and wanted them to do some songs with him. Then, in 2003, they got the offer to do Coachella. I'd played with Iggy one time before, at the [British] Short List Awards in L.A., so I'd played with all three of them. It sounds conceited to say I had anything to do with them getting back together because I have so much respect for those cats. But I think part of it had to do with guys like me and J. and Thurston and all the punk kids who grew up loving the Stooges finally coming of age and having bands and it was just sort of like it was meant to happen.

I was on another tour but flew in to play Coachella and got sick on
the plane on the way there. So there I am, sitting in a room with all
three of them. Wow! It was really intense seeing the incredible
communication they immediately had with each other. Ig had huge
respect for the Asheton brothers, especially their playing. But I was
so sick for that gig, with a fever. Playing at rehearsals with what
felt like a pool stick up my ass. People were hugging me, trying to
get me to stop shaking. [Red Hot Chili Pepper] Flea knew a nurse who
gave me a shot of vitamin B right before I went onstage and that
stopped me from shaking. But when I was finally onstage with them, I
felt every five seconds like I was going to get lost because I was
tripping from the fact that I was actually playing with them and
trying to stay focused! But that one gig was so intense that it kicked
that sickness right out of me. And then being on tour with them for
the next five-and-a-half years ... well, talk about being able to go
to the well and just taking buckets from it. What an education!

When we were working on the tracks for The Weirdness, I'd stay with
him in Ann Arbor. And he always made sure I had my own little pad in
his house, all the comforts, my own chair. And he'd sit there and just
rap to me for hours. He was a very, very interesting man. Just a
beautiful, beautiful guy [voice cracks]. He called once just to thank
me for getting him out there again. But I thought it was justice to
see him get the recognition and be out there playing. Before the
reunion, the Stooges had only done one overseas gig — the Raw Power show in London. So Ronnie got to take that music all over the world.

He'd say, "Sometimes, I feel like an old blues guy sitting on my porch
and now all these kids want to learn my sound and hear my stories." I
remember he only had one request for me and that was to not wear
flannel [shirts] onstage. [Laughs] "You guys stole that from John
Fogerty anyway." I said, "What about Levis and Converse?" He said,
"That's strong!" [Laughs] But whenever those guys told me anything, I
listened. Because they had perspective. These were the guys who made Stooges music so I don't question anything they have to say.

When we were finally putting the album together and I was staying with
Ronnie, the pressure was really on me and I was pretty stressed. It
was a pressure cooker because I knew I had to play my very best for
these guys. The very last day that we were working on the album,
Flaming Lips and Sonic Youth came to Detroit. So I went to the gig and
got together with those guys, my friends ... and ended up drinking
about a half gallon of whiskey. I got back to Ronnie's, and I puked a
little in the driveway — well, actually, I puked a lot! [Laughs] It
was all over my jeans and flannel. So I go up to my little pad and
Ronnie comes in. He gets me out of my clothes, puts me in the tub and
washes me off, then gets me in bed, makes sure I'm all right and won't
choke on my own vomit or anything like that. He totally took care of
me. Another time, he helped me come up with a bass solo. Because
people forget that Ronnie was a righteous bass player himself. He was
just a giving cat. Time after time after time, he shared so much with
me. I'm going to miss him so much. [Voice cracks] Sorry I'm not more
together but this is just really, really hard."