By David Rolland
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Things finally began to turn around a few years later, when he and Scott teamed up with Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis and former Minutemen leader Mike Watt to play Stooges tunes on the road. After hearing the buzz generated by these gigs, Pop asked the Ashetons to play some songs with him on his collaboration-heavy 2003 album Skull Ring. "I was a little nervous when we were sitting at the hotel, in that little plaza there, waiting for him to show up. Because I haven't seen him face-to-face in, like, 25 years," Ron says. "Then he shows up, and it was all right, and we go across the street to get something to eat. And always when there's food and wine, the gap in between just closes. Once you start reminiscing and laughing, you know. And we got in the studio, and everything superclicked."
The once-and-future Stooges were so pleased by the Skull Ring sessions that they agreed to appear at 2003's Coachella Music and Arts Festival, with Watt handling bass duties. For Ron, the experience was beyond surreal. "We hadn't played together as the Stooges for years, and on the side of the stage, there was the Chili Peppers, Cameron Diaz, and — who's that guy that played on Taxi, who played Louie De Palma? Danny DeVito! Danny DeVito was there, and I'm like, 'Goddamn it! As if it's not scary enough.'"
He needn't have worried. The assembled throng was rapturous, convincing Pop to make the Stooges' get-together a long-term project. The reconstituted band subsequently played Europe and a few concerts in the States and made a new CD, The Weirdness, with Watt, Fun House saxophonist Mackay, and engineer Steve Albini. The fairly lukewarm reviews generated by the disc thus far haven't lessened fans' affection for Iggy and the Ashetons, and neither have they put a damper on the good times for Ron, who sees the Stooges continuing to make a righteous racket indefinitely. "Musicians can go forever," he argues, "unless you want to stop — and no one wants to stop."
Especially not him. After all, he's finally making a decent living.