Interview

Queens of the Stone Age

Queens of the Stone Age

Monday, 7th February 2011 11:38AM

Queens of the Stone Age are coming to New Zealand for their first headlining tour later this month. UTR caught up with main man Josh Homme to discuss the re-release for their classic album, future plans for the band, and why finding favourite new bands is like Ďfinding a dirty needle in a stack of dirty needlesí.

Hey, howís it going? What are you up to at the moment?

Iím standing in my bedroom, facing the corner, just checking it out.

So, youíre taking a break from touring and recording?

Weíre just actually getting together and starting to write music for the next record.

And youíre about to come here for your first ever headlining tour in NZ?

Yeah, we were going to do this Soundwave Festival in Australia and we had so much fun in New Zealand last time. Plus, we have never headlined there so I demanded that we go to new Zealand cause it just seemed so long overdue

Do you have fond memories of the country?

Yeah I canít wait! I want to go jet-boating in Christchurch and see as many sheep as I possibly can. I want to set a world record.

So, tell me about the re-release of the first album. What prompted it now?

Mostly that it was impossible to get itíd been outa print for so long. Iím not very nostalgic by nature so it wasnít like Ďguys remember the daysí it was more like in the internet age this record should be able to get got you know, I really like this band cheap trick and they were doing shows were they were playing their first three records three nights in a row and so we started talking about Ďwow ok weíll never get a chance to re-elease this thing and what if we just focused on the first record. I donno if that means weíre going to play it exactly start to finish we havenít really decided itís kind of a cool idea

It must be nice to re-visit the origins of the band?

Well yeah Iím just glad that itís not like some bad haircut when I listen to it. Iíve listened to it and I love that record and itís been really fun to try and put myself back in that headspace where I was just obsessed with trying to trance out on guitar.

Tell me about that headspace Ė what else was going on when you were writing that first record?

Well I mean I just remember thinking I hadnít played for about a year and I started writing songs. The first song I wrote was ĎRegular Johní, which is the first song on the album and I remember thinking Ďno-oneís playing this trance rock music that you can dance toí, but thatís primarily because I hadnít heard bands like Can. I thought I could try and do this thing that hadnít really been done, and then I found out it had kind of been done but not very much. You just kind of try and carve your own space I just wanted to start a band that within three seconds of listening people knew what band it was.

So you wanted to create a unique, individual sound?

The hardest trick is to retain things that are always there and change up the rest of it. Itís been really great trying to find new ways to be yourself in a way that people would go ĎOh I know exactly who that is!í

QOTSA has been a band for a long time now. How do you think youíve changed as a musician over the years?

You know, man Iíve always rejoiced in being able to be a musician. It seems such stupid luck that this is what I do. So I have always just enjoyed playing and the work and creating music thatís bouncing around in my head. I like to go for walks, and you walk and you start humming at that pace that youíre walking, and the next thing you know youíre on stage playing your walk with the hum. Itís almost stupid sometimes but itís also so beautiful too. I guess in a lot of way I really appreciate more because before I was chasing this thing I was obsessed with and now Iím caressing this thing Iím obsessed with.

Is music an experience based thing for you then?

Yeah itís like a religion for me you know. Whenever I had trouble and didnít know what to say I could always play my way out of it, and it was so much easier to explain myself than trying to talk about it. You know sometimes English is like writing with a brick - you canít quite make the point you want to. I think people can understand and relate to music where they can misunderstand what youíre saying.

What about QOTSA do you love, compared to your other projects you do?

Queens is my home and I feel like we can play whatever we want to. I donít feel like we have to play in any certain style and I like the freedom of that. I donít care whether itís a love song or a hate song or an ĎI wanna get laidí song, as long as itís honest Iím ready to give it a shot. When everyoneís like Ďwhat type of music is it?í Iím like ĎI donno!í Itís a bit of everything. Thatís such a boring answer in English but hopefully in music speak thatís the best thing ever.

So do you think this re-release of the album signifies a new era for QOTSA?

Honestly I feel like weíre a brand new band because of Mikey (Shuman) and Dean (Fertita) and itís such a badass group of people to be around. It just feels like theyíre bringing this other element thatís about to show up in this new record. People get very precious and they go Ďdonít you ruin my thingí but Iím not as precious. I want something new and I want to listen to as much music as possible because when music is good it gives me the goosebumps.

Do you listen to, and are you inspired by contemporary bands?

Honestly, I donít know if itís the times or just me but it is harder now. I feel like thereís less stuff that I like, and so I end up listening to old stuff. Iím listening all the time because I want to like as much stuff as possible - it would be great if I loved everything! My taste isnít like that and no-bodyís is, so it becomes difficult. Your tastebuds get so particular and you want to try to break free of that. Iím always using my tastebuds - Iím licking everybodys CD, but the fact of the matter is that I feel like if thereís a bunch of great stuff out there I might be missing it. If someone puts out eight or nine songs I need seven or eight of them to be good. People donít care about records anymore, which is fine, but if youíre just going to put out four songs make sure theyíre all awesome.

 

Do you feel like the increase in access to music has made it harder to actually find quality stuff?

Absolutely. Before it was a mystery - who is this band and where are they from? So itís eternally sexy and exciting, whereas now itís like trying to find a dirty needle in a stack of dirty needles. Itís a bit overkill and Iím not trying to turn back the clock, Iím just noticing these things. You know, record stores were cool because I knew where to hang out no matter what town I was in. I could go to a local record store and be like Ďwhereís a cool place to drink?í It was like getting this key to the underground city, so I guess I miss that road map. Itís not even necessarily record stores singularly, but itís that road map that I feel was already their but was torn up for the sake of an information superhighway. YouTube is the only thing thatís bad ass for me about the internet. Do I really fucken need to read reviews about every fucken restaurant in my hometown? Whatever! Letís just go try a fucken restaurant.

Do you think these changes have affected the social significance and cultural relevance of music, then?

Well I guess itís a bit like communism: everyone will play in a band and everyone can release music, when really, not everyone should do that. When Hendrix was around there were 30 rock bands and you needed to be able to rip to be in a band at all. Now, conversely, people who can actually sing use Autotune as well. Autotune was invented because shitty singers needed Autotune. Iím not after something perfect - I want little mistakes and scars and character Ė when Iím looking for something thatís classic, but itís a little tough to do that when youíre listen to Gravel Girdys Bedroom Demo. The interesting part is that I love treasures in the trash, so it may be their demo is the classic track? Itís a conundrum.

Tell me about the new album QOTSA are working on.

Well I think we have a delivery thatís unique. You could give us a song and it goes through our meat grinder and comes out the other end sounding like QOTSA. This delivery that is more important than the songs sometimes because everyone gets the same notes but itís down to how you play them. Weíre kind of playing this weird, dark, James Brown stuff and its really awesome. If Iím not backing a lyric I canít even sing it - it makes me want to vomit - so I always know if I can trust it and let go Iím going in the right direction. I feel like weíre going in a really good direction right now.

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