QOTSA: What's It Like Being a Band With 3 Guitarists

"There's no room for redundancy, and we won't play something if it doesn't need it."

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QOTSA: What's It Like Being a Band With 3 Guitarists
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Queens of the Stone Age guitarists Troy Van Leeuwen and Dean Fertita talked about being a part of a three-guitar band, telling Guitar World:

"Having three guitar players can be challenging. There's no room for redundancy, and we won't play something if it doesn't need it.

"We arranged these songs [off latest album 'Villains'] with the intention of tracking them as live as possible, and keeping overdubs to a minimum.

"We figured if we can't play a part in the live scenario, it probably doesn't need to be there. That saved us from getting carried away in the studio.

"Another rule of thumb was, the cleaner the tone, the better.

"When Jimmy Page overdubs multiple guitars, like on 'In the Light' by Led Zeppelin, you'll notice each guitar is very clean.

"If there's fuzz, like on 'The Way You Used to Do,' you need to work a little harder to find just the right frequencies, but that can also be fun.

"It's very subtle, but I'm actually playing a 12-string on that song, which helped make the blend."

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Fertita chimed in:

"I really wasn't sure how 'The Way You Used to Do' was going to shake out for me personally.

"It felt like a two-part guitar song, and it didn't really feel like it needed keys. I thought I was going to sit that one out.

"But then as we got into it a little bit more, we realized, 'Oh, there are a couple moments here where three guitars could be really effective.'

"That main riff, for instance. All three guys are playing different voicings in that, to make up the sum-total of how that riff. sounds. Our tones are all just different enough that they find their own space."

The guys were then asked if they see themselves "as having a specific guitar role in the band." Troy replied:

"A lot of what we do stems from Josh and what he brings in. He created the band and gives it his signature.

"The way I see it, I'll either support his part harmonically or juxtapose with the rhythm. But when it comes to live performance, there's a bit more wiggle room. If there's any chance to improvise, Dean and I are all over it."

Fertita said:

"I always just think, if I was writing the song, what would I think would be an important element to add to it. I try to approach my parts from a songwriting point of view."

27 comments sorted by best / new / date

    danye42
    Really wanted to be into this band for years but previous albums never quite hit the right spot for me, been listening to Villains for a bit now and I must say I really enjoy it. 'Feet don't fail me now' my highlight  
    franciscoaguerre
    Have you tried listening to Them Crooked Vultures? Feet don't fail me now and the evil has landed has kind of the same vibe to me that some songs of that album. It sounds a lot like QOTSA but has this Zepp-infused groove that sets it appart. Also Dave Grohl kills it on them drums!
    dewitt
    Villains of Circumstance was the highlight for me, but I am not typically a fan of them either. I also thought their last album was better than this one, though.
    aaronangus
    I feel like Queens is a band that gets better with age. Based off the interviews a lot of hard work went into figuring out what parts would go where in the song. Hopefully they finally get their Grammy this year because this album is solid!
    copperwreck
    While they might evolve and mature, I'm stuck enjoying their self titled and Rated-R the most. Seems like the curse of discovering bands early is that you always want them to sound like they did when both you and the band were young(er).
    Drapion69
    QOTSA: 3 guitarists Foo Fighters: 3 guitarists(since 2010) Josh and Dave are like really good friends is this why they both sound the same?
    Hungry_Hameds
    No. They don't sound the same. You might as well compare Slayer to an answerphone message.
    Drapion69
    dude. you are fucking crazy if you don't think foo fighters sound like QOTSA. at least since one by one
    aaronangus
    Foo Fighters didn't get three guitarists till after Echoes Silence Patience and Grace, two albums after one by one. Queens of the Stone Age didn't even have the option of three guitarists till Era Vulgaris but they didn't really use the three guitar option till Like Clockwork. One By One was recorded as a four piece and at that time Songs of the Deaf was done as a three piece (unless you count Mark Lanegan as a member but he doesn't play guitar). I think it's you who may be crazy if you think the two bands sound a like. Time to develop your music theory
    Monkedelic
    Foo Fighters and QOTSA sound nothing like each other. They really don't. Not musically, not vocally. Are you sure you don't mean someone else?
    Anjohl
    At least Homm-Eh writes interesting music. The food fighters are just Diet Nickelback.
    imbatman1312
    If you're reffering to the similarities between "Sick Sick Sick"
    and "All My Life"
      I understand. That is the one similarity though.
    Monkedelic
    Just saw QOTSA here in St. Paul on Saturday Night. They played a phenomenal set... balances out the new the old and the requisite "hits" very nicely for fans like myself who are into all of their albums. Couldn't be much happier in that regard. My only complaint is that the sound was atrocious at times... and I'm pretty sure it was stemming from whatever fuzz or distortion effect was being used on the bass. When the bass was fuzzy, there was just an onslaught of white noise in the mix that made it hard to delineate the bass or any of the guitars, which is too bad... cuz that's kind of what they're all about for me... the psychedelic intricacies.
    Wiencon
    Two guitars was always ideal for Qotsa, I don't find the third adding any quality to their music
    Anjohl
    It's funny hearing these guys pretend anyone other than the Hom-Eh has any say in songwriting/arrangements.
    Eifler121
    Whenever a band has a primary songwriter, you can bet the arrangements are done as a band. Unless it's like Billy Corgan, who records every part, and the band doesn't rehearse new material before the album is recorded, the band has something to add.
    Anjohl
    Except in this case, it's Hom-Eh's rodeo, everyone else is just a hired gun.
    TheMysticalBard
    Mandroud Echostar is a band that really knows how to incorporate and utilize the potential of 3 guitarists