On March 6, the Stooges will unleash The Weirdness, their first studio album in 34 years. Much has changed since the Michigan garage-rockers split up: Frontman Iggy Pop went on to solo stardom long ago, and the three noisy, nihilistic LPs that he recorded with the band unexpectedly have become cultural touchstones. Largely ignored or reviled in their day, the Stooges have served as patron saints for anti-establishment movements from punk to grunge. What should fans should expect from the band's second act?
''They're gonna enjoy it, and they're gonna be surprised,'' says Ron Asheton, the Stooges' guitarist. ''[We're] treating the Stooges as a living band. We could go out and be an oldies band and just play shows and the same songs, but [Iggy] wanted to get more out of it.''
The three surviving members of the original quartet Iggy, Ron, and Ron's brother Scott Asheton on drums spent the last three years writing new material, with the Minutemen's Mike Watt filling in for late bassist Dave Alexander. Last fall, they cut the album in producer Steve Albini's Chicago studio. ''It wasn't like having to start over, or any kind of struggle,'' Asheton says. ''When I hook up with those guys, I'm right back where I started. It was like all those years [in between] just evaporated.''
Of course, with their 60th birthdays looming, the old friends aren't quite as wild as the Stooges of legend. ''Now there's no drugs, there's no crazy times,'' Asheton says. But he assures us that their new jams are as raw as ever. ''It's still the Stooges. It's still sex, it's still anger. And there's always that little tinge of humor. It's just dissing all the proper things, and loving all the right things.''
With The Weirdness ready to hit stores, the Stooges are already contemplating their next move. Spring tour dates are in the works, and Asheton is looking forward to recording another new album with the band as soon as next year. ''We're having a good time,'' he says. ''I love being in the studio. So we're going to continue as long as the people want us.''