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Josh Homme Survives Near-Death Experience to Rock Again

Queens of the Stone Age leader gets back to basics with album, tour

Austin Scaggs Mar 11, 2011
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Last year, Josh Homme was having surgery on his leg when things went wrong. “They couldn’t oxygenate my blood, they couldn’t get a breathing tube down my throat,” he says. “I was choking to death.” Homme’s heart stopped, and they shocked him back to life. Ordered to recover in his bed at home in Palm Desert, California, for three months, Homme began thinking about his priorities. He decided to sideline his music career ”“ fronting Queens of the Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures ”“ and indulge in family life. He and wife Brody Dalle have a five-year-old daughter and a baby on the way. “Being electrocuted has a tremendous amount of recovery time,” he says. “I had time to contemplate my existence.”

Then something happened. Prior to the operation, Homme had been working on the re-issue of Queens of the Stone Age, the band’s 1998 debut album, which he basically created by himself, playing nearly every instrument. Homme listened to the album again. “I was trying to figure out how to remaster it, and I started thinking about playing again,” he says. “That album was a labour of love.”

Listening now, he says, “It really holds up. It sounds so raw.” Homme’s imprint, Rekords Rekords, will reissue the disc, with bonus tracks, this month. In mid-March, the Queens embark on a 21-date club and theatre tour, including a stop at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium and a Rolling Stone party at South by Southwest. The band ”“ featuring Joey Castillo on drums and Troy Van Leeuwen on guitar ”“ plans to re-create the 1998 disc in its entirety, along with a few different favourites each night. “Part of the show will be well-oiled, but the rest will be volatile because, in Queens, volatility is a necessary component,” says Homme.

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The group is also in the early stages of work on a new album, the first since 2007’s Era Vulgaris. “I’m getting kind of excited to do one,” Homme says. “There will be something coming out by the end of the year, I would guess.” Capping things off, Homme won a Grammy for the Them Crooked Vultures tune ”˜New Fang.’ “I told [John Paul] Jones we make beautiful music together,” says Homme, “and he agreed.” Homme has said the group, which also includes Dave Grohl, will play again, despite a gruelling 2010 tour. “It was amazing, but I was taxing the planet’s supply of Ketel One,” Homme says. “By the end of it, I was feeling homesick, which is new for me. Now I’m ready to go again.”

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