Queens of the Stone Age roared back to life last month at Lollapalooza Brazil, taking the stage for the first time in 18 months and debuting the first song off their upcoming ...Like Clockwork album, a dark and knotty track called "My God Is The Sun."
A few days after that return, the Queens were sitting backstage at another Lollapalooza — this one in Santiago, Chile — where they'd just finished performing before another raucous crowd. And frontman/mastermind Josh Homme, who has shouldered the load and seemingly willed this band back to life, was clearly feeling the love.
"The crowds have been wonderful; we haven't played a gig in a year and half, we've been in the studio, and we've been carrying around this weight, and they made it so easy to set it all free ... that was real nice, you know?" he said. "I feel really thankful; it's been a great way to start it off. I mean, on a day like today, when the sun is out, and everyone's feeling just fine, a title like 'My God Is The sun' sort of explains itself; if you were to walk around here and see everybody, it's one of those days where you're like 'Wow, this could go alright, you know?'"
And now, with QOTSA's new album officially tabbed for a June 4 release, and "Sun" available for fans to download, Homme can finally be optimistic about things. After all, he'll be the first to admit that things weren't always so sunny during the making of ...Like Clockwork, the band's first album in nearly six years.
"We went through a particularly dark period in the last couple of years, trying to figure out what it all means and how to get through all that. And in some ways, artistically and mentally, it was almost like waking up in the middle of nowhere," he said. "This record was like finding a way out from there to where we are now. And you're writing lyrics and music about a situation that happened yesterday, and so this is the most current, real, raw thing that we've ever made, from a band that's always trying to make it raw and real. And so, for us, that means something. But we made it out and we're in the sunshine in Santiago, so it seems like it's alright, you know?"
And while writing and recording Clockwork was a struggle, Homme said he never lost faith ... in fact, if anything, he drew strength and inspiration from old friends Dave Grohl and Nick Oliveri, both of whom appear on the album, and new collaborative partners like Elton John, who proved to be both a worthy foil in the studio, and a gracious guest at dinner.
"With Elton, that's just an experience to play with someone you dig. He called us and was like 'The only thing missing from your band is an actual queen,' and I said 'Honey, you have no idea,'" Homme laughed. "I think he assumed we'd have some ballad that was already recorded that he would play on, but what was great was the realization 'Oh, we're going to play a rock song, we're going to track it live and it's going to happen.'
"We worked together, and so what you get is this performance. And that was nice to have that experience together," he continued. "And then he was gracious enough to say 'I'll come back and sing.' And we were like 'Just stay over, we'll make dinner.' So that's a great new friendship that's really cool. I mean, this is the best job in the world; it's hard tonottry to make the most of all these moments."
And if Homme sounds excited by all of this, well, you're right. With ...Like Clockwork, QOTSA have come out of the darkness and into the light. The hard part is over; everything from here on out is easy.
"All you can do is try to work it out, you know? If we ever had any troubles, we'd play our way out of them," Homme said. "And this [album] was definitely us trying to play our way right out of them. And it feels good to let it all go now. It's your problem now, in the most beautiful way."