Posted November 20, 2003

The Stooges at All Tomorrow's Parties, Long Beach, 2003. Peter Whitfield photo

Bassist Mike Watt's place as a pathfinder for American underground rock was already assured long before he answered the call to join a reconstituted Stooges line-up at the Coachella Festival in Caifornia on April 27, 2003. As a founding member of the Minutemen - so named for the brevity of their songs, in their earliest days - he was there at the cutting edge of the DIY music movement.

The Minutemen lasted from 1979-85, their career cut short by the tragic death of his close friend and guitarist D. Boon in a motor accident. Watt and drummer George Hurley went on to form fIREHOSE, who produced a string of releases on indie labels and Columbia. A busy and diverse solo career has followed, with ventures into unexpected sidetracks involving roots music and free jazz, as well as rock, and collaborations with members of Sonic Youth, the Beastie Boys, Nirvana, Soul Asylum, and the Screaming Trees. Watt also took time to play and record with Porno for Pyros, the Perry Farrell band book-ended by Jane's Addiction.
Crossing studio paths with Ron Asheton for the Wylde Ratz project (and soundtrack to "Velvet Goldmine") bore fruit a few years on, as the elder Asheton and his bro Scott joined Dinosaur Jr's J. Mascis and Watt in live shows drawn entirely from the Stooges songbook. When the long-mooted Stooges reformation finally came about (on the back of four tracks put down in the studio by the Ashetons and Iggy Pop for the latter's "Skull Ring" album), Watt's recent collaborations made him a natural to fill the bass spot.

Shows at Coachella, DTE Energy Theatre in Michigan, Jones Beach in Long Island, and Roseland in Manhattan, the Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, festivals in France and Spain and, a few days ago, in Long Beach, California (for the latest All Tomorrow's Parties festival) have been wildly acclaimed. There's even talk of a full-blown Stooges studio album, down the track.

Despite a heavy touring schedule, Mike Watt lived up to his reputation as a generous interviewee and all-round nice guy when the I-94 Bar requested a chat, opening up files of his own photos and pictures sent to him by fans. As the newest Stooge, he's uniquely placed to offer a different perspective - that of a fan, as well as participant. If you're familiar with Watt's web site and postings to the No_Fun mailing list, you'll know that his enthusiasm and love of Real Rock transcends the e-mailed word. (He also has a unique communication style and we've left his quirky vernacular and lower-case intact). Mike Watt joined us from his longtime home in San Pedro, California. THE BARMAN posed the questions.



Q Hey Mike! Thanks for joining us in the Bar. The Stooges are a highly influential band - and probably a lot of people will be saying that moreso, now that they're back together playing and recording. How much of an influence were they on you personally, and do you remember the first time you heard them?

the stooges had a huge impact on my life, the music part too. I first heard them when I was sixteen (in a month that'll be thirty years ago). when I got into the punk scene right after high school, I thought, "man, these cats have been doing this for years, just like captain beefheart!" it was a mindblow for me to hear the stooges, they cleared up many cobwebs in my fucked-up brain. the sound, the feel - the MESSAGE... all of it good stuff for someone who had to grow up under the haze of continual brainwash.

Ron and Scott at the "Skull Ring" album launch, Drake Hotel, NYC - Mike Watt photo

Q The way the Ashetons' partcipation on Iggy's new album came about is pretty well documented. How did you become involved and how did things go to the next level, as in live dates?

well, I'd recorded this thing for a movie called "velvet goldmine" w/ron asheton, thurston moore, steve shelley mark arm and a few others in nyc in 1997 - the "band" was called the wylde ratttz. ron had come to a detroit fIREHOSE show years earlier and that's when I actually first met him but this is where I actually got to play w/him. man, what a blast that was - I was sitting across from the guy who wrote and played "tv eye" and I was fucking recording that same song w/him and was beside myself!

in 2000, I got very ill (see and for the first time since I was 13, I had to stop playing bass for several months. when I was able to try and play again, I found I had lost most of my abilities - no rhythm, no strength in my hands to fret or pluck, no nothing. I began playing stooges songs to get my bass stuff back and lo and behold, it worked! I put together several stooges cover bands w/different friends - one of them was w/j mascis of dinosaur. we did some gigs in nyc and then when j wanted to tour as j mascis + the fog, he asked me to play bass and in our sets we did stooges songs. when the tour came to ann arbor, ron came and we had him on stage to play those songs w/us. it went so good that j asked ron to do some uk gigs w/us and then some u.s. ones too. it was wild!

then there was the all tomorrow's parties festival at ucla in 2002 and j asked ron to ask scott to play drums w/us at that. later that year, we did some euro gigs as asheton, asheton, mascis + watt. about the same time, I was asked to play this awards show in hollywood (the shortlist awards), getting together three stooges songs w/pete yorn on drums and two of the hives on guitar, mike and pel, to back up iggy. that was the first time I played w/the igster (I actually first me him in london at a sonic youth gig I was opening up for in 1996).

then in the first months on 2003, I got a call from ron saying iggy wanted to re-unite the stooges. whoa! that led to the coachella gig in april. I already had a tour booked (w/my secondmen band) so I flew from memphis to do that show and then rejoined my secondmen guys in north carolina for five more weeks of tour (we'd already did three weeks). I got sick on the plane from memphis so that was a real hard gig for me but it was small potatoes compared to the thrill of being part of one of the greatest moments of my life ever.

Ron Asheton in Spain. Eric Fisher photo

Q You had to be a natural to be brought into the line-up after touring with the Ashetons in recent years. How long have the collaborations with J. Mascis, Ron and Rock actually been going on and about how many shows would you have played, with and without J.?

all the gigs before the stooges reunion were w/j mascis (the wylde ratttz have never played a live gig, only recorded). there was around twelve gigs w/just ron (george berz played drums) as j mascis + the fog and maybe seven where scotty was on drums as asheton, asheton, mascis + watt.

Q So how were you actually approached to take part in the Stooges reformation? Is it something you'd put forward to the Ashetons before, 'cos I know Gary Rasmussen's name had been thrown around about seven or eight years ago when a reunion was first mooted.

it was a phone call from ron, one that blew my mind! I had never put anything like that forward cuz of my respect for both the band and the men in it. I mean, it's the fucking stooges - you don't bumrush something like that! scotty told me about the gary rasmussen thing after the coachella gig but that was the first time I heard of it - I never knew a stooges reunion was in the making. much respect to him cuz he's a great bassist.

Watt on bass in Spain. Eric Fisher photo

Q You were pretty sick in the lead-up to the Coachella show. Do you remember much about it? When did the gravity of the situation strike you, that you were on stage with these guys? How did that compare with the high points of, say, being with a band like the Minutemen?

well (well, well, well...), here's my diary entries for the three days I was back to do the gig:

friday, april 25, 2003 - san pedro, ca

I do not pop but somehow am in time to get to the airport early enough. michelle has been so nice to me, thank you so much. I get my guys from her little one's rooms and drive them in the boat to the airport where I'm to leave them for a few days. they got a couple of hours to wait here at the airport for jer's wife kel and their baby rilei and then they're gonna drive east to carrboro, nc where the next secondmen gig is while I do this stooges reunion at the coachella fest in california. it's heavy for me to see them go and I give them so many good wishes as I say bye. I love these guys so and will miss and worry about them much. I know they can very well take care of themselves but I feel weird in a way about leaving them like this. they sure have good hearts to let me do this. I asked their permission before tour and if they would've had any reservations about me bailing like this, I would've had to bow out - even from such a great honor as being a stooge - cuz I feel much loyalty to them. this is a trippy thing here.

I go into the airport and use one of those new self-check-yourself-in terminals to get my papers. I shaved and tried to look as straight as possible and I get no hassles in security, that's a relief. only an hour of sleep or a little more and I am dog-tired besides this incredible soreness in my bones. I go to get a sandwich - seven bucks for the lamest, soggiest, crummiest piece of whatever I ever force-fed myself. yech! time to board the plane and I'm out like that - there's two flights involved and this is the little one to dallas. when we get there, I have to walk around cuz it feels like my bones are going to fuse together, damn. I pass the book store and get this one called "in the casa azul" by meaghan delahunt. it's a bunch of little narratives from those associated w/trotsky and his mexican exile including the two years he lived w/diego rivera and freda kahlo. these people thinking out loud range from stalin's wife in russia to trotsky's bodyguard in mexico, to the peasant judas-doll maker artist lady freda befriends to the assassin who kills trotsky. it is abstract yet quite sad. there's lots of sadness in it, really - lots of betrayal, all around. I read the whole thing cuz the plane is packed and impossible to get any konk on. this lady who wrote it, meaghan delahunt wrote it well, I think - I'm surprised to find it her first novel. I didn't read it like history though you can feel it steeped w/it - it's like that "becoming madame mao" book in a way... all the fucking hurt us humans can put on each other. strange to make some kind of poetry out of it. it did make me think, made me cry...

my friend from teenage years, richard "fuckin'" bonney comes and gets me at the l.a. international airport. he takes me straight up to hollywood and to some practice pad place called swing house and I wait for the team there. I'll see richard sunday. the swing house people are nice to me and make me tea and let me use the 'puter while I wait. ron and scott asheton are the first to come - great to see them! last time was in december for those europe gigs w/j - they look great and ready to play. we get all the stuff set up, I'm using two rented ampeg svt amps and my old gibson thunderbird II, a non-reverse one I call "bluey" and it's trippy to play after being in a case so long - can't remember when I played it last cuz I've been using the littel eb-3 one for my live gigs the last few years. after getting used to the long scale, I remember it's feel well. I've done tons of gigs w/this bass - all the opera ones were done w/it. I just hate bringing basses on airplane flights cuz they abuse them so - just hate it. this one will work out fine. it even says MINUTEMEN on it from letters arizona gig-goer robert locker put on it year ago. alright. one of my amps is beat to shit (the story of rentals, people never think of the cats who gets them next) but I'll do what I can - the other one's in better shape so I'll slave the beater to it. we do a couple of tunes but ron doesn't want to "get burned out" before iggy comes. ok w/me though playing helps keep my mind off the growing pain and fever that keeps piling up on me. damn. dara's here w/ron and she's in good spirits. everyone's excited about this. I'm holding on, somehow... I wonder what the fuck is wrong w/me?

there's a ninetynine cent store a block away and i get a razor, shaving cream and pistachio nuts. I want to shave again for iggy. I need the nuts cuz that shitty sandwich was the last thing I chowed. funny, I'm starting to get funny sensations where the illness was - the same thing that hit right before my secondmen tour too but in a milder way. what the fuck is that? no bike riding since then... hmm... there's that thing ed fROMOHIO gave me years ago that goes over the driver's seat to like massage you, it's made out of beads. maybe that's irritated me down there or something. damn, I can't believe it - I can't be coming down w/the same thing again, can I? I think it's gonna have to be like my knees, I have to watch out for every potential threat and be really, really careful where the taint is getting put. I really can't believe this but the symptoms are just so similar. this is fucking freaking me out but I try hard to maintain. I don't want to be a problem for anyone and only help.

iggy's stage man, jos arrives to get things together. he's from england and an interesting cat. he has lots of ideas about ideas - he makes a case to me why evolution is full of shit but not from the position of creationism. I'm not really into arguing the other side w/him but want to hear him out and hear his reasoning. he is very much a skeptic. he's funny too. henry, iggy's tour manager, is along w/him and relates to me some old war stories, like tour managing the damned in 1978 and being on the receiving end of gallons of "gob" or what we call it here, spit. henry's from glasgow. both these cats keep me laughing and help divert all the hurt that threatens to swallow me whole. oh man, can't wait to start prac - hope I can hold on!

Ron and Iggy's manager, Art Collins, backstage in New Orleans. Mike Watt Photo

iggy arrives w/his mangager, art collins. ig's ready to go. art's so nice to me and makes me feel it's good to be part of this. very kind of him. all these folks are giving me much respect. I'm wearing the t-shirt scotty gave me that's black w/a picture of dave alexander on it. at the top, it says "the stooges" and I feel very proud. iggy's totally focused and gets us together to play right away. he's already got a song order picked, which is great and we start w/"loose" - god, am I nervous - this is a definitely a pants-shitter. I clam the ending by coming in a beat early - what a fucking doof. iggy calls me on it and asks my if I know what I did wrong and I tell him yes. I'm completely zeroed in on him and absorbing every word and gesture he makes. speaking of gestures, when iggy practices, he just doesn't stand there - it's like my own personal gig cuz he's leaping, twisting, howling - the whole nine yards, just like a gig - it's wild and I really dig it. we work on every song and then inside every song, we work on every beginning and every ending and transition even. the one we really got to get we together (or maybe more "I" rather than "we") is "dirt." I'm adding notes that shouldn't be there so iggy helps me pare it down to where he likes it. I admire the care he takes in getting this together, he's not some putz who's just gonna walk through this - he's iggy pop who's proud of his stooges work. I very much admire his dedication and concentration. I'm feeling that pain down there now more and more - it feels like a pool cue has been shoved up my ass but I'm not letting on to anyone about it. no whining from watt. he gets me to play the middle part w/a consistent groove and not all over the place - he reasons it out w/me and just doesn't bark orders, he's got a sharp mind and I dig his sensibilities. sometimes he'll say "don't get musical on me" and I know exactly what he means and I dig that - feeling and emotion come first not technique and self-satisfied "look at me" shit. everything in this band is to serve a purpose. it is sure one school night for watt but I dig it! he helps me purge the extra note I keep throwing in "loose" but says it's cool if I throw it in there every once in a while. he helps w/a mute I should throw in on "down on the street" - it's great, he says, "you know, mike - I'm glad you blew that clam in that first song we did cuz it made things, you know - a lot more human." I'm glad his not intimidated (is that the right word) into not telling me what's up cuz I'm here to learn, I'm here to aid and abet and help make this band sound the best it can. that's what I want, not an ego stroke. it's like going to the source for me and learning from THE MAN. it's quite an opportunity. he checks in w/ron on everything and ron's got great opinions and perspectives on it too. we work and work and work 'till scotty can barely drum any more - he didn't get any sleep last night either. I'm so excited but must admit I'm wearing thin too, especially w/the tiny amout of konk and hardly any chow plus the sickness really hammering in on me. ig sets prac for two tomorrow.

man, does this steaming bath feel like heaven for watt. in his own tub in the middle of a tour - what a trip, huh? I'm in so much pain, hot tears mix w/the hot water I keep adding to keep things steaming. I forgot to mention I was taking ibuprofens during that prac, just to hang on and keep the edge off so I wouldn't holler out of nowhere. the pounding now is relentless, like I was w/child and baby wanted out - NOW! I can feel the growing hardness down there, like a knot. I even konk in the tub, waking at like two and crawling out to my deck by the couch and propping myself up against it w/my head up, tommy jefferson style and somehow I'm allowed into the sanctuary called sleepytown. thank god for tender mercies. what a weird/wild day for mister watt.

saturday, april 26, 2003 - san pedro, ca
I pop moaning in pain way before the crack of dawn and am quick into the tub for soaks. oh man, this is insane. I'm in a fever and hurting like crazy. the bath helps w/both the pounding down below, the aches and the burning up in the head. thank god my pad doesn't have it's own tiny water heater and shares a huge one w/the rest of the units like my old one did when the huge version of this shit tried to kill me three years ago.

I chow some of this thai nood stuff kristin got me last night and couldn't eat. she asked what I wanted and I said a big, leafy green salad but somehow the order got screwed up. there was a soup that was good though, it was a trippy kind of coconut kind. I'm not that used to thai chow (we don't have a any of their restaurants in pedro) but like it a lot, especially the spicy squid kind. kristin's helping this helpless one much and I'm much grateful to her. she must find me pathetic and like a baby - this is what sickness almost always reduces me to. she takes me to the second prac w/the stooges at two.

Iggy, pooch and girlfriend Nina.

we work on beginning and ending bits, refining all we learned yesterday. iggy's just as focused and dedicated as yesterday. even when anthony (peppers) and rick rubin come in to watch a couple of tunes, he keeps us on course and the social thing on minimum. iggy's lady nina, who's very nice, sits right in front of him and watches but his concentration isn't fazed a bit. it's very inspiring to me. this cat leads by example and I dig it. like yesterday, iggy just doesn't sing the songs, he goes for it - just like it was a gig. it's a balls-out thing and not tame or tepid a bit. he's totally aware too of all the sounds and rhythms, what a cat to have lead your band and also be the front man - whoa, incredible. I never knew how those stooges records were made and could only imagine. during a break, I speak to ig's manager art about all this, what a mindblow it is to me - even w/me being around a bunch and having seen all kinds of stuff. even w/this hurt and sickness (I can't even sit down at this point), my mind is so fired-up to be here, to learn like it was like even mosque/temple/church or whatever - these pracs are hitting me at all kinds of levels. I've played the songs so many times in the last few years since my sickness but to get into them this way is a whole rebirth kind of thing w/them - sort of like when I heard them as a boy and was doing air-bass to them, wild! trippy how the time flies by too, even w/the hurts. we do the whole set, just like we're gonna do it tomorrow and it's very much happening, it's got a great flow. we're ready. those cats are going to go to palm springs now so they'll be close to the gig (it's in the desert, near indio) but I gotta go to pedro and get it together as much as I can.

on the way out of the prac pad, I see an old friend who's a chili pepper roadman now, dave - he was w/the porno for pyros guys when I was helping them in '96. he relates a story to everyone about something I said when another roadman, toi russell, was having trouble w/a roomie snoring or something. I remembered something my pop used to tell me in such situations and said it to toi (who's a really great guy, by the way): "why don't you tie some rags dipped in alcohol around your ankles to keep the ants off your candy ass?" dave's always got a kick out of this and tells everyone. I don't see these folks that much cuz the way I live in pedro and tour econo. even though I keep to my own little world mostly, these cats still give me a lot of respect and that's very kind and generous of them. I'm always when I do bump into them time to time. outside the pad is flea and he's going to do a thing for the music school he's opened for kids in silver lake - big hugs for him. glen danzig, haven't seen for quite a while, he tells me about a festival he's got now that is out to destroy "mall metal" and the like. someone tells me ian mackay is here - what? he's jamming w/the chili peppers? maybe he's on bass cuz flea just bailed. bob forrest says hi - wow, all these l.a. cats that watt, who lives in the l.a. harbor is hardly around to see but it's nice to say hi now and I even get my mind off my hurts for a while. everyone sure is into this stooges thing - I can tell we all feel like we owe iggy, ron and scotty (dave too - r.i.p.) so much for being able to do what we do and draw so much direction and confidence from. would've there ever even been a punk movement w/out the stooges? hard for me to imagine.

back to pedro and back in the tub - in and out now cuz I get too waterlogged after a while so I use this heating pad on THE AREA when I'm out cuz the heat helps so much, I can't tell you. the water's better but this is the next best thing. I want so hard to read a book, chimp some diary, even do a little email but I'm hopelessly blasted on the deck and just trying to hang on. it's hard to put even two thoughts together, they all get separated into little spurts and pieces - so frustrating and merciless. I hate to say it but it's a totally-in-the-moment thing but nothing anyone would ever desire - no escape, no way! how to explain this kind of hurt/pain/sickness? it's very hard - it's like trying to hold on to some rail or deck or something where you feel you're going to slip off and go from hurt-hurt-hurt (like a cringe) to screaming bloody murder 'till your hoarse (so it's almost like clinging). there is no relenting or pausing in any of this, just a constant on and on and on. my old pedro friends, the roeland sisters (nanny - who draws my shirts, lisa and hoolie) come pay a visit . I'm very sorry I'm not in shape to talk w/them much though hoolie's boyfriend goes w/her to get salad makings (I make sure I use up all my chow before a tour so it won't go bad while I'm gone, hence the fridge being totally emptry) and make me a green salad - something I've been craving much. it's nice to see my old friends again but I'm in no shape to really conduct any kind of a conversation and it makes me sad. I know I look so pathetic in front of them. it's a lame situation - especially when there's so much to be excited about regarding tomorrow's show. I can't believe the timing of all this still but do very much understand that life deals you and hand and this is what the one I have to play right now. I tell everyone it's ok if they leave cuz I'm pretty much useless. I hit the tub again when they leave and get some soak relief. I can't imagine how I finally konked around eight or something but konk I did. what a very, very generous god.

sunday, april 27, 2003 - san pedro, ca
pop early, hurting pretty much so it's quick into the tub w/me. relief, thank god. it's sunday so I'm gonna chow w/my ma like I usually do when I'm here on sundays. she's been very sick so I'm hoping she's feeling better. it takes me almost twenty minutes to make the two blocks to her apartment from mine cuz I have to take tiny, little geisha boy steps on account of my condition. I get there and she's doing much better though I don't why the fuck she's back to smoking - what's up w/that? I hate giving my ma grief though and am very glad she made it through her illness ordeal. when I called her on the phone last week, she sounded so weak w/her voice all tiny - it scared the shit out of me. it's good to see my ma but I wish my sisters could've come down to visit to. melinda's up in west hollywood and marilyn's in hollywood. funny, I would've never ever figured my sisters living there but melinda's been going to ucla (she finishes this summer) and marilyn teaches in the valley so where they're at is closer to where they have to be. it's kind of far though from me and my ma here in pedro, maybe twentyeight miles or something. my ma tells me they're doing ok though so that's good to hear. the sickness was really rough on my ma and she's kind of scared what I have might make her sick again so I try to reassure her she can't get what I have. around eleven, I hobble my way back up to my apartment.

last night, a lot of that swelling went down so I'm better that way but there's still fever and weakness on me. thalia calls me and says she has strep throat, that's terrible. I hope she can get better soon. all theses people in my life that are sick, damn. kristin comes to give me a ride to the gig and she brings this "doughnut" I was telling her about (foam rubber covered w/plaid cloth big enough to sit your ass on and give relief to the taint) - I used one when I healed up from the big illness but it got lost when I had to make the move right before tour last year. this will help me much for the two hour ride out to indio, where the coachella festival is. it's still pretty painful w/all the bouncing about w/bumps on the road but somehow I konk for lots of the ride. we get there right as sonic youth is playing their last tune and they sound good. brian bowe from creem magazine (so great this has started up again - it was our favorite rock zine when we were teenagers) says hi and wants to spiel so I tell him I'll put these basses away (I brought the little fender 'stang bass too, just in case) but when I come back, I can't find him! it's hard for me to walk around but I try my best. I feel the fever coming on pretty strong so I go back to the trailer. the sonics trailer is next door so I get to visit w/them as they just come off stage. steve shelley and jim o'rourke are first and both look great and healthy. big hugs for them. big hugs for thurst and kim too when they come - so neat kim's playing a little gibson bass like mine though it's an eb-0 (only one pickup where mine has a extra little one by the bridge). lee and leah are last w/their little ones, cute little babies. I love my old friends and it's good to see them, especially when I'm so weak like I am. they've always supported me much and have been so generous. ron and scott asheton ride up on a golf cart and it's big hugs to them, so glad they're here. I go to look for brain once more where I first saw him but no luck, damn. I'm getting kind of weak now so it's rest for me. I hope brain understands. I've got the same t-shirt on I've been wearing for the practices - the dave alexander one that scotty gave me and over that, the yellow coat my ma gave me. the wind's picking up so inside w/me. richard "fuckin'" bonney, lisa roeland and kenny come by to visit and are understandably worried about my state. I'm very glad they're hear though. I see old friend billy rahmy and give him the biggest hug, it's been years since I've seen him. all these good people give me confidence to try and overcome these blows to my health and strength.

The Ashetons' aide-de-camp, Eric Fisher, helps out with setlists.

I wish I could see some of the bands but I got save all my strength. a chill is creeping into my bones cuz of the fever and I start w/these shakes, small at first and then they become more and more violent on me - I wrap myself in a bed spread and wear scotty's "rock action" hat to get warmth inside of me. iggy's in his trailer and hopefully he's unaware of my nightmare situation. I know ron and scotty know and they're worried. I keep thinking about wishing I could set the amps up I'm using so I can know they're gonna be setup right. in the shape I'm in now, that would be futile. I'm just trying to get through all this hurt and not let anyone down, that would be the worst. I'm hoping and hoping I can get it together, thinking love and healing thoughts on me, thinking of those so important to me in my life and maybe even tugging on them a little. I don't mean too, I'm just kind of desperate right now. ian mackay comes by and tries to warm me up w/hugs. we got a half-hour to go. flea comes in and tries too, then he says the chili peppers have this nurse who helps them sometimes when someone's sick w/vitamins in their arm. I've never had that but I'll try anything now, I am at my lowest point. the lady is gentle w/me and puts a big plastic syringe full of vitamins into my arm. it takes like fifteen minutes - there's a lot and it's gotta go in slow. she asks if I feel any burning but w/all my hurts, I can't feel anything like that. when it's finally in me though, I do feel warmness in my hands and feet and then it spreads through my body, ridding me of the chills and those crazy shakes. they put me in a golf couse w/ron and scotty and we're off for the stage. thank you much, flea. thank you too, ian.