|June 1999 - Zero Magazine Interview
This band has been stoking-out my ear holes since I got turned on to their self-titled album, released late last year. In my opinion, this album is one of the best to come out in rock music in years. Full, dry and thick production with quality songs and lot's of surprises. This album has a lot of potential to take the listener a lot of places in one sitting (headphones are essential).
Singer/guitarist/producer Josh Homme has been responsible for some of the heaviest and most innovative sounds to come out of anywhere (let alone California's Palm Desert). Check the Desert Sessions series on Man's Ruin Records for some psychedelic, sonic proof. The series is on its fifth and sixth releases (mid-July) and, according to Man's Ruin Records, "it's a veritable boatload of Rock Superstars, all bending mightily to the oars under the firm, yet gentle lash of Josh ‘Big Sugar’ Homme. The Players: Josh Homme (KYUSS, QOTSA), Blag Dahlia (DWARVES), Nick Oliveri (KYUSS, DWARVES QOTSA), Brant Bjork (FU MANCHU, KYUSS), Barrett Martin (TUATARA, REM, SCREAMING TREES), Mario Lalli (FATSO JETSON, SORT OF QUARTET), Gene Troutman (THE MIRACLE WORKERS), Fred Drake (eARTHLINGS?), Dave Catching (eARTHLINGS?), Adam Maples (SEA HAGS, GUNS 'N ROSES), The Kid (GRANITE PATH), THE ALIENS...and Lord only knows who else."
Their sound is as frothy as pancake batter and as thick as wet cement. It is deceivingly simple, and melodically and rhythmically strong to the bone. With the members' former bands being Kyuss and The Dwarves, the band's true skill is finding a way to push the rock without muscling the more mellow moments, while accepting the fact that they are just a rock n' roll party band. Queens of the Stone Age are now getting airplay on modern rock radio stations, but that hasn't changed their sound and punk attitude. The band's name comes from a desire to rid themselves of the jock/punk mentality associated with some of the lamer elements of their previous band's growing fanbase.
There was a typical rock star scene backstage at Slims going on after their recent show with various San Francisco scensters hanging. Spotted in the underground dressing rooms were Frank Kozik-Man's Ruin Records, Mike La Vella-Gearhead Mag, the Faith No More dudes, etc. We barged and picked a corner to mack on the bands' chips and salsa and swig on Pacifica's until it was time to talk. The band was in “end-of-the-tour-let's-party” mode and were definitely feeling no pain during the course of the interview. It was initially started with bassist Nick “Rex Everything” Oliveri, and drummer Alfredo Hernandez. I finished up with Josh Homme as we were bailing. Also present was Dwarves' guitarist Mike Fox for some additional interjections.
Tonight you guy's rocked pretty hard, how do you feel about the show?
Alfredo Hernandez: We are feeling pretty comfortable playing with each other, ha-ha! We have been living together in close quarters, and we get used to each other.
Nick Oliveri: We spun out in Saskatchewan.
Alfredo Hernandez: We almost died.
N.O.: We had our U-Haul on the back of our van, all of our gear was in it, and we spun out on two inches of black ice, fuckin' did a 360. Go down this embankment.
How is the tour going, are the people picking up on the 'Queens' at all?
AH: The last tour, we had to tour with the Pumpkins, we got to play in front of their crowd. Sixteen-year-old girls, dressed like angels with wings, in our mind. Bring em on!
NO: I would much rather see girls up front then like, a bunch of dudes, jumping off each other, whatever, you know what I mean ...
What about the new drummer I heard about? Is there any truth to the rumor Mike Fox is playing drums now?
AH: Actually, we did the front cover of some magazine, we were playing somewhere and Mike Fox got on the cover of some magazine with us.
When you are making those long drives what kind of shit do you listen to?
AH: GG Allen, Bjork, k.d. Lang, The Dickies' Incredible Shrinking Dickies album.
NO: Devo, Tom Waits, The Dwarves, Hemi ...
When you guys write songs is it collaborative stuff? Like that instrumental, that's bad ass.
NO: That's Josh and Alfredo, I don't even play on the record, man. I don't even play on the record. Don't even play on the record.
Rex, what about those songs you are singing?
NO: We are never gonna do anything with those.(uneasy silence then hearty & robust laughter) we are gonna put those on the back burner, and if they are ever good, we will do something with them. But until they are good ...
AH: We are gonna release it, then re-record it.
NO: We are gonna put it on Shit Sandwich records. On the B-side.I mean, Shit Sandwich records, the A-side is bad enough, right? So if you are on the B-side of a Shit Sandwich single, you are fucked! We are gonna put this on the b-side, because that's where I want them to be.
Do a split single, ya know?
NO: We are gonna do it with the Toilet Teens, we got the call like two days ago actually, on our cell phone (more laughing). The Toilet Teens called and ...
NO: The Toilet Teens from Sweden. Exactly
AH: I thought they were from Norway, Oslo.
They get around, dude.
NO: Oh, thanks man, let's get it on. (?!?-Laughter)
What about the song your pedal steel, keyboard, guitar guy sang?
AH: That's a new song from the Desert Sessions.
AH: That's Mario Lollie, he is an old friend of mine, he's called,”'Millionaire” because he is a millionaire.
NO: He's got fuckin bank, he's got fuckin' coin dude. He funded the whole tour.
AH: We have our bus, and he has his own.
So he is putting full support behind the Queens then?
AH: Well, his band is Fatso Jetson, his full support is behind that. He was like, "Yeah, I want to go on tour with you guy's", and uh, our guy that goes on tour with us normally ... like, we are a three-piece, but we add and subtract people ... and our friend, Dave, who normally does this, is on tour with The EARTHLINGS?
I was stoked tonight when you guy's were jamming out and getting dynamically quiet, when they brought the house volume all the way down. It was just you guys playing stage volume and then they brought the house volume back up...boom!!
AH: Our soundman Hutch is like a member of the band, dude. He plays the soundboard, you know what I mean. He has been with, like, Kyuss, DOA. He was the original soundman for DOA, No Means No, Failure, Taj Mahal and us. We are fortunate to have Hutch.
NO: One of the only Canadians I like, actually. You know what I'm saying, eh?
Do you guy's do any covers at all?
AH: We did a cover tonight called, 'Eccentric Man' by The Groundhogs.
NO: They are English though, so I mean, it's like hard for all of us, because they are English (laughs).
AH: I mean, that's worse than being Canadian, right? (Chuckles).
Hey Alfredo, what are you listening to in those headphones when you play drums?
NO: He listens to different songs. Alfredo is actually smart, and wears fuckin' cans for shooting guns, it isn't headphones. Josh does that too with earplugs, but I'm not that smart. To me I think I'm smarter because I want to hear those frequencies that are high, until I go deaf. When I can't hear anymore, then I definitely won't wear them!
Good Call dude.
NO: When I go see other bands, I wear earplugs, unless it's Motorhead, and it's so loud that I know it's gonna hurt me, so I just take them out. I only wear earplugs when there is like a shitty band. I would never be in a place where there was like, Sugar Ray playing. But if I was; I'd have my earplugs in. I would only be there to get the sixteen-year-old girls, or try. Or fifteen, ok I will go for fourteen, I 'll be honest.
So what's the future looking like?
AH: Lot's of touring, having fun dude, touring. Probably do another record. We are gonna do a couple sound tracks. Drugstore by The Dwarves, Cocaine Blues by Johnny Cash ...
What do you want people to know about your band and music?
Josh Homme: Well, we grew up playing at parties, so that's what I like doing, playing a show that acts like a party. Not trying to like, change the world, you know what I mean? Try to change it for like the next two hours ... I don't think it's rocket science. I trip out on rock, you know? I don't think you're supposed to talk about it, you are suppose to do it. When you talk about it it almost nullifies it.
How about the Desert Sessions?
JH: With the Desert Sessions there is no pre-production, it's just -- go! There are two new singles coming out on Man's Ruin.
Do you record on analog tape?
JH: It's rock ...to me, people can make a cool record, a rock record that sounds good on digital. But that's not what I do.