Queens Thrill Fans At New York Gig, Reveal Video Game Plans

Rockstar's 'Spec Ops' will feature tunes by Josh Homme, bassist Alain Johannes.

NEW YORK — Normally, the entrance of the Virgin Megastore on 14th and Broadway in Union Square is where mustachioed men hawk hot dogs from steaming carts and nervous but nattily clad scenesters meet up for blind dates. But on Monday night, the crowd gathered outside Virgin’s glass doors resembled something more like the guest list for a kegger from hell.

Longhaired rocker dudes, guys in tattered John Jay College baseball caps, raven-haired girls in raccoon-eye makeup and a bunch of kids in black hoodies and wolf masks lined up outside Virgin to witness Queens of the Stone Age’s in-store performance on the night before the band’s new album, Lullabies to Paralyze, went on sale. And just as the first somber chords of the album’s opening number, “This Lullaby,” were booming over the Megastore’s sound system, the doors were finally opened and a stream of pseudo-wolves, frat guys and rock dudes spilled in, ready to party.

They were treated to a smoking set by the newest QOTSA lineup — frontman Josh Homme, guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen, drummer Joey Castillo and bassist Alain Johannes, plus keyboardist Natasha Schneider and frequent Queens collaborator Mark Lanegan — that was heavy on material from Lullabies (“In My Head,” “Burn the Witch,” “Tangled Up in Plaid” and current radio staple “Little Sister”) but also featured older tunes like “God Is in the Radio,” “Mexicola” and “A Song for the Dead.”

Backstage after the show, MTV caught up with Homme, who not only gave the evening a resounding thumbs-up (“This show was great,” he said, “because these people are our fans”) but also spilled the beans on his plans now that Lullabies has hit the shelves — namely, scoring a video game for industry bad boys Rockstar Games.

“Alain and I are writing the music for a Rockstar game called ‘Spec Ops,’ ” Homme said. “There’s a bunch of versions of new songs. Some of them are mellow, some of them are rock and some of them are, like, hick-hop because we’re a bunch of white guys.”

For Homme, working with Rockstar on the game was a dream come true — kind of. While he doesn’t actually play any video games, he did enjoy the process of writing tunes for the small screen.

“I can’t play any video games when we’re on tour or in the studio because then I would get addicted. And I don’t need any more addictions,” he laughed. “But the whole thing was great because it was so easy. It’s way easier than writing a song, because with video-game music, everything just needs to be, like, 30 seconds long.”

According to QOTSA’s label, Interscope Records, “Spec Ops” will be out at the end of the year. A Rockstar spokesperson could not be reached for comment.