Madonna put some luster back into her lust by smooching Britney. Santana gained a fresh perspective with Matchbox Twenty’s Rob Thomas. Now the bratty, lovable punks of Sum 41 could put Pop on pop radio.
Rock legend Iggy Pop recruited Sum 41 for “Little Know It All,” the melodic, rambunctious first single from Skull Ring, due November 4 Iggy took a shine to Sum frontman Deryck Whibley right away when the two parties met at the recommendation of Pop’s A&R man. In addition to admiring Whibley’s talent, Iggy got a kick out of the Canadian rocker’s youthful zeal.
“He’s a damn nice guy, but he’s very ‘girls, vodka, girls, guitars, girls, vodka,'” mused Pop. “We’ve performed together a few times, and they’ll always say, ‘Are you going to the after-show party, man?’ And I say, ‘Well, no. I got a great girlfriend. It’s getting late. I’m 56, guys. I gotta get up in the morning.’ ”
The age gap was a temporary obstacle. Sum wanted to write a song that the rock legend could relate to, while Iggy wanted to come up with lyrics that would work with the band’s brand of radio-friendly, metallic punk.
“They tried to [reference] something that was historical,” recalled Pop. “But the most historical thing they could reference was early Social Distortion, which was the ’80s. I’d already been at it two decades by then. But what they wrote was good. And I had a similar problem with the lyrics, so I tried to write a lyric from their point of view.
“I tried to remember how I felt when I was a kid and how the kid in me still feels,” he added, contorting his features into an exaggerated pout. “‘Oh, nobody really knows me. Nobody really listens to me. I think I know better. There are some things I deeply feel, but I know in a lot of ways that I’m full of sh-.’ So that’s why I called it ‘Little Know It All.'”
Two days after Pop performed at April’s Coachella festival, he entered the studio with Sum 41 and they quickly recorded the song. He was impressed with how tight and efficient the band was in a recording environment and said the door is open to future collaborations.
“They’re a real smooth machine and they’re heartwarming to work with,” Iggy said. “I got excited by what they did, and my vocal went well. You could feel the energy in the room. And Deryck sang beautifully on it. He sounded like a beat-up choirboy.”
The video for “Little Know It All” was directed by Manny Rodriguez and features mostly performance footage interspersed with shots of Iggy and Sum 41 playing pool. The clip goes to video channels next week, while the happy team will reconvene on November 5 to play “The Late Show With David Letterman.”