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Mister Enemy - A Troy Van Leeuwen Fan Site

Trainor Interview
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Queens of the Stone Age
by: trainor     17 Mar 2003
(submitted by nwar)

In a media-condensed world saturated with image and catchy pop hooks, it almost seems impossible for a band like Queens of the Stone Age to exist on the same billboard chart as some of the music industry's biggest selling acts. Perfectly content with playing small bars and clubs throughout the world for the past few years, Queens amassed one hell of a cult following and now find themselves at the top of a list that most artists would kill to just be on.

With their latest record Songs For the Deaf, Queens Of The Stone Age not only wrote one of the best records of the decade, but also appear to be the same band they were before the paychecks started rolling in. The band found a way to cash in while not changing their sound up for anyone. I caught up with Queens guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen and bass player/co-vocalist Nick Oliveri after one of their shows during their current tour.

**Colored links to audio/video files**

Troy Van Leeuwen

Lab: Tell me about the transitions involved in coming from bands like Failure and A Perfect Circle to Queens, all which have totally different sounds.

Troy Van Leeuwen: It's a very different idea. Completely different. Both bands, I really like the music of each, but they are so dynamically different. Everything is different. Its almost upside down. But that's what I like about it, ya know? I like to keep myself on my toes. Or try to, at least. Its fun playing with Queens. Where you just sort of pound it out, ya know? The dynamics are quick, whereas A Perfect Circle like comes in waves.

Lab: What is your take on the current success of Queens? With the shows selling out in minutes?

TVL: Well, we like it. Its what you yearn and work for. It takes a long time to do something like that, to build a fan base like this. And now that we are playing to a whole new audience, we have to win them over now. I mean, of course, they hear the song on the radio, they come see the band because they have heard this song and then we make them wait. We wait till the end of the set to play the one song they came to hear. And they stay, so it's cool.

Lab: You really think that's the case? That all these people are here because of the single?

TVL: Well, with the newer audience, yeh. The fans that have been there since the beginning, we totally cater to them more, because they are the ones that got us here.

Lab: What's the set composed of? Are you mixing it up, or trying to stay with the current record?

TVL: Everything, off of all three records. Even B-sides.

Lab: What are your thoughts about doing the Lollapalooza tour?

TVL: Well, the festival tour thing started off, to me... Lollapalooza was it. And what it ended up being, and what it ended up competing with, was stuff like OzzFest and Warped Tour. And they kinda stick to one thing; Ozzfest is all metal or whatever, and Warped Tour is all punk. Lollapalooza's deal was to have alternative ideas and different styles of music, mixing it up, so you can have a variety. So it's going to be interesting, I think.

Lab: It's interesting to watch the progression of Lollapalooza's decline. Not really the caliber of the acts necessarily, but more like the commercialism and such.

TVL: I think that's what Perry (Ferrell) was trying to avoid. That's why he never sold the name, tried to keep it as pure as he possibly could, which is admirable.

Lab: It seems like it is starting to head back to its roots, so to speak. I think when Metallica played, a lot of the followers started to shy away?

Are you going to be involved in the next studio record?

TVL: Yeh. We've already started. It's at the very early stages of the writing process. It's just starting to come together. I brought my computer, do some demos or whatever. But the idea is to write a bunch of material and have everybody sit with it while we're on tour, because we are going to be gone till at least September. When we are done with touring we'll track it live.

 

Lab: What the haps on the Desert Sessions? Anything new on the horizon?

TVL: We just did like 16 songs during our break, right before this tour. There's more coming.

Lab: What are your thoughts on Internet file sharing? Seeing your songs being traded for free?

TVL: Well, there are two sides to this story. I understand why people do it. It's hard when you are on a major label; a lot of money gets spent to sell your record. Promotion-wise, and the making of the record. You don't really make money off your record nowadays; you have to sell millions of copies.

Lab: I think one advantage to the Songs for the Deaf records was the bonus DVD - an additional incentive to buy it.

TVL: Well, we have to come up with things like that? marketing, get creative that way. The artists have to be creative. The labels are all headless dumbass monsters. You have to tell them what to do. But on the other hand, kids and technology are taking over whether they like it or not, and the labels are just like "Duh, whatta we gonna do?" So at the end of the day, the fans are winning anyway. And soon enough, there won't be any record labels. Artists will just have their websites, and make money on tour. You just have to be on top of technology. That's just the way its gonna be. So I think it's a cool thing that's going on, even though it seems like a bad thing for the artist. It just makes you be more creative in order to make a living. And that's what this is all about - being creative.

Lab: Our mag is Internet-based. You ever get on and read any of the sites dedicated to the band? There is some crazy shit out there.

TVL: I do a little, I used to a lot. I haven't recently. I have been using my computer for creative reasons; I barely use email. I'd rather talk on the phone. But when I get the chance, I surf around. Personally, I like that they exist, because when people stop talking about you, you become uninteresting. Rumors are cool. Who cares. We all know what we are doing. It's actually pretty entertaining. I got in touch with these kids who were doing the aperfectcircle.org site, and they had a really extensive site, tons of bootlegs and stuff - they really know what they are doing. I was instant messaging them sometimes from the road, keeping in contact, but like I said, I stopped using my computer for email and all that stuff, and it's been like two years, and I decided to go in IM the other day and the second my name flashed up on their thing they just started coming at me. It's a whole different culture. When I was a kid, you just went to school and were like "hey, you check out that new record?" It's way different now. It's cool.
 

Nick Oliveri
 
Lab: First things first. Lets talk about one of my favorite bands of all time, The Dwarves. I know Blag (Dahlia) was one of the DJs on Songs for the Deaf. What's up with Blag? You keep in touch with him?

Nick Oliveri: Yeh, I just talked to him like two weeks ago. He wants to kill The Dwarves. Which is cool, whatever, I guess he figures he has been killing The Dwarves for years, and wants to finally just kill it. He wants The Dwarves to be over; he wants to do something else.

Lab: I have been trying to track down forever this Dwarves video called The Scum Also Rises (1.5mb, windows media). What is the deal with that? I have looked everywhere and just gave up.

NO: It never came out. Too much incriminating evidence. They videotaped like every single show. The band started in 1983, so you can imagine the amount of footage. Dwarves been around forever. There was a company that was going to put it out, and it just fizzled and never did. It sucks, it woulda been great.

Lab: Yeh, Blood, Coke and Sodomy. That shit is genius.

NO: Yeh, just never came about. So much footage to go through. There is part of me that really wants it come out, and on the other hand, part of me is like DON'T put that out. I joined them in '93, with Sugarfix - I played guitar. Then moved to bass. We toured with Flipper, man. It was amazing. Ted (Falconi) wouldn't be in the brain some days, and I would play guitar for Flipper. I did like 13 or 14 shows with them; it was amazing. I was like "What do I do?" and they'd be like "Something in E" was what I was told to do. I knew a lot of the stuff, but most of the time I just winged it. They were just gonna play without him anyway, ya know, like just drums and bass, just go on without him. It was wild. But I think that the Dwarves exist only when Blag wants them to, when he is not producing other records and stuff. He just helped me do a new record with Mondo Generator, which is a side thing that I do.
 

Lab: On Songs for the Deaf, you can certainly hear your punk rock influence. How does that play into the songwriting process?

NO: I guess I am just mad like a little kid. Naw, I am still pissed off, I don't know. I think everybody in this band basically loves punk rock. Joey played in Wasted Youth in the early '80s; we are all pretty much into that type of stuff. Josh's favorite bands are like Discharge, GBH - he's into the English punk stuff. So that's a lot of his influence. Subhumans, bands that jam. Longer songs, jams, like 18 parts and shit. But still has that punk rock attitude. That's our favorite stuff. Black Flag, Damaged, even some of the later stuff. COC's Animosity, I love listening to that. Especially before you go on to play, put that shit on man, get you goin'. We had a little boombox for the back area and someone stole it in fuckin' Dallas. I thought that was pretty weak. What could you get for it, like a hundred bucks? It wasn't really worth anything to anybody else but shit happens.

Lab: How did you hook up with Turbonegro?

NO: We've been listening to these guys for a long time, me and Josh and everybody else. I think we met them in Austin; they came though and played a place called The Blue Flamingo, a little tiny place. They went and played South by Southwest. Every time we go though Norway we hang out and party with them and shit. They're fuckin great. I think a lot of bands these days that claim to be like punk are not. As far as playing fast, these guys have attitude and they're cool, pissed off, and also having a good time. To me it's much more punk rock than anything else.

Lab: Its funny that you mention listening to Black Flag, someone pointed out to us the eerie similarity to the drum beat on "Songs for the Dead" and Black Flag's "Slip it In." What's up with that? Was that intentional?

 

NO: That was (Dave) Grohl. I think it was a sincere tip of the hat kinda thing. I mean it is fuckin' "Slip It In." That's what I said. It was more of tip of the hat than anything. One of Dave's favorite drummers is (Bill) Stevenson. And for good reason, the guy fucking shreds, right? Still does. I think it's just a tip of the hat.

Lab: Have you ever been asked that before?

NO: Heh, I asked Dave about it when recording! "I really like Stevenson" was all he said.

Lab: What was it like working with Dave Grohl? I mean, that guy is fucking badass. He beats the fuck out of the drums.

NO: He pulled out everything I think he knew how to do on drums. It was some really intricate and hard shit. And we were like "damn, we gotta find someone to do this when you leave?" Literally. The whole time I am thinking, "how are we gonna find someone to do this shit?" Because you need to have someone that can do the part, but also has their own style. Now we got Joey. He played with Danzig and Goatsnake. He's got a badass style, can play really hard.

Lab: Heard some rumors about a Kyuss re-release or something? Any plans on doing anything under Kyuss ever again?

NO: Re-release? Hmm. Well, Wretch was re-release on vinyl recently in Germany, I saw. But other than that, I have no idea. No one told me. I have heard Josh and John (Garcia) both say a million times that it would never, ever, ever happen. No one really gave a shit when it was around, and the people that were into it still are, and that's cool, but eight years after it broke up? I think one thing that makes it special is that it is over. That's what makes Kyuss special to me. It wasn't about anyone else, it was about the people playing in the band. I've heard Josh say that it wasn't even anyone who ever played in Kyuss's band - it's the fans' band now. They picked the cover of the "Best Of" record over in Germany, they picked the songs that went on it - nobody from the band was ever asked at all. It was totally illegal, I think, but who cares? It's the fans' band now. I think that it's kinda cool that people are into it enough that they'd do that.

Lab: Kyuss was pegged as a stoner rock type sound. What aspects influence the music that you are making now?

NO: Age. We were kids, man. Just what we were doing at the time. There's been a long time in between that. You get into different styles of music, the things that you are listening to, different things get interjected into your music. You don't want to make the same record over and over again. That was the thing we were trying to do is make a different record from each thing we put out. I think that if John was singing for this band, a lot of songs would sound like Kyuss. There's a lot of the style we still incorporate. We are not ashamed of Kyuss. We're proud of it. You can hear elements of them in this record.

Lab: Well, you have half the band (Kyuss) now in Queens; you have to expect some carry over in flavor just a natural progression.

NO: Josh wrote like 85% of the Kyuss stuff, so you are gonna hear some of it now. We just try and all put our best foot forward towards the Queens records, and just make some kick ass shit.

 

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