Queens of the Stone Age are finalizing their fourth album, Lullabies to Paralyze, set for release on March 22nd. Rolling Stone recently caught up with the band while they were mixing the last two tracks in a Los Angeles studio.
Handmade signs near the toilet read "Welcome to the Loggins Lounge," and on the table in front of frontman Josh Homme was a recordable CD with songs from the new album -- though scrawled on the cover was "The Best of Loggins." It was both a ruse and in mock-tribute to the Eighties hitmaker. "He's a total sap," said Homme. "Who the fuck would steal a Kenny Loggins CD?"
Lullabies is the first album from QOTSA since their 2002 commercial breakthrough, Songs for the Deaf. Co-produced by Homme and Joe Barresi --who produced the group's self-titled 1998 debut and has worked with Weezer and Hole -- most of the album was recorded during the summer in studios in Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley.
Homme, however, returned to work in the fall to record two final tracks: "Don't Need a Name" and "The Fun Machine Took a Shit and Died." He now had nineteen songs from which to choose, ranging from the quirky, spooky rocker "Tangled Up in Plaid" to the contemplative "Long Slow Goodbye," which Homme calls "probably the song I'm most proud of ever."
Guests at the sessions included sometime-member Mark Lanegan, Shirley Manson of Garbage, Distillers singer Brody Dalle, Dean Ween and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, who appears on three tracks and marks the first-ever known recording of a "beard harmonic." "I was elated," said Homme, "because I've listened to him since I was twelve, and he's one of my favorite guitar players of all time. But on a musical level, I thought there was something we could trade with each other that's vital to us both."
The new album is also the first from Queens since the exit of bassist-singer Nick Oliveri, and Homme said he feels like an "underdog again." "Every time you make a record, you're trying to prove something a little bit," Homme said. "You can always put it out, but you can never take it back. I'd hate to suck."