By Ian GormelySix years is a long break for one of the world's most beloved and respected hard rock acts. After 2007's Era Vulgaris, Queens of the Stone Age singer and guitarist Josh Homme kept himself busy with production work and side-projects Eagles of Death Metal and Them Crooked Vultures, always hinting that a new Queens record was just around the corner. He finally rallied the troops last summer, for what all involved describe as a "difficult" recording process.
"Sometimes it takes a lot of walking over hot coals to get the songs represented properly," says Homme. The band's long-term drummer Joey Castillo left during the sessions, forcing Homme to call in pinch skins-hitter Dave Grohl, who joined a slew of other guests including frequent collaborator Mark Lanegan and original bass player Nick Oliveri. The resulting record, …Like Clockwork, sees Queens taking a more relaxed approach to their music; it lacks the frantic pace of albums past while retaining the band's penchant for hook-driven guitar groove. "I was just following what I was told, what I could hear," says Homme. "Just trying to represent it as accurately as possible."
What are you up to? Just staring in the mirror thinking of you.
What are your current fixations? I've been listening to Metronomy. Their record's called The English Riviera. And that's all I've had time for. It's just really simple and hook-driven and I love the production value. It's got songs where every moment there's a hook going.
Why do you live where you do? Because I can see the ocean from here. I live in the Hollywood Hills.
Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art: Images from the Hubble telescope. I just saw them and they're on the tip of my brain tongue. Looking at the nebula is trumping any art I've seen lately.
What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why? I saw Bj÷rk at Roskilde and the light show was just fire. It made me cry.
What have been your career highs and lows? I'm always high. But that's not really what you asked me, is it? You know, I've had both and I'd prefer not to discuss either of them. Yeah, that's probably enough of an answer anyways.
What's the meanest thing ever said to you before, during or after a gig? After playing a show with a dislocated ankle, I slipped down a set of stairs on a rainy German day and a sweet-looking German couple came up to me and said "We drove eight hours just to see you and it was sad." So I hit them both with my cane. It was awful. And then I got the date tattooed on my ribs. "Freitag 4:15" which means Friday in German, or black day strangely enough, and the set time, 4:15 in the afternoon.
What should everyone shut up about? Oh God, Where do I start… that's such a good question. If I talk about it, shouldn't I be shutting up too?
What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself? I love that I'm willing to laugh at anything and I hate my temper. Do you want me to elaborate? You can if you want. Nope, I really can't.
What's your idea of a perfect Sunday? Finally being able to take the hammock out of the box and set it up. I've had a hammock now for ten years. I wonder if it's any good anymore? Also, I like to be surrounded by little people, meaning my kids.
What advice should you has taken, but did not? No one's ever given me any good advice, because I don't listen very well. I've been trapped in my own stupidity for so long that I don't hear outsiders.
What would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed, and have you? If someone from my band was in my bed, I'd kick them out. I'd be like, "sex is over, go back to your room."
What do you think of when you think of Canada? Happiness. Smiley people and beautiful women. Across the whole country? Actually, yeah. Have you crossed it before? No. I've seen more of Canada than you have. You're missing out my friend. It's a big-ass country. Well, there is some big ass there. But it's an amazingly large country. My, what a big country you have.
What was the first LP/cassette/CD/eight track you ever bought with your own money? I bought Chuck Berry. That was a cassette. I can't remember where I heard him. I was really young and I said "Can we get this?" and it was shortly before I started playing guitar. "Johnny B. Goode" was just something that spoke to me. When I bought my first album, it was called Eastern Front. It was a live compilation with like, Channel 3 and Battalion of Saints. Shit like that.
What was your most memorable day job? I worked in a deli slicing meat for people and I sliced the tip of my finger off. I sprayed blood all over the wall and you've never seen people drop their tickets so quickly. I was slicing ham. In some ways I'm still slicing it now.
How do you spoil yourself? Very carefully. Don't want to over do it. You don't want to turn in to a spoiled asshole.
If I wasn't playing music I would be…Tap-dancing in an all-male revue. I only tap-dance with other men.
What do you fear most? Not doing enough. Running out of time. Professionally or just in life? There's no difference between your profession and your life.
What makes you want to take it off and get it on? Pretty much anything, honestly. It's pretty simple for me. I'll just leave it at that.
What has been your strangest celebrity encounter? Steve Perry, the old singer for Journey. I bought a house and I was working on it, sweating, trying to install cabinet doors and I hear, "Man this house is amazing," and I turn around and there's Steve Perry. He kept talking to me, and talking to me and I said, "Steve Perry, you've got to get the hell out of here." Then I was building a studio a couple of years later, wearing my tool belt, sweating my ass off. And I hear, "Man, this place is amazing. Is this a studio?" And I turn around and it's fucking Steve Perry. And I said, "Steve Perry, you've got to get the hell out of here." He just walked in there. I don't know how he knew. I think he's just stalking life and I happened to be in the way.
Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them? I'd love to hang with Hendrix man, I mean, c'mon. I think he and I would get along because we both dig him. And what would I serve? Just stuff that's illegal.
What does your mom wish you were doing instead? Your mom.
What song would you like to have played at your funeral? "100 Days" by Mark Lanegan. That's easy. And also "Sleepwalk" by Santo and Johnny.