Saturday, June 23, 2007

Exclusive Q&A: Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme

ROLLINGSTONE.COM: Queens of the Stone Age frontman Joshua Homme is a workaholic. But when his wife - Brody Dalle, formerly of the Distillers, now with a new project called Spinnerette - gave birth to their daughter, Homme put down his guitar and his pen. "I've never had anything so small in my house before," says Homme, 34. "I had two midgets come for a birthday party once, but they were way bigger than she is now." When QOTSA regrouped, they decided to hold a meeting, where they'd inspire one another with books and music. "It was supposed to surprise and engage each other," he reflects, over a dirty martini in a posh Manhattan restaurant. Shockingly, he adds, "everyone brought in books on Crowley, and everyone brought in marching music." The new record is titled Era Vulgaris - "It's what Crowley called this modern age" - and songs like "Run, Pig, Run" were a response to what Homme heard in marching music, particularly the gypsy variety. "Gypsy music is scary, it frightens the townspeople, but it also makes them want to make love under the stars," says Homme, who was pleasantly surprised by Vulgaris' recent four-star rave in RS. "At the same time, it's difficult to interpret, wrapped up in a mysterious vibe. That's the piece of candy I think of as the music we were trying to make."

On Era Vulgaris, you take shots at your generation. "I'm Designer" includes the lines, "My generation's for sale... The thing that's real for us is fortune and fame."
That's one extreme - some people are willing to shed light on things that would have gotten them shamed out of town. Also, I think my generation has a lot of opportunities for people to take their passions a little farther than they've ever had a chance to.

In an artistic sense?
In a world sense, too. If we all gave enough of a shit, we can do whatever we want. Nothing is more inspiring than feeling like you're a part of the flock, but being led by a moron. So if you go, "God, I could do this better," then eventually someone will step up and say, "Fuck it, I'm going to do this better."

The albums opening lines - "You have a question?/Please don't ask it/It puts the lotion in the basket" - are brilliant and hilarious.
I think "Silence of the Lambs is a dark comedy, for some reason. "It rubs the lotion on its skin, it does this whenever it's told." That and American Psycho - there's an undercurrent of black comedy that's just ridiculous. And that sort of defines this record. Obviously, I'm a smart ass.

Your sense of humor gets lost on a lot of listeners.
I think so. A lot of times what I say can be misconstrued as a cruel joke, but it's not. Most of the time, I'm the bonehead that I make fun of. I like to have a good time. I don't take myself that seriously.

Trent Reznor and Julian Casablancas sing on the record. Why them?

Musicians are like little children - they want to play together. I got to know Julian when last year when the Eagles of Death Metal were opening for the Strokes, and I've always been a huge Strokes fan. Their first record and the first Queens record have a lot in common: they're driving music, they're angular, and both were recorded dry. Also, both his fans and our friends might be dismayed, confused or even angered by us teaming up that that's enough reason to do it in the first place. The same goes for Trent. [pause] I remember getting car sick on the winding trip up to his house in the Hollywood Hills.

The same thing happened to me going to Billy Idol's house once!

No way! We just did a cover of "White Wedding," for a b-side, and it's badass. Billy Idol's one of the only people that's played in the desert, and I love him for that. It was when I was thirteen, and I was totally grounded and I couldn't go. I had alcohol at school - I was totally framed. My friends told me about it - they rubbed it in until they pushed it in. And he slept with one of my friends' sisters, no bullshit.

You are six-foot-five, yet you don't dwarf anybody in the band.

We used to have a height requirement. Seriously. It isn't like Dio's band, where there was Keebler Elf magic going on. We have more of a Harlem Globetrotters feel to us.

Your wife is working on her new project, Spinnerette. So, do you guys wake up, then head off to work in different studios?
Yeah. While the Queens were making this record, I heard some of the stuff she's been working on. I was like - lovingly - "You bitch!", because she had all these huge hooks and melodies. It made me write better riffs. Maybe I can talk her into playing together.

You could have a family band someday, with your young daughter Camille.

Yeah, like a little Clampett family thing. My daughter will be like Wolfgang [Van Halen]. So, first we'll hire Michael Anthony, then we'll throw him out of the band, and replace him with my Wolfgang.

With your daughter, are you behaving healthier? Like, you told me a while back that you were quitting the cigs.
I quit for three or four hours. I love balance. And I love being in the center, because then you can go to extremes and always come back to the middle. And I don't respond to rhetoric. Alcohol is legal, but pot isn't? Have you ever seen anyone get into a dangerous, low speed collision? Or a pot fight - other than fighting over Fritos in a 7-11? It's about striking the balance. I love to go off, it feels good. I jump on and off the wagon, but sometimes you have to get off the wagon just to fix the wheel, y'know?

You included "I Wanna Make It Wit Chu", from one of your "Desert Sessions" compilations, on "Vulgaris." Why?
Because it's the best song I've ever been associated with that's about screwing.

It's going to be the summer sex jam, for sure.
Wear a condom.



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