When punk rock progenitors The Stooges reformed for some shows in 2003, big names like Rick Rubin and Jack White expressed interest in helping the band produce a new record in the tradition of their classic albums Fun House and Raw Power.
Neither was able to commit to the project due to scheduling issues, so famed engineer Steve Albini stepped in, bringing his signature in-the-red sonic approach to The Stooges’ first album in thirty-four years, The Weirdness. And with the mangy fury of Iggy Pop, guitarist Ron Asheton, and his drumming brother Scott’s early efforts underscored by the dark and roomy drum sound you get with Albini placing mics and setting levels, it’s a match made in scuzz-rock heaven.
At Albini’s suggestion, Asheton played a Yamaha Recording Custom kit with a 20″ kick for the sessions, along with a Steve Gadd Signature series snare. The five-piece set was a far cry from the utilitarian rig of two fifty-gallon oil drums played with wooden mallets Asheton employed during The Stooges’ early days. “We didn’t want to conform back then,” the drummer says. “The idea of the thing was not to sound like anyone else. The oil drums, with the contact mics on them run through a P.A. system, made an incredible noise. It made people look, listen, and talk.”
The oil drums were out when The Stooges began having success. According to Scott, “When Elektra came along and offered us our first record deal, they said, ‘We love Iggy and we love you guys, but you’ve got to have songs.’ So once we had to have songs for a record, the fifty-gallon drums just didn’t seem right to actually play on albums for Elektra Records.”