Josh Homme puts the pedal to the metal

By Sergio Ariza

2001 was assumed to be the commercial resurrection of the rock guitar with records like Is This It? by the Strokes, or White Blood Cells from the White Stripes, with the pundit press proclaiming Jack White as rock’s savior. That same year, Foo Fighters leader and ex-Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, got together with Josh Homme and his Queens Of The Stone Age, who was a legend of ‘stoner rock’, thanks to his previous band Kyuss, and chose to take the opportunity to record an album to show that rock didn’t need saving. 

And at that moment the band already had 2 formidable records, but with Grohl thrown into the mix on the sticks, everything looked ready to release something definitive. To put the cherry on top, they got his trusted bassman Nick Oliveri, also of the once Kyuss, and singer Mark Lanegan, formerly of the Screaming Trees. It was a hefty quartet, but the real captain of this band was Homme who had very clear ideas on what he wanted, turning his guitar into a unique brand, with strong heavy riffs that sounded as if Tony Iommi had grown up listening to Nirvana. The other cohesive element of the record was Oliveri’s idea to tie it all together through short false radio bits, making it a more conceptual scene of a car/road trip from L.A. to the Mojave Desert. The effect got them a much more compact work and the perfect top-volume road record. 

After a strange intro, someone begins to sync various radio stations , that becomes the beginning of ‘Songs for the deaf’, then an explosive riff gives way to Oliveri screaming at the top of his lungs, from 0-100 kph in record time. The next song is the most remembered from the band’s career, and which brought them fame, No One Knows, that melts a repetitive  guitar riff into Homme’s magnetic voice, leading to the bridge riff, which is pure Sabbath. It’s one of the songs that most defines their sound, with Homme’s low guitar lurking to find the darkest, heaviest sound. It’s hard to guess which gear he uses exactly, since he doesn’t like to give away his secrets on his particular sound, but if we watch the video closely, we’re talking about a Maton Mastersound MS520, an Aussie make he’s especially fond of, having played various models, mainly a Maton BB1200, yet, his favourite when he was with the Kyuss and on the 3 albums of the Queens Of The Stone Age was an Ovation Ultra GP.   

Among the album’s other numbers Go With the Flow stands out as one of the few where another guitarist appears, in this case, Brendon McNichol, who links them to the Stooges. Hangin’ Tree, which shows Lanegan’s vocal power, First It Giveth with yet another trademark riff, A Song for the Dead which a great guitar solo hitches with another, the catchy Another Love Song, sung by Oliveri, or the final acoustic number Mosquito Song with its excellent string arrangement, shining a different light on the band’s image and putting an end to one of the most interesting trips in 21st century rock music.