Queens of the Stone Age rose from the ashes of Kyuss. Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri formed the new band in 1997 and today remain the only original members of QOTSA.
Their creative force works as a collaborative effort for this band but they also allow themselves the freedom to indulge in their side projects. Nick has Mondo Generator and Josh has The Desert Sessions.
These days, QOTSA has somewhat of a revolving line-up. Current members include former A Perfect Circle member Troy van Leeuven and ex-Danzig drummer Joey Castillo. The band also featured fill-in drummer Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) on their most recent album ‘Songs For The Deaf’.
To bring us up to date on the QOTSA story Nick Oliveri and Joey Castillo talked to Tim Cashmere.
Tim Cashmere: “Rated R” put you guys in the public eye and now “Songs for the Deaf” has shot you into practical superstardom. How do you feel about the superstars of for want of a better term “stoner rock”?
Nick Oliveri: I don’t know man, we don’t really look at it that way. We don’t look at it like we got superstar status or something because we just wanted to make this record like we did the last record, like we did the last record. We thought let’s just go make a record that we like. We didn’t know how to make people like us, we were just trying to make music that we liked. I don’t know how that comes into place with the superstardom thing, but I don’t know. I think it’s cool that people are into it, I’m not complaining about that at all. I think it makes it even better than people like it too, but I don’t really know how to answer that.
TC: What did you have in mind when you were making the album?
NO: Just trying to make music that we couldn’t go buy in a store and that wasn’t available to us. That’s what our main focus was.
TC: With all this success, do you find you now have more freedom for the bounty of side projects that plague the band?
NO: I think so. I didn’t do Mondo [Generator] for a few years just because we were so focused on the Queens thing and there wasn’t any time to do it and there wasn’t any drive to do it either. I think it’s important to do other things just to keep this fresh and new and just to know how much you have here. Believe me, we know real fast what we have here when we go and do other things. It’s a good thing! It keeps me fucking happy as hell. You go out and do something else and you’re fighting to get a beer backstage and suddenly you’re in Queens and you’ve got a case and it’s like “Huh? I didn’t ask for even one!” so it’s like things are good here you know? This is what makes us able to do the other things. It makes it possible.
TC: Maybe you should use the Queens status to get more beer for the side projects…
NO: That’s what I’m saying! “Hey Josh might show up tonight dude! Joey’s coming down, Mark might make it and I think Troy said he was coming down so maybe we can get them to do some Queens songs… can I get some more beer? Slash is going to be there, and Axl…”
TC: …and they’re going to reform right there and then?
NO: That’s right, they’ll reform under the Queens of the Stoneage stature.
TC: Just so you can get more beer?
NO: That’s right. Slash is thirsty dude, hook it up!
TC: Mark Lanegan has been on “Rated R” and now he’s been upgraded to the touring band for around a year now, how did he convince you to take him on the road just for a couple of songs?
NO: We upgraded from the old Mark to the sunroof and the leather package seats.
Joey Castillo: We got the fully loaded model now! He actually does about six songs in the set. Each guy does a block, that’s what makes the Queens pretty awesome with three different singers. Obviously having Mark up there is pretty bad-ass.
NO: Having him down here would be cool right now too!
JC: Yeah, but it’s cool. I mean that’s three singers up there man and how many bands do you get to see that and they all kick ass!
NO: Unless it’s a hip hop posse! There hasn’t been a rock band that’s had three singers since Kiss I think and Ace didn’t really do much, Ace did ‘Shock Me’ and that’s about it. I think it’s important to have what we have. I think Mark said it best when he said it’s like the Wu-Tang of rock. You got Ol’ Dirty Bastard, that’s Mark. Yeah, but he said it best, it’s like the Wu-Tang clan of rock, because if anybody asks why is there another voice here? Because it’s another personality. Each person is doing what the other person can’t, so it all makes sense. I can’t sing like Mark, I can’t sing like Josh, but I can sing like me.
TC: So do you ever write a song and take it to Josh (Homme) for example for him to sing?
NO: Songs get written like that all the time with somebody else in mind. It happens. Mainly every time I do something like that Josh goes, “No, you should sing it” and he gets me to try to sing more than scream, which is what happened with ‘Another Love Song’. He said “You should sing this song!” and I said “Alright dude, I’ll try, but I’m not good at it!” ‘Autopilot’ I sang, that was more fuelled towards Josh.
TC: Do you ever fight over who is going to sing?
NO: No, I mean I always go like “Dude I don’t know if I can sing it” and he makes me do it, so there you go. He’s producing it, so I got to try it you know?
TC: He’s the one with the whip?
NO: He’s the one writing on the checks! He signs the checks, I write in the numbers. I say “Hey look over there! Now sign!” and that’s how I get paid! [Laughs]
TC: …and Joey, you’ve been in the band for over a year now, that’s a late welcome, how did you find your way into the band?
JC: That was actually pretty crazy; I’ve always been a fan of the band. I actually did a small tour with them as an opening act with some friends of ours Goatsnake in England, but the way it came about it was just insane, they were still working with a few people just as the record was coming out and Dave [Grohl] left and I just caught wind and foolishly made the call… “Hey let me in!” It was an insane couple of days, I’d jumped on right before the tour started and these guys were all really patient.
TC: Is this now the best band you’ve been in?
JC: Oh absolutely!
TC: Better than Danzig?
JC: Ahhh it’s different. Glenn is Glenn Danzig, he’s awesome and I loved playing with Glenn, but he has ways of doing things that only he understands, but as far as players and originality and everything this is definitely where I want to be. I’ve always been a fan, so it’s even better.
TC: What about the Mondo Generator album? Does that co-exist peacefully with the Desert Sessions?
NO: Yeah totally man! We could do a show together, it’d be great! It’s been co-existing. It’s one of those things, I think it’s a necessary thing for everybody to do their thing and their side projects and hopefully they go as far as they want ’em to you know? It makes this unit stronger to be honest. I think it’s what makes this cool! If you can go do that on the side and make it that cool, then this is really cool! If you can do side shit that’s rad then your real thing must be fucking slamming you know? I just did a tour of a couple of dates in Europe with Mondo…
TC: Is it ever going to come here?
NO: I wanted it to. I was supposed to do this tour with us right here. It was supposed to be the first of three and somehow something fell through and didn’t happen, so maybe next time.
TC: With both of you guys, you seem to have jammed with every rock musician under the sun. Do you think you’ll ever find the perfect band?
NO: I think we have the perfect band. I think we’ve got it! For us personally I’m pretty happy. I don’t see who I want to jam with more. Obviously I want to play with other bands, with other people in other things, but for Queens, I think this is the perfect lineup. I don’t think we need to search any further. We got the band, it’s awesome!
TC: Tell us about the website, www.qotsa.com.
NO: I think it’s a website that has its ups and downs you know? We’ll kind of have some good months in there where we’re like “Wow some cool new news!” and then some months when we’re like “What the hell is this thing even existing for?” It’s weird man! Sometimes it gets the proper attention and sometimes it doesn’t get any attention at all!
TC: Can you guys be contacted through it?
NO: I think… I think through the forum or something. I don’t really know how it works.
TC: Well that’s about all I have for you…
NO: Cheers man! You want some wedges?
TC: I just noticed that wedge has my name on it!
NO: Awesome, tear it up bro!
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