|Jan. 23, 2003 - Melbourne Herald Sun: Kings for the Day
by Neala Johnson
Josh Homme plans on having a big day out, writes Neala Johnson
Twenty or so years ago, when a young Josh Homme sat watching The Wizard of Oz, the budding rocker didn’t dream of the Tin Man or ‘fuckin’ Dorothy’.
Instead, he wanted to be ‘Oz behind the curtains’, pulling all the strings.
Now – aged 29 and raising rock hell as guitarist and vocalist for Queens of the Stone Age (QOTSA) – the more Homme tastes of Dorothy’s limelight, the more he’d rather keep the curtains down.
‘It’s cool that people like it and are buying it,’ he says of QOTSA’s music, ‘but I like the making of it. Sometimes people have an expectation of what I’m supposed to be or do, but I don’t give a fuck what that is. It makes for some interesting situations,’ he laughs.
Homme and his former Kyuss bandmate, bassist Nick Oliveri, formed QOTSA in 1997 as a vehicle to break free of any genre shackles. But when their 2000 album Rated R saw them leak into the mainstream, the dollar signs sprang up in record company folk’s eyes. Soon they were whispering promises of fame and fortune in Homme’s ear, and offering their two cents on how the band could make their new album, Songs For The Deaf, a commercial breakthrough.
‘We’ve never had anyone want to stick their thumb in it before,’ Homme says. ‘They talk to us as though we’re the biggest band in the world was what we’re trying to do. I just say, ‘you don’t get it, and that’s fine. This is what we do, and you can either help us or fuck off’. Because bigger isn’t better, bigger’s just bigger. Better’s better. I’d rather make good tunes.
Naturally, QOTSA got their own way on Songs For The Deaf, and results speak for themselves. One track from the electric hard rock set – the swinging and stuttering single No One Knows – has even been nominated for a Grammy (‘Thank you for the respect,’ Homme says, ‘but we’re playing that night somewhere else’).
Foo Fighter Dave Grohl drummed on the album, but has been replaced on tour by Joey Castillo. The band’s 2003 line up is rounded out by ex-Screaming Trees singer Mark Lanegan and A Perfect Circle guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen.
And their collective aim is to have nothing less than a good time all the time – something crowds forgot when QOTSA played the Big Day Out in 2001.
‘What was bad was that someone died; what was good is that Limp Bizkit left,’ Homme says of the tour. ‘It was a reminder to everyone they’re here to have a good time, not to be a dick. And that you should want to bounce off the person next to you, not push ‘em down to the ground.
‘We don’t have assholes like that in our audience, and if we see a bunch of guys taking up the best seats in the house by trying to rub up against each other, my thing is: ‘For God’s sake, don’t knock the girls over – buy ‘em a drink! Have you ever talked to one?’ ‘ he laughs.
‘I love movement and dancing and jumping around and displays of affection. But anything that’s actual violence, it makes me wanna kick their ass – which doesn’t make sense, but there you go.’
Homme takes pride in QOTSA’s dark, heavy and danceable groove.
‘Good rock ‘n’ roll hits you in the crotch first, and in the head last. And I love to go dancing, so I don’t want to not do it when it’s time for us to play.’
And he’ll readily admit that his own guitar playing stems not from his heart or his head, but from his crotch.
‘It does. We like the crotch, that’s where I’m always after. Why is that?’ he smiles.
‘Men are so predictable.’
Songs For The Deaf (Universal) out now.
Queens of the Stone Age, Big Day Out, Royal Melbourne Showgrounds, Mon 27/1, $93.
The Palace, Tues 28/1, sold out.
Big thanks to Lucie for typing this one up!