DVD Review – American Valhalla
Take one legend, along with a legend in the making, add a series of unfortunate events, and you get one of the most unlikely pairings in music today. With 2014/15 not being too kind to Iggy Pop, losing as he did his Stooges bandmates Ron Asheton and Steve Mackay, and thus also bringing The Stooges to an end. Josh Homme also found himself in a place he wasn’t too happy with, feeling helpless over what had happened at the Eagles Of Death Metal show at the Bataclan in Paris at the end of 2015, where his bandmates found themselves luck to escape with their lives.
In the midst of all this, Iggy gets in touch with Josh Homme via a text message, ideas are exchanged and Post Pop Depression becomes the brainchild of all of this. American Valhalla documents the process from the album’s recording to the live performances, starting off with Homme reflecting as he dismounts his motorcycle at Rancho De La Luna studio at Joshua Tree, California. Both Homme and Iggy are interviewed extensively, one to one as well as together.
Iggy is at the point of his career where he’s questioning his relevancy in the industry, with a good example being where he lashes out at the comment “All Iggy wants to do is put his slippers on and sing Jacques Brel”, to which he simply laughs and responds with “Well yeah, what’s wrong with that?”, which is fair enough really. Homme, on the other hand arrives at the studio with a bunch of notes and songs he’d previously had which would work for the project, in addition to the material that Pop and Homme had exchanged via email.
What makes this entire documentary special is the level of detail of the documentation. Iggy has brutal honesty on his side and holds back nothing, and Homme kept a journal of everything that happened during this album, right from the text message he received from Iggy at the start. Homme chokes up a lot when reciting the journal for the documentary.
With the album wrapped up, they’re on the verge of taking the new material to the road when they get hit with a bombshell on the first day of rehearsals; the news of the tragic passing of David Bowie, a life long influence of Homme and a close friend of Iggy, whom he credits for resurrecting him, personally and professionally. It’s actually hard not to watch that scene without getting choked up as the rest of the band rally around Iggy for support on day one of rehearsals.
The documentary finishes with the tour, and although the final date is in Le Grand Rex in Paris, it’s the Royal Albert Hall in London two days beforehand that is the big one for Homme. We’re also treated to footage backstage before some of the shows, and while backstage is usually chillout time before bands take to the stage, these guys are having a blast. Nothing too outrageous, just pre-stage, light hearted fun. Homme concludes by describing the experience as “the coolest thing I’ve ever been allowed to be part of”.
I’ve watched many music documentaries over the last couple of decades. American Valhalla clocks in just a little over 1 hour and 21 minutes, and being honest, I could have watched more of it. You can see how both Iggy and Homme have come off the better after the experience, and that in itself is uplifting. You’ll come back and watch this one again.