Interview: Iggy Pop

The iconic rocker on picking up women in daylight, his greatest moments and his new clothing collaboration with Sailor Jerry


No musician ushered in the punk rock movement with as much fervor and chaos as Iggy Pop. He defined the times. He defied expectation. He rocked out, collaborating with and inspiring the best. His live shows would fill arenas and his tracks would define crucial moments in cinema. And over time, he became a household name. On a recent trip to Miami, we met with the icon to discuss music, mayhem and his just released apparel collaboration with Sailor Jerry. The The Flash Collection is limited to two main pieces: a signed “Death Shall Triumph” denim vest (in an edition of 50) and a belt (edition of 100).


How did your clothing collaboration with Sailor Jerry happen?

They had a lawyer who apparently went to junior high with me, named Dean. Dean knew a guy named Matt who was the drummer in Guns and Roses, and then Velvet Revolver. Matt knows me. Matt emailed me “There’s some guys looking for you.” They emailed and basically said they wanted to do an ad using T.V. Eye. I love T.V. Eye. It developed out of that.

Basically, they wanted to do a collab. It didn’t sound like it was going to tease my brain desperately. They gave me a bunch of material on Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins. I had a friend in New York named Jonathan Shaw who was one of the great illegal tattoo artists (he had something called Fun City in the ’80s and into the ’90s). He had taught me some of the old school tattoo lore. Through him I met some of the [Hell’s] Angels in NY. There’s a very good visual artist Steve Bonge, who is also an Angel. I admired their aesthetic. Also, I love old Honolulu. I spent some time in Hawaii and I was married to a Japanese woman for many years. I understand Spam with your rice. Mix and match. I’ve always liked pinups. I’ve worked about half of my life in places where the cocktails aren’t necessarily legal and you’re not more than a block from a brothel. You know a guy who knows a guy who is a bad guy. I thought, well, that’s great. I like these images and it’s a good gig.


Did you expect to be designing clothes?

Well, no. I am combining elements of clothing that everyone knows. That’s all. The only thing I regret is that originally I wanted to do a line of boxer shorts with it. We mocked them up and they looked great. I had pinup girls right on the dick. It was beautiful. Then I realized, if these are released, there’s going to be pressure on me to model them. You know, I would actually rather flash my penis than model a pair of boxer shorts. That’s just not cool. So I said the boxer shorts are out. I went with the vest. It’s nice denim. It’s not true blue. It’s unisex. A guy can wear it. A chick can wear it. And they can use the patches. They’re numbered and signed. They have artifact value to someone, or maybe not. I don’t know.

Most of the iconic imagery depicting you, has you barely clothed. How does that coincide with your entry into apparel?

I don’t wear a lot of clothes, no. This is not a lot of clothes. Some people hide behind their clothes. Other people, clothes get in the way—but the way I was dressing when I was starting out, I would just do it over and over so finally there would be spots on the shirt and holes in the pants. I wouldn’t bother repairing them. My sneakers would get dirty. You just take something nice and casual, that shows you’re not fucking corny. And it’s not armor. And you just let it slide. Once in a while, I like to throw in some women’s clothing. A little glitter, some spray on. I can rock a dress. I can.

You describe your aesthetic as good simple negative energy. Can you explain that?

I can feed off that when it’s happening. A steady diet of that will fuck you up. But you hear that, for instance, you listen to Black Lips’ “Bad Kids” and they’re trying for that. Or like Harmony Korine’s early work. In my case, there was quite a bit of that in the Raw Power era Stooges. Just a nasty little delinquent who practiced guitar all his life. There were two messages. The slower songs were: “You better watch out because I am going to fucking get you.” The faster songs were: “It’s on and I am kicking your ass and it’s fun.” That’s exciting because unfortunately, it’s just easier than developing positive energy.

What’s inspiring to you? How does that fuel your creative process?

Some of the most inspiring things I’ve seen recently: I was being driven home after a day’s work to get home early and go to bed early—because when you’re 67 and your career didn’t really heat up till you were 50 something, you need to get your sleep. I was driving home and it was dusk. There was a long line of scantily clad, over-accessorized, over-made up, ADD-ridden youth. All [waiting] in a line, still in daylight, looking raw. So I knew something was going on. Find out who’s playing there tonight. I wanted to know. The kids were something outlandish. That inspires me.

I am what I am. My body has been through a lot. I have to get my din-din and my sleep. To be glorious and flamboyant and all those things in public involves being insensitive to the pain of others. It’s a drag for others but it’s fine for the person. Now, I’ve become more responsible. I don’t want to hurt anybody. So that’s kind of a drag.


In a lifetime of groundbreaking moments, and music changing moments, what do you think has been your most important?

There were a couple. When I did the studio vocals for “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” the studio vocals for “Search and Destroy,” and the studio vocals for “The Passenger.” Those three. On each occasion, I was starting to get very excited and nervous. “Oh my God, we’ve got a good idea. I’ve got it. We’ve got it.” You spit it out and you hear it back and you know this is high art. I didn’t pay any attention to the money, but I knew I could RIP. The live shit is numerous. There were different times. The personal shit is mostly what I did for recreation, all my life, is walk around a lot day and night, especially during the days, of the capital cities of the world. Usually I always like to pick up chicks in the daylight. It’s a lot better in certain ways. You meet a better class of people and you get a closer look at what you’re dealing with. I’ve never been a deep night crawler. I’ve had my phases when it has been this way.

What music are you listening to?

For my own pleasure, it would be blues and jazz of the ’30s through the ’60s. Miles Davis, Bukka White, John Coltrane, Sun Ra and all that stuff. When I want to listen for like, you know, slightly newer stuff, I enjoy G.O.A.T., Ice Age, Black Lips, Sleigh Bells. I don’t rush out to hear what Julian Casablancas has just done, but if I run into it, I want to listen. He’s a really good singer.

Flash Collection images courtesy of Mick Rock, event images courtesy of Nate “Igor” Smith