After years of toiling in relative obscurity, Queens of the Stone Age have found themselves recording and playing with no less a rock legend than former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl. Grohl played on their new album, Songs of the Deaf (due August 13th) and will be behind the kit for their upcoming tour, which kicks off May 27th.
At last weekend’s Coachella Festival, a two-day celebration of rock, hip-hop and electronica held on a Polo Field smack in middle of the California desert, the new band — which also includes Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan on vocals — proved it’s no publicity stunt. As QOTSA’s blustery rock exploded into the crisp air on Saturday, the crowd surged and screamed for more every time Grohl landed one of his pummeling fills or brought a song to its thundering conclusion. He ditched his shirt halfway into the set, the ultimate gesture of rock assimilation.
QOTSA singer-bassist Nick Oliveri couldn’t suppress his excitement backstage.
How did the recording of Songs for the Deaf go?
Our recording was good. We just finished the new record, which is kind of a concept record that has the radio flipping between songs, like the dial on a radio. And we have different DJs — I don’t mean scratching DJs, I mean DJs talking — announcing songs and just kind of talking shit about how a lot of stations play the same thing over and over. We’re just taking a chance, having a good time. We don’t get played on the radio, so I figure we should talk shit about them.
How was it working with Dave?
It’s great. He’s going on tour with us, joining our band and we’re psyched. We’re like, “You can have as many bands as you want. I have three bands, why shouldn’t you?” If he’s into it, which he is, I hope he stays. He’s one of my favorite drummers of all time. He’s got a signature beat, and I don’t know many drummers that have that, you know, the “Teen Spirit” beat. That’s Dave Grohl’s beat as far as I’m concerned. I’ve never heard that beat before. I’ve heard it after he did it, but I never heard it before he did it. So I’d say it’s his. It’s amazing, dude. He’s from one of my favorite bands of all time and I’m fucking counting my blessings. I haven’t taken my bass home to practice in years, but I’ve been taking my bass home — trying to stay strong with my fucking chops and shit.
So he’s definitely onboard?
Yeah, I think he’s enjoying playing drums. I think he’s enjoying not having the responsibility of taking care of everyone. We’re taking care of him. It’s like, [he doesn’t] have to write all the songs — I’m not saying those guys don’t write, I’m saying he doesn’t have to do it all. He doesn’t have to sign the checks. He’s a great songwriter, he’s a great singer and a guitar player, but he’s a better drummer as far as I’m concerned. I tell him that to his face, so it’s not anything I’m just talking shit about. He’s one of the best rock drummers. He should be behind the kit. He should be hitting the skins. He’s a madman.
How has it been hanging with Dave off-stage?
He’s just a cool guy. He’s a really mellow dude, man, which you don’t really expect from somebody’s who’s done as well as him, you know? Very humble, very cool. Treats people the same level. It’s an unexpected thing.