When the members of Queens of the Stone Age aren't working or partying, they're working.
This summer Queens will play Lollapalooza, then return to the studio to record songs for their next album. Then they'll tour again. And somehow in between the end of Lollapalooza (see "Revived Lollapalooza May Be Remembered For Backstage Action") and the beginning of the recording sessions, the bandmembers will release four side-project albums.
"I love the side projects because it's a chance for me to try out stuff," vocalist and guitarist Josh Homme said. "Also, I get to learn from playing different instruments and also from watching other people and playing their style of music, too."
The first of the extracurricular discs will be Mondo Generator's second record, A Drug Problem That Never Existed, which comes out July 1, in time to celebrate the July 4 weekend. "It's my Independence Day," joked bassist and vocalist Nick Oliveri, who wrote all of the songs on the album, which range from skewed acoustic rock to tumbling, abrasive punk.
"It's basically the harder stuff that I do that doesn't work in Queens," he continued. "I'm a mad young man. I'm pissed off about something, so it's therapy for me to do Mondo. I get to scream out of my head. It's my mistress, if you will. And the Queens is my wife. It makes me appreciate my wife more when I go do Mondo."
The Mondo Generator album will be followed in October by the ninth and 10th volumes of Homme's collaborative freeform side project, Desert Sessions. The disc, recorded over several long nights in the California desert, features Homme, PJ Harvey, ex-Marilyn Manson bassist Jeordie White (a.k.a. Twiggy Ramirez), Dean Ween, fellow Queensters Troy Van Leeuwen and Joey Castillo, Eleven's Alain Johannes and others.
"Doing the Desert Sessions helps me a lot," Homme said. "I tend to write in chunks. For instance, 'No One Knows' [from Songs for the Deaf] has sort of a polka beat, and I had a bunch of songs that did that. So I took some of the fringe stuff and put it on Desert Sessions 7 & 8.
"It's sort of like art camp and prison camp, too," he added. "Because no one's allowed to leave. And you wake up looking over at PJ Harvey and Dean Ween all in the same sleeping bag in the same two-man pup tent of rock. It's wild."
Around the same time that the new Desert Sessions disc is issued, Homme will appear playing drums on a disc by the Eagles of Death Metal, a band he's in with his friend Jesse "The Devil" Hughes. Homme described the group's debut, Peace, Love and Death Metal, as a combination of "bluegrass slide guitar mixed with stripper drum beats and Canned Heat vocals." No surprise that such a strange band is fronted by an even stranger guy.
"Jesse used to write speeches for the local Republican senator, and he's huge into the devil," Homme said. "He's not into satanism, he's really into the idea of the devil. He calls me on the phone and he says, 'Let's evil,' and we jam. He wears jean shorts and he cuts his shirts into tank tops, which is weird. He's a real character but he writes the best stuff I've heard in a long time."
In addition to Homme and Oliveri's projects, Queens obsessives can look for the sixth solo album from vocalist Mark Lanegan (ex-Screaming Trees), Bubblegum, in October. The disc will feature appearances by ex-Guns N' Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin and bassist Duff McKagan, ex-Afghan Whigs frontman Greg Dulli and Caustic Resin singer and guitarist Brett Netson as well as the regular cast of characters — Harvey, Ween, Homme, Oliveri, and Masters of Reality frontman Chris Goss.
Paradoxically, Homme and his homies are cranking out so much music on the side mainly because they've been so busy with their main gig. "We've all been working with Queens nonstop for over a year," Homme explained. "We don't want to burn out. That's why we're doing all these other bands. It helps keep everything fresh."