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Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age)

Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age)

Interviewed by
Martyn Pepperell
Monday 3rd March, 2014 3:29PM

Best known these days as the keyboardist and sometimes guitarist in Josh Homme's monolithic stoner rock ensemble Queens of The Stone Age, American multi-instrumentalist Dean Fertita came up as a musician playing with The Waxwings, Brendan Benson and The Raconteurs before joining Queens of The Stone Age in 2007. Alongside his membership in Queens, Dean also plays in The Dead Weather, Eagles of Death Metal and maintains his own solo project. Several weeks before Queens of The Stone Age's highly anticipated return to New Zealand alongside Nine Inch Nails I spoke with Dean. Friendly, thoughtful and generous, he told me about the relationship between Nine Inch Nails and Queens, how he joined the band, and what it's like to play in. Dean also offered up his thoughts achieving success as a musician later in life.

Hey Dean, how are you?

I'm good man, really good. It's the first day of getting back to touring, so it feels good. I feel at home.

Cool. What is the relationship like between Queens and Nine Inch Nails?

It's really good. Queens and Nails have done touring together in the past, before I was in the band. I don't know Trent very well yet, but we just got to work together on a Grammy performance a few days ago, and it was really great. It was really great to be around those guys and see how they work. I think touring with them will be an incredible experience.

You joined Queens in 2007. Could you describe the conditions under which that came about?

In 2006 I was playing with The Raconteurs. Hutch, who does sound for Queens of The Stone Age was doing sound for us on that tour. When that ended Queens was getting ready to release and tour Era Vulgaris. I was brought into the band through Hutch. I might have been the first person brought into the band through Hutch. It was a very good decision getting Hutch to do sound for The Raconteurs. My life changed completely after that.

Elaborate on this, how did joining Queens change your life as a musician?

Well, it's changed my life in countless ways really. For me as a musician it's all about finding new ways to express yourself creatively. You also learn more about yourself playing with different musicians, so there is that whole side of it as well. A key thing is that these guys have become some of my closest friends and it was that way from the get go. I think within twenty four hours of first playing with them I felt like I had known them forever. Then you have the touring. It's given me an incredible opportunity to play with more people who I obviously respect the hell out of, and can learn from. For me those are probably the biggest and most important ways.

How does playing in Queens differ from the other groups you play in, or doing your own solo stuff?

With Queens my role is a lot simpler. In the Dead Weather I am the primary guitar player, and I do a lot of that in that band. That is one part of who I am as a musician. Then I get to come over here and be in more of a supportive role. In Queens I get to focus on keyboards and piano, which is what I grew up playing as a kid. It reinvigorates me to get back to that. Getting to act in these different ways makes me feel way more complete as a musician.

It must be very healthy as a musician to be able to take the lead in some groups you play in, and follow the lead in others?

I think it really helps your relationships in every scenario. You're not uncomfortable because you're stuck in one role. I love it. I want to be there supporting, and having the other experiences I do makes it a lot easier. It's nice to know you can push yourself and challenge yourself in so many different scenarios, and you don't have to be the same guy in any of them.

Thinking back to playing with The Raconteurs before your joined Queens, how did you think your musical career was going to unfold at the time?

I had no fucking clue. I remember when I got the call from Hutch. At the time I had no idea what I'd even be doing next. He was like, "Hey man, would you like to join Queens?" Of course. Of course I'd fucking like to do that. I'd been so busy playing in bands and trying to do records, so I hadn't had time to think about the future beyond what I had coming up next. I think I had been conditioned to think of everything as temporary as my mindset. You just don't really know what your next thing is going to be, or how long it is going to last.

Not to age you too much here, but I understand you were in your mid thirties when you joined Queens. I think that is awesome, because it is so great to see people hit the international stage when they are more experienced. I feel like people who come through later in life tend to last better, and appreciate it all a lot more.

Of course, you can't appreciate it more than when you've worked towards something your whole life, along the way categorizing it as something you don't really have expectations for. You don't plan for it to turn into anything bigger, then you get the opportunity and it actually becomes bigger than you could have ever imagined. It becomes a career, and that is mind-blowing. You have respect for the process. You have respect for what everybody else is going through. You have a better idea of what it takes. For me it came at the perfect time. I don't know if I would have survived it as easily if I was younger.


Here's Dean with Queens performing their classic tune 'Little Sister' live on Letterman last year...

Queens of The Stone Age + Nine Inch Nails New Zealand Tour

Wednesday 19th March, Vector Arena, Auckland
Thursday 20th March, TSB Bank Arena, Wellington
Saturday 22nd March, CBS Canterbury Arena, Christchurch

Tickets available from Ticketmaster in Auckland and Tickektek in Wellington and Christchurch.

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