If there's one band that knows how to go with the flow, it's Queens of the Stone Age. The nucleus of singer/guitarist Josh Homme and bassist Nick Oliveri has existed for years, but everything else has been pretty fluid.
For their new album, Songs for the Deaf, which hit stores Tuesday, the group enticed Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl to play drums after their last drummer was unable to commit. Grohl also performed a bunch of shows with the band but recently bailed to concentrate on the Foos.
"We were all disappointed, but it's nothing we weren't expecting. We just didn't think it would happen so soon," said touring guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen, who is himself a member of A Perfect Circle and likely will not appear on future Queens releases.
Without missing a beat, Queens replaced Grohl with ex-Danzig, Goatsnake and Wasted Youth drummer Joey Castillo. The band's tour with ... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead starts Friday in Washington, D.C. (Click for photos from a recent QOTSA performance.)
"Our lineup has a way of slipping and sliding around, which is great," Homme said. "But when the other people make obligations, we kind of get scissored once in awhile."
Having a revolving door of bandmembers necessitates impulse and spontaneity. These are qualities the Queens thrive upon, and ones that helped make Songs for the Deaf sound so urgent and immediate.
"For a lot of this stuff, we'd rehearse in one studio and then we'd walk into the other studio, which had all the mics set up," said Homme. "So basically we'd rehearse something once or twice and then go and record it. That was a lot of fun because nothing got sucked away from the songs."
The eclectic tracks on Songs for the Deaf were mostly written while Queens of the Stone Age were on tour for 2000's R. When they returned from the road last year, they entered the studio to begin recording, but three months later they had to uproot and start touring again.
"We had some prior engagements to fill," Oliveri explained. "So we absolutely had to do it. It was kind of hard because you tear down your gear and go out on tour and come back and have to get your tones and equipment set up all over again. But it was fun all the same."
For Queens of the Stone Age, "fun" is the operative word. These guys live for rockin' music and good times, and as long as both are present in equal doses they could roll with the punches forever.
"We work best when we just do things on our own and at our pace," Homme said. "The key for us is to make records fast so we don't get sick of them. We're a band that actually listens to our own record, and on this one we really learned to bust right through it and love our own music."