Just one month remaining till QOTSA new album release, … Like a Clockwork, I’m starting to get nervous. It’s taken Josh Homme 6 years to take control back of the band, leave his others projects for a while, and record an album. It’s been too long since the fans don’t received new stuff, and we are eager! Got my copy preordered.
Little by little I’m recovering the different albums of their discography, and every time I do it, I’m full of enthusiasm. Queens Of The Stone Age has become one of my favorite bands, and Josh Homme not only an object, well, figure of desire, but also one of my favorite personal rock icons, thanks to his unique voice, so criticized by many, his style playing guitar, his talent writing music, and his charisma.
This time Rated R, QOTSA’s second work, is the album of the week.
Released in June 2000, when I was still living in London, I attended a promoting show at The Underworld, actually 3 days before its release worldwide and even though it was a great night and I was introduced to Josh by -cough, cough- Dave Wyndorf, I was a bit disappointed. They didn’t sound as groovie as their previous shows, and songs were too fast.
Somehow it discouraged me from listening to this album for long time and for some time, as I’ve already explained here, I really lost my interest for the band. Just because of one show. Sometimes I don’t understand myself, really.
I remember as if it was yesterday when I decided my hissy fit had to come to an end. I went straight to the record store, didn’t feel like digging and wasting my time, so I went straight to the guy and asked him for the album. I said R, and he didn’t know what I was talking about. I said Rated R and he stared at me as if I was an imbecile. Finally I asked him for QOTSA and he reacted. This was the “blue album”. What a pro, holy shit!
I came back home and started playing it on the stereo nonstop. First impression was that it wasn’t as great as the debut album, but quickly I swallowed my words.
Rated R was the album which took them to massive success. Apology for drugs, Mark Lanegan’s first collaboration providing lead vocals on In The Fade, which is AWESOME, and backing vocals on several songs, charismatic and insane Nick Oliveri also joining the band for the first time and becoming a very active member, both as a showman, musician and troublemaker, and a handful of hit songs which blew people’s minds. The cocktail couldn’t fail.
Not only QOTSA’s trademark were Homme’s killing guitar riffs and voice, which by the way he’s been polishing throughout these years adding more varied dynamics, and widening his register. The master formula, was based on the repetition. Repetition of riffs, of drums, of backing vocals, of phrasing…of everything. Sometimes drums barely change from verse through chorus, and don’t perform “complex” rolls. With this I do not mean drums are simple, no way.
One of the most boring things a drummer has to do is to play on their own, in order to practice and improve their skills. You might ignore I used to play drums a bit. Not a skillful one, neither a crappy one. But as usual, missing people to jam with, and lack of encouragement from certain people, prevented me for attempting to go further. My story with instruments is a sad one. Never was too constant, I didn’t get my own drum kit and since all men I’ve been related to have been musicians (some of them very talented and multiplayer), I never took myself very seriously and didn’t believe in myself enough as to give it a try.
All this confession has to do with the fact that for some time I went to these rent-a-studio-per-hour places for some months one hour a week, to play drums by myself. I had these hearing protectors for workers, with my headphones inside connected to the iPod, in order to play over the music. Considering the repetition of QOTSA’s songs and the structures, I used to play the debut album and Rated R a lot, at a low level, of course, but it was definitely a good motivation. Auto Pilot and You Can’t Quit Me Baby used to blow my head. But I quit drumming eventually.
When you face R for the first time, first impression is based on the hits I was mentioning: Feel Good Hit of the Summer, The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret, and Monsters in the Parasol. It’s when you start digging beyond that when you start truly enjoying this album. If I had to choose my favorite songs probably the chosen one would be In the Fade and Auto Pilot, followed by Leg of Lamb and Better Living Through Chemistry. Still, in my opinion Rated R is not as complete as Queens of the Stone Age or Songs for the Deaf, but I love it anyway.