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FM to WEB: 'Ready to die' by James Williamson

The Stooges' James Williamson exclusively for Mixgrill.
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Let’s speak out a truth. An interview (with the exception of radio ones) is a somehow typical situation. Of course, it always depends on various things, nothing ever is the same, but that’s the truth. One interview is often just one more among many others. I just want to say that I –like you - also enjoy special moments like this one today, like a beautiful present. If I didn’t I’d be ungrateful. Legendary James Williamson of The Stooges, is writing exclusively for this column and Mixgrill!

I would also like to say something else, as I had the opportunity to welcome him in my radioshow a few years ago… James Williamson, is not another musician who has engraved his name on the heart of Rock & Roll music with the masterpiece “Raw Power”… this is well-known… He is also a true gentleman. We have been speaking for about two months for this article, between Stooges’ shows, to find the right time! And, today, he is writing about “Ready to Die” and talks about the return of the band with a new album… Let’s hear it from him… Thank you James!

When it was all said and done, “Ready to Die” felt like we were coming full circle from the days of Raw Power to now. Yes, some of the digital technology we used today made the editing job easier (thank God), but I tried to keep alot of the activities in the Studio very old school. We used tape alot and we used analog outboard equipment alot...so that the only other variable was us and I felt better and better as we went along that we were going to be able to “bring it” again with this new album. It just felt good and we’re very satisfied with the results..

It sounds like us and that’s what matters most.
Of course with this being the 40th anniversary of the release of Raw Power, we were keenly aware that this album would be compared to our previous work up until the present. However, we were also well aware that that was then and this is now. You can’t go back, you can’t write in the rear view mirror and pretending to be anything other than what you are now while writing is a pretentious trap that we didn’t want to fall into.
So, we made a conscious decision to simply write what we felt like writing and see what came out of it, what we liked and what we didn’t. In the end, we worked up full studio versions of around 15 songs and kept 10 for the album with a couple of bonus cuts and a couple of other that didn’t fit in the context of the album, but may be re-purposed later.

The main thing is that this album is fresh and topical covering current issues such as gun control, immigration, sex, money ...stuff like that. It also sounds like us, the Stooges and that was most important of all. The Stooges with a couple of nuances not heard on our albums before.

We did 3 ballads, “Unfriendly World”, “Beat that Guy” and “The Departed”, and yes, I think they are beautiful pieces of music coming from anyone at anytime...but especially for the Stooges they are momentus because we have not been known for many ballads (except a few on Kill City...which is semi-stooges).

But further, there are many songs on this album which show not only good musical craftsmanship, but lyrically they cover many topical issues, as I mentioned previously, ...this album has it all!

I was really proud of how Iggy stepped up and not only wrote very strong lyrics but also sang his ass off. Where did that come from? Somewhere deep down inside him. I got him to use my favorite vocal microphone of all time the Bauner VM1! It got a great clear true recording of his voice...sounds wonderful. But bassically, he brought it all home...

And while I wouldn’t exactly say that I “invented the Guitar Rock Sound”, certainly I invented my Guitar Rock sound and many, many others have imitated it over the past 40 years...so in that sense I had alot to live upto. But frankly, I don’t know any other way to play...I’ve always written my own music and played my own style, so if I had to play in some other band with other music...I most probably wouldn’t be able to effectively. Alot of people like it these days, so I’m doing something right. And that guitar style is all over this album.
So I’d say the legacy of the Stooges is...we lasted a long time, we made alot of music, we changed alot of lives and we always did it on our own terms with no real support from the music infastucture...we’re out beyound the law, baby.

Anyway, as you can tell from this, I am very happy with this album and hope that you too will enjoy it.

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