Era Vulgaris - which is Latin for Common Era - is the new studio outing for stoner-rock stalwarts Queens Of The Stone Age. Their fifth to date, it sees Josh Homme and co. expanding further upon their now distinct sound. This time by throwing in more grooves and fuzzed out aesthetics to underscore their brooding, twisted brand of rock. Homme has been the only constant in the band’s line-up since day one and has moved on after the much public fall-out with former Queens bassist and long time friend Nick Oliveri in 2004.
When Joe Matera
caught up with Homme
for this interview for Ultimate-Guitar
, Homme had just arrived at his German hotel room and was mid way through another phone conversation. Once that call had finished Homme began immediately our interview, almost without stopping to catch his breath, and only for it - the interview - to be cut short soon after by Homme who mistakenly got his interview schedule confused. And though Homme is renown for giving almost machine gun like replies and brief answers to journalists questions, the interview that follows still managed to cover a wide range of subjects from the new album to Homme’s love affair with vinyl to news of a new impending Eagles of Death Metal album to also his thoughts in the aftermath of Oliveri’s exit.
Ultimate-Guitar: How did the approach to Era Vulgaris differ to any of the previous Queens of the Stone Age records?
Josh Homme: The making of this record was a lot different for us because at the start we didn’t really understand exactly what we were going to actually go and do. And so because of that it involved looking at the making of it in a different way than our previous methods.
Did you feel or place any pressure on yourself during the making of this album largely brought on by the success you achieved with the last Queens of the Stone Age studio outing, Lullabies to Paralyze?
No as one of the main things I really wanted to get right prioritize right away was in making the whole recording process sort of fail, if you know what I mean. That way, I had got it out of the way right away. So then there was no pressure on myself or the record. I could then just look around in the studio and there will be nobody tripped up on the floor or anything which can happen when you’re under pressure. So when some ideas didn’t work it didn’t matter as there were obviously ideas that did work and just sounded great straight off the bat.
Era Vulgaris has a lot more groove to it that you could class it as more of a “dance” record than a stoner rock outing…
|"I think every one of our records should have been a dance record."|
Yeah, yeah absolutely it is more dance-y. Though I think every one of our records should have been a dance record. But I think with this one, it shakes more ass than ever before.
So should we expect then to hear in future that Josh Homme has taken to recording a bubble gum pop record?
You know what? I wouldn’t be against it if there was something I really loved about it. I love to chew bubble gum you know what I mean? But at the same time it hasn’t been one of my main musical priorities so far.
Speaking of dancing, you’ve claimed that a lot of your song ideas for songs come from dancing and walking?
Absolutely! I like to go out on a stroll you know. When I am out and about on the streets walking, I’m hearing the sounds of my own foot steps. And I’m hearing the sounds of car alarms going off or of people backing up in trucks. It can even be listening to somebody driving by in a can. I can also be sitting in my car and listening to the windscreen wipers because they throw of a beat too you know? For me, there is music everywhere I turn and what I feel so lucky about is that I get to notice it all.
When it comes to guitar playing, what is your philosophy that provides the impetus for it?
I look at the guitar as a percussion instrument of sorts, because I think I’ve always been a confused and frustrated drummer.
So do you give expression to that frustration by playing drums rather than guitar in Eagles of Death Metal?
Of course, I’ve played drums on the last two Eagles of Death Metal records which for me required a great lack of mental stimulation. Something that I absolutely love! (laughs) With the Eagles, it is all about taking away the thinking for me and about just sitting on the groove for about an hour or so if need be. And that then becomes the most stimulating thing possible to me.
Now that you’ve done the Queens album and its out, when can we expect another Eagles album?
I can tell you right now that we’re going to record the next Eagles Of Death Metal record like Led Zeppelin did, from town to town. Jesse and an engineer are going to come out on the road with Queens of the Stone Age and before and after each show, for about two weeks, Jesse and I are going to record the new Eagles of Death Metal record. And because we’ll be changing studios and resetting up, it’s going to be a great rock and roll story in the making. As to when you can expect the new album to see the light of day? All I can say is, I have no fuckin’ idea when the album will be released as yet.
Going back to the new Queens album, what guitars did you use for the recording of the album?
On this record I used the brown sort of violin looking BB1200 Maton guitar as well as this MotorAve guitar made by Mark Fuqua. I used that a lot of the time, well to be honest, actually most of the time. I also used this other guitar called a Teisco which is this old Japanese guitar that wishes it was a Fender. It is a very strange guitar and I’ve never seen another one exactly like it. My friend Brian originally picked it up at a garage sale back in Boise, Idaho. I’ve had two guitars come from Idaho and it is very strange that these great guitars can come out of the middle of nowhere.
How did you go about capturing the guitar tones?
|"We're going to record the next Eagles Of Death Metal record like Led Zep did, from town to town."|
I would never tell you that in a million years! I think that what I have always loved is the fact that it has taken me years to really develop something and something that does sound different. So because of that, why would I want to reveal the secret? What I love is the search and so I would never ruin that search for any one else. Or quickly toss my search aside and reveal all, you know. I think what is important is that it should not be so easy for anybody. As I understand it, it is the work and the quest that makes it so good.
On one of the tracks off the album “I’m Designer” you sing: My generation’s for sale/ it’s a steady job”. Many of the tracks are along the same lines and seem to be a discourse on modern society.
Yeah, but it is more of an observation on our society rather than a finger in the face by any means as I love today’s generation. I think this generation that we’re all in is awesome. There is a lot of opportunity and it is not naÃ¯ve and it wants to party and wants to be rewarded. It wants to have a good passionate job and it laughs at things that are ridiculous like the Paris Hiltons of the world.
I hear you are a big vinyl junkie?
Yes I am.
So what drives your passion for buying and collecting vinyl records?
I just like the focus of vinyl where you can listen to it and then obviously you have to go over and turn it over to the other side because it is little more engaging than a CD. A vinyl record is not background music it is foreground music because you have to be involved with it. When it comes to something like that, I need something that will grab me so I can pay attention to it.
What was the most recent vinyl you acquired?
The last piece of vinyl I bought was Grinderman.
In a recent interview with UK’s Kerrang! magazine you stated that after the whole incident with Nick Oliveri went down, all anybody wanted to know about were the hows and whys behind you and Nick’s fall out. Yet nobody cared to ask you the question of how you actually felt firing Nick considering he and you had been friends since childhood.
You know that was the question that I had just wished that I had been asked the whole time as it was the hardest thing I had ever done you know. And I had to do in front of everybody and then I had to try to stay out of the way of listening to everyone’s version of how they thought I did.
2007 © Joe Matera