Who would have guessed, when David Bowie, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop were reinventing rock’n’roll in their own image, that it would be the guy rolling around in broken glass bare chested who’d be the last one standing?
Yet here he is, stalking into a New York hotel suite, fresh from practising serene Chinese exercise Qigong: grizzled beard, bleached hair, skin of melted leather. Iggy has scoliosis, one leg an inch-and-a-half shorter than the other and stands only 5ft 6in, but he’s still twice as commanding as the next guy. Even when the next guy is the towering Queens Of The Stone Age frontman (and drummer for Eagles Of Death Metal) Josh Homme, here recast as adoring fanboy.
Now 68, Iggy realised he might only have one last shot at making a “real album” as great as those incendiary first three Stooges efforts, or his pair of peerless Bowie-produced Berlin records. He sent word to Homme, who in turn recruited Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders and regular QOTSA sideman Dean Fertita. Together, they went to the desert and came back with Post Pop Depression, an eerie, sinuous record mixing sex and death with gallows humour; Iggy’s baritone underscored by Homme’s desert blues.
What did they learn? “I’ve taken lessons about longevity from him, especially knowing that I can do whatever I want now and still bounce back,” says Helders. Well, maybe – but could anyone without Iggy’s lizard DNA live as he’s done and survive?
Yet there’s always been more to Iggy than the self-destructive caricature. He’s a punk with a poet’s heart, Walt Whitman in leather trousers. He sits down with Homme in New York to discuss the new album that could be his swansong.