- Queens of the Stone Age
Queens of the Stone Age
Left to right: Josh Homme, Dean Fertita and Michael Shuman performing at the Eurockéennes festival, July 2007
Background information Origin Palm Desert, California, United States Genres Hard rock, desert rock, psychedelic rock, stoner rock Years active 1996–present Labels MCA Music, Inc., Interscope Associated acts Eagles of Death Metal, Fififf Teeners, Kyuss, Mondo Generator, Sweethead, The Dead Weather, The Desert Sessions, Them Crooked Vultures Website qotsa.com Members Josh Homme
Troy Van Leeuwen
Past members see Queens of the Stone Age contributors
Queens of the Stone Age is an American rock band from Palm Desert, California, United States, formed in 1997. The band's line-up has always included founding member Josh Homme (lead vocals, guitar), with the current line-up including longtime members Troy Van Leeuwen (guitar, backing vocals) and Joey Castillo (drums, percussion), alongside Michael Shuman (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Dean Fertita (keyboards, guitar, lap steel).
Formed after the dissolution of Homme's previous band, Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age developed a style of riff-oriented, heavy rock music. Their sound has since evolved to incorporate a variety of different styles and influences, including working with ZZ Top member Billy Gibbons and steady contributor Mark Lanegan, both of whom have contributed from genres such as blues and grunge respectively.
Early career (1996–1999)
Queens of the Stone Age began with Josh Homme in 1996. After the breakup of Kyuss in 1995, Homme had briefly joined The Screaming Trees as a touring guitarist, before deciding to form a new band of his own. Originally naming his new project 'Gamma Ray', Homme was forced to change the name in 1997, as German power metal band Gamma Ray was threatening to sue:
“ When we were making a record in 1992, under the band Kyuss, our producer Chris Goss, he would joke and say "You guys are like the queens of the stone age." The band was originally called Gamma Ray, but we got threatened with a lawsuit because someone else had it. So we were Queens of the Stone Age. ”
On why the band chose the name 'Queens of the Stone Age' rather than 'Kings of the Stone Age':
“ Kings would be too macho. The Kings of the Stone Age wear armor and have axes and wrestle. The Queens of the Stone Age hang out with the Kings of the Stone Age's girlfriends when they wrestle, and also it was a name given to us by Chris Goss. He gave us the name Queens of the Stone Age. Rock should be heavy enough for the boys and sweet enough for the girls. That way everyone's happy and it's more of a party. Kings of the Stone Age is too lopsided. ”
The band's first release was Gamma Ray, a two-track EP featuring the songs "Born to Hula" and "If Only Everything" (which would later appear on their self titled debut as 'If Only'), released in January 1996, featuring Joshua Homme (Kyuss), Matt Cameron (Soundgarden and Pearl Jam), Van Conner (Screaming Trees) and John McBain (Monster Magnet). The band's first live appearance was probably November 20, 1997, at OK Hotel in Seattle, Washington. In December of the same year, the band released a split EP, Kyuss/Queens of the Stone Age, which was the first official release by the band under the name Queens of the Stone Age, and featured three tracks from the Gamma Ray sessions as well as three Kyuss tracks recorded in 1995 just prior to their break-up.
The band released their self-titled debut, Queens of the Stone Age (1998) on Loose Groove records (the album was also released on vinyl by Man's Ruin Records), which was recorded with Homme handling both guitar- and bass guitar-playing duties (though basswork is credited to Homme's alter-ego, Carlo Von Sexron), Alfredo Hernández on the drums, and included several other instrumental and vocal contributions by Chris Goss and Hutch. Homme reportedly asked Screaming Trees' vocalist Mark Lanegan to appear on the record, but he was unable to due to other commitments. Soon after the recording sessions were finished for the album, former Kyuss bassist Nick Oliveri joined and touring commenced. Consisting entirely of ex-Kyuss members, this is widely regarded as QOTSA's original lineup. Guitarist Dave Catching joined shortly after. A recording of a phone message which plays the voice of Oliveri stating his decision to join the band can be heard at the end of the album's final song, "I Was a Teenage Hand Model". From this point forward, the band's line-up would change frequently. By the time their second album was being recorded, Hernández was no longer in the band.
Rated R (1999–2001)
2000's Rated R featured myriad musicians familiar with Homme and Oliveri's work and "crew" of sorts: among others, drummers Nick Lucero and Gene Trautmann, guitarists Dave Catching, Brendon McNichol, and Chris Goss contributed, and even Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford, recording next door, stepped in for a guest spot on "Feel Good Hit of the Summer". The album garnered positive reviews and received a lot more attention than their debut, despite the fact that the lyrics to "Feel Good Hit of the Summer" were deemed by mega-retailer Wal-Mart to promote drug use, almost causing the record to get pulled from store shelves. The success of the record also earned the band notable opening slots with The Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters, Hole, and a place at Ozzfest 2000. It was during this time that Homme stated:
“ There's a robotic element to our albums, like the repetition of riffs. We also wanted to do a record that had a lot of dynamic range. We wanted to set it up in this band so we could play anything. We don't want to get roped in by our own music. If anyone has a good song (regardless of style) we should be able to play it. ”
—Homme, Interview with thefade.net
During the 2001 Rock in Rio show, bassist Nick Oliveri was famously arrested after performing on stage naked, with only his bass guitar covering his dangling genitals. In an interview he later said: "Whoa, people in Carnival here dance naked why can't I do the same?" Following his work on the album, former Screaming Trees vocalist Mark Lanegan joined the band as a full-time member, a position he held until late-2005.
Towards the end of the Rated R tour, the band's performance at the 2001 Rock am Ring festival in Germany was, according to Homme, "the worst show we've ever played and it was in front of 40,000 people." The band decided to tattoo themselves with the starting time of the performance, "Freitag 4.15":
“ Me, Mark [Lanegan], Josh [Homme] and Hutch, our soundman, have the same tattoo, it's from Rock am Ring festival. The time we had to play was 4.15 in the afternoon and it was just a terrible show. It sucked, it was horrible. That's why I tattooed it on my ribs, where it would hurt, so I'd never forget. ”
—Oliveri, interview with Daredevil Magazine (2005)
Songs for the Deaf (2001–2004)
Frequent touring for Rated R generated support for the band which grew when Foo Fighters frontman and former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl joined in late 2001/early 2002 to record their third album. Songs for the Deaf was released in August, again featuring Mark Lanegan, as well as adding former A Perfect Circle guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen to the touring line-up following the album's release. Although Songs for the Deaf gained major attention, Grohl returned to his other projects and was replaced on the European leg of the album's supporting tour by former Danzig drummer Joey Castillo, who joined the band full time. Also featured on Songs for the Deaf for the final track Mosquito Song were former A Perfect Circle bassist Paz Lenchantin (on viola and piano) and Dean Ween on guitar.
Songs for the Deaf was a critical and commercial success and its popularity peaked when the album reached gold status in 2003, with sales peaking at over 900,000 copies. The singles "No One Knows" and "Go with the Flow" became hits on radio and MTV, with the former voted Triple J radio's number 1 song and peaking just outside of the Billboard Top 40. Both "No One Knows" and "Go with the Flow" were also featured on the first iterations of the popular video games Guitar Hero and Rock Band (respectively). "No One Knows" also re-appeared in the compilation title Guitar Hero: Smash Hits as well as the most recent addition to the Rock Band Series, Rock Band 3.
“ This record was supposed to sound bizarre—like lightning in a bottle. We also were extremely fucked up. It even sounds that way to me, like a crazy person. The radio interludes are supposed to be like the drive from L.A. to Joshua Tree, a drive that makes you feel like you’re letting go—more David Lynch with every mile. ”
—Homme, interview with jr.com, 
Constant touring continued, culminating in a string of headline dates in Australia in January 2004, after which Oliveri was fired from the band by Homme for what was said to be disrespect of the group's fans and excessive partying. In July 2005 however, Homme claimed in a BBC Radio 1 interview that Oliveri was fired when Homme had become convinced that he had been physically abusive to his (Oliveri's) girlfriend. Homme said, "A couple years ago, I spoke to Nick about a rumor I heard. I said, 'If I ever find out that this is true, I can't know you, man.'" Oliveri countered in the press that the band had been "poisoned by hunger for power" and that the band without him was "Queens Lite"; later Oliveri softened his opinion and said, "My relationship with Josh is good. The new Queens record kicks ass." Josh and Nick reportedly are still friends and as of October 2006, Oliveri remains interested in rejoining the band.
Lullabies to Paralyze (2004–2006)
In 2005, Homme, along with Eleven multi-instrumentalist Alain Johannes and remaining band members Van Leeuwen and Castillo recorded the Queens' fourth studio album, Lullabies to Paralyze, a title taken from a lyric in "Mosquito Song" from their previous album.
The release featured the appearance of several guests, most notably ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons. Despite Lanegan reportedly turning down an invitation to remain with the band, he recorded vocals on new tracks (notably the solo vocalist on the opening track This Lullaby) and appeared with the band on the supporting tour as scheduling as his health permitted. It had been rumored that Homme fired Lanegan; however, this was subsequently refuted:
“ Basically, if there was a negative rumor that someone brought up to me I would just encourage it... like when someone was saying: Well, Mark got fired, Lanegan, you know. And I was like: Yeah, Mark is fired, too, yeah. But he was just touring his own solo record, you know. ”
Lullabies to Paralyze was leaked onto the internet in February 2005 and was aired by Triple J radio in Australia on March 3, 2005 as an unsubstantiated 'World Premiere'. Lullabies was then officially released on Tuesday, March 22, 2005 in the USA, debuting in the number 5 slot on the Billboard Music Chart, the greatest initial success of any Queens record to date.
On May 14, 2005, the group was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live, hosted by Will Ferrell. One of Ferrell's popular Saturday Night Live characters, fictional Blue Öyster Cult cowbellist Gene Frenkle, made a re-appearance on the show, playing with the Queens on their first song of the night, "Little Sister". Frenkle played the song's wood block part using a cowbell along with the band, drawing much applause, and creating a bit of pop culture as a result of the skit.
On November 22, 2005, the band released a live album/DVD set called Over the Years and Through the Woods, featuring a live concert filmed in London, England, and bonus features which included rare videos of songs from 1998 to 2005.
In fall of 2005, the group supported Nine Inch Nails on their North American tour of With Teeth along with Autolux (for the first half of the tour) and Death from Above 1979 (for the second). NIN's guitarist Aaron North appeared as an onstage guest with the Queens for the songs "Born to Hula", "Regular John", "Avon", "Monsters in the Parasol" and "Long, Slow Goodbye" at the Wiltern LG in Los Angeles on December 19 and 20 2005.
Another onstage guest for the December 20 performance was Homme's former Kyuss bandmate John Garcia, the first time that Homme and Garcia had played together since 1997. As a special encore they performed three Kyuss songs: "Thumb", "Hurricane" and "Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop".
Era Vulgaris (2006–2008)
On Valentine's Day 2007, the band's official website announced the new album would be titled Era Vulgaris, and would be released in June. Later in February, teaser videos surfaced showing Homme, Castillo, Van Leeuwen and Johannes in studio. Several sites reported that the album would include many guest vocalists, including Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails, Julian Casablancas from The Strokes, Mark Lanegan, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, and deceased humorist Erma Bombeck. Former Death from Above 1979 bassist Jesse F. Keeler had been expected to play bass on the studio recording of the album, but not to tour; however, due to schedule conflicts he stated he would not be appearing on the album. When questioned in an interview with Ultimate Guitar Archive about the band settling down with one line-up, Homme replied with the following:
“ Does it seem like there will be? I don't know. Long ago I lost the opportunity to be in U2 – where it's the same four guys. I respect that, but at the same time this is the search to try to take advantage of playing with certain people, even if they can't stay, and then there's other times that you need to humble yourself at the altar of music, and if you don't (makes a throat cutting motion). ”
Era Vulgaris was completed in early April 2007 and released June 12, 2007 in the U.S. The tracks "Sick, Sick, Sick" and "3's & 7's" were released as singles in early June. Homme has described the record as "dark, hard, and electrical, sort of like a construction worker". When asked about the vocals on the record, specifically the different style of singing that Homme used, he replied:
“ I wanted to try some shit that was downright embarrassing at first. This record is a grower, not about what isn’t there, but what is. ”
—Josh Homme , Interview with Homme, 2007 
Bassist Michael Shuman (Wires On Fire, Jubilee and Mini Mansions) and keyboardist Dean Fertita (Hello=Fire, The Waxwings, The Dead Weather) took over touring duties from Alain Johannes and Natasha Shneider respectively. In July 2007, Van Leeuwen stated the band had written new material, "still in its infancy" which Homme later suggested might be released as an EP. Following a subsequent interview with Homme, The Globe and Mail reported that the EP "could contain as many as 10 B-sides recorded during the Era Vulgaris sessions." It was since reported however that the EP would not be released due to the record label's unwillingness to put out another QOTSA release at this time.
The band began a North American Tour in 2007 which they named the "Duluth Tour" due to the fact that the band are going to many small towns and cities they have never played before, such as Duluth, Minnesota. The tour has since been extended to other areas, such as the United Kingdom, where the band played more shows than on any of their previous UK tours. The band toured in Australia in late March to early April 2008, on the V festival tour including a string of side shows. Throughout the beginning of May 2008, the band completed the Canadian leg of its touring. Following Natasha Shneider's death from cancer on July 2, 2008, qotsa.com was updated with a memorial message by Homme replacing the normal front page.
On August 16, 2008, Queens of the Stone Age performed a concert in celebration of Natasha Shneider's life at the Henry Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles. They were joined on stage by Alain Johannes, Jack Black and Kyle Gass, Matt Cameron, Brody Dalle, Jesse Hughes, Chris Goss and PJ Harvey, playing a variety of QOTSA and non-QOTSA songs. Proceeds from the concert went to defray the costs associated with Natasha’s illness.
On August 22 and 23 2008, Queens of the Stone Age performed their last shows of their Era Vulgaris tour at the Reading and Leeds Festivals in the UK, and Josh Homme announced in an interview with the BBC and during the show that he would be returning to the studio to work on the next album.
Sixth album (2009–present)
Plans of recording a follow-up to Era Vulgaris had been mentioned since 2008, but recording would not begin until January 2011. In March 2011, Homme stated, "Doing the rehearsals for the first record is really defining the new one. It's been turning the new record into something else. What we were doing was kind of bluesy, and now it's turned into this trancey, broken thing. The robots are back!" According to Homme, the album will be finished by the end of 2011. He explained to BBC Radio 1, "We're going to take our one last break that we would get for a month, come back and do Glastonbury, then immediately jump in the studio. Our record will be done by the end of the year. We have enough songs."
During 2009 and 2010, band members worked on side projects during the down time. Troy Van Leeuwen started up a new band, Sweethead. Joey Castillo played for Eagles of Death Metal on their Heart On tour. Bassist Michael Shuman became the new drummer and singer in the band Mini Mansions, while Dean Fertita became the guitarist/keyboardist for Jack White's side project, The Dead Weather. Josh Homme formed supergroup Them Crooked Vultures with Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones.
In 2010, the band toured and released a two CD deluxe edition of Rated R on August 3, 2010. This edition featured the original CD along with six B-sides and live recordings from the band's Reading performance in 2000.
They released a remastered version of their first self titled album early 2011. They have also played at the Australian festival Soundwave in 2011. The band performed on Conan on April 14. On June 26, 2011 they appeared at the Glastonbury Festival, in Somerset, UK. They also played at Pearl Jam's 20th Anniversary Festival at Alpine Valley in East Troy, WI on September 3 and 4, 2011.
In November 2011, frequent collaborator Alain Johannes stated that he was currently in the studio with the band, stating, "We had a late night with Queens again. [...] Just putting in days, super top secret, but it’s going to be amazing. I’m really excited about it. [...] Once we start the process, it goes to completion. So I can’t say exactly when, but it’s a really good start."
Throughout its career the band has been described as hard rock, alternative rock, art rock, heavy metal, desert rock, psychedelic rock, and several other genres. Queens of the Stone Age have also been labeled as Stoner Rock, but Homme himself rejects the term, saying, "If I had a choice, I would take that away. Stoner rock, to me, is like saying the crucial element is drugs. And I don't believe that that's the case. I'm not an AA guy or anything, but at the same time I don't need any of that to make music." He also often describes the band style as "robot rock" referring to the band's solid and repetitive riffs in the band's song structures. Homme has described the band's self-titled debut album as driving music, angular and recorded dry. Rolling Stone magazine also noted a "connection between American meat-and-potatoes macho rock of the early 1970s, like Blue Cheer and Grand Funk Railroad, and the precision-timing drones in German rock of the same period". The band's following album - Rated R - contained a wider variety of instruments, several recording guests and lead vocals shared by Homme, Oliveri and Lanegan. Homme has also commented that "Our first record announced our sound. This one added that we’re different and weird." The band continued to experiment on their third album Songs for the Deaf, which also featured a line-up including three lead vocalists, many guest appearances and wide range of instrumentation including horn and string sections. Lullabies to Paralyze was in comparison to the band's previous releases a darker record, lacking the band's distinct "driving" sound, much due to the departure of long time member Nick Oliveri, with lyrics inspired by The Brothers Grimm folk and fairy tales. The band also almost exclusively used semi hollow body guitars during the recording of the record. With Era Vulgaris the band continued to evolve their signature sound with more dance-oriented elements and electronic influences, while Homme has currently gone back to being the only vocalist in the band  (except live, when they perform older songs with back-up vocals) and uses more distinct vocal melodies.
- Josh Homme – Founding and only permanent member of the band. He is primarily the band's lead vocalist and rhythm/lead guitarist but has occasionally played bass, keyboards, piano and drums as well as other instruments. (1997–present)
- Troy Van Leeuwen – Has been the band's lead/rhythm guitarist since the "secret tour" that preceded the release of Songs for the Deaf, has also played lap steel guitar, keyboards, piano, bass and provided backing vocals during live performances and subsequent recordings. (2002–present)
- Joey Castillo – Was called in to replace drummer Dave Grohl for the European leg of the Songs for the Deaf tour and has been a member since. (2002–present)
- Michael Shuman - Was recruited to play bass and provide backing vocals after the recording of Era Vulgaris. (2007–present)
- Dean Fertita – Replaced the late Natasha Shneider as the band's third guitarist and backing vocalist, also plays keyboards and various percussion instruments. (2007–present)
- Studio albums
- Queens of the Stone Age (1998)
- Rated R (2000)
- Songs for the Deaf (2002)
- Lullabies to Paralyze (2005)
- Era Vulgaris (2007)
- Grammy awards
Year Nominated work Award Result 2003 "No One Knows" Best Hard Rock Performance Nominated 2004 "Go With the Flow" Nominated 2006 "Little Sister" Nominated 2008 "Sick, Sick, Sick" Nominated
- Palm Desert Scene
- Mondo Generator
- Eagles of Death Metal
- Them Crooked Vultures
- The Dead Weather
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- ^ Paul Tingen RecordingQueens of the Stone Age soundofsound.com Retrieved: 2009-07-20
- ^ Joe Matera Josh Homme: New QOTSA Album 'Shakes More Ass Than Ever Before' ultimate-guitar.com Retrieved: 2009-07-20
- ^ Tal Rosenberg Era Vulgaris review stylusmagazine.com Retrieved: 2009-07-20
Queens of the Stone Age Contributors Studio albums EPs Singles Soundtrack appearancesThe Punisher: The Album Other songs DVDs Related articles
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