SPILL MOVIES: AMERICAN VALHALLA
NORTH AMERICAN DVD RELEASE: MARCH 9, 2018
Almost exactly two years ago, Iggy Pop released one of the best albums of not only 2016, but of his entire illustrious career that has since surpassed the fifty year anniversary. Post Pop Depression, a record that Iggy has cited to be his recorded swan song, was written, produced, and recorded alongside Queens Of The Stone Age mastermind, Josh Homme. It also features performances from fellow QOTSA member Dean Fertita and Artic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders. This all-star lineup was further developed when the band went on a once in a lifetime tour that featured an incredible stop at Toronto’s Sony Center, and was documented on Post Pop Depression – Live At The Royal Albert Hall released in October of 2016. Now, to chronicle such an incredible collaboration for what is easily one of the best musical arcs of the past two decades, American Valhalla, directed by Andreas Neumann and Homme, tells the story of exactly what happened between Iggy and Homme’s self-imposed exile into the California desert and their return with Post Pop Depression.
American Valhalla recounts the story of Post Pop Depression from the very beginning. The film opens with a series of desert imagery with Homme riding a motorcycle through a trail less traveled through Joshua Tree, his home town and location of Rancho De La Luna, the studio primarily used for the recording of the record. The story is told through a series of interviews, many of which are hosted by Anthony Bourdain, and footage shot throughout the entire recording and touring cycle for the record. It begins with Iggy sending Homme a text about working together, which would later transpire to handwritten letters and an entire package from Iggy which featured poems, lyrics, and his own recollection of how some of his biggest hits were written and recorded. Homme frequently flips through this and his own journal to express his unyielding passion and his gratitude for having worked with one of his greatest heroes throughout the film. The documentary then continues to talk about the writing and recording process at Rancho, and later in Pink Duck Studios in Burbank, California. Underneath the visuals (footage and photographs from the studios), the movie is often backed by isolated parts from the album, some of which were from the record, or were demos in which the song would be built upon, further showcasing the creative process involved. The documentary then included a number of clips of the tour rehearsal, and some of the shows as the band, joined by Matt Sweeny and QOTSA’s Troy Van Leeuwen. The album brings the listener along on the road, with classics from Iggy’s first two records, The Idiot and Lust For Life, both of which were written, recorded, and produced alongside David Bowie.
The use of interviews, whether it be Homme reading from his own journal or Pop recounting stories to Bourdain, not only paints a clear picture, but also gives a sense of personality. There is Iggy, the humble artist who appears beyond thrilled with his work, yet, even at the age of seventy, still feels that he has to “hustle”; then there is Josh, whose excitement seems to surpass what is expected, and lies now in a sense of pure ecstasy; so much so that he is almost at a loss for words, hence why he resorts to his journal so often. The film is brilliantly put together and features a wide assortment of things to look at and listen to, giving fans an all-encompassing sense of the grit and glam that went into Post Pop Depression.
American Valhalla is a film that is as informative as it is entertaining. It is filled to the brim with a contagious sense of excitement, passion, and reverence, not just for Iggy, but for life itself. It is a documentary that is as much about Post Pop Depression as it is for seizing the moment for what it is, and understanding and appreciating that some of the best things in life are not to be repeated or replicated. It is about chasing your passion and being present as time waits for no one, something Homme points out poetically in both the introduction and near the end of the film. In terms of finalizing the Post Pop Depression trilogy, consisting of the titular record, the live album, and concert film, Post Pop Depression – Live At The Royal Albert Hall – American Valhalla serves as the perfect conclusion that takes the previous two examples together and celebrates Iggy and the monumental moment in time that this was, with a stellar look behind the curtain at two of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest artists.