Queens Of The Stone Age: “I was trying to write my way out of my troubles”

Queens Of The Stone Age: “I was trying to write my way out of my troubles”

Queens of The Stone Age have had a mega year. The band released ‘In Times New Roman’, their first record in nearly six years, and follows a very public legal battle with frontman Josh Homme’s former wife, Distillers frontwoman Brody Dalle. It was shaped by the losses of close friends Mark LaneganFoo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, Treme actor Rio Hackford and the chef-turned-travel writing legend Anthony Bourdain. Not to mention Homme’s own health struggles, having recently been given the all-clear of cancer.

Homme – and later bandmate Dean Fertita – sat down with NME in London to talk about friendship and connection, a “romance” with Dave Grohl, a backstage run-in with Elton John and more. Read the interview below, or watch the full chat above.

Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme, 2023. Credit: Andreas Neumann

NME: Your London show last night was excellent. It felt like a sense of joy and gratitude from the stage was a lot more palpable this time?

Homme: “Everyone has had a crazy five years, and I too have had a crazy five years, a lot of the guys in the band have as well. I think we just appreciate playing The O2, really. I’m always searching for a good time. I always have been a good time girl, and I just want it so bad. If I’m going to be far away on tour – when you leave everyone you love to go be with strangers – then my desire is for it to feel like we’re exploding with joy. Otherwise, what’s the fucking point?

“I’m just in a different headspace and can feel it coming back. Sometimes before, I was caught up in my own head. That’s not a bad thing, but this is different.”

There’s that old adage that we’re here for a good time, not a long time…

H: “I just know that that’s true. I know for a fact that a good time, not a long time, is why we’re here.”

Of course, a lot has been said about the COVID years, your family and health struggles, losing so many of the people you love…

H: “I know, everyone wants to talk about that. It’s funny, because I really don’t want to talk about that! Every record has a story attached to it, otherwise what’s its point? I understand that’s its story, and I know good and god damn well that I was trying to write my way out of my troubles – but I do think that’s what it’s for.

“It’s funny, though. I think that in the future, no matter what’s happening, I should just sing about puppies and rainbows and ponies that swim, because then that’s what everyone will believe is what it’s about. But I just don’t know how far that goes. I need it to be about my real life when it comes to the words. It needs to be real, or what’s the point?”

In terms of using writing as a means to get out of hard times, did that compulsion change your relationship to the band and to music this time? 

H: “Early on you’re trying to catch up to your inspiration. For the first three or four records, you’re just racing to keep up with your own ideas. I always had this philosophy that if you can’t outsmart them, out-weird them. In moments when I was feeling vulnerable, unsure or afraid, I just got more bizarre in those moments. It felt good to see the look on someone’s face twist as they shake their head and say, ‘What are you on about?’ Now, I don’t have time for that. I’m trying to keep up with the hills and valleys of regular life.

“Dealing with the more intense portions of life certainly means more to me, and I hope it means more to other people too. The days of childish pursuits are long gone.”


Post-COVID, it was difficult for a lot of people to put themselves back out there. You were putting a lot more of yourself out there not just in the songs but on stage. The first time that happened was when you played the Taylor Hawkins Wembley tribute gig, playing Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ with Nile Rodgers.

H: “That felt really good, because I’ve always placed a really high value on escapism as a really top commodity. Being able to sing ‘Let’s Dance’ with Nile Rodgers at Wembley for my friend… Taylor would have loved that gig so much. It’s such a wonderful thing that perhaps only Dave [Grohl] could do as a send-off like that. [He was asking] ‘Is this a good way to say ‘I love you’?’ In the years past, I haven’t always known how to say ‘I love you’ to the people that I care about, you know?”

Obviously you and Dave went through similar ordeals of loss and he was writing his way out of it too on Foo Fighters’ ‘But Here We Are’. Did you guys discuss the process and the making of the two records? 

H: “Yeah. Dave has been one of the longest romances I’ve had that’s worked. He’s such a good guy, but I also love his dark side. I love mixing our watercolours together like that, just in conversation. We go to this place, that I won’t name, just to eat breakfast and waffles and talk about times.”

Dean, it’s the end of the year – one in which QOTSA have released one of 2023’s finest albums and pulled off an amazing tour. How are you feeling about part of the band right now after all that you’ve been through?

Fertita: “It’s more focussed. Over the last few years, I was very aware of things that were constants in my life because there was so much change and uncertainty with things. It’s almost like seeing a shiny thing at the bottom of the ocean – that’s either gonna be important to me or someone will dive in and get it. It’s like the lost ring you found. All of the things that were constants for me really came to the forefront. Being in this band and the friendships have made doing this tour and this record more important to me than any previous project I’ve done.

“All of us are playing the best we ever have. I don’t know what the reason is for that. Maybe we just understand our relationship to each other and what it means in the context of the band.”

H: “We’ve been pondering why we’ve been playing better. It’s certainly not through a lack of trying from before, but why is it that we feel like we’re further along we’ve ever been just in terms of being able to do ‘together’ as a group? Can we get the essence of what that is and hold to it? Plus we have nothing else to fucking do. Sitting and driving around thinking, ‘How do we come to understand what’s happening here?’ Perhaps it’s better to just leave it alone, accept it and enjoy it.”

Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme and Dean Fertita at Glastonbury 2023 (CREDIT: Andy Ford/ NME)

One of the first times that a lot of people would have seen you return was at Glastonbury. Was that magic of everything between you amplified by the magic of Glasto? 

H: “Glastonbury is always an interesting experience, and especially the last few times for us because they always ask us to do the hard job. Other than driving the sewage truck, playing against Elton [this year] is one of the tougher jobs, as is playing against Beyoncé [2011]. They were both tough gigs that were really fun, but tough because you don’t know when you walk out if anyone is going to be there. Quickly all that stuff just fades away and you have a good time. It’s Glasto at the end of the day and people are just there to participate. Escapism is really what we’re after.”

You’ve got that relationship with Elton where you’ve worked together before on ‘Fairweather Friends’ from 2013’s ‘Like Clockwork‘. Was there an Anchorman news team battle backstage between his people and yours, where Elton had a trident?

H: “He gave me a gentle kiss on the cheek and said, ‘Enjoy playing to all three people’, which I thought was amazing. I laughed, but then when we walked out I thought, ‘Oh my god’. There was a lot of people, but normally there would probably be a lot more. It was an interesting thing to walk out to at first. That was some accurate shit right there, that was a good prediction.”

Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme and Dean Fertita interviewed by NME. Credit: NME/Dean Uzzell

Were you thinking much about perception and what you were coming back to during your time away?

H: “Honestly, the five years were so intense that I forgot to remember that it was going to be perceived in some way. Completing the record was just difficult enough, where it was more of a sigh of a relief when it was done than anything else. It wasn’t until it had been done for a few months when I realised that people were going to receive it and I had no idea what that means. I tend to stay away from the NMEs and whoever elses of the world because it’s not really my job to focus on how it’s perceived.”

What’s next? Will it be another six years before a new record or are you itching to start over?

H: “I think we should be making something. The mantra of the last five years was, ‘It won’t be long now!’ That needs to pertain to making things too. I certainly think we should make more, faster-er, better-er.”

Because you were both part of the project with Iggy Pop, I have to ask if ‘Post Pop Depression’ part two could happen, or if that just had its own place in time?

H: “Well, I would do that in a second.”

F: “Oh my god, if there was ever the opportunity to do it, it would be amazing – but there are no plans.”

H: “No plans, but you can’t force something into being. You just have to be ready to accept it when it arrives.”

It would be great to do that Royal Albert Hall show again…

H: “That was the coolest thing I’ve ever been allowed to be part of. But to try to chase that down again is a big mistake. Acceptance is the key. I accept that happened and I accept that it can never happen again.”

‘In Times New Roman’ by Queens Of The Stone Age is out now. The band return to the UK to headline Download Festival in June 2024. Visit here for tickets and more information. 

The post Queens Of The Stone Age: “I was trying to write my way out of my troubles” appeared first on NME.

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