The A-Z of Josh Homme
Everything you need to know about the 6'4 Queens Of The Stone Age frontman
Josh Homme is something of a multitasker. You may think tweeting on the loo counts towards 'getting stuff done', but try running the ship for Kyuss, Queens Of The Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures, Eagles Of Death Metal and more, usually at the same time. As the Queens – with Homme on vocals and guitar, backed by Troy Van Leeuwen and Dean Fertita on guitar, Michael Shuman handling bass and Jon Theodore drumming – have hinted at material for a seventh record, we delve into the world of the towering ginger riff lord with this handy A-Z guide.
And it's pronounced Hom-me.
A is for… Autographs
Multiple accounts have Homme pinned as a lovely bloke, spending time signing autographs and taking photos with fans who’ve taken the time to go to a gig, buy the t-shirt and wait in the pissing rain or whatever. What Homme doesn’t take kindly to, however, is scalpers looking to obtain autographs and flog them on eBay. Earlier this year, Homme talked down a bloke previously caught boasting about such profiteering, branding him a “fucking loser.” It was a well-intended outburst, unlike the time he called a fan "a 12-year-old dickless fucking turd" and worse.
B is for… Brody Dalle
Not only is Homme considered a pretty cool motherfucker, he also happens to be married to an equally cool motherfucker: Brody Dalle. The vocalist of now-defunct punk legends The Distillers, Dalle appeared on several Queens Of The Stone Age and Eagles Of Death Metal records before launching a solo career in 2014. Brody’s half-sister, Morgana Robinson, starred in Matt Berry’s Toast Of London, which led to Homme actually turning up in an episode as a love rival to Berry. Phwoar.
C is for… Colony Of Birchmen
Mastodon’s third album, Blood Mountain, was a right old beast. The heaviness was still there but a grander sense of melody was ushered in through the form of stoner-laden sections. Not saying this was influenced by Queens Of The Stone Age, but it was probably influenced by Queens Of The Stone Age. Homme pops up on Colony Of Birchmen, delivering some soothing melodies atop the hyperactively bluesy racket.
D is for… Desert Sessions, The
Described by Homme as “the longest-running mix tape in existence”, The Desert Sessions is a musical collective that went through a tremendous amount of activity from 1997 through 2003, compiling ten volumes of improvisational desert soundscapes. This really is, as Volume One suggests, Instrumental Driving Music For Felons. It’s a soundscape for long-haul nights across stretches of wasteland. It’s loose, bluesy instrumentation that fluctuated over time, seeing in and out members of Marilyn Manson, Kyuss, Dwarves, Nine Inch Nails and more. Homme’s hinted at more, but we’re yet to hear it.
E is for… Eclectic
He collects everything from guns to Japanese guitars. He’s a huge fan of electronic music, a genre so far removed from QOTSA yet a massive influence in terms of its repetition and focus on the hook that isn’t necessarily the chorus.
F is for… Feel Good Hit Of The Summer
Titled in an ironic way similar to Nirvana’s Radio Friendly Unit-Shifter, Feel Good Hit Of The Summer is a hedonistically catchy single from QOTSA’s Rated R that threatened to shrug off the stoner rock label and ruffle a few feathers. It’s insanely infectious and its verses literally just list a load of drugs Homme allegedly took: “Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy, and alcohol”, followed by a cheeky “C-C-C-C-C-cocaine!” through the chorus. It’s not big and it’s not clever, but it’s good enough for Judas Priest’s Rob Halford, who was recording next door and ended up contributing some backing vocals.
G is for… Grohl, Dave
Yes, he’s probably doing a collaboration with Christopher Maloney’s cat next weekend before jetting off to do an album with the Pope or something, but Grohl’s involvement in the Queens was more than a quick fling. Drumming on the massive Songs For The Deaf record, the ex-Nirvana sticksman invited Homme to play guitar on Foo Fighters’ track Razor a few years later and eventually drummed on QOTSA’s …Like Clockwork; Them Crooked Vultures, a supergroup we’ll touch on later, also spawned from Grohl and Homme’s mutual love for rock ‘n’ roll.
H is for… Headliner
Having worked their way up the circuit for some time now, the Queens’ sixth effort, …Like Clockwork, had the band take things to the next level. Supporting Iron Maiden at Download 2013 led to a co-headline at Reading & Leeds with Paramore the following year: a performance misunderstood by 90% of the people in the field. Oh well – it was preluded by a healthily-sold UK arena tour, one which saw the band grace Wembley Arena’s stage over two nights. Could the next record have the band further capitalise on that and snag their own headline slot at a festival? We’ll just have to wait and see.
I is for… Infomercial
Stuff Jack Nicholson and Leonardo DiCaprio – Josh Homme’s performance in the Scissor Sisters’ Magic Hour infomercial is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most compelling, thought-provoking piece of performance art you’ll ever witness. His hands, man. His fucking hands.
J is for… Jesse Hughes
Vocalist and guitarist for the rockabilly-tinged Eagles Of Death Metal, Mr. Jesse Hughes is Homme’s man-crush and together they form the ultimate dream team. They even have matching tattoos. Homme saved Hughes from a bully in school and they’ve been mates ever since; Homme even paid for Hughes’ rehabilitation when he fell into a serious drug addiction, an act of kindness which Hughes says saved his life. With EODM, Homme and Hughes have crafted four full-lengths, the most recent being last year’s Zipper Down.
K is for… Kyuss
Kyuss are the band in which Homme carved his legend and, to some fans, scored his greatest achievements. This is where that trademark Josh Homme guitar sound was born: the downtuned, bass-heavy thunder achieved by sticking his guitar into a bass amp. The band’s definitive line up had Homme on guitar, Scott Reeder on bass, Brant Bjork on drums and John Garcia on vocals, although future QOTSA bassist Nick Oliveri did play on and off with the band through the years. Heavier and more ‘metal’ than Queens, Kyuss’ Blues For The Red Sun smashed the door open and did a stoned, hazy shit on the welcome rug for all the desert rock bands to follow. And it’s the stuff legends are made of; stories of the band playing in the middle of the desert and Homme having to get his parents to sign his part of the record contract (because, at the time, he was too young) are genuine titbits of rock ‘n’ roll folklore. Homme doesn’t want any involvement in Kyuss nowadays, saying, “I'm too proud of it to rub my dick on it.” So when Garcia, Oliveri and Bjork announced Kyuss Lives! in 2010, Homme took them to court. They subsequently changed their name to Vista Chino and they’re not as good as Kyuss.
L is for… …Like Clockwork
With a six year gap between Era Vulgaris and …Like Clockwork, the Queens’ sixth full-length, there was a lot to prove. Homme had been bedridden for months and fallen into a depression following a botched routine operation. Both bassist Michael Shuman and keyboardist/guitarist Dean Fertita had been in the band since the 2007 touring cycle began, but this was their first stint in the studio for a full QOTSA record. So it was pretty handy that …Like Clockwork kicked arse. It’s subtle and classy, relying even more so on spacious, sweeping dynamics than Rated R did. It’s got Elton John, Dave Grohl and Trent Reznor on it, with Nick Oliveri chipping in for some backing vocals. It might not be as instantaneous as some of the Queens’ other works, but …Like Clockwork is well up there with their best.
M is for… Made In America Festival 2013
Jay Z’s Made In America festival had Queens Of The Stone Age hit the stage, but Homme later made his feelings clear towards the rapper and his festival. An allegedly disingenuous Jay Z tried to get the band to take photos with a bottle of champagne and, upon arrival, demanded they be frisked and searched by his security team. “It was rude overall,” Homme told CBC Radio 2’s Strombo Show. “And you shouldn’t frisk my guys, you should fuck off.” They’ve since made nice.
N is for… Nicknames
A man of many talents who ran – and still runs – in many circles, Homme has acquired a pseudonym or two over the years. To the Eagles Of Death Metal, he’s affectionately known as Baby Duck. Elsewhere, he’s namechecked as J.Ho, Joe’s Hoe, Zombie Zebra, DP Pete, The Ginger Elvis and, er, Carlo Von Sexron.
O is for… Ovation Ultra GP
A guitar synonymous with Homme’s time in Kyuss and, to be honest, Queens Of The Stone Age too, the Ovation Ultra GP is a knackered old thing that’s actually been out of production since the mid ‘80s. When images of Homme with the instrument started cropping up in magazines and papers across the world, everyone wanted one and no one could get one because, as mentioned earlier, they’d been out of production for around fifteen years at that point. Six-string snobs turned their noses up and deemed it a fad but, well, Homme’s guitar sound is pretty perfect, right? Damn you Josh and your taste in odd guitars.
P is for… Post Pop Depression
A curious project instigated by a text message from chum Iggy Pop, Post Pop Depression is the record spawned from Homme and Pop hashing it out in the studio. A rough yet classy garage rock LP also bringing in Dean Fertita and Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders, it proves that Homme can knock about with the old school while keeping everyone’s legacy intact. A beautiful album that begs to be toured again.
Q is for… Queens Of The Stone Age
It’s true. Josh Homme is in Queens Of The Stone Age.
R is… Rated R
This is the one, isn’t it? Sure, Songs For The Deaf is probably the one everyone points to ‘cause it’s got No One Knows on it, but Rated R is arguably the Queens’ finest record to date and, at a push, Homme’s crowning achievement. The psychedelic elements started woozing in – we’ve already discussed Feel Good Hit Of The Summer – with most of the lyrics revolving around bad trips and suchlike. Christ, even Better Living through Chemistry was inspired by a Björk track. Rated R is also the first QOTSA record to feature Nick Oliveri and Mark Lanegan, ushering in the band’s classic era via their classic album and achieving a classic sound. Wow, what a classic.
S is for… Secrecy
Notoriously hush about his set-up in the early days, Homme has since relaxed a little on the subject. He’d often straight-up lie to journalists or fans when questioned about his rig and so forth, claiming that, “if you reveal too much of that, you give away something that's near and dear to you. It's like you put it up on the altar and say, 'Here, everyone take a slice.'” To be fair, you can’t blame people for wondering – Homme’s guitar tone is tasty.
T is for… Them Crooked Vultures
A side-project comprising Homme on guitar and vocals, Grohl on drums and quite nicely rounded off with John Paul Jones on bass and keyboards. Y’know, the guy from _Led fucking Zeppelin._ Talk of the band started buzzing in the mid-00s but nothing came until 2009, with a UK tour selling out in 12 minutes before anybody had even heard the bloody thing. They also played Download Festival in 2010, second only to AC/DC because, well, AC/DC. The musical pedigree within Them Crooked Vultures is brain-slappingly great, but the self-titled debut transpired to be pretty standard, QOTSA-esque bluesy rock with hints of psychedelia. Still, Grohl’s said another album may be on the cards – that was six years ago, but the band’s Twitter account wriggled about last year, so who knows? No one knows. (High five, someone? Please?)
U is for… Unkle
Originally contributing a remix of Eye For An Eye Backwards to electronica group Unkle’s Never, Never Land Revisited back in 2004, Homme went on to appear on a couple of the band’s other tracks. The Ginger Elvis’ sultry throat-strings crop up on Restless from 2007’s War Stories, and once more the following year in Chemical from End Titles… Stories For A Film. We told you he was busy.
V is for... Van Gaal, Louis
He’s got to be Homme’s Dad, right? Like, look at him. Seeing as things might be a bit quiet for Louis nowadays, surely Homme can get him work as a stagehand or something.
W is… Waits, Tom
The gruff, ridiculously grim tones of Tom Waits are done justice by Homme, paying tribute on QOTSA’s version of Goin’ Out West. Appearing as a B-Side to 2007’s Sick, Sick, Sick, the cover stays true to Waits’ original snarled delivery, with the gain pushed right up and making all us rock fans realise that yes, that Rammstein’s Benzin does sound incredibly similar to that guitar line.
X is for... Xmas jumper
Bands selling festive trinkets has become commonplace nowadays: My Chemical Romance have baubles, Abbath has got his own snow globe and Morrissey’s done his very own, 100% vegan Christmas jumper. While QOTSA’s yuletide garb isn’t cruelty-free like Mozza’s – boo, hiss – it does have some reindeer valiantly shagging on the front. Also, speaking of the season, the Queens did turn up on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations Christmas special, with Homme rocking a particularly fetching jumper himself as the band jaunted through snowy classics with a bit more irony than Scott Weiland.
Y is for… Yves Saint Laurent
Yeah, shut up about Metallica modelling for Brioni; Homme’s already outdone them in the ridiculousness stakes, lending his chiselled looks to Yves Saint Laurent’s Music Project last year. Snapped in and around his home in the Hollywood Hills, Homme looks rather suave. Even when he's doing this pose with his guitar.
Z is for… Zero
Culled from Kyuss’ demo sessions for their debut EP, Sons Of Kyuss, Zero is an absolute rager and so far removed from what we’d associate with Homme and co. today. Fuzzier than a Pomeranian being blow-dried in slow motion, this track features the dirtiest bass rumble imaginable and a Danzig-esque snarl from Garcia. And it’s only available on bootleg! Or, if you want to feel guiltless, someone’s whacked it on YouTube.