Tuning into static

By Kyle Brown
Entertainment Editor

Queens of the Stone Age: A twist for the darker

There are few alternative rock artists these days whose sound you can pick up in an instant. At least to me, they all bleed into the formula of a whiny, egotistical vocalist with his backing band of soft men hiding behind their softer, more gutless rhythm playing.
Queens of the Stone Age is a group of men who choose not to be like the men stated previously. They know what rocks and what rolls, and when their sound thunders out of the speakers, it’s a truly macho experience. Did I mention that Josh Homme, QotSA’s lead vocalist/guitarist is a giant of a man at 6’4″? Fat chance you’ll catch him doing anything that could be considered girly in the slightest.
To listen to QotSA is a submersive experience; the riffs are driven so far into your skull that when the song ends, you go through withdrawal instantly. They’re damn catchy; even if the distortion is kicked up ten notches above what should be considered legal, it’ll still produce a sound that drills straight through all logic and reason into a whistlable tune.
Yes, I said whistlable, because the truth of the matter is that QotSA is a very musical group, even if they come from a heavier, darker corner of the alternative rock realm. One of the biggest selling points for me on any band is if they have a triplet section in a song (call me a music geek, but this is really serious stuff), and that’s something QotSA loves to do every now and again, and every time they do it, it’s ecstasy. 
QotSA is at times, very serious. Songs like “No One Knows” and “The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret” are about as straightforward and dark as they come, but at other times QotSA shows they can fool around as well as anyone else can.
Throughout their third album, Songs For The Deaf, (the best part is the way they follow up this oxymoron on the album) is a Los Angeles radio motif that honestly makes me crack up while listening. “Feel Good Hit Of The Summer,” a song off their sophomore release, Rated R, has lyrics composed entirely of the names of drugs and it makes you wonder just how serious they’re being. I have my doubts, but maybe Josh Homme just really wanted to write a song about drugs.
No matter how QotSA delivers their sound, jokingly or not, it always has potential to be something great. Josh Homme is a talented, versatile vocalist who sing softly and melodically or straight up scream. Everything he does fits perfectly into the band’s sound, but that’s mostly because he’s the only permanent member of the group.
Rhythm guitar Troy Van Leeuwen and drummer Joey Castillo both joined to record Songs For The Deaf while bassist Michael Shuman and keyboardist Dan Fertita joined prior to their last album, Era Vulgaris.

In case you were wondering, the additions of these band members did morph QotSA’s sound over time. Castillo brought in volume and intensity when he came to fill in for Foo Fighters frontman and current member of Homme’s supergroup side project, Them Crooked Vultures, Dave Grohl. Grohl left his footprint on QotSA as well; his experience with Nirvana stamped the band with its alternative rock label, even if they don’t always deserve it.

There’s no question QotSA chilled out once Era Vulgaris was recorded; the addition of Shuman and Fertita allowed the band to focus on playing as a more cohesive unit, and the sound that came forth from it was a lot different from their previous works, dividing a number of their fans.
However, I am a fan of everything QotSA has done, old and new, so on that note, they are coming out with a brand new album set for early this year, although they haven’t stated a date or a title yet (I’m as bummed as you are).
The guys were “locked away in the desert” recording last December so who knows how that will impact things. I’m hoping it’s for the more psychotic, because that’s right in QotSA’s comfort zone.