‘American Valhalla’ Premiere With Joshua Homme, Andreas Neumann And Steve Jones, Sunday July 9th 2017
Time seems to be an important obsession for the main characters of the new movie ‘American Valhalla’, Queens of the Stone Age’s Joshua Homme is well aware that this collaboration with Iggy Pop is one in a lifetime opportunity, then when the album is recorded, when the tour is over, he found himself in a depressive mode, ‘I will be empty again,’ he says at the end of the recording, well aware that it won’t happen again. ‘Time is not your friend, I wish it was slowing down, you won’t get another one like this!’
The movie ‘American Valhalla’ captures this unique moment, the making of the album ‘Post Pop Depression’, and the meeting between two music giants – and I don’t hesitate to call Homme a giant not because he is a tall man but because he was picked by Iggy himself for this unique collaboration, and also because he appears very humble all-movie long, completely wide-eyed in front of his childhood idol.
Joshua Homme was the producer and the co-writer of Iggy Pop’s last album… ‘A doctor’ as Iggy calls him, ‘Your doctor can do a lot for you if he likes you’, he jokes, and there is no shortage of love between both men. ‘Being 13 and listening to ‘Repo Man’ over and over, and to be 43 and doing all this, this is the coolest thing I have ever been part of,’ says Joshua while ruminating about the whole experience. ‘Josh is a much more advanced musician than I am,…My range expanded when I made this record’, acknowledges Iggy.
It all started when Pop sent a package to Homme, a real physical package through Fedex, a sort of Iggy Pop portrait (with lyrics and notes of his work with Bowie) in order to convince him they could collaborate on an album. ‘He is on tour, tired to play the same songs, he is creative guy, so this should interest him’, says Iggy. ‘This is the best gift I have ever received’ tells Josh.
This may have been the best present but Homme couldn’t sleep at the idea to collaborate with his music idol, ‘I was trying to find the right starting point’, but soon things shape up, Iggy shows up on Josh’s driveway in California and they both drive to the desert to record their project at Queens of the Stone Age’s Joshua Tree recording studio. ‘Post Pop Depression’ was secretly recorded at Rancho de la Luna, inside the compound where the musicians got together, to eat, talk and think. They wanted the desert, a place where ‘you don’t feel the demand of life as much’, where ‘a sunset is a big deal’… a place which slows down time and lets you appreciate each moment.
The whole time, Joshua Homme kept a recording dairy, eager to steal and save each moment (he even kept some of Iggy’s lyric sheets), but he is well aware he is taking an enormous risk, although he is more determined than ever to keep going, ‘If you risk nothing, you gain nothing’
Meanwhile Iggy keeps looking at us with his malicious bright eyes and a constant smile at the corner of his mouth. For him, this is another story, he does not really mentioning any risk, but he is looking for his American Valhalla. ‘What does it mean to be a veteran in America?’ he asked us from his hammock in Florida… ‘What do you get when you are finally useless? Do you go somewhere where things are better? Where is my American Valhalla?’
After finishing the record at Pink Duck studio in Burbank, the project could obviously not be just an album, they had to perform the songs live, ‘It was over too quick’ said one of the musicians, and Joshua, who was eager to continue the dream, had to convince Iggy to go on tour.
They decided to include some of Iggy’s own catalogue (‘Lust for Life’, ‘the Passenger’, and ‘China Girl’, a song which Iggy had actually never played live) during the Post Pop Depression tour, while avoiding the Stooges repertoire.
When a New York Times journalist got interested to cover the upcoming tour, Joshua called Iggy, who immediately booked a very early flight for their first rehearsal. Coincidentally, this happened to be the night David Bowie died, Iggy’s wife woke him up very early in the morning to tell him that David had passed away. ‘That was a big motherfucking day,’ says Iggy, who nevertheless showed up at the rehearsal, ‘we had a magic one,’ says Josh, ‘the best rehearsal ever, after this tragic moment’
‘American Valhalla’ is a collection of some of these crazy moments coming together thanks to the chemistry between Iggy and Joshua, Iggy is always the catalyst fast and crazy. He is constantly funny, ‘we had nice clothes, it’s probably the last time I clean up’, he says…’We made him a vest, he didn’t keep it 2 seconds’ says Josh, he is constantly acting silly, and you get to see plenty of concert footage with Iggy crowd surfing and stage diving, even when the pit is too large for that, he sweats and bleeds for everyone, he is touched, hugged and kissed by every pretty girl. One of the highlights of their short tour has to be their performance at the Royal Albert Hall, and Iggy screaming a hilarious ‘Fuck, Fuck, Fuck’ tirade inside the stiff historic Hall. ‘It feels like success’ he screams before performing ‘Success’. But this feels like a revenge after he told us the story of a ‘smartass’ showing up for an interview and saying with contempt, ‘So, you are gonna play the Royal Albert Hall?’… ‘I got to stay in the dirt,’ screamed Iggy,‘They want to keep me in the dirt!’
During the Q&A with Joshua Homme, director Andreas Neumann and ex-Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones, Homme talked again about overcoming his fear when he accepted the challenge. Taking a chance is always scary, but what else is there if you are true to yourself? What other choice do you have when you are facing the dream of your life. It would have been a sign of cowardice, and Homme is certainly not a wimp. ‘If it’s not perfect it’s okay, as long as it’s honest,’ added Homme still modest till the end. And after all this talk about Iggy Pop and his other collaboration, there was never the impression that Homme was trying to fill Bowie’s big shoes.