Queens Of The Stone Age
"I love Kyuss but we had this weird philosophy," Josh explains. "We painted this beautiful room, but by the time it started to end, we were all standing in the corner in the white spot."
Ever since Kyuss’ dissolution in 1995, Josh searched for an artistic avenue for his guitar playing and songwriting. It wasn’t a simple journey as he had been that band’s main guitarist and songwriter from the time he was 16 years old. First, he moved to Seattle and hooked up with the Screaming Trees, acting as their second guitarist. Mark Lanegan, the Tree’s sublime vocalist, repays the favor by singing on a few Rated R tracks including lead vocals on the majestic "In the Fade".
However by 1997 Josh had rekindled his friendship with Nick Oliveri (who had been playing in the punk band the Dwarves under the name "Rex Everything") and late-period Kyuss drummer Alfredo Hernandez. They returned to the Palm Desert region to cook up a new sound. But this wasn’t to be Kyuss Mk II.
Instead with Queens of the Stone Age, Josh was creating what he called "robot-rock". Heavy music pared back to the bone, with an emphasis on economical guitar strokes, minimal drum patterns, and trance-inducing repetition. Financed with his own money the QOTSA album was one of the most sudden and creatively successful about-faces modern rock had ever seen. Alternative radio firmly supported the band’s single "If Only" and Rolling Stone named Queens of the Stone Age one of the "Ten Most Important Hard and Heavy Bands Right Now."
Josh, Nick, Alfredo and Dave Catching toured that album at home and abroad for nearly two years, performing shows with Bad Religion, Rage Against the Machine, the Smashing Pumpkins, Hole and Ween.
Josh continued experimenting and recording on the side, creating the critically acclaimed Desert Session series for Man’s Ruin Records (currently up to 6 volumes). These deliberately loose aggregations of members of Monster Magnet, Soundgarden, Fu Manchu and tons of others have dropped by the Mojave Desert Studio to record with Josh and have in turn influenced the making of the latest Queens of the Stone Age album.
In addition to Mark Lanegan, the album includes musical contributions from Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees), the earthlings? Pete Stahl, Wendy Ray Moan, Dave Catching, Like Hell’s Nick Oliveri (two Nick’s, same name), and the legendary Rob Halford of Judas Priest. Currently the Queens alternate between drummers Gene Troutman and Nicky Lucero.
"I feel like the more nebulous Queens of the Stone Age is- from people who play on the album, to the cover art, to the name of the album, to the name of the band- the more freedom exists for us to change, should we feel the need." The band's name is intended to tweak the noses of the homophobic rednecks he used to see at Kyuss concerts. "It’ll be interesting if they can say the name ‘Queens of the Stone Age’ to their friends," he smiles.
Rated R was recorded analog to two 16-track machines at Sound City Studios in Los Angeles where Kyuss created Blues for the Red Sun, Sky Valley and …And the Circus Leaves Town masterpieces. Rated R was produced by Josh and Chris Goss (of the acclaimed Masters of Reality) and engineered by Grammy award winning Trina Shoemaker. Clearly the stage for another magnum opus had been set.
"We said right off the bat that we were going to do ten songs," says Josh. He felt that it was important not to abuse the storage capacity of the compact disc. "Less is more. How about ten really good songs? Look at The Stooges Fun House: there’s seven songs on Fun House, and when I listen to it, I’m rewinding it as much as I’m hitting play."