Josh Homme wants you to dance
WITH ALL THAT’S HAPPENED IN THE FOUR YEARS SINCE THEIR LAST ALBUM, YOU MIGHT EXPECT QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE TO PRODUCE A DARK, BROODING FOLLOW-UP. IF SO, YOU’RE IN FOR A SURPRISE.
When Queens of the Stone Age announced they would be working with Mark Ronson on new album, Villains, the internet – as it always does – responded with many an opinion. Granted, the loudest protests came from diehard Queens fans who still define front man Josh Homme by his former heavy-rock outfit, Kyuss. Still, the idea that a producer so fond of big-band brass was working with the stoner rock legends was widely considered sacrilege. But Ronson turned out to be Queens’ secret weapon. Literally – Homme had previously said, “no special guests will feature” on the album, and the producer was hidden from view, right up until its announcement in June. But the signs were there. 2013’s …Like Clockwork saw cameos from Dave Grohl and Elton John, among others, and Homme had only recently joined Ronson for Lady Gaga’s epic single ‘Perfect Illusion’. “I saw how Mark worked and after watching him for about an hour, I knew,” says Homme, whose son introduced him to the “tight and vacuous” groove of ‘Uptown Funk’, a place close to where he wanted to take Queens. “I knew I wanted to change our sound a little bit... He’s very beat-centric, like we are; so there was so much overlap between what he likes and what we like... which I think is part of the cool surprise of it all.” Homme has never cared much for critics when it comes to his band’s distinct evolution. “It’s not about trying to recreate a hit,” he says. “That’s for somebody else. This is about taking a chance that may make all our fans say, ‘I wish you hadn’t done that’.” He co-credits this ‘seize the moment’ headspace to Iggy Pop, who he worked with on the icon’s Post Pop Depression, released last year. “The only thing you really control is letting go. If I make something for myself that I feel is honest and real, then I can deal with the worst criticism in the world. I know not everyone’s gonna like it. But I need to make something I believe in and that my guys believe in – I’d rather fail out of new mistakes than make the old ones, you know?” The result is Villains, a beat-conscious album that – one way or another – just wants to get you moving. “My goal has always been to walk between the raindrops and not get wet” quips Homme. “This record is about just trying to grab people by their shirt collar and say: ‘You can use your feet – to dance or to walk away – but you can’t sleep’.” VILLAINS IS OUT NOW.