|Sept. 2002 - Stylus Magazine: Interview with Nick
by Cam Lindsay
Hailing from somewhere deep in the desert, Texas’ Queens Of The Stone Age has come back and delivered their third and best album yet. Songs For The Deaf is a monster of a record, complete with every heavy riff you would ever want to hear, Dave Grohl on the skins and Mark Lanegan now taking over lead vocals 30% of the time. Nick Oliveri, the band’s wild bassist, explains what you need to know about the best rock band on the planet.
Cam (Stylus): The bio says that the band was out to make the ultimate “Robot Rock” record. Can you explain what “Robot Rock” is?
Nick Oliveri: “Robot Rock” is kind of like Devo, something that repeats itself. Umm, we’re basically a rock ‘n’ roll band, I don’t actually know what “Robot Rock” is to be honest. I know we do have songs like “Leg of Lamb” and “Monsters In The Parasol” that sounds very robotic to me. It’s basically just a repeating of yourself and we’re a rock band…I think we just said “Robot Rock” because we were tired of all of the rock labels.
Stylus: Do you see Rated R and SFTD to be similar, since you describe yourselves as robotic?
Nick Oliveri: No, we tried not to make the same record twice, obviously, so that’s a hard one to answer. I’m sure there is some elements of both records in the new one and a lot of elements and things that we’re just extending on what those two are. We want to try to make records that we can’t describe.
Stylus: I feel that this new record is a lot heavier and darker than your last, which seemed a lot more pop and rock oriented. Was it your plan to try and make things a little heavier?
Nick Oliveri: It’s definitely a lot darker, yeah. To be honest, it was just what was coming out, man. We tried to do other shit like that, something a little bit more in the pop vein, but I think that stuff just came out darker. What was coming out of us was what we wrote down. I don’t know too much about whether Rated R was more poppy or not. Maybe it is, I don’t know.
Stylus: With the new record, you seem to be exploring different styles of music as well. There’s “Mosquiota Song”, a sort of acoustic, medieval sounding ballad and “Just Another Love Song” is kind of soft and bouncy. Was it a conscious effort to try and make the songs stand out from one another?
Nick Oliveri: We wanted each song to have its own feeling, and with three different singers singing…with “Just Another Love Song”, I don’t know if it’s soft, it sounds more garage-y to me. I got divorced, so that was just a tune that came out. It’s just one of those things about shit that’s going down with you and shit like that. One of those things, man.
Stylus: What was the idea behind adding the radio show in between the songs throughout?
Nick Oliveri: I think it was the only thing that could tie together the songs to seem like they belong with each other. The thing is, we did the movie theme on the last record, with Rated R, and it was kind of hard to come across the CD than like a video. Video is like a music record on film, where you can tie in the movie theme, we couldn’t really tie that in as well as we planned. We thought about it and we were like “We’ll do radio this time around, ‘cause it makes sense and you can hear it”. We were basically just making fun of ourselves.
Stylus: The band only really consists of you and Josh. Is that how you like to work?
Nick Oliveri: We like it that way because when it comes to making the damn decisions, there’s only one other person to ask. It’s just easier, man. We’ve been in bands where there’s been five guys and you have to ask everybody and someone says no, every time. So, I can’t do that. If there are people that want to play with us and they’re not into it, we say we’re doing this and this and if that’s not good, to somebody else it will. We just kind of set it up that way. We’ve got a good sound down now, so it’s all cool.
Stylus: Will we be able to see Rob Halford back, on any future QOTSA records?
Nick Oliveri: Rob was kind of a, I don’t want to say fluke. But in a way, he happened to be recording in a studio A and we were in Studio B and we met him in the hallway and kind of jokingly, our producer Chris Goss said, “Hey man would you sing on a song?”, and he went, “Sure.” So, it just kind of happened like that.
Stylus: How do you think Dave Grohl affected the new record?
Nick Oliveri: He affected it…by his name. No, I’m kidding. He played great drums on it. We wanted to play with him and he wanted to play with us, so that’s what it came down to. He’s a great drummer, man. He definitely belongs behind the kit, rather than on the guitar, I think, personally.
Stylus: The press makes you out to be this out of control, drugs & booze obsessed, law-breaking bunch of hedonists. How much of that is true and does this portrayal please or bother the band?
Nick Oliveri: People see what they want to see and if that’s what they want to write about , then fine. If that’s what it is to some, then that’s what it is, I guess. There’s a lot more to us than that, y’know. Everyday, people write different things about us.