Jim Jarmusch and Iggy Pop (whose real name is James Osterberg) have been friends since the early 1990s, when Pop acted in Jarmusch’s comic western Dead Man (1995). Jarmusch says that “No other band in rock’n’roll history has rivalled The Stooges’ combination of heavy primal throb, spiked psychedelia, blues-a-billy grind, complete with succinct angst-ridden lyrics, and a snarling, preening leopard of a front man who somehow embodies Nijinsky, Bruce Lee, Harpo Marx and Arthur Rimbaud”. The choice over who is the best filmmaker to make a biopic of Iggy and The Stooges naturally fell on Jarmusch. Gimme Danger is primitive and sophisticated at the same time, and a creative music documentary that only Jarmusch could put together.
Gimme Danger is not only a love letter to The Stooges, but also a fine piece of art. A collage. Jarmusch breaks the rules of rocumentary genre by throwing in fragments of films illustrating Pop’s memories of his early years in Detroit and his first gigs. Don’t expect mere archive footages explaining the musical, cultural, political and historical context in which The Stooges emerged. Together with his editor, Affonso Gonçalves, who edited Only Lovers Left Alive (Jarmusch, 2014) and Forty Shades of Blue (Ira Sachs, 2005), Jarmusch reveals the fun side of Pop’s persona. The visual collage blends Clarabell, the TV series American clown, with Addams Family, horror movies, Nico‘s charms and of course The Three Stooges. When Iggy Pop is on stage anything can happen. The sexy clown does whatever he feels like doing.
Indeed he was the first rock artist to ignore the fourth wall, the space which separates a performer from an audience. He invented stage diving. He invited the audience to go on stage while he would be down, singing and enjoying himself. Iggy Pop is the terror of security guards.
But Gimme Danger is not only about Iggy Pop. It portrays the friendship among all Stooges. Dave Alexander (bass) and the Asheton brothers Scott (drums) and Ron (guitar) were pals. The band was active from 1967 to 1974. Even after the band split up, due to excessive drug use and lack of professionalism, their bond was unbreakable. They learnt to play together. They experimented with sounds. Once Pop brought a hoover on stage as an instrument. When David Bowie met Pop at the Max’s in New York and invited him to go to London, Pop only felt comfortable after he was joined by all other Stooges.
In 2003, the band returned for a concert in Coachella. The Festival managers offered Pop a large sum of money, which he refused. He asked three times more, because other musicians of the band should be paid equally. Pop never left behind the feeling of living in a commune in 1967. The Stooges were essentially communists, even if they were oblivious of that.
The Stooges never ceased to be influential. Their rage on stage and the “cut-the-crap” poetic lyrics impacted on the punks and Sex Pistols (read more about them here). Pop knew he couldn’t compete with current Literature Nobel Prize Bob Dylan’s verbal diarrhoea, so he kept it short. The Stooges went straight to the point, and their noises still reverberate.
Gimme Danger is out in cinemas on November 18th. Watch the official trailer here: