Q&A

Josh Homme

Classic Rock - - Contents - Words: Mar­cel An­ders

“You haven’t lived un­til you’ve been in the room with eight tubas.” This and more rev­e­la­tions from the QOTSA main­man.

Over the past cou­ple of years, Cal­i­for­nia’s desert rock dar­ling Josh Homme has be­come al­most as widely known for his pro­duc­tion work (Iggy’s 2016 al­bum Post Pop De­pres­sion owed much of its sound to Homme’s in­put) as for his day job fronting Queens Of The Stone Age. Still, for a man who’s spent much of his 30-odd-year ca­reer mov­ing from project to project (Kyuss, Them Crooked Vul­tures, Eagles Of Death Metal…), the propen­sity for new ad­ven­tures is hardly sur­pris­ing. He even guested on a Lady Gaga sin­gle, Per­fect Il­lu­sion, last year. Most re­cently he’s made a new QOTSA al­bum, Vil­lains, pro­duced by Mark Ron­son af­ter he fell in love with Ron­son’s mega-hit Up­town Funk.

We caught up with Homme on a sunny day in Munich.

There were a lot of guests on the pre­vi­ous Queens al­bum, so it’s a bit sur­pris­ing that there are none at all on Vil­lains. Al­though we al­ways have a good time to­gether, the last record [2013’s ...Like Clock­work] was dif­fi­cult to make. So it was kind of like be­ing on the row­boat to hell. It was funny, but it was go­ing to hell. And so the guests re­ally saved us and sort of acted like a break from it all. And then it be­came funny, where it was like: “Well, let’s try… let’s have this.” It was so many peo­ple, and I knew that they weren’t go­ing to over-im­pact on what we’d done, be­cause that de­feats the pur­pose. There was no need for any­body this time.

Did you talk to Dave Grohl about that? The new Foo Fight­ers’ al­bum has quite a few guests on it.

Well, you know, I think we’ve al­ways had a great re­la­tion­ship of twist­ing our own ver­sions of each other here and there. We’ve been friends for so long, and it’s fun to play with peo­ple, in all hon­esty. I mean, I’ve got­ten the lux­ury of col­lab­o­rat­ing with more peo­ple than any­one I know. And I’m re­ally thank­ful, cos I’ve learned so much stuff, and it’s cool – that no­tion of bring­ing the rev­e­la­tion to some­one else, that you can col­lab­o­rate with some­one and it’s not for­ever. Noth­ing is. In fact we’re chas­ing mo­ments here. Do you want to have one? And I’ll change your life for you. And that’d be kind of fool­ish to turn down, when the en­vi­ron­ment’s right.

The en­vi­ron­ment was right with Iggy Pop and Lady Gaga? Well, nor­mally I’m the one of­fer­ing, you know? (laughs) In the last cou­ple years there’s been some cool of­fers, which has been in­ter­est­ing cos I even re­marked about five years ago: “No one ever asks me to do any­thing.” And then I was like: okay, wait, that’s not ex­actly true. My man­ager was putting to­gether a full discog­ra­phy of every­thing, and that list was big­ger than I thought. I’m not too nos­tal­gic, so I don’t look back so much.

But work­ing with Iggy must have been a dream come true. Surely he was on your wish list?

Well, I only had one goal on my list, and that was to make a record with Iggy one day, so I don’t have any other – num­ber two is blank and that’s kind of been it. Hon­estly, I was like, in a strange sort of de­pres­sion way: “What do I do?” But you find your way. Could you imag­ine do­ing an­other al­bum with him, or was that a one-off ?

I’d never tell you that any­ways [laughs].

I could ask him.

I know you could. But I think he was very adamant – and I came to un­der­stand why – that this would be his last record. He said he’ll still do stuff or guest over here or there, but the putting every­thing into an al­bum and then pro­mot­ing it, this is the one to end on.

Will you ever re-form Kyuss or join any of its spin-offs?

I don’t want to go back. I can’t go back. I don’t like… I’m not nos­tal­gic. It makes me sad. And for me, that’s not be­ing alive. I know some peo­ple who are able to do that, and some­times I’m en­vi­ous of that, but it doesn’t make me feel good, be­cause it makes me want to run away. But there’s nowhere to run. You can’t run away. Wher­ever you go, there the fuck you are. It’s like: where are you go­ing to go, man? When you have red hair, you learn to either stay or run. And I don’t run, man.

What made you use a string quar­tet for the first time?

I’ve al­ways used horns and masked them as gui­tars all the time. I’m a tuba guy. Be­cause you haven’t lived un­til you’ve been in a room with eight tubas.

Your up­com­ing tour will take place in huge venues like Madi­son Square Gar­den, The O2…

I know. I’ve tried to avoid it for years, trust me [laughs].

Does that mean you have to come up with a proper show?

All I can of­fer you is the same – this who we are. We played a fes­ti­val yes­ter­day with Eagles Of Death Metal, Queens and Iggy. And Jesse [Hughes] is such an amaz­ing front­man, I love watch­ing him. It’s like he was born to do it. And Iggy, there’s no ques­tion. But I’m not. I don’t do what those two guys do. I do what I do. I can’t of­fer any more on that. I’ll do that the most I can. I’ll make each night dif­fer­ent from the night be­fore, but I’m not go­ing to get you chant­ing “Day-o, day-o…”, you know? You’ll have to go some­where else for that.

Does Josh Homme like to dance – at least in pri­vate?

Hell yeah. I love to dance. I mean, I dance when we play any­way. That’s what’s so great about [play­ing live with] Iggy, too – I was free to move. I’m kind of Vel­cro’d to the mic a lot of times, and on the Iggy tour I got to fi­nally just go: “Ah, play gui­tar and move” I love go­ing danc­ing with my brother and his hus­band. It’s just such a free­ing thing. Like Palm Springs, with the gay com­mu­nity there, I feel free danc­ing out in that en­vi­ron­ment. I’ve al­ways liked that. I re­mem­ber when I was a kid, I’d be go­ing to a ju­nior-high dance and go­ing: “Why are you guys stand­ing here? All the girls are on the dance­floor,” and them say­ing: “It’s stupid.” It’s like: “No, you’re just say­ing you’re scared. No one cares. Be a fool, let’s go.”

Vil­lains is out now via Mata­dor.

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