clockwise from upper left: ron asheton, iggy pop, steve mackay, scott asheton
mike watt, eric fischer, henry mcgroggan, rik hart, chris wujek and jos grain
a word's-eye view from mike watt
of gigs done by the stooges in spain,
portugal, france and italy
friday, may 27, 2005 - barcelona, spain
my trip actually started on tuesday, when I left my pedro town for the l.a. airport (lax) at seven bells in the morning. my sister melinda brought me and the plane took off just before eleven. tourboss henry and roadboss eric (he's graduated from helperman) we're convince I was on a non-stop cuz of just one flight number but the plane landed in philadelphia and I had to go to another terminal to get on another plane (w/the same flight number) and this is probably where my bass and clothesbag got lost cuz they weren't there at the luggage carousel when I landed wednesday morning in barcelona, spain (it's nine hours ahead of pedro time, the flight taking like fourteen hours all together). this is the third time my bass has been lost, flying to get to a stooges gig. it seems like if I got more than one plane to take and the changeover isn't at least two or three hours, then it's not going to make it w/me when I land. I didn't get too freaked cuz helperman jos said he's got a new epiphone (they've been gibson since the 60s) eb-3 that's pretty close to my little gibson bass (as far as a stock one could be, the physical dimensions anyway).
last night we practiced at this club downtown called apollo that was sort of like the el rey in the miracle mile part of l.a. it was set up like a gig for us on stage and we went over everything a couple of times, implementing changes iggy's thought up. the biggest one is w/my bass line in "little electric chair" though he says we probably won't be doing that tune 'til july but it might go into the set if he feels like doing it. basically, lots of my eighth notes have been whittled down to allow the song to breathe more and it makes good sense. ig's got a good mind for conducting us, like a good editor would do for a cat writing a book. it's wild the way his mind is so omni-aware. we pare down "not right" as well, shortening up the end part to make it tighter. I think it makes good sense. I can't tell you how righteous it feels to do stooges songs w/the real stooges again, such a mindblow for me. jos' bass plays good though the sound isn't really the same (lacking some punch), it'd still work out. many thanks to jos for having a bravo (plan b) for a backup. that's good thinking. after prac, I walked around the festival grounds (it's right next door to the 'tel) and man, are things spread out. this festival is called "primavera" and obviously lucky strike cigarettes is one of the sponsors cuz there's cigarette machines all around the festival signs that incidently also sport some infos like the layout which you big time need. the way it is laid out is pretty beautiful though, right next to the mediterranean sea like it is. I walked around the shore a bunch yesterday when I came in cuz my room wasn't ready yet and I was curious anyway. the water was really clear and I so much wanted to dive in and swim. lots of construction around still - this place was pretty much beat up and hood-like just a few years ago, lots of changes. all of spain is changing quick, pretty intense. I saw a lot that cuz I had three gigs in this land just a few weeks ago when I did a watt tour for my "the seconman's middle stand" album - an opera about a sickness that almost killed me five years ago. I called it the "el mar cura todo in europe too" tour 2005 - it was my fiftyfifth one and I did thritysix gigs in forty days, driving all but two hundred miles of it (had to take a rest during a big hellride right after a gig here and then having to get to le harve in france the next day so I could take the ferry to england). it was w/my secondman band (w/second-stringers cuz the original ones couldn't make it), the bass/organ/drums trio I put together for that proj. that tour along w/a u.s. one last fall made 105 times I performed that sickness piece and now I've put it to bed. I'll start work on a new work in the fall but this won't be any "one big song" thing but rather thirtyseven little ones w/a bass/guitar/drums trio - like in my old days. I'm calling that unit the missingmen.
anyway, back to stoogeworld - this morning I chowed the buffet they had for breakfast (like yesterday) and have eggs w/these sausages that look like half of a pinky along w/fruit covered w/yogurt. I get surprised w/hands on my shoulders behind me - it's a dutch dude carlos! righteous to see him again even if it's been only a week and a half ago! he books the sonic youth euro tours (as he does for me) and they're playing this same festival but tomorrow night - aaaaaaargggghhhh, so fucked I have to miss them cuz we head for lisbon then but anyway, I get to spend some time w/carlos. a few tables over, genesis p ordige is chowing (he's on the bill too w/his/her psychic tv band) but I'm too shy to go and spiel though I have a few times w/him/her before. wish I could at least see him/her play - the same w/david thomas (I'm gonna record w/him, george hurley, saccharine trust's joe baiza and jack brewer plus toldeo poet dan mcguire for an improvised album this coming fall) and kristin hersh. this is a problem w/multiple stages and conflicting schedules... again, aaaaarrrrrrrgggggghhhhhhhh. a neat thing about festivals is getting the chance to see lots of cats you're interested in but my boats swamped that way this time. oh well, at least I get some time w/carlos and we spiel much. I then go to my room and read "the last samurai" book (by helen dewitt - nothing to do w/the tom cruise movie of the same name and I wonder why the hell would the people who made that movie do something like that?) I brought from pedro... 'pert-near done w/it and it's something I've been meaning to finish as soon as I got some time... that thing called "time" - man, have I been in some short supply of it! anyway, uncle ray (from cleveland) said that book was good when he gave it to me and boy was he right! thanks uncle ray. henry calls and says they've found my luggage so my clothes and the little bass will make their way the 'tel about five so I'll have my baby for the gig tonight, alright! I go to shovel some chow in the afternoon across the street at the mall (yep, lots of u.s.-styled malls in europe these days - trippy) where the top floor is all chow pads. in the lobby I see steve shelley (sonic drummer) and when I go back, I see ig at the pool and we talk some and as were waiting for an elevator, one going the other way opens up and jim o'rourke (newest sonic youth) waves hi to me - I tell ig jim's really good on guitar, kind of john fahey style and ig tells me about seeing fahey play and this story about him writing to buka white's home town "general delivery" cuz he didn't know his address but the letter found buka and that's how he got gigging again. damn.
we're to get driven to the gig at five to eight but where's steve? local helper man leno goes up to his room and it appears steve's phone was off the hook and he didn't get his wake up call. for all the fanciness of this 'tel, the phone's are hard to hang up - some modernistic thing on a little pedestal. anyway, steve's w/us now and we get in the van to drive the little bit I walked back from the apollo stage earlier this afternoon when we finished soundcheck. weird to drive just this small way but I wanna be w/the guys. we're following iggy who's in a car ahead of us w/tourboss henry. backstage in our room, now begins 'pert-near the hardest part ever of doing these things, the wait before going on stage. ig's in another room, getting it focus but comes in time to time to prep us for the show, going over the new endings and stuff we worked out yesterday at prac. ron's pacing back and forth, scotty's pounding on a chair w/his drum sticks and getting warmed up... I do likewise w/my bass (except using my fingers). what seems like an eternity finally passes and we're on - man, it'll be so good to get this first one under our belt and break the water on these summer gigs. it's been nine months since we've last played together, long enough to make a baby (or as ron would say, "lindburg baby").
9:30 and the sun's still up but it's going down soon. we're on a silver colored canopied stage called apollo (like the club we did prac at). not much wind even here by the mediterranean sea so that we won't have that putting a kink in the sound. stageman jos got mani from primal scream's marshall bass amps (two four hundred watt heads and two 8x10 speaker cabs though one amp's running both of them while the other one is off and being held in reserve just in case). we run up to the side of the stage and I'm at the back - ig yells "where's watt" and I say "here" - he hollers "let's go" and the gig is on... "loose" is up first and I got shakes in my bones right as scotty hits the high hat to count ron in - ig runs out as we get underway... "look out!" he hollers and the gig is on, our summer wail's begun - holy smokes! I got some shakes but not that stooge shake that rattles me crazy, I think I'm a little out of shape! sure, I just did thirtysix gigs in forty days but doing a sickness opera (the last go-round for my "the secondman's middle stand" piece) but that is nothing like a stooges gig which is flat-out blast off! all that tour did get me good w/my timing but I'm a little out of shape I have to admit for this work so I'm going to have to force my will some which is ok, my heart has been craving to do this so ever since I was told about it, looking so forward to it. iggy's in great form, whoa - singing like a champ and TEARING IT UP! the catalonia folks are way w/it, too - what a connect! out of "loose" and straight into "down on the street" which thumps, thumps, thumps! ig climbs onto my bass amps easy, I thought maybe they'd be a little too narrow - you know the way marshalls are (they are a little deeper than the guitar ones though) and I get on my knees... I see this green shirt I'm wearing - it reads POP-G on the top line and RUPPO on the one bellow in white. me and ron were a little worried in the dressing room cuz the green was a little "bright" but iggy didn't mind. I wore it cuz I played a little town about ten miles north from here called la valle de la rocca a few weeks ago and these were the folks who put on the gig - great cats (thanks uri and danielo), they call their scene "karate punk" (cuz the way they dance) and I dug it much. I got my john coltrane button on too, I know ig digs that. much respect to him for letting me where the pop-gruppo shirt. anyway, back to the gig! "a song about a special number," says ig - "1969" and scotty's got it way WAY groovin'... nice. tough though, even bendable - know what I mean?, that way. ronnie gets the wah-wah really crying it up here, searing. "I wanna be your dog" charges up after, whoa - now I remember what the stoogeroller is like, coming on down over me. holy toledo! I know might sound like someone seeing the gig but shit... yeah, I have a bass on but it's all such a mindblow on me - the actuality of it all - too much weight 'pert-near for this brain to take. the crowd was pretty big to start w/but now it's really filling in and these catalonians know all the words and are sing along - like when we played victoria-gastiez in the basque country. "tv eye" is up and I'm having a little trouble shaking my body all up like the way I like to during this tune, especially in the calves and lower... like I said, I'm kinda out of "stooge shape" and have to get that together. no time now though - I gotta give it what I got. things calm down some w/"dirt" after the heavy "tv eye" wail. the change ig had us do w/the ending gets a little misread from scotty but the song bubbles down w/him doing cymbal stuff and it's still ok. we're right into "real cool time" and iggy tries to get folks on stage to dance w/us but the security is not having it - only one cat makes it... ig stops us and let's everyone know how unhappy he is w/the strong arm shit and then starts us up again. damn, I wish these goons would lighten up and let the kids have some fun, it's not so out of line. I did get a grapple from ig when ron's solo started - don't know what that was about but it didn't bowl me over - you know how much of a state he can get into while he's working the stage. it's kind of neat getting a bearhug from the igster anyway, if you know what I mean. "not right" gets fouled up w/a misfire at the start cuz ron's pedals are in transit but then we get it going on a second try. we've cut the solo at the end way down but it does seem a little weird in this part of the set, guess we're a little used to doing "no fun" here but that one's next and that tune seems weird too w/no on stage w/us dancing along like what usually happens. I still dig it much though cuz it's a great tune. the sun's starting to come down now and I'm pretty sweated up but not bothered by it - hell, it means my body's working. I turn down the gain on the amp cuz I got maybe a little too much fuzz going and iggy introduces the band. "1970" launches us right up into the dusk, full-on powerdrive. whoa. lots of bangs w/the mic on the p.a. stacks as ig is down on the ground w/the folks. pretty high stage to climb from besides, you can tell he's in a good form. the end of this song where ron works some harmonics pretty intense now has a title - "mindroom" and ig does some words over it. I bring in the bass when he hollers "fun house" and here's the first whole tune in five man attack mode cuz steve mackay came in w/his sax in the "I feel alright" part of "1970" and he's smokin' big time, "blow, steve!" holler iggy. this morphs into "l.a. blues" and then straightens out into the "skull ring" w/it's big uni-riff. wild. a little bit of a breather for "dead rock star" - I've pretty much hung back close to my amps cuz the sound on stage has things pretty seperated. ig now has this great singing part he's put on the ending - we pad out in 'a' as steve puts some of his sax into signature mode and then scotty counts me in for "little doll" instead of the starting w/just bass so we can come in tight together. steve switches his tenor sax for maracas. ig breaks the tune down into just drums and then counts us in for the ending but the band kind of mis-reads him a little but it works out ok, another boil-off. hey, our first gig in nine months and it's pretty fucking good - the clams I've mentioned are pretty tiny things and no trainwrecks. we finish up w/a second take on "...dog" or "double dog" as we've come to know it and then we're done. whew.
much hollering from the folks as we get backstage, much respect to them. I am one sore fuck. I can't believe I've played so much and then feel like it's my first gig in what maybe feels like nine months! well, it's been nine months since a stooges gig and even w/my craziest stuff w/other music I do, nothing compares much w/working this music - it's just another thing. my fingers cramp up really intense and I show the guys - the left index one makes a perfect capital "L" being perpendicular w/the corresponding palm. the guys trip out on this. huge golf ball cramps come up on the back of my calves and the arches of my feet spasm up. I'm pretty much in a state. a table immediately is set up for chow (nine settings and six chairs!) but no sits to shovel. I somehow use my stiff fingers to stuff a pork rib into my mouth though and drink much water. ig comes after a while and talks to us much about the gig... he dug it but thought maybe he had us try too many changes w/the tunes (laughing much as he explains it) but we're all in agreement it was a pretty righteous gig, seeing the last one was nine months ago. the band going on next is one from england called new order (no, not ron asheton's 70s band) - their dressing room is next door and the walls don't go all the way up to the roof and over from their side comes some porn zine, flying through the air. ron puts it w/his stuff and says "cheers, mate!" we soon hear some new wave sounds coming from the stage and ig asks who it is so I go out there to look and one of the helperpeople says it's new order. they were called joy division 'til their singer hung himself (sad), I liked that first record they did - the one w/the black cover. this is way different though. another older band from england called human league is after them... I think it's good we added some contrast for the catalonians tonight.
tourboss henry tells me there's room in ig's car so I go back to the 'tel w/them both, iggy talking spanish w/the driver (he can talk it fine). we come up through the garage and ride the elevator up - good byes to ig and henry and off to my chamber, cramps wailing on me - still in my hands and pretty bad in my calves and arches. believe it or not, it's got me laughing much however. shit, I've been playing like a motherfucker so it's not idleness for sure... all I can reckon is this is the what is wrought by tuneage as strong as these stooges songs, what it's like to be up there wailing w/ig and the asheton's compared to whatever I can get happening on my own. it's just up in the stratosphere and it would be weak of me not to admit it. I'll get in shape - stooge shape, it just took a gig to remind my body, even though my mind was more than ready... that real-o mind way of getting the freak flag to fly. I laugh myself to sleepytown thinking about that here on the deck.
sunday, may 29, 2005 - lisbon, portugal
yesterday we flew from barcelona to hear in lisbon, portugal and got in around two pm after an hour and a half flight. we also gained an hour cuz of the going into the same time zone england's in. this is my first time to this land and it was trippy coming down out of the sky into it's capital town, all these little pads on hills w/twisty narrow streets. the sea is nearby by actually lisbon is on the rio tejon and is like ten miles from the atlantic ocean. the weather is sunny like barcelona but not as hot. jos drove all the equipment in his new mercedes sprinter van (extra longboy model) and I carried my clothes bag on w/me so no worry about luggage getting lost this time. helperman chris is still missing his bag w/some of ron's effects (ron's guitars were lost like mine but he got his back the day before I did). we're driven across town via the way by the river - it's a big one too, there's a huge bridge called "april 25" (in celebration of the revolution that dumped strongman salazar in 1972) that looks like the vincent thomas one we got linking my town w/terminal island (which itself is like a slightly smaller version of s.f.'s golden gate bridge) and a can (short for container) terminal too, making me think of home in san pedro. every can pad does that - everyone in the bus laughs and says "look watt, cans!" we're staying in a pad called the lapa palace and it's in the embassy district. I chimp up yesterday's happenings and then konk, don't know why that happened but when I come to it's night. scotty's room is next door so I visit him and get learned about all the wild critters living up in drummond island, on the u.p. in michigan. wild.
the room comes w/free morning shovel so I hit it big time in the morning. they got quite a trough and so I do it up. the crew's leaving earlier so I go w/them so I don't get all nervous waiting in the 'tel for the gig, the waiting part is hard enough for me as it is. I head on over w/the crew, going the same we came in and of course I gotta give the driver a little lesson in "can lore" (like an idiot, I can't help it) but he's nice about it, even when I sound like a fucking' badge-buff and saying "us and long beach have 240 hammerheads" cuz like no port has that many (not even rotterdam) but that's really not my intent - it just makes me think of my harbor town and get a little homesick. I think of pete and jer too (my original secondmen), up there lashing those cans back in cali. the gig is an outside one (like in barcelona), near where lisbon had a big dealio called called expo 98 and a lot of that stuff remained and made use of. there's a chow place and I have some pork ribs, a little better than last night (they were good but a little fatty) but not near brother in law's #2 (a GREAT rib pad on divisadero in s.f.). I'm not trying to be snob on the portuguese, all these folks have been they absolute best and a pleasure/honor to work for - same w/the catalans. much respect.
yesterday here was full of the bands that went on after us at the last gig but the bands w/us today are what some people might call "heavier" ones. before us is mastadon and slayer, after is audioslave and marilyn manson. I heard mastadon had an "opera" kind of based on melville's "moby dick" and watch them. can't get any grip on that angle but maybe they're not doing that piece. they're good though - I heard about them actually by seeing some review done of their moby dick thing and sending it to elizabeth's Eduardo cuz he's much into metal and wanted to crack him up. I get to meet one of the guitar guys, a cat named bill, when they're done and he's from upstate new york but put the band together in atlanta, where they're based now. he's way into greg ginn of black flag, alright. wow, I almost didn't recognize him at first but I see a friend from the porno for pyros days, the roadboss curly! big hugs for him, I think it was at that stooges gig at roseland in nyc when I saw him last! he's an old friend of tourboss henry's too. what a small world. he likes what pedalin' and paddlin' have done for me - thanks, curl. he's slayer's tourboss and his band's on next - it's been many MANY years since I've seen slayer last but boy, they are intense - especially the drummer, dave lombardo. holy cow! the two guitars work good together but I like then man w/the tattoed head more, he's good on the rhythm (those mastadon guys were good at that too) and he sets his leads off good. they got a whole wall of marshall cabinets behind them but are all of them on? I'm talking like maybe twentyfour of them or something! the bass player laughs a lot, he's the singer too. sometimes he talks between songs but it's in a small voice, not a holler like in the tunes. for one of them, he goes: "this song is about fighting - even when you don't have to... it's called 'mandatory suicide.'" whoa. I think I know that one - I only had the album "south of heaven" but liked some of those tunes. there's a scuffle over a barrier that had heineken (the beer) on it cuz it had been put on stage and well, this is a "super bock/super rock" festival (super bock is a portugal beer) so we're talking the real dealio - one dude had his panties way all bunched up about it. I see a bunch of the gig but I gotta get back and warm up on that little bass. ig checked out some of these guys too - that means ron and scotty are here now too, alright.
I go to join them and strap the little bass on to warm up, same strings as last gig but I think they're good for one more. I like them a little less than super bright/trebley, cut down on the "dink dink dink" factor. my favorite thing's a throaty growl anyway. the wind picks up and it's a little chilly - it was warmer last night. I got a shirt that's like the underneath jersey you wear under a baseball shirt, black sleeves that go down to half your forearm and they go up to the amrpit and then the middle part's white. there's two big hands in pray mode, like the durer hands but there's been a beer bottle photoshoped on and it says "alex's bar" above them, it's street address in long beach below. it's a neat pad I've played before but they gotta work on the sound cuz it's 'pert-near like a roller rink. after what seems ages, it's our turn to go on. yeah! we cut the whole thing open w/"loose" and almost immediately, the crowd comes in. I mean it's already packed up to the stage but things gather way up in the back. I'm feeling a lot "looser" tonight, no crampage in the fingers, none in the calves. ok, it started out like this in barcelona too so we'll see. I think I've got it together better though, way more in "stooge shape" to work this bass for this incredible band. we whup up "down in the streets" and ig puts one of his boots through a speaker on my rig as ambles up to pump it and then sits up, swinging his feet in front of him and this is when one of his boot heels did one of the speakers in the top box in. oh well, no matter - soundman rik's got a direct signal anyway. jos though comes up to me in the next tune ("1969") and is saying something but man, the sound is blasting much and I can't really gather what he's trying to tell me but I know he's intent upon it. I see him changing out the d.i. box - maybe the signal's too hot - oh, I think now he might have been asking what pickups I had on... actually both cuz I have a balance control and at this point in the set I'm about sixty percent neck and forty bridge. iggy's singing really good and the band is slamming, both ashteon brothers putting much rock into the action. next is "an animal song!" which is our cue for "I wanna be your dog" - it rears up and pounces on these portuguese folks but they're way into it. ron's solo gets me so into it that the second four bars has me on my knees by his amp and pivoting the riff on octaves which causes ig to holler "no jazz!" as he climbs out from just being in the middle of the crowd. kind of disco but jazz? whatever, I get the picture and stay on riff though a little flustered (not personally but nerve-wise, I want so badly not to fuck up this band) that I kind of fluff some of the ending, laming out that last tag a little. at least I was in 'e' though. I get myself together for "tv eye" though. these guys like glisses and slurs so that's the only embellishment I put in (right before the second chorus). we nail the bridge a lot better than barcelona which kind of had stumble on a miscue maybe from ig. he puts us real straight tonight. same w/the ending of "dirt" - scotty knows right where we are when the ending comes up. the solo was way longer today too, ron stretching out more (ig told him it was ok to go for it before we went on) - I think everyone is into that, I sure am. "real cool time" follows and again ig has little luck bringing people up cuz of the security not letting them... again he has us stop and calls them "fucking nazi pricks" but luckily there's cats on the sides of stage that join in - the flying v guitar guy for mastadon and the slayer guitar tech, a real nice cat named dave - I've been to his pad in fact in hollywood cuz a friend named dimitri invited me to a q there... what a small world! he's very cool people and it's great to see him dancing w/us up here w/us some other folks - even a few more people w/the cojones to help out but it stays pretty small. we talked about this part after the barcelona gig and soundman rik thought it might be played out but the rest of us thinks it's a good thing - I told ig myself when were riding back to the 'tel. I think it pulls down some rope and let's the same ol' you see at gigs get a little spontaneous, it's pretty go-for-it. ig introduces the band (calls me "new guy mike") and then go into what's basically side two of "fun house" w/"1970" having saxman steve mackay come wailing in on after the final chorus - what a coda! steve's been trying some life change stuff and though his playing might be a little calmer, it's still smokin' and cutting through good. I know the whole band is proud of him. he's got a bunch of musical friends in portugal and will be recording w/some of them in the next coming days. on into the "mindroom" which is what the harmonic driven improvised stuff ron does while ig does the same w/words before hollering "fun house" and having me kick that one off. I got my trust in soundman rik it's thumpin' coming off the stage cuz up here it's a little fuzzy for me. earlier today I showed rik and tourboss henry a web site for the "telluric currents" live release coming out real soon now of the march 22, 2004 shibuya-ax gig in tokyo, japan. his work is on the line just as much as up here cuz he had no idea that was coming out. we're all in real time and going for it w/the stooges - no sleepwalk mode and I can much dig that, even w/the risk of clamblow. a long "l.a. blues" and then we go into the two more recent tunes he did w/ron and scotty on his last record, "skull ring" and "dead rock star" before going back to first album days w/"not right" but I can tell ig feels something wrong and in fact tries to halt the tune midway (I do stop - you gotta know I'm watching him 'pert-near the entire gig and am glued to every thing he does. it's a good way for me to both keep focus and make sure I'm able to take any direction he's got for me and/or the band) but the asheton brothers plowed on... a misread on the ending by scotty as ig jump up on the riser and give him the "look" (you ask scotty himself about those "eyes" - I got them at that tokyo gig and they are much persuasive)... scotty double shotted the ending instead of just leaving it one of the opening tag. oops. ig calls up "little doll" right away and subltley asks us to have it together ("you better fucking play it right"). we've worked it now to have scotty count it in and then flam on the beat before the one so I'm in on the 'and' before that... it's great the way dave alexander did two bars of bass alone but this way is more to cinch it up though scotty double flams to make things interesting - gigs are wild events in the moment and not pracs. ig calls for the "double dog!" and you know this time I'm on this as straight as it goes, iggy imploring to "play it harder, stooges!" many times. man, talk about opening up a can of whup-ass! what a way to end the gig, damn.
we come off and I feel so much different than after the barcelona gig, not a cramp in me and not at all winded. sure, I'm sweated to the max, my shirt and levis drenched but that's way ok. I'm so glad my muscles and spazzin' and I don't feel more sore than a sack of potatoes someone's taken a bat to. I guess I'm in stooge shape! iggy comes to talk to us about the set. he brings up the "no jazz" thing and says those notes I was doing bug him - he then talks about see mcoy tyner and pharaoh sanders live - he's much into jazz and knows tons about it but also has the sensiblility to know what is good for stooges and I'm all ears to learn. he says he hears mean quoting some of "love supreme in "l.a. blues" and tells me "don't play anything jimmy garrison wouldn't" (garrison was john coltrane's bassist). like I said, I'm all ears and anything any of the guys in this band hip me too I take to hear musically and never personally as an ego blow. what they tell me is good sense in my mind - I get too close to my machine to see the forest for the trees and appreciate much them helping me w/direction. they know what's good for their band and that's head and heals above what people who have no idea what they want. I am sure lucky to get to learn from these cats, from the source! ig's in good spirits about the gig and so are the asheton's. I love seeing the guys like this, steve too.
the dutch version of mtv is here and the wanna do an interview so ig tells us all to sit around him. great spiels by him, ron and scotty - ig talking about too much lifestyle being sold on this station and not enough about the music, ron talking about the new music he's been coming up w/for a forth coming stooges record - saying how he's got not a trace of writer's block and is way into that and then scotty talks about the band being first class rock and roll. iggy has the camera go to steve mackay saying he likes describing him as "maceo parker on acid" and giving him big props. the dutch mtv guy is a young man but very respectful of the stooges and the legacy, he's foaming w/it but not flacid or hyped - it's quite ok. I think the guys got their points across w/out any of it getting dilluted.
henry asks me to ride w/him and ig in the car to 'tel and we talk about stuff like the stooges opening for cream back in the old days. wow. ig says the stooges opened for all kinds of bands back then. we drive back along the water route and see the big buidings from the older days of portugal, how being lit up makes them look a little different than during the day. we get back and I say night and it feels good to konk from just being tuckered from playing your brains out instead of that and being sore. I mean, I'll for settle for sore if that's what the price of a stooge gig demands - I ain't complaining. it's just kind of amazing how the second gig a couple days later can get this wattster back into "stooge shape" - I'm into it.
saturday, june 4, 2005 - bondoufle, france
now for five days before this gig, I've touched not my bass - this is weird for me. the whole rhythm of so many days off between gigs is different for me but I see it as another way to get learned. I got to spend a lot of time w/scotty and learning all kinds of plant, animal, bird and fish things, especially of the outdoors in the michigan u.p. but in florida too. scotty's got incredible knowledge w/these kind of things and I just soak up as much as I can, listening to him. he's got a good take on things in the moment too - all these guys are aware of what's up around them and their perspectives good and interesting. one evening tourboss henry took us to chow in the old part of the city and I had so righteous pork, cooked up "secreto de pata" style which is like "asada" back in my pedro town. one afternoon, roadboss eric got me and scotty some sardines, bread and goat cheese that was really good. we had tins of 'dines to last us - a lot I chow in the u.s. are portuguese. another day we saw the ocenario di lisboa - a big aquarium of sea life at that expo 98 part of lisbon, near where we did that festival. there was lots of righteous stuff there like sharks, rays, skates, sun fishes, halibuts, sea bass, amberjacks, tunas, octopus, king crab, penquins and sea otters (great little cries from the guy one) and lots more oeanic stuff. even w/some little kid hollering, it was still a neat trip. I think the sea will always have a hold on me. the big daddy tank was huge - two stories high and having most of the life co-existing in it, wild. didn't see steve all that much cuz he was w/buddies and making music w/his sax. word came too he got some more violent femmes work in july - alright, steve. I got in the shvitz a couple of times too, I really dig that kind of "work out" - I say that cuz your heart beats like a motherfucker even though you're not moving an inch cuz bloods getting pumped thorugh you really hard, trying to cool you off. oh, a "shvitz" is a steambath, the old word for it and also known as a turkish bath. the dry heat ones w/the cedar rooms are called suanas. same idea though. after the first time I did it, I can't tell you how much better I felt getting the foulents pushed out of me. that kind of crap collects inside and me and it takes some serious shove to get them the hell out. nothing like sweating your brains out at 160 degrees! every fifteen minutes, I go do the frozen water shower thing to wail on the nervous system and then start go back in the oven. a hour overall wrings me out pretty good. oh, I forgot to add that each morning there's a free shovel that comes w/the room that's pretty bonus. there's enough there to last me most of the day, I'm not kidding you. it's intense w/lots of fresh fruit as well as the regular euro breakfast chow. sometimes there's a xerox of the "herald tribune" (a u.s. paper for europe) and it's here I find out both france and holland say no to the european union constitution. some intense stuff is for sure to come of these but I don't know if it means the e.u. is finished, maybe it'll be re-thought out.
back to the lisbon airport for france on thursday and I show the guys this picture don fleming sent me of phil spector in court the day I left for europe. everyone laughs cuz phil's gotta like a two foot in diameter teased-out afro... I'm wondering if it's maybe some kind of defense strategy cuz up for murder, a lady got shot in his home w/one of his guns and he's saying she did it herself. iggy tells us this party he was asked to and phil spector was there and was roosting in this chair and when he finally got up out of it, iggy sat in it causing phil spector to really get his panties all bunched up about it. iggy said it was both funny and weird, spector was weird. he said he just saw a ramones documentary that he liked but it also disturbed him. in the thing, johnny ramone talks about phil spector waiving a gun at them in the studio. creepy.
we landed a the orly airport just south of paris but the 'tel we were supposed to stay in is full 'til tomorrow so we stayed in this one not too far away for the night - me chowing on 'dines I've stowed away. knobman rik's rejoined us, him doing double duty this summer mixing for marianne faithful as well. jos is driving from portugal w/the equipment, like he did to there from spain. some pretty big hellrides, much respect to him. that's another thing different from when I'm on a watt tour and not a stooge one - not one mile or klick wheeled by me whereas it's all me driving for wattland. it's ok to have difference. what's a little strange is not touching the bass for five days and then playing your brains out - that's trippy. I mean, not even touch it. sometimes I even wonder if I'm gonna get up there and forget every tune! I know that's insecurity talking - most of that info is permeated into the muscle memory. I did bring my little teac machine (cd-bt1) that plays cds and at the same time let's you plug your bass into it and a pair of headphones but what to do w/no boombroom to sweep w/my hands?
the next day we get into where ig's been and where we'll be for the rest of trip. it's called domaine de belesbat. voltaire had a party here like 250 years ago. it's built around a small castle w/ducks and frogs in its moat - you should hear these frogs wail at night, intense! the grounds around the castle have been turned into a golf course, it's one of those kind of pads. there's a small town called boutigny sur essonne right next door across the railroad tracks and the first thing that came into my mind when we drove through it were all those episodes of "combat" I saw on tv as a kid. ron agrees and calls it "saunders town" - we take a walk through it later and the little grocery store (called "proxi") has much 'dines for econo so I stock up. there's a bakery likewise so I've got my chow situation set - getting a meal at a 'tel restaurant is much euro (as in bones and not the continent) and that's why I'm eating at them only for the free shovel in the morning. the big news besides the french referendum saying "non" to the e.u. constitution (the dutch just did one too and said "nee") is a video of the killing done by nutjob serb paramilitaries of young men in srebrenica, bosnia. now ten years old, the serb president tadic said it had to be shown so those in his land who are still in denial will face up to it. I think it's important for people in other lands too who've flirted w/wacko nationalism to see what nightmares can go down in the name of a flag. a ma seeing her boy murdered on tv... very heavy on me myself watching it. fuck. meanwhile though, how many snuffs on our own streets back home in a single day over what? you'd think I'd get desensitized to such stuff... it's hard to make sense of things - why I think what I do included.
they got a shvitz here but it's the sauna kind w/dry heat. however, there's rocks to pour water on so I get it up to where the dial on the bulkhead says eighty degrees centigrade (176 farenheit). bending over the newspaper and flooding it w/the sweat pouring out of my head is a good feeling. man, it takes some discipline to keep yourself chambered up like this but the resulting purge of foulent is worth it, as is the pounding heart pumps. there's no other way to experience cold water either, not after be broasted so. nina's come to be w/ig and they see me getting to my room when I get done, 'pert-near in a stumble. I think they couldn't tell it was me 'til I was close cuz I was in a robe and when is watt ever in a robe? the robe role... life is a trip. there was a rain earlier so when I get back in my watt uniform, I get some great shots of flowers being all wet.
I go to the gig w/the crew at five pm. it's in a town called bondoufle some klicks away, like an hour's worth. the venue's called the robert bobin stadium. there's a bunch of bands and it's been going on since noon but I'm ignorant of the lineup - so many people doing music these days, I think that's a good thing. there's a chow tent and I have lamb along w/a plateful of shovelables cooked up french-style which means it's really good, truly. we're not to go on 'til 10:20 pm so getting to trough early is easier on my system than otherwise. I chimp diary.
the rest of the stooges get here w/about an hour before gig time and we deal w/the hardest part of doing what we do by pacing - me and ron mostly, that is. scotty jams on the prac pad fastened to his knee while steve gets his horn readied up. ig comes in from time to time, alternating between him getting focus by himself and then w/us. he puts good confidence in me, damn do I get scared shitless before these things. so glad helperman chris has brought me my bass cuz it's been since portugal since I last laid hands on her. I got a t-shirt on I got in pedro, one for manic hispanic where they do a take-off on the ramones logo except instead of the intro we all know for "blitzkrieg bop" it says "hey holmes, let's go!" what seems like forever finally passes and it's time for us to "let's go!" yes. we follow ig up to the stage and get the gig going w/him telling us, "let's go!" of course, "loose" kicks it off we're charging hard. the french cats are way into it and rev us up into "down on the streets" and "1969" - somehow I'm fouled-up 'pert-near w/sixtynine's ending, I think I got flipped around on the beat but follow iggy's vocal cue to close it tight w/the band even if I'm halfway through the lick. what's paramount is that I stick like glue to these guys and I can only do that by staying in the moment. the very next tune ("I wanna be your dog") finds me challenged again the same way - why is the ending here and I ain't ready? damn, this frustrates me and I double up on my focus even more. man, I wish I could sock myself right in the head, isn't this the same thing that happened to me in portugal? I get it together and lay way into the groove scotty's laying for "tv eye" and smack all the hits we do together solid - I am determined. my eyes are glued on ig, ron and scotty - taking turns w/their performances like it was a bit in my mouth, they got me by the reins. this is the only way in my mind I make sense being a stooge on stage w/these guys, being their grout. it's a mission. I know I don't have to admit these clams outloud but inside I know they happened and by me chimping them in here, I know it'll redouble my efforts to get it fucking together. "dirt" has some trippy moments, iggy tumbles into me during ron's guitar solo and I'm muted for 'pert-near a bar - dancing w/such abandon, it's not so surprising something like that happens. I can dig it. everything happens for a reason, even w/stooges chaos abounding - it's a trip. the dancing in fact is infectious and finally we got a whole bunch of folks on stage w/us from the crowd for "real cool time" and "no fun" - the security being reasonable, the stage not being too high and a track for a traveling tv camera being accommodating to some hop-up from the folks. I've got some fast furious dancers around me - one guys gives me a smooch while another one shakes his body into a most intense tremor mode, whoa! a band introduction and then "1970" where saxman steve makes starts his time on stage w/us for the rest of the gig in it's coda, giving way to ron improving w/harmonics for "mindroom" - this used to be a segue but is becoming more and more its own life as ig duets some words w/ron's guitar. "fun house" next in a very funky way, capped w/a real short "l.a. blues" - before I know it, scotty's counting us into "skull ring" - gotta keep alert, watt! nothing cruise control about a stooges gig, the best lesson ever. we do "dead rock star" and I see some of the guys that were dancing on stage w/us earlier being hauled off by security in the crowd - so much for "reasonable" behavior. shit didn't seem that out of hand, what's up? the closer is our second take on "...dog" and I make sure I'm right there for the ending. we're off - ig asks tourboss henry "how long" and hen answer "an hour-three" - the gigs done.
I hug scotty up big time, getting into the dressing room w/him w/ron following. I can't say a word, all bound up. ron's got lots of words though and speaks good of the gig. just us three back here. I got a weird feeling in my elbows, don't know why. I keep mute. there's stickers on a table supporting the release of two hostages in iraq - a reporter from named florence aubenas and her guide hussein hanoun who's been held for 150 days... I put one of them on my shirt. usually I talk w/the guys and then go out and meet folks but this time I'm mute and just sit there listening to the asheton brothers, scotty's talking about the gig now. no ig, usually he comes in to spiel about how we played but he's not to be seen. ron goes out to see his old friend bernard. after a while, scotty asks me to come out and I follow him to a bunch of folks, shaking bernard's hand - so glad his broken leg's healed up. I don't know why I'm in the state I'm in, just quietman w/ears ringing. I keep wondering if I choked too bad in some parts - wish I could push that out of my head. tourboss henry asks me to go to the 'tel w/ig and nina so I do. iggy says he would've come in and talked to us after the show like usual but he had to immediately do an interview... whoa, that's a relief to know, that's why he didn't come in for his regular "debriefing" talks, it's a good thing to hear him and the asheton brothers talk about the show, it helps me learn about doing it better. the adrenaline has run out on me and boy, I'm wrung out - not much spiel from watt. looks like driving through the woods back in the u.s. though, I mention that and nina laughs. I see a sign for fountainbleu and think of the cellini and the perseus and nymph statues - I want to mention it but am too spent. we get to the 'tel and I say my byes - the other guys arrived right behind us - my flight is a couple hours later than eveyone so they'll be leaving before me. the first leg of our summer 2005 gigs is done. the stooges did great but the dork on bass has gotta get it more together and I am much determined to do just that.
friday, june 17, 2005 - melpignano, italy
it took three flights to get me where we're playing today, in the "heel" part of italy (if you think of the shape of that land being a big boot). the region is called puglia and the provence is lecce and it's the most south I've ever been in this land. one day I swear I'm gonna go to sicily (where my ma's pop's people came from) but 'til then, this is the closest I've made it to there. since I left my bass w/stooges helperman jos after the last gig in france, I only had to bring a small clothes sack and my 'puter backpack - both carry-on things so I didn't have to check anything in. this is happening cuz checked-in stuff (like my bass) sure seems to get lost easy when there's a connection to be made - three times for me now. I flew from l.a. to nyc at the crack of dawn on tuesday (so glad my sister melinda helps me out w/the airport rides at times most insane) and then from there to rome where some rain delayed the flight to brindisi some, causing stooges guitar helperman chris to have his sack that carries his tools and ron's backup pedal gear lost once more (at least three times for him now too) - me and chris took the same flights once we met up at jfk in new york. the airport in brindisi is a small one and it felt like palm springs, coming out of the plane (the stairs come right out of the plane and you walk to the terminal) and a cat name rafela takes us to the 'tel in a place called acaya, about seventy klicks (fortyfour miles) south. we're here before anyone else and after eighteen hours since being in pedro, riding in a metal tube and breathing farts, I'm ready for a bath. whoa, there's a pump that puts water on you from jets in the side of the tube, pretty trippy. where it's really good is on the bottom of my feet, something about that, something to do w/the nerves down there and I can dig it getting soothed.
this pad is a 'tel w/a golf course around it. there's no real "town" that I can see. it was only noon when I got in but I made myself stay up, reading this book called "the kite runner" by khaled hosseini cuz I wanted to get on the local time w/my body/mind. I got some konk on the plane but that's weird konk and though it helps, it's not the real thing. better than nothing though cuz that's how it's easy to get sick, not enough konk. night came and I found some of our crew outside on a patio: the asheton brothers, tourboss henry, roadboss eric and I hear chris tell them all the tale of woe that equipment sack brings him travelling. everyone's in great spirits and happy to be playing italy. the weather's righteous. I ate some chinese chow at the jfk airport and besides whatever I forced down on the plane, that's all for my gut the first day in. henry said the morning shovel's for free so I held off for that.
I decided that yesterday shouldn't be spent w/more reading w/such things I can fill my eyeballs and ears w/exploring in these parts so I got a bicycle from the 'tel here that they make available and set out on a journey. fuck it, how many times do I get to pedal when on tour? not much. now it's a funky kind of bike compared to mine (and man, is that a funky bike itself), sort of like the ones you find in holland which are kind of based on like 1950s pedaling but I managed. these land on the east coast of lecce has got almost no hills so it's no strain, not so freaky to believe I got like 'pert-near eighty klicks (fifty miles) in. now this was hours and hours cuz I took my time, took lots of snaps w/the digicamera (like two hundred) and well, I ain't an athlete anyway - just a cat who likes pedaling. first I headed right for the coast from acaya which was right into a wwf (world wildlife fund) nature reserve, centered around an old fort called cesine. great bike paths and besides the land being so flat, is it filled w/olive trees - it's easy to see what's king in these parts: big daddy olive. the groves are all demarcated by these hand built stone walls that are pretty intense - not that they're so tall or thick but to think of all the labor that had to put out to stack all these little rocks to make them, damn! my mind's like that when I see something pretty amazin, I try to wrap my head around how it's put together and what it took. there's lots of these little shed-like structures built the same way. they're like inverted sugar cones you use for ice cream but cut flat about two-thirds the way up, lots of him have a soil bed on top w/stuff growing. each one has a opening but no hatch, two stones put an angle to make an triangle arch w/the bottom leg missing. I even venture inside one on foot to check them out, lots of bugs everywhere when you leave the path... they got cactus too, big clumps of prickly pear kind and all budded up, some w/pretty yellow flowers w/bees working them up. it was gray all morning and as I reach the coast, rain comes down. it's not too heavy so I plow on. not a lot of beach, maybe twenty feet of sand at the most and then there's the adriadtic sea, real blue and pretty... 'pert-near like a giant pool, the way the land comes right up on it, not too much surf. I turn south and pass lots of these beach-front chow/drinking pads done up all kitsch-like w/palm fronds. every so often, there's another little coast town - one of them has an old seaside garrison, not a castle but a big high fort from like the 1500s called torre di guardia. pretty neat. no bike path on this road so I hugged the side close (no sidewalk either) cuz the cars come whizzin' but nobody's too crazy. at san foca, I got a salami sandwich, some chips and a soda for two and half euros (three bucks), whoa. there's a tiny marina here and I watched boats while I chowed. about a hundred klicks (sixtytwo miles) away across the water (the straight of otranto) is albania but you can't see it from here. the rain totally stopped and now the sun's come up. there's other pedalers too but they're on fancy racing bikes and dressed all in those clothes you see people wearing in races. they jam by the bass player in the yellow coat his ma gave him - I said I wasn't a jock and I gotta be careful w/theses knees anyway. you see more taking your time too - when am I ever in "il salento" and hell if I'm just gonna do a blow-by if I got means to do otherwise. I continued south 'til finally I reached otranto, a big cove cut in the rock w/a marina in it - the bluest water ever I've seen in europe, amazing. man, I'm wishing the rest of the guys were w/me to see this - I try sending what my eyes see to them. I get some shots at least but it's nothing like seeing it yourself. the castle too, whoa. it's right up on the water and such a big one that the there's streets (narrow ones) inside it w/lots of shops and chow pads. I get a panini that's like an italian burrito - a stuffed tortilla but flattened out from being pressed and toasted. food in italy is always a good thing w/me. I walk around the castle, explore what I can from outside its insides cuz I know I gotta reserve energy for the pedal back and my knees are kind of hurting - not too terrible but a little sore. so this is the pad that inspired horace walpole to write "the castle of otranto" and kick off the whole "gothic novel" thing - you now, ghosts and lost secrets... a sunny afternoon w/the real life place couldn't be further from those images in my mind! it's amazingly gorgeous here, whoa. the journey home is different cuz hell, I knew pretty much what I was going to see again and it just wasn't that way coming, everything being a first-timer for me. I also don't stop as much and like I said before, some soreness is up on me. it is a little different going the other way though, always is. I got to the 'tel around six and everyone says it looks like I got some sun - whoa, my head's like a tomato! not to worry though cuz the italian in me keeps from really burning up - by tomorrow, my skin'll be have more olive to it and I bet I won't even peel. iggy arrives and says I'm looking a little more full of the sun than he last remembered and I tell him about my pedaling adventure. seems roadboss eric set off on a bike too but the rain turned him back. glad I plowed on. here's something trippy: on the way back to the 'tel after that last gig in france, we came on a road sign that said "fountainbleu" and I was going to talk about this cat named benvenuto cellini who had some art there but stayed still though it kept on my mind for some reason and here's ig telling us about this book that just got given to him by the "mojo" magazine writer, cellini's autobiography! what a trip, kind of mental how he telegraphed that from me. iggy's like that, very perceptive whether it's conscious of him or not. pettibon gave me that book years ago and man, did I dig it - everyone should read it, really. what's even trippier is that I found it at fullbooks.com and put it on my alpurse 'puter for this journey! ain't life a total trip?!
this morning I wake up early for another free shovel in the trough room upstairs. lots of fruit w/yogurt and you get your eggs cooked to order. we find out the promoter didn't get the right permit for the gig to be at otranto so it's been moved to a little town about twenty miles west of there called melpignano. man, am I glad I pedaled to where I did yesterday or I'd be like the rest of my guys and missed it totally. too bad really cuz I know they would've dug it much. we head on over for a soundcheck at noon and the stage is outside in the piazzale ex convneto. there's a convent from the middle ages right near so at least we got some of the antiquity we would've had at the castle by the sea. it's gotta be the shortest check for the stooges ever, one run-through of "no fun" w/jos singing and were done and back in the van, headed for the 'tel. good to have my hands on the little bass again though. I got a few basses at home and have been playing them but nothing feels like that old gibson. at the 'tel, me and the asheton brothers do an interview w/a swiss writer named albert who asks lots of good things... I hear ron and scotty talk about their first stooges days w/some stuff I haven't heard before, if you can imagine that. both of them are excellent storytellers and I love hearing them talk, love hearing about early stooges, early ashetonian life. before leaving for show time, the promoter has agreed to pay for a chow here at the 'tel and I get a "rocket" salad (their name, not mine) and some broiledd lamb. it's a good throw down, tasty. kind of small portions too so that's easier on the gig gut. rafela takes us once more today to melpignano.
we get to stage by the old former convent (it looks righteous the way they got it all lit up) and a band from japan is on, a two women unit called yumi-yumi. the drums are coming from a machine so one of the ladies is on guitar and the other on bass, they're both in boilersuits - guitar/orange and bass/red. they're good, I watch them from the side of the stage. much respect. time to shake out my muscles good now and warm up on the bass. man, there's a table here set w/tons of great chow but to shovel now would surely put a strain on playing your brains out. I shake out every cramp I can sense trying to get into the making - pretty recovered from yesterday's pedaling but you can't be sure. muscle spasms are the worst for a gig. we go over "not right" and "dirt" a capella a few times each so we know we each know where we're going. I like doing bass lines w/my mouth! after a couple false alarms, the band before us finally does finish and it's our turn around eleven pm. I'm wearing a t-shirt sent to me from jimmy web where he works in nyc, a place called "trash and vaudeville" which I can relate to much. I'm also wearing socks he gave me that says "lucky 13" and though no one can really see, I know they're there. jimmy says he always thinks of socks when he remembers being homeless a bunch of years, socks means gratitude for having them to have. much respect to jimmy.
I'm told there's like twenty thousand people out there and it sure looks it. some folks got huge banners. everyone seems very much into it. we hit the ground running w/"loose" and I'm digging the bass amp sound, maybe the best yet I've gotten out of this rig of mani's since I first used it in barcelona. what I did was lower the frontend gain some and adjusted the eq. the band is on fire, everyone hitting on all plugs. some people make a big deal about iggy saying "fuck everything" but they forget mention he always is telling folks how he's happy to be here, using their language to say much thanks and in lots of ways being very gracious. he does want some release going down though and that's why the middle finger has to come up and the "fuck..." statements gotta be hurled, it's a wild thing and not gratuitous. that's what I think. I see him full of the moment, he's got the "real o-mind" going and it's full-bore - a fucking rush. it's not machine but event driven. "down on the streets" pounds... and pounds - serious chug, scotty w/that "suzie-q" quarter note thing on the ride cymbal bell at the end. I just have to go up in front of his kit and holler "time time!" he always cracks up when I do that but not enough to crack his focus which is fucking right on. I get my focus on for "1969" next cuz I ain't gonna find myself confused about the ending like I did last gig in france. we nail it. "grazie grazie" from iggy to the crowd... "and now for a fucking animal song!" - we're into "I wann be your dog" and oh dear, damn if the igloo ain't melting down! ig's dancing up a storm and then he's up and into the crowd for ron's solo, which itself takes off like a jet. then "tv eye" and I get so caught up in ron's lead guitar that I gotta get on my knees in front of his amp and soak up all I can, holy moses! I could swear scotty did five "ram it!" parts cuz me and ron stop on what we obviously thought was the fourth one but ig read the situation and instead of leaving scotty in the wilderness, did an extra "ram it!" to be rigth w/him. that's how it seemed anyway. whatever, it was great "being in the moment" time to keep things together, much respect to ig. time now to catch some breath in "dirt" but still keeping the focus tight, ron asked me to thin out the middle section so I play half the fills I have been doing so the groove keeps rooted in its blues way - watch the ramen, watt (noodle-roni speaking). the quest for the "right" notes, not trying spray all you can finger - that's the grail quest for bass. "real cool time" and "no fun" are the dance numbers for the folks but only a few get up on stage, actually only a few are "allowed" on stage and they got to struggle to do that. the yumi-yumi ladies come in from the side of the stage, the bass one getting on her knees and rocking her brains out so I gotta assist. the guitar lady dances wild too w/ig, a big hand shake in the wings for the effort, whoa. there was this one young italian guy crouched down kind of like that white kid on the cover of the first nwa album and then doing sideways kicks every so often while propping himself up off the deck w/one hand - pretty trippy. talk about focus. I guess everyone has the stooges move them in their own way. a band intro before "1970" - iggy calls me "the new guy from california," alright (I gotta crack up some!). the end of this tune is where steve mackay comes on and he gets things blowin' big time. a short "mindroom" interlude and then "fun house" - I move the balance control to more of the bridge pickup and define things up more from my end (ron asks me not to be too bassy) and ig gets himself dancing up a storm! a take on "l.a. blues" long enough for me to both chomp on my strings and ring out a quote from "a love supreme" and then we launch into "skull ring" - bass back into fat mode. total steamroller, total. "dead rock star" after and ig sings it really good, his voice has been great all night. he tells the folks we're "gonna get musical" now and we do "not right" which we totally do get right - scotty asked me to help w/some prompts but I think he had it pretty wired himself. "little doll" has his toms thumping next - whoa. scotty thought up a new ending for this that iggy liked but the flam he came w/didn't come through but we still kept it together pretty good. we try one we haven't done for a bunch of gigs now, "little electric chair" and it's had the bass line re-constructed by iggy though I have a little trouble putting the 'd' note in the right place for one part but he helps me out w/some visual cues - some air bass for watt to follow! thanks much, ig! I got a little lost in the beginning before the first verse too but kept it together for the rest of the tune. ig wants the song to breathe more, thus the re-structuring. smart move - I'm hear to learn, aid and abet. "double dog" for the closer, "I wanna be your dog" full-tilt. tidal wave. I think I got on my knees for the guitar solo here too, something flew right through my brain and made me think I did anyway. we're done, whoa.
run off and get some water down. no cramps, great. I am totally lit cuz that was really intense - my favorite gig we've done this year. I know it's just one gig, "stop and start" style (not part of a run of gigs) but I really think the guys did great and I was ok, much better than these first three gigs. I know it's about the whole but I wanna just do what I can to be the best for these guys cuz I love them much. I talk some w/mand diao, the guys from sweden before us. they're early twenties guys and I give them the fired-up spiel I learned from d. boon in the old days. the table of chow's gone but that's ok, not good to eat too much late at night any way. ig comes in and says he dug the gig much - everyone else too, a good spirit w/us all. all fucking right! I'm very happy. thank you also to the italian brothers and sisters, much respect.
the flight home is 6:20 am so that mean leave the 'tel at 4:30 am and that means getting back from the gig at two bells means why konk for two and a half hours so I don't. me, ron, steve and jos bail together cuz the others leave later. iggy's stayed up and sees us off - bye ig! (he calls me "gumba!"). I'm the only one going to milano first (the others go to roma) so I bid farewell to my shipmates 'til next time. there's a five hour layover at jfk in nyc so my buddy juan rosenfelder drives to the 'port and takes me to brooklyn to have some righteous pizza at di fara's on 15th and j. this is some fucking happening peetz! I get just cheese and 'shrooms but there's lots of olive oil too - no grease though! this is a fucking fine shovel. good hanging w/juan too, I'll see him next week when I come to play manhattan at the mercury lounge w/dos. I get back to the 'port and then sit out the final six hours in the metal tube, breathing farts 'til we touchdown at lax saturday night at ten pm (trippy how the time zones let that happen, huh? that is, if you're going the right direction!). I'm gonna be able to do my regular sunday morning chow at my ma's pad, alright!
iggy pop + the stooges
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