Queens Of The Stone Age
Rampant personnel changes are usually a sign a group's best days are behind them as original members either abandon ship over creative differences or seek other, better opportunities. Few groups make consistent personnel changes their chief operating procedure. One group that has successfully shifted members, around guitarist/singer Josh Homme, is Queens Of The Stone Age.
Following the '95 demise of his band Kyuss, Homme began recording with a number of Seattle based musicians including Soundgarden's Matt Cameron and Dinosaur Jr.'s Mike Johnson. This loose collection released a number of EPs as Gamma Ray. Homme then reunited with ex-Kyuss drummer Alfredo Hernandez in '98 for the Queens Of The Stone Age's self-titled debut. That success led to the addition of yet another ex-Kyuss member, bassist Nick Oliveri. Also jumping on board was guitarist/keyboardist Dave Catching. In the meantime, Homme continued his loose knit collaborations with other musicians releasing the "Desert Sessions."
'00 saw the release of the group's second album "R" which was followed by a heavy tour schedule. The upshot was Hernandez bailed, replaced by Gene Troutman and Nicky Lucero. The group performed at Brazil's "Rock In Rio" festival where Oliveri was busted for performing nude. Must have been a very hot night. Homme and Oliveri also launched another edition of the "Desert Sessions."
Here's where it pays to have famous fans. Ex-Nirvana drummer and lead Foo Fighter, David Grohl was very vocal in his appreciation of the Queens. This led to an invitation to record with the group and go on tour. Putting the Foo Fighters temporarily on hold, Grohl signed on. "Songs For The Deaf" arrived in '02. The tour line-up now included former Screaming Trees' vocalist Mark Lanegan and A Perfect Circle guitarist/keyboardist Troy Van Leeuwen.
Homme and Oliveri also wrote the music for the film "The Dangerous Lives of Alter Boys" and started a new group, Headband, with Twiggy Ramirez, formerly of Marilyn Manson, and singer Casey Chaos.
A short time later, Oliveri was dismissed for being physically abusive to his girlfriend. In a subsequent radio interview, Homme stated that despite warnings Oliveri's behavior could put the band in jeopardy. It was a risk he didn't want to take.
Seven years down the road ('11), Oliveri was arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence. When a SWAT team finally entered the home, after four hour standoff, drugs and a loaded rifle were found. Oliveri was arrested and faced up to fifteen years in prison.
"Mr. Oliveri agreed to plead to one count of possession of cocaine and a dismissal of the remaining six felony counts," stated Oliveri's lawyer. "Nick faces several years of probation and will perform community service as instructed by the court. When he completes the probation period, the incident will be removed from his record."
The Homme led Queens released "Lullabies To Paralyze" in '05. Later in the year, "Over The Years And Through The Woods," a live CD/DVD, dropped. Prior to the London shows that comprised the DVD Homme underwent knee surgery. But he wanted to do the concerts because the group had already nixed five previous London appearances. "I took enough Vicodin to kill a small child," said Homme. "I didn't want to cancel again."
Homme's daily drive through Hollywood inspired QOTSA's fifth studio album, "Era Vulgaris." ("Songs For The Deaf" originated from a tedious drive through the SoCal desert). "It sounds like 'the Vulgar Era', which I like, because that sounds like something that I would like to be part of," Homme commented in an interview.
A couple tracks had a life prior to "Era Vulgaris." "Into The Hollow" was originally performed by Homme as part of the 5:15ers, and "Make It Wit Chu" came from the "Desert Sessions." But the big news was the Strokes' Julian Casablancas' work on the single "Sick, Sick, Sick." He played synth guitar and sang. Also, former bandmate Lanegan contributed backing vocals on "River In The Road." But what would have been the title track, recorded with Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor was omitted from the album and released separately.
During the summer of '12, QOTSA announced they had started recording another album. Meanwhile, Grohl stated his band, Foo Fighters, was going on hiatus. Grohl mentioned that he would like to pursue new projects but his next effort was not exactly new.
When Homme mentioned in a radio interview that drummer Joey Castillo had left the group Grohl signed on for the album. Grohl's return was not the only one. Reznor and Oliveri, ousted from QOTSA in '04, also contributed to the set.
That wasn't all. Queens Of The Stone Age revealed that Lanegan, who appeared on three previous QOTSA albums, had participated in the sessions. A tweet from the band simply stated: "Lanegan came by. He didn't say much, but he sang good."
QOTSA unfurled their sixth studio effort "...Like Clockwork" in '13. Produced by the group, it was the first QOTSA album to feature full contributions from bassist Michael Shuman and keyboardist/guitarist Dean Fertita. Both joined in '07 for the tour in support of "Era Vulgaris." Also, Grohl returned on drums and there were guest appearances by Elton John, Lanegan, Reznor and Oliveri.
"...Like Clockwork" debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200. Selling 91,000 in its first week, the album pushed Daft Punk's "Random Access Memories" to #2. But on the iTunes album chart QOTSA was second to Daft Punk.
Oliveri stayed on the radar rolling out "N.O. Hits At All Vol. 1." "This record is the Volume One of a series of compilations in which I recorded the vocals," said Oliveri of the '17 release. "Bands that I like and bands that like my singing voice enough to have asked me to 'guest vocal' on a song for their records.
1998 Queens Of The Stone Age
2000 Rated R
2002 Songs For The Deaf
2005 Lullabies To Paralyze
2007 Era Vulgaris
2013 ...Like Clockwork
"Songs For The Deaf" is an excellent set but "Rated R" tops it. Written predominately by Homme/Oliveri, the prime cuts are scorching guitar Rocker "Feel Good Hit Of The Summer, " the intriguing "The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret" and the captivating "Better Living Through Chemistry."