Jos Grain has long been the road manager for Iggy and The Stooges. Coming up through the punk days of the 70s, Grain became Iggy Pop’s road manager in ’86. Grain was with Iggy during the success of his solo album Blah Blah Blah and has toured with the Stooges since their reformation in 2003.
It was around the time of Iggy and the Stooges’ return that Grain began work on the manifesto that is Iggy and the Stooges’ rider. The current 28-page revision of the rider contains a warning of Iggy’s love for destroying cameras, a request for a Bob Hope impersonator, and a pitch for a reality TV show.
With Iggy and The Stooges set to play Bluesfest 2013 and tour Australia in March, it’ll be up to local promoters and venue managers to provide heavy duty floor fans so Grain can construct his hovercraft.
But rest assured, no matter how spectacularly personnel may fail the rider’s requests, Grain maintains that the show will go on.
Music Feeds: What led you to writing such a creative and inspired rider for Iggy and The Stooges?
Jos Grain: Well, I was sitting at home about ten years ago and just looking through the rider. And I just felt it was a bit dry and a bit humourless and I just imaged … if I was a promoter’s rep or at a venue and it’d been sent to me, I was just thinking how bored I’d be. So I was just trying to liven it up a little bit.
MF: You obviously have an in-depth understanding of every aspect of touring. Has the riding been a career in the making?
JG: Yeah, well some of it is and some of it’s just rubbish, really.
MF: Your rider, although comical, is very thorough; you must have encountered some massive oversights over the years. What’s the most startling piece of equipment that someone has forgotten to supply you with?
JG: Well, generally speaking we get all the equipment we ask for; it’s just that the state of it sometimes is not very good. You know, there [have been] a couple of times we’ve walked on stage … once in Turkey, we walked onstage and the guitar amps immediately stopped working, which didn’t please Iggy very much. He went a bit mad about it and we had to run ’round to the back of the stage and find some other amps while the rest of the band just carried on.
MF: Are there any particular regions that are notoriously problematic?
JG: It’s got a lot better actually, recently – in the last ten years or so. I mean, twenty years ago there were certain parts of Europe that we had a bit of trepidation about going to.
And I suppose some of the Eastern Block countries we’d been worried about. But actually, we’ve had pleasant experiences in [places like] Romania a couple of years ago. All the equipment was fantastic, so it’s actually changing a lot these days.
MF: Has there ever been any non-equipment provision in a rider that has stopped Iggy and the Stooges from performing?
JG: I don’t think you could stop Iggy from performing. We’ve only once been stopped performing and that was when we were in Finland a few years ago. There was a big hurricane, which blew over one of the stages at a festival we were at. And all the equipment we had fell over as well, and some of the stage fell down, so that gig was cancelled.
But at that gig Iggy and James (Williamson) both went on another stage and did an acoustic set for about ten minutes, just so that people wouldn’t feel that they’d abandoned them and just walked off. So they still insisted on doing something even though their actual main set had been ruined.
MF: So Iggy still really embodies a punk rock ethos…
JG: Oh absolutely, yeah.
MF: The rider really talks up Laney Bass Gear. When did the band first become obsessed with Laney equipment?
JG: Well, we used some Laney bass gear, and it’s fantastic gear and it’s also English, which is why I’ve been obsessed with it, obviously. And the other one we use is Blackstar – the guitar amps are Blackstar. And they’re an English company as well.
So that’s why I quite like them, because I’m English, but they’re [Iggy and The Stooges] American and it’s quite nice to see that they’re into the same equipment as us.
MF: Have you ever included an item or request in the Iggy and the Stooges’ rider just to see if you could get away with it?
JG: Well, there’s a few things there like The Seven Dwarves and The Hulk impersonator. And a couple of times people have, you know … I turned up in Sweden and everybody was wearing sort of little dwarf hats, which was nice. We’ve never got the Bob Hope impersonator, I’m afraid.
And I was thinking maybe we could get somebody to impersonate Crocodile Dundee down there.
MF: Or maybe Steve Irwin would be a better bet.
JG: Steve Irwin would be good. If we had an impersonator, he could wrestle a rubber crocodile, probably.
MF: Iggy and The Stooges are set to tour Australia in 2013. How does Australia generally fair in regards to meeting rider requirements?
JG: They’re very good, actually. Our promoter down there, we’ve got an excellent promoter and so far we’ve never had a problem in Australia. It’s always been fantastic.
MF: As a road manager, what do you like to do when in Australia to pass the time?
JG: Well, unfortunately I’ve stopped eating pies, which was my favourite hobby in Australia – just going out and finding pie shops. But I’ve stopped eating them because I had to lose a little bit of weight. So I’m going to have to find something else, I’m afraid.
MF: You’ll have to start drinking beer.
JG: I don’t do that either, maybe I’ll just go and stroke a Koala (chuckles).
MF: That sounds like a euphemism…
JG: Yeah (chuckles), maybe…
Jos Grain – photo provided by Jos Grain