Queens Of The Stone Age is a rock music project of guitarist, songwriter and mastermind Josh Homme. The band's membership includes a rotating cast of musicians both obscure and famous, but the core has always been Homme and bassist Nick Oliveri, both founding members of Kyuss, arguably the best and most influential of the stoner rock bands.
Following the end of Kyuss in late 1995, Josh had spent some time playing guitar with the Screaming Trees, but soon returned to the California desert and began putting together a new band. The initial output included a vinyl single on Man's Ruin Records under the name Gamma Ray, and a split CD with Kyuss – by this time the name had been changed to Queens Of The Stone Age (one of producer Chris Goss' pet names for their former band). The eponymous debut, released on Roadrunner in 1998, brought accolades from the music press and a little radio exposure for the single, "If Only." Two years of touring as a support act for established rock bands followed, and in between tours, Josh Homme began work on the Desert Sessions, his most experimental project, with a plethora of "guest performers" and supporting players. The creative chaos arising from this series of free-form studio jams would leave a distinct mark on the QOTSA sound.
By 1999 the band were recording their second full-length album, Rated R, for release on Interscope in 2000, with a still ever-changing lineup. The single "The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret" broke the band into rock radio and MTV, and as the band toured behind the new record, playing such festival shows as Ozzfest, Glastonbury and Big Day Out, their offstage recreational habits became legendary. Naturally, the critical buzz around the band grew even stronger, and the Queens popped up on an untold number of best-of-the-year lists before 2000 was out.
With the underground stoner rock scene gaining momentum, QOTSA remained relevant even while shrugging off any such musical pigeonholing, so in 2001 when Dave Grohl announced he was joining the band in the studio to play drums on their next record, the music press hype reached epic proportions. Apart from a few new tracks appearing on compilations, little was heard from the Queens until early 2002, when they took Dave Grohl in tow for a "secret" club tour, auditioning new material from the forthcoming Songs For The Deaf. The album hit the streets on August 27, 2002, having already received plenty of positive writeups from critics and plenty of media push from Interscope. A month or so in, it is already the Queens' highest-selling record so far, with all the makings of a breakout hit.
Musically, the importance of Queens Of The Stone Age lies in their apparent ability to make hard rock do anything they want it to. After Josh Homme's long tenure laying down psychotic desert sludge with Kyuss, his style has branched out, becoming less riff-driven and more focused on trance-like repetition of simple phrases that seldom rise to the level of riffs – what Josh calls "robot rock." It might be pretty boring, except that as a songwriter, Josh is also able to hang complex melodies and rhythms on these simple structures, and even in the lighter moments, the heaviness is always there. Along with Josh's very un-metal voice, this gives the band a faint whiff of early Radiohead (with a much different attitude, of course). Whereas Kyuss was deeply rooted in the 1970s, QOTSA's musical influences seem so varied as to be unrecognizable. Even as a band that resists characterization – especially as stoner rock – many fans cannot help but acknowledge them as the Beatles of that genre, both in stylistic range and in potential mainstream impact.
Major Release Discography:
QOTSA Performers (past and present):
- Josh Homme (Kyuss, Desert Sessions) - guitar, vocals, bass
- Troy van Leeuwen (A Perfect Circle) - guitar, keyboards
- Dave Catching (earthlings?) - guitar, keyboards, percussion, radio
- Brendon McNichol - guitar
- Dean Ween - guitar
- Alain Johannes (Eleven)- guitar, keyboards
- Carlo - bass
- Van Conner - bass
- Nick Oliveri (Kyuss, Desert Sessions, The Dwarves) - bass
- Vic "The Stick" Indrizzo (Masters Of Reality)- drums
- Nick Lucero - drums
- Alfredo Hernandez (Kyuss, Hermano, Orquesta del Desierto) - drums
- Gene Trautmann - drums
- Dave Grohl (Scream, Nirvana, Foo Fighters) - drums
- Gene Trautmann - drums
- Joey Castillo (Danzig) - drums
- Barrett Martin - percussion
- Chris Goss (Masters Of Reality) - piano, bass, percussion, radio
- Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees) - vocals
- Pete Stahl (Goatsnake, earthlings?) - vocals
- Wendy Ray Moan - vocals
- Nick Eldorado - vocals
- Rob Halford (Judas Priest, Fight) - vocals
- C-Minus - radio
- Twiggy Ramirez - radio
- Blag Dahlia - radio
- Casey Chaos - radio
- Molly Maguire - accordion
- Paz Lenchantin (A Perfect Circle) - strings
- Anna Lenchantin - ?
- Natasha Shneider (Eleven) - ?
- John Gove - ?
- Kevin Porter - ?
- Brad Kintscher - ?
- ...and counting.
Queens Of The Stone Age (Roadrunner Records 1998)
- Regular John
- If Only
- Walkin On The Sidewalks
- You Would Know
- How To Handle A Rope
- Hispanic Impressions
- You Can't Quit Me Baby
- Give The Mule What He Wants
- I Was A Teenage Hand Model
Produced by Josh Homme and Joe Barresi. Recorded at Monkey Studios, Palm Springs, California, April 3-April 21, 1998.
Sources: www.qotsa.com, qotsa.plaid-android.net, www.geocities.com/algi_666/ and the liner notes.