Listening back to Queens of the Stone Age’s first few LPS, you wouldn’t have bet on them landing arena headliners in Ireland, and recording an album with a blockbuster pop and R&B producer.
Their 1998 self-titled debut followed by Rated R and Songs For the Deaf ranged from stoner rock to deranged psychedelia and full-on devil-horns metal, and their breakout single Feel Good Hit of the Summer just listed a cocktail of mind-busting drugs, with a chorus of “c-c-c-c-cocaaaaaine!”
And in Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri, they had one of the most fearsome take-no-prisoners rock’n’roll tag teams of the early noughties — Homme a 6ft 5in ball of swaggering aggression, and Oliveri, a near-psycho who would play on stage fully naked.
But in 2017, QOTSA are one of the world’s biggest rock bands — with a rake of Grammy nominations, arena tours and a new album, Villains, produced by Mark Ronson, whose CV includes Uptown Funk and albums by Lady Gaga, Amy Winehouse and Adele.
Even in the Oliveri years from 1998-2004, it’s always been Homme’s baby, with ample help from heavyweight guests like Mark Lanegan, David Grohl, Trent Reznor and (WTF) Elton John. And between their 2013 LP …Like Clockwork, Homme and his QOTSA bandmate added extra heft to Iggy Pop’s late career triumph Post Pop Depression in 2015.
So even if Homme’s the big boss, he has no problem delegating to others, and chasing the results. Villains is another break away from the monster riffage of old, but the darkwave synths and death-disco pulse on tracks like Feet Don’t Feel Me rub up well against the Stooges garage racket of Head Like a Haunted House.
QOTSA just wrapped up the North American leg of their tour at Madison Square Garden — and if they’re worthy of New York’s most iconic venue, they’ll have no problem rocking our biggest arena.