Queens Of The Stone Age Flex Their Star Power

Band's loose structure allows for temporary and permanent guests.

Queens of the Stone Age have had some memorable singles — who could
forget “Feel Good Hit of the Summer,” with its chants of “Nicotine, valium,
Vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol”? — and their upcoming Songs
for the Deaf
is one of the most anticipated albums of the year.

But let’s face it, Queens of the Stone Age have been packing houses lately
mainly because Foo Fighter frontman Dave Grohl is behind the drum kit. (see “Queens Of The Stone Age Go Deaf At NYC Show” )
(Click here for live photos.)

It’s a good pairing. Grohl’s powerhouse pounding and flavorful fills lend
solidity and flair to the Queens’ incendiary, interstellar grooves. The
drummer started working with the band in October, shortly after Gene
Troutman left to start working on other projects.

“[Gene] had all these other obligations when we started working on the
record,” singer/guitarist Josh Homme recalled. “So by day seven it was time
for him to go.”

Knowing that the Foo Fighters were on temporary hiatus, Homme called his old
pal Grohl and asked him to kindly step in and save the day (see “Grohl Puts Foos On Hold, Returns To Drumkit
With Queens”
).

“I called Dave and said, ‘Can you come right now?’ ” said Homme. “It was
noon, and he said, ‘I’ll be there at 6:30,’ and by 8 p.m. we had tracked a
few songs.”

“I had joked before that I was pissed off they didn’t ask me to play on
[their last record,] R,” Grohl said. “I was a huge fan of the band,
and their music’s really fun to play drums to because I’m used to playing
more back in the back 4/4 sort of stuff. So this was a lot more
interesting.”

Although Grohl only started playing with Queens of the Stone Age last year,
he had known the members since 1992, when he and Nirvana bassist Krist
Novoselic caught a show by Homme’s and bassist Nick Oliveri’s former group
Kyuss. After the concert, they hung out and soon became friends. In
September 2000, Grohl asked the Queens to open for the Foo Fighters, which
cemented their bond.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve really played drums in a band,” Grohl
said. “And it’s nice to be in the back again. The front is tiring.”

Grohl is now a full-time member of both Queens of the Stone Age and Foo
Fighters, although he admits that it’s sometimes difficult to juggle the
two. As soon as he finished recording with Queens, he flew to Virginia and
re-recorded the Foo Fighters record in a mere 12 days. Then he jetted back
to Los Angeles to rehearse with Queens before hitting the road with them.

When they finish their U.S. tour on June 16, Queens will head to Europe, and
afterward the rest of the Foos will fly out to meet Grohl for some concert
dates. Grohl will shuttle from there to Japan for another Queens tour, then
head back to America where the band will finish the last Queens tour just in
time for the Foo Fighters record to come out. Then the Foos begin touring.

Grohl isn’t the only new recruit in the Queens camp. A Perfect Circle
guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen didn’t play on Songs for the Deaf (August
20), but he joined the band for its tour and will stay with them until he
returns to the studio to finish the next A Perfect Circle record.

“Joining up with [Queens] was like cramming for a test,” Van Leeuwen said.
“I only had 10 days from the time I was asked to do the gig to the time we
left. But I like to do these things. I’ve been in the studio for the last
year working on so many projects, looking at a computer screen and being
pretty much bored, so I’m happy to be out with these guys.”

Finally, Queens of the Stone Age were joined in the studio for four songs by
vocalist Mark Lanegan, who is also touring with the group. Lanegan also sang
on “In the Fade,” from R, but their relationship dates back several
years.

“I was in the Screaming Trees for a couple years, and we struck up a
friendship that lasted us through the day,” said Homme. “I think it’s
natural when something sounds great to just go with it. None of us need to
be out in the front all the time. So switching hats and trying new stuff is
mandatory.”

“We set Queens up to break away from how things were when we were younger
with Kyuss,” Oliveri added. “We didn’t try anything at all back then. It was
a lot of shooting yourself in the foot. And now it’s just [more fun] to be
able to move about the cabin freely and play with people you like. The only
rules are there are no rules.”