They're quirky, different, but they rock. Queens of the Stone Age, one of the most respected
hard rock groups in the country, will make their Atlantic City debut 9 p.m. Nov. 7 at the House of Blues at Showboat.
Led by singer/guitarist Josh Homme, Queens broke out in 2002 with "Songs for the Deaf," partly
because of melodic rockers like "No One Knows" and "Go With the Flow," but also because of Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl
putting his band on hold while he played drums and toured with Queens, showing his support for the band's then-unappreciated
contributions to rock.
The band followed up their success with this year's "Lullabies to Paralyze," another successful
outing that boasted more radio staples ("In My Head," "Little Sister," "Burn the Witch") despite the absense of bassist Nick
Oliveri, who played a big part of Queens' evolution.
Guitarist/keyboardist Troy Van Leeuwen took the time to talk about the band, its future and
his alleged affair with a kangaroo.
Q: The QOTSA Web site denies the rumors that you recently had a fling with a kangaroo in Australia.
We want to know the real truth.
A: It wasn't a fling. It was a real long-distance relationship. My baby is still growing in
the pouch. It's a touchy subject.
Q: This band — maybe Josh in particular — seems to love to keep the band members'
personalities out of sight and let the music speak for itself. Is that cool with you?
A: Absolutely. We're people who just like to play music and listen to music, and the personal
angle and our personal lives … they're just not that interesting. The music is more interesting. We're not into the
other s—t. We're into the music and the visuals and the art.
Q: QOTSA's music is really interesting because instead of inventing yourself album by album,
it's almost like you reinvent yourselves song by song.
A: That's how we approach it. We don't want to lose ourselves in all of it. We are all characters
and we all bring a very wide variety of styles and affection for different music. We try to express as much as that as possible.
Q: You've been with Queens since the band's breakthrough on 'Songs for the Deaf.' Coincidence,
or are you the real secret star of the band?
A: If I were the real secret star of Queens, then I wouldn't be able to tell you. I just think
there are things that kind of lined up with the whole situation. When Dave Grohl took a real interest in the band and played
and toured with us for six weeks … that really helped out a lot. The truth is, Josh named the album 'Songs for the Deaf'
because he didn't think anyone would ever hear it. He knew it was a good record, and he made fun of radio stations and the
band and the whole situation right on the album. So getting back to the question, I think it was more coincidence.
Q: During the live show, when do you regularly realize that this band is special?
A: Pretty much the whole time. The band is so musically on fire right now live, it's amazing.
Even though we're on tour opening for Nine Inch Nails right now, we're not getting a whole lot of time. So the shows like
the Atlantic City gig are the ones we really get into, playing for two hours or more sometimes. We're able to get in touch
with people on a closer level at the smaller venues.
Q: Do you miss Nick?
A: I don't really. I miss some things about him, like his sense of humor, but on the whole,
he was such a big character in the band that I think we're every bit as good without him. With a character like Nick, most
of the times he's completely out of control and people think that's rock or punk rock or whatever, but sometimes it's downright
He was doing things on stage that bothered some of us. He was doing things that I said, 'I
can't get behind this.' It's about the music, not about one person who wants to destroy everything we built.
Q: It's kind of odd that you were in A Perfect Circle and now Queens of the Stone Age, two
bands with relatively common rotating lineups.
A: It is weird. I like the difference between both projects, though. It expresses two sides
of my personality. I really love the lush landscapes of A Perfect Circle, a really moody project, but Queens lets me really
express the rock guy in me. It also lets me express the quirks in me, because this band is definitely quirky. I was a huge
fan of Queens when I was in A Perfect Circle. So it's cool to be able to play in two of my favorite bands like that.
Q: When you joined Queens in the studio on 'Lullabies,' was it fun to see how Josh's mind
works and how you worked with him and the others.
A: Sure. That record was a lot of fun to make, and we made it in such a short time. We could
have kept going and kept recording, but we didn't want it to become an, 'Oh, it's time to do another record,' kind of thing
like most bands would do. We decided, 'OK, this is a good thing. Let's put a limit on it and get it out.'
Q: Is there something on 'Lullabies' that has your stamp on it?
A: I would say there are two elements of that record that make me proud. The first is 'The
Blood Is Love,' which was completely done live in its entirety on the first take and really shows the band that we have on
the road, where we're looking for each other and changes with just eye contact and vibe. It's also a real expression how the
band could move and be moody and melodic at the same time. It encapsulated the record for me.
The second thing was 'Someone's in the Wolf,' because it was my style of writing music in
general with Josh singing over it. It was a good marriage of two guitar players.
Q: What's next?
A: We're taking a break after the New Year. Josh will be a father soon, and he wants some
time off, and it's well deserved. He's been carrying this torch for eight or nine years. He deserves it.
I've got another band called Enemy; we put out a record earlier this month. It's definitely
a rock band with a little bit of soft ambient lush stuff. So I'm looking forward to exploring that a while.