Josh Homme and Mark Ronson: A Rock Bromance Brought to You By Lady Gaga

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Homme (left) and Ronson

How did Mark Ronson, famed for working with Bruno Mars and Amy Winehouse, helm Queens of the Stone Age’s new hard-rock opus, Villains?  

Ronson's a Queen of the Stone Age Superfan

The “Uptown Funk!” producer has a signed poster of the group in his London studio; his innate understanding of what he calls “my favorite rock band of this era” made him want to push the act into new territory. “It’s odd to produce a band you grew up on,” says Ronson, 41. “[But] as a fan, you know what a fan wants to hear.”

Lady Gaga Greased the Wheel

Credit for the uptempo sound of Villains (out Aug. 25) goes partly to the pop star, who brought in both artists for 2016’s Joanne. Homme, 44, was impressed with Ronson: “I got to watch him immerse himself in Lady Gaga’s world,” he says. “He’s a good communicator who’s not afraid to say [something] you don’t like in a way that’s not being a dick.”

Added Bonus: Pissing People Off

For Homme, part of the allure of recruiting Ronson to his Pink Duck studio in Los Angeles and recording songs like the hand clap-anchored “The Way You Used To” was subverting expectations for longtime listeners. “The excitement of knowing we were going to mess with people’s heads became this dirty little thing,” says Homme. “I have no interest in fitting in. I want to f--k with people at every stage.”

This story originally appeared in the September 2 issue of Billboard.