James Williamson (Iggy & The Stooges) teamed up with Deniz Tek (Radio Birdman) to deliver their brand new Acoustic K.O. EP. Williamson and Tek have worked together and put a new spin on four Williamson compositions from the early/mid 70s. These two legends have unplugged their amps and reworked two songs from the Iggy & The Stooges seminal album Raw Power and two from Pop & Williamson’s masterpiece Kill City. James Williamson gives Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles an insight to this new EP.
Congratulations on the EP, has this been an idea you had been mulling over for a while?
Well, that’s actually a complex question. The short answer however, is yes and no. Yes, of course, in a way, since these tunes come from my early catalog and have been things many people have requested I revisit, but no, in the sense that Deniz and I only last year broached the idea of doing something together.
Did it take much convincing or discussion to get Deniz Tek involved?
Not at all, actually we have become pretty good friends since we both like to visit Hawaii and see each other frequently there. We’ve jokingly suggested that we do an “Acoustic Lounge Act” and this just became the instantiation of that idea.
Was he the obvious choice?
Perhaps not obvious since I don’t usually play with other guitar players, but certainly it made sense in that Deniz is well steeped in Stoogianna and can really deliver a vocal, as well as, play very complimentary guitar parts.
Have you crossed paths alot over the years?
We met for the first time in 2011 when Deniz was asked to participate in the “Ron Asheton Memorial” Concert in Ann Arbor. We hit it off pretty good and from there on, I tried to make a point of touching base with Deniz and his wife Anne whenever I was in Australia touring with the Stooges. After all that, we both found out that we travelled frequently to Hawaii and that further solidify our connections with each other.
Do certain songs lend themselves better to acoustic arrangements?
Yes, of course they do. I selected these 4 for that very reason and because they were lesser known songs from the catalog, but ones that I always liked a lot…I think Deniz felt similarly.
Was it tough going through an awesome career of music to whittle down to four songs for an EP?
Well, thanks (for the awesome part)…no, many of my songs are very upbeat and electric guitar/hard rocking’ style songs which would’ have worked well for this all acoustic project. So, combined with our liking these and their being representation of both the Album “Raw Power” and “Kill City” it was pretty straightforward.
Was there a lot of “industry” hoops to jump through and navigate to be able to put this release out?
Nope. Since I wrote the music and since my label “Leopard Lady” put out the EP, there were no “Industry” hoops at all…other than the usual process of recording, mastering, marketing, distribution, blah, blah, blah..
Did you have to jam out the songs a bit with Deniz to see how they would work?
Not really, we were both very familiar with these songs and so the only technical issue was that I hadn’t calibrated my little battery operated tuner, so while I was in tune, it wasn’t A440. So when Deniz when to do his tracks, he had to adjust to that and eventually we had to retune the entire track since when we did the piano and pump organ, they required us to be at A440
Did you work on more than four?
No that’s all we did on this one.
Was it a lot of fun making the EP and will there be another EP or album?
We had a blast and while I can’t even think about anything beyond getting this EP out into peoples hands at this point.. we certainly worked well together, so who knows? Are you looking to tour with Deniz? No tour plans at present. I’m suggested that I would be willing to do select concerts such as the Bridge Benefit Concert in San Francisco, but as for now Deniz is busy touring for his own album release.
Do you have any other projects on the go?
Just writing some new music at the moment and we’ll see where that takes me.
Interview by Rob Lyon