‘American Valhalla’ Co-Director Captures Iggy Pop and Josh Homme’s Collaboration: ‘All The Stars Were Aligned’
American Valhalla – a new documentary which offers an intensely personal view of the creation of Post Pop Depression, Iggy Pop's acclaimed 2016 collaboration with Queens of the Stone Age frontman Joshua Homme – arrives in U.S. theaters tomorrow night (July 11).
You can get full details on the film and your local screening from the official American Valhalla site. We've got an exclusive clip above – where Homme confesses to a minor theft while marveling at Pop's ability to improve a lyrical line and completely "change the humanity" of a song.
Cinematographer Andreas Neumann, who co-directed American Valhalla with Homme, spoke to us about how the film – his first-ever foray into the world of music documentaries – evolved from a one-day photo shoot in the desert into a year-long trip that took him into the recording studio and across the world with the two rock legends.
"I knew Josh, because our daughters went to the same school in Los Angeles," he explains. "We had a coffee one day in Hollywood somewhere. We always wanted to collaborate on a some project, we didn't know what. But we had this meeting and he said 'hey, I might do an album with Iggy.' Then at some point I got this phone call, months later: 'Come to the desert tomorrow if you can, and let's do some photos.' So I went there and that started the whole thing. We did a fabulous shoot there, it all went down in just two or three hours. It wasn't forced; it was always done with no expectations. My background is definitely not rock and roll. That's typical Josh thinking, just risking, taking a new approach, having a new eye on things is always what he tries to do. He's very open to risk at all times. As he says in the movie, no risk no gain, right?"
According to Neumann, the "on-the-fly nature" of the project, combined with the fact that Post Pop Depression was recorded in secrecy, removed some of the pressures that keep some documentaries from obtaining a clear picture of their subjects.
"This happened so fast. We did the first photo shoot and, at this point, the whole project was still in secret. There was no pressure at all, because Joshua knew he could trust me. I would never give those photos to anyone if he didn't say so. There was no stress; we had a nice dinner together. The next thing [he said was], 'This is so important to me. We should document this.' So we started to film. But there was never pressure to make a documentary; we just documented everything – and if we would have never released it, it would have just been something for us."
In fact, he jokes, "actually nobody should really see it; it's so personal. It became so personal. It's like very close to everybody, and that is only possible if you become part of the gang, kind of. I was very lucky with the way they invited me into their group, and just let me do whatever I want. We never had more than a three-person team. Even Josh, he carries the bags as well, if necessary. It's all real. With technology today, you don't need a big team. So [if you're watching an interview scene], it's only me and him in the room – there's no lighting guy, no sound guy. But it all looks great, and it comes across very naturally and that helps him opens up."
Although Neumann confesses that he's more of a jazz lover, and wasn't originally a fan of either artist's music, he "learned to love" what he calls their "very intellectual, very sophisticated music. In addition, he's now collaborating with Homme on visuals for Queens of the Stone Age's upcoming Villains album. "We're capturing already, let's say. We filmed all the studio work in Los Angeles. Now, we can do rehearsals, and then the first shows are starting. Again, there's no pressure. If something good comes out of it, then we'll release it."
For now, he's eager to share American Valhalla with the world. "I think it was a once-in-a-lifetime moment, all the stars were aligned. It's the first time [Homme] opened up really, and that all happened organically, because of our creative partnership. He's such a pool of creativity. All you have to do is go there and catch some of that and you have something great."
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