It's been 50 years this week since The Stooges' Fun House crash-landed on a generation of listeners with grimy, wild proto-punk tracks, from the frenzied rush of "1970" to the liberated noises of "T.V. Eye" This week on the Rhino Podcast, Henry Rollins, former Rollins Band singer and liner notes contributor for the new 50th anniversary version of Fun House, joins podcast host Rich Mahan and Rhino A&R Director Jason Jones to discuss how the landmark LP changed their lives. Listen to the full episode below.
ON THE UNDERTAKING OF THE SUPER DELUXE, 50TH ANNIVERSARY REISSUE OF FUN HOUSE:
ROLLINS: "It's Jason who did all the heavy lifting and it's a suitcase of records. I mean, it's this big box. I think that's a lot in this day and age to say to a label, 'Hey, put out a 50-year-old record that is a suitcase of vinyl without any real guarantee on how well it's going to sell, but it sure is good.'"
"And to their credit, Rhino did it. I was amazed. When I met up with Jason, that this thing was going through, this is a fan's record. And it's the kind of thing where I wanted it - as soon as I heard this CD box set, I wanted the vinyl many years ago and I used to write about it, like someone should do this. And then when I met Jason, he said, 'Well, it's being done.' I was like, 'Wow, that's gutsy."
JONES: "It was a very large undertaking to try and get it over the line. You know, for me, just as a fan, to me, it's the most obvious thing to do whenever you're trying to celebrate such a key important landmark anniversary around, as you said, one of the greatest albums ever made, you know, and I think that we had the good fortune that all the tapes survived, which is not the case with a lot of really great albums."
"Because you're really taking the journey with the band throughout the creative process of recording this record. You know, you would think that the way that Fun House sounds initially, you would think, 'Oh, this was, you know, one or two takes. It's real loose. It's real raw,' but it's all there.
"It's all very studied. It's all very considered. There's a looseness to it, but it's very intentional what they're doing. On this record, you really are hearing lightning captured on tape."
ON HOW THE REISSUE CAME TOGETHER:
ROLLINS: "I think it's worth mentioning because a lot of people might not know that tape gets purged. When there is a shelf of outtakes sitting somewhere after a few decades, at some point, they just clean house and it becomes one of those things you read about in a biography, 'Oh, there was outtakes and we tried to find them and no one knows where they are.' So it's very lucky. And I think in the liner notes, we describe this as like Tutankhamun's site, because the only reason the grave robbers didn't get to it and empty it was, they didn't know it was there. And the fact the tape was in great condition..."
JONES: "Kudos to Billing Lot back in 1999, for having the forethought to try and put the original box together, the original CD box. You know, fortunately they had Rhino Handmade ready to go. You know, Rhino had a sure fire avenue to get people to order this thing. And to ensure that they, you know, would be financially successful because it was limited edition. We're kind of doing the same thing with this box it's just, you know, that CD box weighs two pounds. And this one weighs, you know, let's add a couple of, you know, 20 or 30 pounds on top of that."
"And to ensure that they, you know, would be financially successful because it was limited edition. You know, we're, we're, we're kind of doing the same thing, but this box it's just, you know, that CD box weighs, you know, Two pounds. And this one weighs, you know, let's add a couple of, you know, 20 or 30 pounds on top of that. I, like Henry, always wanted to experience it on vinyl and believe me, listening to the test pressings. It's an entirely different experience."
ON THE LISTENING EXPERIENCE:
ROLLINS: "Yes. I can tell you from sitting on my couch every night, doing one or two LPs a night, I mean, there's one point where I'm in my whatever take of "1970." And I was almost tearing up. It's like almost like a meditation. When you hear the songs over and over again, it's not boring because you can hear the differences. You can hear the band putting that song under the microscope and they're just making these tiny changes, rhythm section shifting a little, Iggy's moving on different lyrics. Ron's trying different stuff. And at like three or four takes in, it just becomes like this one long mantra and I've found myself kind of rocking back and forth in this kind of like, just still amazement as to what I was hearing, where there's like this momentum to it. Like you think you're on a fast moving train. It's incredible."
MAHAN: "Yeah, you get to hear them fine tune the arrangements."
ROLLINS: Oh, absolutely. And it's an instinctive thing. The Stooges had a musical ability that you can't learn in school. You show up with it. Like when you hear a drummer who's a natural, picks up their friend's sticks and like certain like, 'Oh, like this? [and the friend replies,] 'Oh, I took two years of lessons to sound like you did after 20 minutes.'" Stooges all had that in their own way."
Listen to the full podcast here.