Queens of the Stone Age have established themselves as one of the more interesting and creative rock bands making music right now. A big secret to their success has always been the employment of a variety of eccentric musicians from different backgrounds as part of their constantly-changing lineup.
The one constant from the beginning has always been guitarist/vocalist Josh Homme, but over the course of its life the band has also seen contributions from musicians such as Nick Oliveri, Mark Lanegan, Troy Van Leeuwan, Alain Johannes, Dave Grohl, and Chris Goss among others.
With all of these musicians it can be hard to keep track of all their past and present bands and side-projects. In fact, the Queens of the Stone Age family tree is the biggest and most complicated that I’ve ever seen outside of jazz music, and nearly every band having a part in it has put out quality music.
They all play on each other’s projects, forming a big family of musicians that is now exercising its will on the music industry. Here’s a guide to the biggest and most important branches of the Queens family tree.
The foundation of the tree was built right here, with these two big roots. If there are any bands from this tree that are worthwhile for you to check out it is these two.
Kyuss- Ringleader Josh Homme’s first project, a pseudo-metal band that will blow your speakers away. Though Homme doesn’t sing in this group it was clear from the beginning (he was in his late teens when they released their first album!) that he was an amazing talent on the guitar.
The band also included one-time Queens members Nick Oliveri and Alfredo Hernandez, solidifying it as the ultimate precursor to Queens of the Stone Age. As it happened, Homme broke up the band just as they were starting to attract some real attention because he felt that they had painted themselves into a corner artistically and couldn’t escape. Key release: Welcome to Sky Valley.
Screaming Trees- The Trees throughout their career perfected a mix of garage rock, folk, and psychedelic rock that had never been heard before. The band’s real strength though, was the low, whiskey-soaked voice of Mark Lanegan, imagine Tom Waits with more range and the ability to actually sing.
As a fan of Lanegan’s, Homme joined the band as a touring guitarist after leaving Kyuss, starting what has proved to be a long and fruitful working relationship between the two. Lanegan also has had a long solo career, and the credited musicians on his Bubblegum release reads like a who’s who of the Queens family. Trees drummer Barrett Martin also does some work on the second Queens album. Key release: Dust.
Filled with numerous bands and side projects of Queens contributors, it would take me forever to detail the entire tree. What follows instead is a guide to those projects that relate most directly and significantly to Queens of the Stone Age.
Desert Sessions- A loose project that gathers everyone from the family tree in different combinations and unleashes them in the California desert to create whatever their minds see fit. As authors use pen names when they are releasing a book that may be different from what their readers are expecting, Desert Sessions is really just a pen name for Queens of the Stone Age to allow them to create whatever twisted music they see fit. This is the place where all these musicians mix and match with each other so frequently, necessitating the creation of the family tree. Key release: Vol. 7-8.
Mondo Generator- The now full-time project of former Queens bassist/vocalist Nick Oliveri. This is a full-fledged haven for those loud and fast punk songs that he so specialized in as a member of Queens. Other band members have included Dave Catching and Brant Bjork, who themselves have ties to Queens and to Kyuss. Key release: A Drug Problem That Never Existed.
Masters of Reality- This is the pet project of guitarist/singer/producer Chris Goss. Goss was the one produced Kyuss’ major label albums and the one that first created the expression “queens of the stone age” during one of those sessions.
Not only has he contributed to nearly every Queens album in some way, but he recruited Homme, Oliveri and Lanegan for work on the MOR albums Deep in the Hole and the live Flak Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½n’ Flight. Goss serves as the grandfather to the whole Queens family. Key release: Sunrise on the Sufferbus.
Eagles of Death Metal- The sexy boogie child of lunatic Jesse “The Devil” Hughes, with Homme pounding the skins, is not death metal at all but a safe ground for heathens to shake their booty’s and worship evil deities. All that silliness aside this is where the fun is, and it is infectious as hell.
The Eagles actually got their start on one of the volumes of the Desert Sessions and have only recently morphed into a full-time band that we’ll have to keep our eyes on. Key release: Peace Love Death Metal.
Eleven- Former contributors to now current full-time Queens members Alain Johannes and Natasha Shneider made their bread and butter with Eleven for years. With a slightly off-kilter take on alternative rock and oddly distinctive sparring vocals this isn’t a band for the average rock fan, but patient listening reveals numerous gems of craftsmanship. Their drummer Jack Irons formerly played in both Pearl Jam and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a fact that comes quite handy in games of six degrees of separation. Key release: Thunk.
Ween- Look in the credits of Rated R, the second Queens of the Stone Age album, and you’ll find the phrase “Viva la Ween!” The brainchild of Dean and Gene Ween, Ween is a band unlike any others and I don’t even know where to begin in trying to describe them.
Deaner has had a hand in various Queens projects and Homme and Oliveri sing their praises whenever they get the chance. One listen and you’ll either immediately understand and begin praying to the Boognish or be horribly disgusted and cry in your closet for hours. This is the power of Ween. Key release: Chocolate and Cheese.