QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE (1998–PRESENT). Josh Homme (guitar/ vocals), Troy van Leeuwen (guitar/keyboards), Joey Castillo (drums), various others.
Without a doubt one of the most innovative hard rock bands at work in the new millennium, Queens of the Stone Age rose from the ashes of stoner rock pioneers Kyuss. After Kyuss’s breakup, Homme left the California desert for Seattle, where he played with a variety of bands, most notably Screaming Trees as touring guitarist.
Beginning work on new material, Homme enlisted drummer Alfredo Hernandez for the recordings that would be released as the first Queens of the Stone Age album. Shortly after its release in 1998 on the independent Loose Groove label, Nick Oliveri and Catching joined the band for touring.
Led by guitarist/vocalist Josh Homme, the band originally consisted of fellow Kyuss veterans, bassist Nick Oliveri and drummer Alfredo Hernandez, as well as new guy Dave Catching on guitars and keys. After the first album, the band toured heavily. Even so, the creatively restless Homme found time to begin releasing the first volumes of “The Desert Sessions,” recordings that chronicle the collaborative songwriting and recording that he instigated at the Rancho de la Luna recording studio in the Joshua Tree, California, desert, which have proven to be inspiration and proving ground for a number of QOTSA tunes.
In mid-2000, the Queens released their playfully titled sophomore album R. More touring ensued, including a stint with Ozzfest, after which Hernandez left the group. The band began to build more of a reputation with fans and the press. At the massive Rock in Rio festival Oliveri got busted for performing in the nude. But the Queen’s best publicity stunt was yet to come, when they asked Foo Fighters guitarist/vocalist (and ex-Nirvana drummer) Dave Grohl to drum on their next album.
To the surprise of many, Grohl enthusiastically agreed. The subsequent album, Songs for the Deaf, was their critical and artistic breakthrough. Released in the summer of 2002, and featuring such songs as “Go with the Flow” and “First It Giveth,” the album demonstrated not only a confident mastery of songwriting craft but also a willingness to take sonic chances in the recording process, producing an album that fit into the hard rock tradition without attempting to replicate it. Grohl’s willingness to put Foo Fighters on temporary hiatus and tour with the band was both a testimony to the band’s importance and gave them great press. The ensuing tour also saw the joining of former A Perfect Circle guitarist/keyboardist Troy Van Leeuwen, who would prove to be a worthy creative foil to Homme.
In keeping with Homme’s restless variation and penchant for collaboration, yet another permutation of the band was in place for Deaf’s follow-up, Lullabies to Paralyze, in 2005. In addition to Homme, Van Leeuwan, and Lanegan, the album featured the contributions of new drummer Joey Castillo and bassist/guitarist Alain Johannes from the band Eleven, as well as guest spots from ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons and Homme’s longtime collaborator guitarist/vocalist/producer Chris Goss from Masters of Reality.
The DVD/CD Over the Years and Through the Woods was also released in 2005, featuring live recordings and footage from the Lullabies tour, as well as older footage from the band. Era Vulgaris was released in 2007.
Discography: Queens of the Stone Age (Loose Groove, 1998); R (Interscope, 2000); Songs for the Deaf (Ipecac, 2002); Lullabies to Paralyze (Interscope, 2005); Over the Years and Through the Woods [live] (Interscope, 2005); Era Vulgaris (Interscope, 2007).