On the Song Exploder podcast, host Hrishikesh Hirway talks to musicians who take apart their songs and, piece by piece, tell the stories of how they were made. Listen below.

Iggy Pop is a pioneer of punk rock whose legendary career began over 50 years ago. In 2015, he began collaborating on music with Josh Homme, of Queens of the Stone Age. The result was Pop’s 23rd album, Post Pop Depression. In this episode, Pop and Homme break down the song “American Valhalla,” and tell the story of how it was shaped by reverb, opera (in the context of Elmer Fudd mimicking Wagner), and the military. Pop says Homme sent him a “shitty demo labeled ‘Shitty Demo’ that began with this steel drum and vibraphone motif.” That’s an unusual underbelly for a song from a punk idol, but the lyrical examination of whether or not there’s an American equivalent of the Norse realm of Valhalla—now that fits right in with a post Mad Max: Fury Road landscape. Pop also discusses the narrator of the whole album, a military veteran, over 40, “stripped of any specific identity”—a character that jibed with Homme’s memories of growing up near the Twentynine Palms military base in San Bernardino County. If this is truly Iggy Pop’s last record—and he says as much in this episode— then he’s going to Valhalla on a high note.


Download: iTunes.

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Song Exploder: Ride to ‘American Valhalla’ With Iggy Pop and Josh Homme