Queens of the Stone Age is an American rock band from Palm Desert, California, United States, formed in 1997. Founded by Josh Homme, a tall ginger guitarist guy.
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 due to legal disputes.
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.
After Queens of the Stone Age was released, the band paved a new way (and a newer style) with a harder-hitting album called Rated R. This album included a new vocalist (Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees) as well as 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".
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.|
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 Circleguitarist 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.
|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.
It's probably because Josh Homme is a 10-foot tall ginger and Nick Oliveri is way too into drugs. You can't have a red-headed giant and a druggie work together on something for too long. The project will explode and probably kill too many children and puppies.
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.
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.
|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).||"|
- Josh Homme, Ultimate Guitar Archive in March 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 andNatasha Shneider (**Natasha Schneider had passed away in 2008) respectively.
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!"
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.
Much of the band's performances as hard rock musicians/instrumentalists do not actually go unnoticed but more underwatched; each member is a very talented asset to the band, and without these members, QOTSA would not really be anything. The desert rock genre is slowly gaining more popular notice, but until then is unfortunately overshadowed by some of the shittiest music made in the last 100 years.
I still want Josh Homme to give me a guitar.