Getting a gig at this year’s Ozzfest isn’t an easy thing to do, especially if you’re Queens Of The Stone Age. They aren’t rap-metal, they aren’t a carnival of freaks, and they don’t tune their guitars down to sound like everyone else. In fact, they are easily the most unique band on the bill, but they do have one thing that no other act does: two of the many members of Queens are former members of stoner rock legends Kyuss. For those of you not familiar with Kyuss, it was a group of high school kids who played Sabbath-heavy riffs and turned it upside down, inside out, creating the most beautiful thunder rarely heard by the mainstream. They’ve since disbanded. Queens Of The Stone Age is Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri’s take on where the sound may have gone had they continued. The new album, Rated R, is a multicolored assortment of ups and downs and everything in between and is probably the best rock album of 2000. We had a chance to chat with the bassist, Mr. Nick Oliveri, about the band, their stint on Ozzfest, and the art-rock juggernaut that is Queens Of The Stone Age.
Alright, how’s the tour going?
It’s going great, man. We’re almost halfway done, but we’re filling the off days with our own shows. It’s kind of like a day on and a day off thing. We don’t really like to take days off when we’re out, so it’s been cool.
What kind of response are you getting from the crowds?
Pretty good. Some places are better than others. We go on at one-thirty in the afternoon, so everybody’s still waking up. If it’s a Monday or a Wednesday, people are still at work, but there’s some early birds that are out, drunk when we came on, still drunk when Ozzy plays.
Last time I spoke to Josh, he mentioned you guys may be bringing two drummers out on the road with you. Did that happen?
No, not on this tour, but probably the next one. We just got a new lap steel electric piano player named Brenden, from Masters Of Reality. We’re constantly moving with new members to keep it fresh.
Are you sticking to a setlist or are you trying to please the Kyuss/Queens fans in the audience by playing a lot of different stuff?
We try to change it up, but if a set works we’ll use it for a couple of nights. We pretty much change it around whenever we feel like. If we’re playing a song and it feels right, then we’ll do what comes naturally instead of following the setlist.
Have you done your obscure stuff like “Fatso Forgotso”, “Born to Hula”, or any of the splits songs?
We haven’t on Ozzfest, but we try to do as much of that stuff as possible when we’re playing club shows.
I’m a huge Kyuss fan so I feel obligated to ask, have you done any Kyuss recently?
We did “Supa Scoop and Mighty Scoopa” in Europe a couple of times. It’s fun to do, but we’ve got more songs now, that was last year, and we’re really a different band now. We’ve evolved out of it, but it’s still there when we play live.
The new disc (Rated R) is amazing. It’s not easy to get into, but once you find the groove, it really flows. There’s a lot of variety on each song. Was that your ultimate goal when recording?
Obviously we didn’t want to make the same record twice. We wanted to have a log of elements from the first one, but we wanted each song to move and be as diverse as we could get them. Whatever flavor Queens Of The Stone Age, we want to play works. If we think it doesn’t suck, then we’ll turn it into a song. We wanted to have something that moved to us. We wanted it up and down, side to side, song to song.
Why did you decide to put “Monsters in the Parasol” from Desert Sessions III/IV on Rated R?
We really liked the song, and Desert Sessions is cool, but it’s really limited in print. We thought the song should be more available because we really dig it.
It’s a lot more revved up and not as heady.
Yeah, but it’s still weird, cool.
How did Rob Halford (Judas Priest) end up on “Feel Good Hit Of The Summer”?
We were in Studio B at Soundcity and he was in Studio A. The hallway outside the studios is very small. It doesn’t matter if you’re in A or B, you’re going to end up hanging out with the other band. So he was hanging out and Chris Goss, our producer, asked if he’d sing on it and he said ‘Sure!’ He read the lyrics and laughed, and sang on it backup.
“Better Living Through Chemistry” sounds like it belongs somewhere else. Was it written when you sat down to write R?
Yeah, it was written during the week we spent in The Joshua Tree area writing most of the album.
You just did a video for “Lost Art of Keeping a Secret”. Who directed it and what did he do with it?
Jon Parazzi. He’s done a couple of things with the Earthlings?, and we liked his stuff. It was cool because we could go in and give him our parts and he did the rest. We knew what we wanted, so we left it in his hands. He knew how to get it. He was somebody we trusted and it turned out pretty well.
What are your plans after Ozzfest?
We’re going to do a club tour of our own, a couple of weeks with the Foo Fighters, and then go to Europe. We’ll come back after that and hit the places we missed before.
There’s been a few really deep albums that have come out in the past six months or so and yours is on top of that list in a lot of minds. Do you feel you’re finally getting the respect you deserve as serious musicians?
Absolutely. Not everyone is going to like it, and we know that. We’re really happy with it all. Hopefully this tour will open some more ears. It’s just a really different sound for right now, and I think people are looking for that.
I think that’s why people shy away sometimes though, because it doesn’t sound like Korn or Limp Bizkit.
Exactly, but everything gets big, so we’ll just wait to see what happens next. We still have fun, regardless.
Right on! That’s about all I wanted to ask, so good luck and hopefully I’ll be seeing you all soon!
Thanks a lot, man. Cheers!
+ rick hinkson