|May 23, 2001 - An Interview with Josh Homme
by Aaron Schmidt
This is an interview with Josh Homme, lead singer and guitarist for a band known to the world as Queens Of The Stone Age. I recently caught up with them when they played at the Casbah in the downtown area of San Diego, California. I missed the first attempt at an interview (due to traffic—yeah, right! I’m a lagger) and finally hooked up with them right around the time they were going to perform. Here’s what transpired in the back of their tour bus:
You were in a band called Kyuss, and they were one of my favorite bands growing up. The next thing I knew, you guys had broken up and moved on to other things.
It’s one of those things where you kind of see the end coming, as opposed to letting it taper and start to go down. Instead it’s like, "Let’s blow it up beforehand." It’s better to blow it up while it’s going good than it is to watch it start to sink.
What’s your interpretation of Queens Of The Stone Age?
It’s still heavy-rock music—a little more melodic, robotic, and psychotic. We’re trying to set it up so we can play a new style of music that we like so the spectrum is a little wider. That’s the main focus—we’re still heavy rock, but [also] whatever else that’s good.
I see a big difference between the last album and this one. There are so many different styles of music, it seems you’re making rock fun again.
Someone the other day said they heard the humor in it, and for some reason we thought that was going to get missed. There’s a lot of humor in the records—not silly shit, but us having a good time. There’re a couple of jams in stoner rock that are funny to us.
I really like the melodic songs you break into toward the middle of the CD. It takes a long time to get sick of the album because it’s so diverse.
That’s the idea. Theoretically, how could something be really heavy all the time? Where’s the reference point to prove that it’s heavy? This is something we started realizing toward the end of Kyuss. You can only be heavy if there’s something soft to gauge it against. It doesn’t have to be (singing), "I love you, I gave my love a chicken." It comes back to us playing what we’d like to play. We don’t want to be painted in a corner.
Who are your musical influences?
I think that’s why the record is diverse—we listen to everything from The Cramps, to Johnny Cash, to Discharge, GBH, Black Flag, Björk ... I mean, it’s as scattered as the record is. Some of the only stuff I don’t really like is new-school punk rock and the bulk of the hair metal.
What are your other interests beside music? What are you into when you’re not on tour?
Playing music has become such an overwhelming thing. It’s more about getting your feet back on the ground, chilling, and getting back to reality. Hutch [friend of the band] has a place out in Joshua Tree—he’s always retreating there, and we’re always close behind. I think we just look for any outside pursuit that’ll take us away from music. Music is so focused, its hard to have another hobby that can take up as much time.
You grew up in the desert, right—Palm Springs, California?
Did you ever skate the Nude Bowl?
Oh, yeah! I’ve been there so much, I think that’s why I’ve always had a special connection to the desert scene. The desert scene also has a connection to TransWorld and Thrasher. When we went to throw a party at the nudist colony [the skaters called it the Nude Bowl and everyone else called it the nudist colony] guys were getting photographed for Thrasher while the sun was going down. They’re like, "Fuck yeah!" They already have a generator, so do we, and the party starts.
There’s a connection there. It’s too bad, I heard they filled it with sand. People are digging it out already, though—they’ll do it. I’ve had a lot of good and bad times there, played a lot there. I had friends die up there, people stabbed, and also had some of the most amazing parties. When all the walls were up, it was brilliant. People would sit on walls and in the windows, there would be a fire behind the drummer, and we’d play as loud as the generator would let us go. One time this guy was running around stabbing everyone with a pen knife. Our last show on tour with The Dwarves was at the nudist colony on Halloween. They borrowed all this equipment from another band and then destroyed it all after ten minutes [laughing].
Are you still in contact with the guys who were in Kyuss, like John Garcia who’s now in the band Unida?
Oh, all the time.
Are you going to play on tour with them?
We played a show with them in Houston about a year and a half ago. I’m sure we’ll go on tour with them. I think the only reason we haven’t done it yet is because it’s too conducive to, "Are you going to play some Kyuss shit?" That’s not what really any of the bands want to hear from people who are there at this point. We’re just getting to the point where we hear that less and less. We love Kyuss, but at the same time its like seeing a comedian and saying, "Tell that one joke again."
Who came up with your band name?
It was a joke from our friend Chris Goss who worked on the new record with us. We had this other name, Gamma Ray, and someone threatened to sue me over the name. Chris used to call Kyuss the "Queens Of The Stone Age," and it worked on so many levels. We’re almost trying to eliminate the pissed-off angry dudes who want to hurt everyone at the show. We want it to be guys and girls partying and being mellow. It’s supposed to be fun—not, "Why do I have a bloody f—kin’ nose?" We thought people driving by a marquee and seeing "Queens Of The Stone Age" would make them giggle. People get used to saying it pretty fast.
Have you guys ever surfed?
I have, not as much as I would have liked, and I’m terrible. I’ve only surfed on a longboard because I’m six-four, so even to start out on a gun would be a bitch for me. I went surfing with my friend Matt Longstrenth, and he forgot to tell me a key element—keep your tits off the board. He didn’t even bother to reveal that information to me, so I literally wore my tits away. When I came out I was like, "Why am I bleeding?"
Where do you see the band going in the next five or ten years?
We’re not setting any lofty goals. Our main goal is to try not to do anything stupid to jeopardize the reputation of the band. Just keep busy and keep playing. I feel like if we do that, any lofty side of the goal will take care of itself. We have to assume that we make ourselves happy, and people who like the band will in turn be happy as well.