Dean Fertita likes making his own music, but not necessarily under his own name.
The Queens of the Stone Age and Dead Weather guitarist-keyboardist recently released “Hello=Fire,” a title that serves as both the name of the 12-track album and of the entity that recorded it. And while he acknowledges that using his own name would “probably be a wise approach,” Fertita tells Billboard.com that he’s more comfortable operating under a band name.
“Just for me as a fan of music and everything, I always gravitated towards a band idea,” Fertita explains. “I’m a fan of the band concept. I like the interaction with other people in writing and performing, so that’s probably something I’ll always keep to.”
Fertita started making “Hello=Fire” two years ago with Brendan Benson in their native Detroit and continued recording “on days off” from duties with is other bands, including a stint as a utility player on the Raconteurs’ first tour. He used a half-dozen studios in locales such as London, Los Angeles and Nashville, joined by Benson, QOTSA bandmates Joey Castillo, Troy Van Leeuwen and Michael Schuman, and the Afghan Whigs’ Michael Horrigan.
“I was surprised at the end of the whole thing that it sounded as cohesive as it did,” Fertita admits. “I think I was lucky in the fact that I was able to do most of the recording with guys that I’ve been plying with for awhile; whoever was around and felt like going in the studio for a day and making some music, that’s who played on the record. There wasn’t anything pre-conceived about it; the mood of everybody who was in the room that day is kind of where this went. It was a really simplified approach.”
Fertita has played only one Hello=Fire concert, at Spaceland in Los Angeles, but he hopes to more when time allows. Currently his “number one priority” is the new QOTSA album, which the group will start recording in January. “Everybody seems excited and ready to go,” Fertita reports. “We’ve got so many ideas started already; I guess we’ll see what turns out to be everybody’s favorite. It’s very much still (Josh Homme’s) band, but I think all of us really feel like we’ve found our space in it and can contribute to it as well.”
The Dead Weather, meanwhile, is currently off duty, though Fertita is confident it will make more music in the future as well. “Everything seems to happen by accident with that band,” he notes, “so who knows — maybe we’ll have a record together in another two weeks. I think we all love the way it works, so I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t try to keep it going at some point.”