Queens Of The Stone Age Go 'Deaf'

Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.

"The time is right for a good rock record," says Queens Of The Stone Age bassist/vocalist Nick Oliveri matter-of-factly of the Palm Desert, Calif.-based group's third studio set, "Songs for the Deaf." The 15-track offering, released Aug. 27 via Interscope, is not only among the most anticipated releases of the year but one of the most undeniably visceral rock albums to drop in recent memory.

QOTSA core members Josh Homme (guitar/vocals) and Oliveri have always relied on a rotating cast of players to bring its sound to life in the studio and on the road. But on "Deaf," the supporting staff glitters with the star power of Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl on drums and former Screaming Trees leader Mark Lanegan on vocals. Ween's Dean Ween also plays guitar on three tracks.

"Deaf" comes out swinging with a barrage of brutally loud, airtight melodic rockers such as "Millionaire," first single "No One Knows," and "First It Giveth," the latter featuring astounding drum work by Grohl. The band also affixes its sonic signature to retro garage riffs and harmony vocals ("Gonna Leave You," "Another Love Song"), dark boogie rhythms ("God Is in the Radio"), acoustic/symphonic weirdness ("Mosquito Song"), and outright aural assaults (the Oliveri-screamed, 79-second "Six Shooter").

Grohl, whose Foo Fighters toured with QOTSA in 2000, was initially only planning to drum on a handful of songs. But when scheduling conflicts forced QOTSA drummer Gene Trautmann to exit just a week into the project, he wasted no time filling the seat. Says Homme with a laugh, "I called Dave and said, 'Do you want to finish this record?' And he said, 'I'll be there at six o'clock.'"

Even though Oliveri says "the actual root parts were already done" by the time Grohl came onboard, a number of songs were revamped with his help in the studio. "I think Dave's biggest contribution was the chorus beat of 'First It Giveth'," Homme says. "The other sections of that song were laid in stone, but when he played that, all of our eyes rolled back and we went, 'what the f*** is that?' It's really an amazing beat to play with one foot!"

"It's really good to surround yourself with these people who can light a fire under your ass," Oliveri notes. "You're supposed to get better at your instrument. But the idea with us is that we should play with people that are better at their instrument than we are at ours, so we can get better! Otherwise it doesn't make any sense."

Anticipation for the project began to reach fever pitch after Grohl played live with QOTSA in March at Los Angeles' Troubadour. The group, augmented by Lanegan and A Perfect Circle guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen, later wowed audiences across the country during a three-week club tour. A sundown set at April's Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in the Palm Desert, Calif., suburb of Indio was, Oliveri admits, "the first time we ever played in our hometown with a stage and lights."

Grohl played his final show with QOTSA for the time being July 28 at Japan's Fuji Rock Festival. Going forward, drum chores will be handled by former Danzig member Joey Castillo. Says Homme wryly, "he could give Dave Grohl a run for his money."

"Deaf," the follow-up to 2000's "Rated R," is bundled with a limited-edition DVD. "We had 27 cameras filming the Troubadour show," says band manager Stu Sobol. "It turned out so cool and the fans will love it. This was the kind of show where 500 people were actually there but 5,000 people claim they were!" The DVD features three songs from the Troubadour show, clips from an in-store performance in Detroit, and assorted off-stage footage.

A video for lead single "No One Knows," featuring Grohl, Oliveri, and Homme on a hunting trip gone awry, was directed by Michel Gondry (Bjork, Radiohead) and can be streamed on the group's official Web site (QOTSA.com).

QOTSA kicks off a fresh round of touring tonight (Aug. 30) in Washington, D.C., with anarchic labelmates ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead in tow. Afterward, "we'll go to Europe for six weeks beginning in mid-October," Sobol reports. "Then we're heading to South America and Mexico. There will be more shows in North America in the spring."

Mulling the inspiration for and potential fortunes of "Songs for the Deaf," Oliveri acknowledges that "this record is all over the place in a good way. But we're just trying to create music and write songs we can't go get at the local record store, [asking ourselves], 'What can't we go buy? We want to hear this.' In that case, we'll just have to put it together and make it available."

Excerpted from the Aug. 31, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.

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