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Queens of the Stone Age

Queens of the Stone Age

Rock group

Southern California's Queens of the Stone Age were hailed as one of the best new bands of 2000. But their Interscope release that year, Rated R, was actually their second album, and its founders had already won a devoted cult following among alternative-metal diehards and fans of their previous band, the early-1990s stoner-rock legends Kyuss. "Their sound—hard to pinpoint, because it changes from song to song, but most often is an expansive, distortion-heavy trippiness falling somewhere between grunge and psychedelia, a sound very clearly born of the desert—hits you hard," asserted Mark Binelli of Rolling Stone magazine.

Queens of the Stone Age is fronted by Josh Homme, who formed Kyuss as a teenager in 1986. "I'm a slave to the music," Homme told Malcolm Dome of Metal Hammer magazine. "I've tried to quit a few times, but it's too late for me now. I don't want a normal life." Kyuss, which took its name from the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game, first gained cult status around the southern California community called Palm Desert. Nick Oliveri, Homme's friend since the sixth grade, and Alfredo Hernandez were also Kyuss members, as were singer John Garcia and bass player Scott Reeder. Kyuss earned infamy for staging outlaw concerts in the desert powered with the help of electrical generators, because Palm Springs had a restrictive ordinance against live music. "Their big, blissed-out waves of sound were shattered by Josh Homme's stun-gun riffs and John Garcia's post-Ozzy wail," wrote Rolling Stone's Greg Kot.

Oliveri left Kyuss in 1992 to play with a punk act called the Dwarves. Over the course of several releases—none of which achieved any level of mainstream recognition—Kyuss won a cult following for their guitar-heavy rock odysseys, which often earned the band comparisons to Black Sabbath. Signed to Elektra, the band gained the appreciation of some more mainstream alternative and metal rock acts, and were invited to tour with Metallica, White Zombie, Danzig, and Faith No More. Jon Wiederhorn, writing in Rolling Stone in 1994 about the surprising sales of their third album, Sky Valley, declared that Kyuss "blends the leaden insurgency of '60s heavyweights like Blue Cheer and Black Sabbath with the meandering explorations of Cream and Deep Purple, then infuses it all with a dry, scorched and gritty texture born of the California desert." Homme told the writer that "If you could possibly put all the sand and dirt and lizards and rocks and canyons and isolated, open space on a tape, it would definitely sound like us."

Queens Came Together

Kyuss disbanded in 1995, and Homme moved to Seattle and enrolled in college. Finding it difficult to leave the music business behind altogether, Homme played with the Screaming Trees for a time as a tour guitarist, and formed his new band in early 1998 with former Kyuss drummer Hernandez. The pair attended the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas, where they met up with Oliveri, who was then with a band called Mondo Generator; he soon joined his former Kyuss bandmates as bassist for Queens of the Stone Age, a name Homme devised in order to upset some of the more homophobic metal fans. Early shows were sold-out affairs. A review of one by Boston Phoenix reporter Matt Ashare compared Queens of the Stone Age' new style of metal with the genre's '80s predecessors who had fallen from favor with the advent of grunge, and found it "an emphasis on substance over style, or, in some cases, substance as the absence of style." Ashare termed Homme's new band "a figurative regression to the sort of primal musical ore the cavemen might have mined if they'd had Marshall amps, fuzzboxes, and wah-wahs."

Comparison with Homme's previous band were inevitable, but some critics felt that Homme and his new crew had pushed the legendary Kyuss sound to a new level. "Like Kyuss, Queens are experts at laying down the kind of head-bobbing, knee-flexing groove," declared Mike Rubin in a Spin magazine review of a sold-out New York City gig that took place in January of 1999. Rubin further asserted that Queens of the Stone Age "observe the Sabbath less devoutly, leavening the bludgeoning Kyuss attack with melodic hooks, hummable choruses, and even harmonic backing vocals." Rolling Stone writer James Hunter asserted that the new lineup seemed to have "found a vital place between art-metal seriousness and pop pleasure." Hunter compared them to My Bloody Valentine, Soundgarden and, because of a sound "so rich and alive," felt there were even similarities between Queens of the Stone Age and "of all people, late-'70s art-punk band Wire."

Queens of the Stone Age also found a receptive audience in the United Kingdom. "The guitars are still flint-hard, the tunes still load-bearing," declared Kitty Empire of the British music paper New Musical Express, but she called the sound of Queens of the Stone Age "far sleeker and more hypnotic" than those who succeeded Kyuss in the stoner-rock genre. The band's self-titled debut was released on Loose Groove in 1998. A review from Village Voice writer Milo Miles lauded Homme's songwriting talents, such as "the spaced-but-unstoppable momentum of 'I Was a Teenage Hand Model' that refuses to waver even as howling feedback blurts overwhelm everything."

For the Record …

Members include Dave Catching , guitars, key-boards; Alfredo Hernandez , drums; Joshua Homme , guitars, vocals; Mark Lanegan (left group, 2004), vocals; Nick Lucero , drums; Nick Oliveri (left group, 2004), bass; Gene Trautmann , drums.

Homme, Oliveri, and Hernandez were members of Kyuss; group formed in Palm Springs, CA, 1997; signed to the Loose Groove label and released self-titled debut, 1998; signed to Interscope, 1999; released Songs for the Deaf, Interscope, 2002; released Lullabies to Paralyze, Interscope, 2005.

Addresses: Record company—Interscope Records, 2220 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90404. Website—Queens of the Stone Age Official Website: http://www.qotsa.com.

Hernandez eventually left the band and was replaced by Gene Trautmann, brief member of Kyuss at one time; steel guitarist and keyboard player Dave Catching also joined. "When we put this together we wanted a band where everyone knew their role and was comfortable within it," Homme told Dome. "Nick and I both write a lot of music and we chose which songs to record and play without any egos. We love the music, and we just wanna put out our best stuff, wherever it comes from. We want a band that's organic enough to survive. And make up the rules as we go along."

The sales figures for Queens of the Stone Age, combined with their cult following, soon won the band a deal with the Interscope label, which gave their 2000 release Rated R a large marketing push. The first track was brazenly titled "Feel Good Hit of the Summer," and featured Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford on backing vocals. Halford sang just one word of a song whose lyrics, in their entirety, consisted of a litany of abused substances, which rendered it unfit for mainstream radio. Halford had been working in a studio next to one in which Queens of the Stone Age were recording Rated R, and was happy to help out. Hunter, writing in Rolling Stone, liked the sound of this song's "burly guitar bites into a more sharply toned Ramonesy rhythmic drive." The first single from the record, "The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret," was far more palatable and became a radio staple over the summer.

Rated R earned positive reviews. "Songs drift from a flat-out punk anthem ('Quick and to the Pointless') to some hallucinatory percussion ('Better Living Through Chemistry') to a gentle vocal turn from former Screaming Trees singer Mark Lanegan ('In the Fade')," wrote Binelli in Rolling Stone. Reviewing it for the Village Voice, Hunter asserted that "Like the debut but with added authority R shows off a gift for sonic arrest and formal rare any time, any place. It indicates that Homme may well end up a high legend beyond stoner rock."

Toured With Ozzfest

Queens of the Stone Age have toured with a number of acts, ranging from Ween to Hole, though they never even met Courtney Love during that job. "Some people are shocked, but we wanna go out with bands where the tours are skewed and there's the challenge of playing to a different and bigger audience," Homme told Dome. "We're not out to get everyone on our side, just those who can join our scene, which is made up of people from all over: metalheads, rave fans … just people who get into what we're all The about." In a rather daring decision, Queens of the Stone Age even toured with Ozzfest in the summer of 2000, the annual all-metal showdown headlined by Ozzy Osbourne. Often harassed by the audience, they spent nearly all of their free time hiding out in their tour bus. Homme didn't mind the hecklers, however. "For every one boy that doesn't like us, there's two girls sitting behind them digging it," Homme told Binelli in Rolling Stone. "You don't want every boy. You want their girlfriends, though."

The bands' left-field inclusion on the Ozzfest, however, would prove to be their introduction to the mainstream. After Rated R received rave reviews, the band's cult blossomed into full-fledged mania, when Homme and the Queens delivered Songs for the Deaf for Interscope in 2002. Packing full-on hits like "No One Knows" and a new lineup that included ex-Screaming Trees vocalist and guitarist Mark Lanagen (who was in the midst of a stellar solo career) on guitar andbacking vocals, ex-A Perfect Circle member Troy Van Leeuwen, and Foo Fighters and former Nirvana member Dave Grohl on drums. E! Online.com said, "The hard-rock ranks would be wise to brush up on their Wayne's World impressions—because, no, you are not worthy of this massive Deaf jam. Tied together with hilariously inane deejay banter and powered by Foo Fighter Dave Grohl's assertive drumming, Deaf's heady, shape-shifting bombast is a sonic, butt-rockin' epiphany. Marrying shuddering power chords, trippy workouts and curiously catchy melodies, then going off on tangents that embrace everything from Nirvana-esque punk ("No One Knows") to psychedelic pop ("Another Love Song"), QOTSA flushes conventionality away like old bong water. Say hello to your new metal gods. The band toured extensively for the record, even after losing Grohl to his duties as a Foo Fighter. The success, however, may have been too much for Oliveri, who left the band due to infighting with Homme.

Once the group's touring and press obligations for Songs for the Deaf subsided, the members split in different directions. Bassist Oliveri and vocalist Lanegan left the group due to conflicts with Homme in February of 2004. Oliveri rejoined the Dwarves, and continued to work on solo material, as Lanegan returned to his own solo work as well. It was then that Homme immersed himself in various projects, including his continued work on the Desert Sessions series he had been cultivating since the late '90s, forming a band called Headband with members of Marilyn Mason and Amen, and working with Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk on the asoundtrack to The Dangerous Lives of Alter Boys. Perhaps his most high-profile sideproject, however, was his drumming in the Eagles of Deathmetal, a group he shared with Jesse Hughes. They released Peace, Love and Deathmetal in 2004.

Released Lullabies to Paralyze

By 2005, however, there was high demand for another Queens of the Stone Age album. In March 2005, Homme answered his fans' prayers, and released Lullabies to Paralyze, featuring Lanegan, Van Leeuwen, Joey Castillo and Alain Johannes. Theage.com said, "Homme is the obvious talent and general here, driving the songs with his repetitious buzzing desert riffs and staccato rhythms but he's happy for gravel-voiced Mark Lanegan to sing the opening song—the Leonard Cohen-esque ballad 'This Lullaby.' From there, it's a hell of a ride, full of strange turns and majestic surprises, as Homme, multi-instrumentalist Troy Van Leeuwen, new bassist Alain Johannes and man-mountain drummer Joey Castillo combine with some special guests. Homme, his girlfriend—Geelong-raised singer of the Distillers, Brody Dalle—Lanegan and Garbage's Shirley Manson whisper and flirt over handclaps and slinky guitars on 'You Got a Killer Scene There Man.' ZZ Top's Billy F. Gibbons contributes 'Fandango!'-esque lead guitar and husky vocals on the stomping 'Burn the Witch.' Closing song 'Long Slow Goodbye' climaxes with a baroque brass outro and on the bonus track, the Tex-Mex waltz Like a Drug, Homme gives as good a crooning Roy Orbison impression as Chris Isaak ever managed." Charleston's the Post and Courier said, "Lullabies to Paralyze is another original release from a band that continues to surprise as it matures."

Selected discography

Queens of the Stone Age

Queens of the Stone Age, Loose Groove, 1998.

Rated R, Interscope, 2000.

Songs for the Deaf, Interscope, 2002.

Lullabies to Paralyze, Interscope, 2005.

Kyuss

Wretch, Dali, 1991.

Blues for the Red Sun, Dali, 1992.

Welcome to Sky Valley, Elektra, 1994.

And the Circus Leaves Town, Elektra, 1995.

Muchas Gracias, Wea, 2000.

Sources

Periodicals

Boston Phoenix, January 28, 1999.

Guitar Player, May, 1994, p. 17.

Metal Hammer, August, 1999.

New Musical Express, February 9, 1998.

Post and Courier (Charleston, SC), April 28, 2005.

Rolling Stone, October 6, 1994, p. 24; December 10, 1998, p. 124; June 22, 2000, p. 38; September 14, 2000, pp. 110-114

Spin, April, 1999.

Village Voice, January 5, 1999, p. 102; July 18, 2000, p. 69.

Online

"Queens of the Stone Age," The Age, http://www.theage.com.au/news/Reviews/Lullabies-To-Paralyze/2005/03/17/1110913680638.html (August 1, 2005).

"Queens of the Stone Age," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com/ (August 24, 2005).

Queens of the Stone Age Official Website, http://www.qotsa.com (August 24, 2005).

"Songs for the Deaf," E! Online, http://www.eonline.com/Reviews/Facts/Music/RevID/0,1107,2772,00.html

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Jane’s Addiction

Janes Addiction

Rock band

For the Record

Look, Dont Look Away

Comparisons to Led Zeppelin

Ritual Cemented Stature

Lollapalooza

Selected discography

Sources

Perhaps best known by the public at large for their outrageousnesslewd stage antics, songs challenging conventional morality, outspoken views on drugs, censored album coversJanes Addiction is also acclaimed for making accomplished, progressive rock music. Centered around the gritty, unfiltered, vaguely insect-like lyrics of lead vocalist and songwriter Perry Farrell, the Los Angeles foursome offers, in the words of Rolling Stone contributor Michael Feingold, a strange but addictive brew of image and sound as intense as a horrific nightmare, beautiful as a heavenly dream, calculated to both endear and offend.

Musically, Janes Addiction scores high marks with what David Handelman called in Rolling Stone its wondrous fusion of funk, metal, punk and pretty acoustics the band is largely noted, however, for its distinct shock value. According to Erik Davis in Rolling Stone, Janes much-touted 1988 album, Nothings Shocking, managed to be distinctively perverse in a [heavy-metal] world already saturated with bad taste and bacchanalia. Likewise, listening to Ritual de lo Habitual, the groups

For the Record

Group formed in Los Angeles, 1986, disbanded, 1991; members included Perry Farceli (lead vocals and songwriter), born Perry Bernstein c. 1960, in Queens, NY, son of a jeweler, married Casey Niccoli (a filmmaker) c. 1991; Eric Avery (bass), born c. 1966, stepson of Brian Avery (an actor); David Navarro (guitar), born c. 1968, father was in advertising; and Steve Perkins (drums), born c. 1968, son of a plastics salesman and hair-salon manager.

Farrell was formerly with the band Psicom, 1981-85; Avery and Perkins were formerly with the band Disaster. Farrell has also directed, with Niccoli, the home video Gift, Warner Bros., c. 1991.

Awards: Voted best underground band and best hard rock/metal band by the LA. Weekly, 1987; gold record for Ritual de lo Habitual.

Addresses: Record company Warner Bros., 3300 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91510.

subsequent album, is not a passive experience, as the bands version of lifes ugly-beautiful is designed to provoke reaction, allowed Stereo Review. The horror and grandeur of sex, art, garbage, crime, pain and pleasure are held up for all to see with a naked honesty.

Look, Dont Look Away

Janes Addiction is the brain-child of multi-media artist Farrell, whose compositionsWhores, Had a Dad, and Idiots Ruleamply display the philosophy of look, dont look away, he described to Handelman. Born Perry Bernstein in New York City, Farrell attended college in California, but dropped out his freshman year after a nervous breakdown. I like things that are esoteric and strange, he told Handelman, and school is not full of esoteric and strange things. He worked a number of odd jobs, including a stint as an exotic dancer in a Los Angeles club, before deciding to become a singer.

With no musical training, Farrell began working in his basement apartment, recording songs into a tape recorder. He took the name of his brother, Farrell, as his surname, in an attempt to create a pun on the word peripheral. His first band, Psicom, formed in 1981, survived four yearslong enough to release an independent album that became a success on some college radio stations. Around 1985, however, Farrell set out to start a new band which, as Handelman noted, wouldnt fit, and would openly confront issues like censorship and sexuality. He named the group Janes Addiction after a drug-addicted prostitute who supported the band in its early days.

Joined first by bassist Eric Avery, and then by guitarist David Navarro and drummer Steve Perkins, Farrell and Janes Addiction soon became a hit on the Los Angeles underground music scene. Playing at the Scream, the Pyramid, and the Roxy, the group featured the brash numbers Pigs in Zen and Whores, in addition to slower, wrenching songs like I Would for You and the melodic, almost tender, Jane Says. Farrell, as Handelman noted, moved across the stage like a witch doctor, letting fly with his electronically processed, howling vocals. Outlandishly frocked, he sported a day-glow girdlelater opting for a black vinyl bodysuitnosering, ghoulish mascara, and neon dreadlocks, the latter favored by other band members as well.

Comparisons to Led Zeppelin

Janes Addiction was soon hailed by local critics as a successor seminal heavy-metal rockers Led Zeppelina comparison that would crop up again and again. In 1987 the group released a concert album on Triple X Records. By that time, intense competition was churning among major record companies wanting to sign Janes Addiction on the strength of their reputation and the acoustic Jane Says. Insisting on creative autonomy, Farrell and Janes Addiction finally agreed on Warner Bros., which in 1988 released the much-lauded Nothings Shocking.

Nothings Shocking was praised by Steve Pond in Rolling Stone as music that scrapes against the smooth surfaces of commercial pop. Pond noted that the group was at its disturbing best with hard-boiled riff rockers, unsettling, lyrically incisive and musically excessive. One of the best cuts, according to Pond, was Jane Says, which he described as an acid-etched portrait of an addict, [and] worthy Left Coast successor to [New York City denizen Lou Reeds] Walk on the Wild Side. By Ponds reckoning the bands many comparisons to Led Zeppelin resulted from their ability to create music that was simultaneously forbidding and weighty, delicate and ethereal.

Ritual Cemented Stature

With 1990s Ritual de lo Habitual, Janes Addiction proved that Nothings Shocking was no fluke. Stereo Review described the effort as consisting of exorcisms of punk-funk guitar, Farrells sluicing, androgynous vocals, and art-rock tone poems emanating from a fertile erotic subconscious. While a Guitar Player reviewer felt that Ritual de lo Habitual didnt quite match the quality of Nothings Shocking, he nonetheless called it a ferocious set of art-metal, saying it reeks of the funky danger thats been missing from most mainstream rock for 20 years.

Despite limited commercial airplay, Ritual de lo Habitual managed to break Billboards Top Twenty and earned Janes Addiction a gold record. Sales were undoubtedly helped by the furor over the records covera Farrell creation featuring a primitivist sculpture of three naked women and icons of the sinister-seeming Mexican spiritual movement Santeriathat ensued when some record-store chains charged the band with obscenity and declined to carry the record. (In response, the album was distributed to several stores and record clubs in a generic white cover printed with the First Amendment.) Nothings Shocking had faced a similar, if not so well-publicized, predicament two years earlier. Sales of Ritual were also helped when MTV viewers caught an eyeful of Janes Addiction in the unsettling, but high-spirited video for Been Caught Stealing, one of the records most infectious cuts.

Lollapalooza

Janes Addiction loomed large in the music press during the summer of 1991 when they launched the Lollapalooza Tour, which Spin contributor Dean Kuipers succinctly termed an enormous traveling music and alternative-living festival. Envisioning an annual event, Farrell expressed his inspiration to Kuipers thus: As my main experiment, I want to see what happens with a major exchange of information. I dont like the idea of the world being controlled by the news media. We need to exchange ideas somewhere else, another forum. The cafes arent being used anymore, so lets try it at a festival. Everybodys all of a sudden aware at a different level. Headlined by Janes Addiction, the tourfeaturing rap master and street-culture spokesman Ice-T, post-punk emissaries The Butthole Surfers, The Rollins Band, Siouxie and the Banshees, Nine Inch Nails, and the cutting-edge rock n roll outfit Living Colourvisited 21 cities, was attended by nearly 500,000 people, and sold out across the country.

Throughout its relatively short career, Janes Addiction has insisted on doing things its own wayusually Farrells. Aside from his scandal-provoking cover offerings, Farrell has also directed many of the videos for the groups songs, some that have been refused airplay on MTV because of nudity. Adding to their notoriety, various members of the band have at times spoken out about their love-hate relationship with drugs. Making an oblique reference to his own use of heroin, Farrell pointedly told Handelman that he doesnt think its anybodys business if I want to sit there and bang myself on the head with a board. Outspoken onstage, offstage, and on their recordings, Janes Addiction is unlikely to acquiesceeven at the prospect of further commercial successto what mainstream consumers of popular music deem acceptable. Our music is an escape, a journey, drummer Perkins commented to Handelman. And it represents drug-ridden, fed-up peoplewhether we are or not. I like when people are inspired by the music, not just going to see some industry band out to sell records. We might make choices that are harmful to us moneywise, but I dont want to see a bunch of bored old fellas playing just like the record. In September of 1991 Rolling Stone reported that Janes Addictiontrue to their convention-defying mandatewould break up after a limited series of post-Lollapalooza dates in Australia and Hawaii.

Selected discography

Janes Addiction, Triple X. 1987.

Nothings Shocking, Warner Bros., 1988.

Ritual de lo Habitual, Warner Bros., 1990.

Also recorded Ripple for Deadicated: A Tribute to the Grateful Dead, Arista, 1991.

Sources

Creem, October 1987.

Guitar Player, December 1988; January 1991; March 1991.

Musician, August 1988.

New York Post, November 1, 1988.

Q, May 1991; July 1991.

Rolling Stone, October 22, 1987; October 20, 1988; February 9, 1989; October 18, 1990; February 7, 1991 ; September 19, 1991.

Spin, June 1991.

Stereo Review, December 1990.

Michael E. Mueller

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Jane's Addiction

JANE'S ADDICTION


Formed: 1986, Los Angeles, California; Disbanded 1991; Reformed 1997

Members: Eric Avery, bass (born Los Angeles, California, 25 April 1965); Perry Farrell, vocals (Perry Bernstein, born Queens, New York, 29 March 1959); Dave Navarro, guitar (David Michael Navarro, born Santa Monica, California, 6 June 1967); Stephen Perkins, drums (born Los Angeles, California, 13 September 1967).

Genre: Punk, Rock

Best-selling album since 1990: Ritual de lo Habitual (1990)

Hit songs since 1990: "Been Caught Stealing," "Ain't No Right"


One of the most influential and progressive rock bands of the 1990s was also one of the few that quit while they were ahead. Fusing classic rock bombast with tribal drumming, shamanistic visuals, punk aggression, and a healthy dose of cosmic spirituality, Jane's Addiction almost single-handedly created the notion of "alternative" rock, launched the pioneering Lollapalooza traveling music and fringe culture festival, and producing two classic albums of psychedelic punk before disbanding in 1991.

Jane's Addiction formed in Los Angeles in 1986 when former Psi Com leader Perry Farrell recruited guitarist Dave Navarro, bass player Eric Avery, and drummer Stephen Perkins to join his new band. Farrellwho had changed his name from Bernstein to the pun-worthy variation on "peripheral"the son of a New York diamond merchant, moved to California to attend college in 1980. After suffering a nervous breakdown and dropping out, Farrell lived in his car with his girlfriend on the streets of Los Angeles and danced at an adult bar for a time. The untrained musician fronted the gothic rock band Psi Com in the early 1980s before forming Jane's Addiction, named after a drug-addicted prostitute with whom he was friendly.

The band quickly became one of the most buzzed-about on the Los Angeles club scene through their unique fusion of arty rock with thundering Led Zeppelinstyle drums and heavy metal guitar solos, as well as their unabashedly hedonistic lifestyle and look. Farrell, with his pinched, quavering vocals, made to sound echoey and ominous through on-stage effects machines, was a stunning front man, all Day-Glo braids, mismatched thrift store chic clothes, vinyl bodysuits, and quivering, nervous energy.

Next to the preening, hair-sprayed, makeup-wearing heavy metal bands such as Poison and Mötley Crüe that populated Los Angeles' clubs at the time, bondage wearing, dread-locked, pierced, and eyeliner-wearing Jane's Addiction looked like rock and roll aliens. Their outsider look and sound would prove prescient, giving voice and style to a disaffected youth nation soon to be labeled "Generation X" by the media. It was an age cohort born into a bleak economic time, with little hope for finding jobs in a slumping, war-focused economy, but in need of an outlet for their aggression and angst.


A Promising Debut

The band captured the raw, postmodern sound of their live shows on their self-titled 1987 debut, recorded at the Roxy nightclub in Los Angeles. With typically provocative cover art from Farrella watercolor of the singer in a girdlethe album has all the shades of the group's sound: furious jazz punk ("Trip Away," "Pigs in Zen"), profane Led Zeppelin-esque heavy metal art rock ("Whores," "1%"), and tender psychedelic folk ballads ("I Would for You," "Jane Says"), the latter about their patron saint of drug-addicted prostitutes. The album set off a fierce bidding war among record labels, won by Warner Bros. Records, which released Nothing's Shocking in 1988. Farrell had insisted on artistic control from Warner Bros., and he exercised it immediately, creating a nude sculpture of his future wife, Casey Niccoli, for the album's cover.

The tactic worked, as several national retail chains refused to stock the album. With a proper studio in which to record, the band flourished. The irony of the title can be found in the numerous references to heroinwhich was the drug of choice for all but drummer Perkinsand a song about Ted Bundy ("Ted, Just Admit It"). In the latter, Farrell growls the lyrics, "Showed me everybody / Naked and disfigured / Nothing's shocking," before breaking into the disturbing chorus, "Sex is violent."

The songs are expansive, even indulgent at times, but undeniable in their vastness and power, with a tension that progresses through multiple moods and dynamic shifts. "Ocean Size" begins as a gentle acoustic meditation before, literally, exploding into a heavy rock dirge, with Navarro spinning out unabashedly heavy metal solos over Perkins's aggressive, off-kilter drumming and Avery's steady bass playing. The lurid debauchery is perverse, yet alluring, escaping the sometimes comical darkness of more traditional heavy metal bands. Though sales were not brisk, critics almost universally lauded the album and the typically conservative Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences nominated it in the newly formed Best Heavy Metal Album Grammy Awards category.


A Classic Album, Lollapalooza Launch, and the Surprise Break Up

The band toured as the opening act for punk legend Iggy Pop, followed by the release of their third album, Ritual de lo Habitual (1990). The album's artwork launched another controversy and threats of bans at major retail chains due to a Farrell-created collage depicting the naked singer with two nude women amidst a collage of icons from the Mexican spiritual sect, Santeria. The band responded by creating an alternate cover with the text of the First Amendment. The combination of the controversy and heavy rotation on MTV for the humorous video to the single, "Been Caught Stealing," helped the album chart at number nineteen and eventually sell more than 1 million copies.

"Been Caught Stealing" is the perfect song to introduce the band to the masses, as it is the most commercial, poppy track in the group's oeuvre. Over a bouncy, funk bass and syncopated drumming, Farrell gleefully brags about shoplifting ("When we want something / We don't want to pay for it / We walk right through the door"). It was, however, the exception to the rule on an album that has a depth, complexity, and nuance that the group had not achieved to date.

The album's centerpiece is a pair of ten-minute epics, "Three Days" and "Then She Did . . ." in which the band employ all of their musical arsenal: ebbing and flowing tempos, fiery guitar solos, Perkins's athletic, tribal drumming, Farrell's whining, haunted falsetto vocals, and Avery's funky bass. In the latter, Farrell also alludes to his mother, an artist who committed suicide when he was four ("Will you say hello to my ma? / Will you pay a visit to her? / She was an artist, just as you were").

Ritual de lo Habitual features a small Novena card insert addressed to "the mosquitoes," in which Farrell writes, "We have more influence over your children than you do, but we love your children." With the launch of Farrell's brainchild in the summer of 1991, the traveling Lollapalooza rock festival/circus sideshow, the singer would give ample proof of his statement. With three stages and a midway with circus freaks, political booths, art galleries, and Internet connections, as well as a lineup that included some of the most promising and varied rock, rap, and punk acts of the day, Lollapalooza was a smash success. It was also a major factor in the commercial rise of such alternative rock stars as the Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, and Nine Inch Nails.

Though it lived on for six more years, Lollapalooza was also Jane's Addiction's swan song. Farrell announced that the group would break up following the conclusion of the tour in order to go out on a high note. Farrell was arrested for drug possession in October 1991 and the band folded after a final show in Hawaii, during which Farrell performed the final half of their set in the nude. Farrell and Perkins joined to form Porno for Pyros in 1992, while Navarro joined Avery in the short-lived band Deconstruction. Navarro went on to briefly join the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

In 1997 Farrell dissolved Porno for Pyros, Navarro quit the Chili Peppers, and Jane's Addiction was reuniteddeemed a "relapse" by Farrellwith Chili Peppers bassist Flea filling in for Avery for a well-regarded tour and the recording of two new songs for the outtakes collection, Kettle Whistle (1997). After poorly received 2001 solo albums from Farrell and Navarro, Jane's Addiction reunited again to tour in 2001 with Porno for Pyros bassist Martyn Lenoble filling in for Avery. The band recorded a new album in 2002, Hypersonic, with bassist Chris Chaney, which was slated for release in mid-2003.

Jane's Addiction succeeded in making the depressingly ugly into the luridly beautiful on their three late 1980s-early 1990s albums. With a look that was shocking, lyrics that chronicled the seamy underbelly of marginal lives, and an artistic vision that refused to be compromised, the group influenced a generation of bands and fans to follow their muse, no matter into what bizarre corner she takes you.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Jane's Addiction (Triple X, 1987); Nothing's Shocking (Warner Bros., 1988); Ritual de lo Habitual (Warner Bros., 1990); Kettle Whistle (Warner Bros., 1997); Hypersonic (Virgin, 2003).

gil kaufman

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Queens of the Stone Age

QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE

Formed: 1997, in Palm Springs, California

Members: Joshua Homme, vocals, guitar; Nick Oliveri, vocals, bass; Mark Lanegan, vocals, guitar (born in Ellensburg, Washington, 25 November 1964); Dave Grohl, drums (born Washington, D.C., 14 January 1969).

Genre: Rock

Best-selling album since 1990: Songs for the Deaf (2002)

Hit songs since 1990: "The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret," "Feel Good Hit of the Summer," "No One Knows"


Combining Lollapalooza cynicism with Woodstock hedonism, Queens of the Stone Age used macho guitar riffs and booty-shaking rhythms to appeal to a wider-than-average swath of rock fans.

The band's leaders, Joshua Homme and Nick Oliveri, had plenty of experience with taking the pulse of a crowd before forming the band. They had performed together in Kyuss, a hard-rock band that lasted from 1987 to 1995; they were famous for playing "generator parties" in the Southern California desertthe ultimate in punk shows. Admission was free; anyone, including unsavory characters, could and did attend, and the party lasted as long as the generator did. Homme and Oliveri credit the gigs for forcing them to develop an expansive sound to compensate for the desert's lack of acoustical reverb.

The band's name comes from a 1991 Kyuss recording session in which the producer Chris Goss jokingly christened Kyuss members "queens of the stone age," a wordplay on their being "stoned or whatever," Oliveri recalled. They were also hoping the name would hint at a stylistic shift and alienate some of the more aggressive mosh-pit mavens who frequented Kyuss concerts.

Their debut album, Queens of the Stone Age (1998), rocks with a neo-retro vibe, with lascivious guitar licks conjuring Jimi Hendrix or the Guess Who and Homme's clear, declarative vocals recalling Bad Company. Oliveri, in contrast, is the bad cop, screaming his lyrics for the metal-heads. "If Only" features a catchy hook and driving cymbals, signaling that the group has learned a thing or two about groove. The hip-shaking concept hits and misses; the drums on "Walkin' on the Sidewalks" bash instead of propel, while the guitar is slightly clunky.

The promising debut got the group signed to a major label, Interscope, and the Queens set to work on their follow-up. Rated R (2000) gave the group its first radio hit, "The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret," an uptempo slice of driving Southern rock. The album maintains its predecessor's nostalgic feel while sprinkling in new elements. The live favorite "Feel Good Hit of the Summer" is a pro-drug anthem that simply lists seven mind-altering substances, punctuating the last one, cocaine, with an aggressive guitar attack. "Better Living Through Chemistry," a similarly themed tune, incorporates Eastern stringed instruments. The calmer, midtempo "Auto Pilot" uses a metronomic, British Invasion-derived beat and sunny harmonies.

The band's rebellious lyrics weren't just a front; they earned a wild reputation on tour. Homme fractured his hand in 2001 during a postgig fight at a Melbourne, Australia, bar. Oliveri, for his part, played wearing nothing but shoes. In 2002 the stunt got Oliveri arrested in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Fans loved the group's anything-goes bent, because it applied to them as wellthe band took a laissez-faire attitude towards amateur taping of concerts. That policy, however, prevented the Queens from testing new material in person for fear that a bootleg version of a not-yet-recorded song would make its official release anticlimactic.

Their third release, Songs for the Deaf (2002), adds star power with the addition of the drummer Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) and the vocalist/second guitarist Mark Lanegan of the Screaming Trees. The playing is more technically proficient, and the music rocks harder than before. "No One Knows," which combines classic rock production with a bouncy, repetitive modern-rock guitar hook, became the group's second radio hit. Homme is more audacious about his technical prowess this time out, picking out sixteenth-note riffs on "First It Giveth" and machine-gun thirty-second-note licks on the power-pop "A Song for the Dead." The addition of the legendary Grohl to a semifamous band seemed too good to be true, and sure enough, he left the group during its 2003 tour to rejoin the Foo Fighters. However, the group expected the departure and carried on, signing up to play the main stage at the 2003 Lollapalooza.

Homme proclaimed he was making music "sweet enough for the chicks and heavy enough for the dudes." Stereotypes aside, the group did have an uncanny ability to revel in rock's most notorious excesses while appealing to everyone from Black Sabbath diehards to match-box twenty fans.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Queens of the Stone Age (Loosegroove, 1998); Rated R (Interscope, 2000); Songs for the Deaf (Interscope, 2002).

ramiro burr

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Queens of the Stone Age

Queens of the Stone Age

Rock band

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Southern Californias Queens of the Stone Age were hailed as one of the best new bands of 2000. But their Interscope release that year, Rated R, was actually their second album, and its founders had already won a devoted cult following among alternative-metal diehards and fans of their previous band, the early-1990s stoner-rock legends Kyuss. Their soundhard to pinpoint, because it changes from song to song, but most often is an expansive, distortion-heavy trippiness falling somewhere between grunge and psychedelia, a sound very clearly born of the deserthits you hard, asserted Mark Binelli of Rolling Stone magazine.

Queens of the Stone Age is fronted by Josh Homme, who formed Kyuss as a teenager in 1986. Im a slave to the music, Homme told Malcolm Dome of Metal Hammer magazine. Ive tried to quit a few times, but its too late for me now. I dont want a normal life. Kyuss, which took its name from the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game, first gained cult status around the southern California community called Palm Desert. Nick Oliveri, Hommes friend since the sixth grade, and Alfredo Hernandez were also Kyuss members, as were singer John Garcia and bass player Scott Reeder. Kyuss earned infamy for staging outlaw concerts in the desert powered with the help of electrical generators, because Palm Springs had a restrictive ordinance against live music. Their big, blissed-out waves of sound were shattered by Josh Hommes stun-gun riffs and John Garcias post-Ozzy wail, wrote Rolling Stones Greg Kot.

Oliveri left Kyuss in 1992 to play with a punk act called the Dwarves. Over the course of several releases none of which achieved any level of mainstream recognitionKyuss won a cult following for their guitar-heavy rock odysseys, which often earned the band comparisons to Black Sabbath. Signed to Elektra, the band gained the appreciation of some more mainstream alternative and metal rock acts, and were invited to tour with Metallica, White Zombie, Danzig, and Faith No More. Jon Wiederhorn, writing in Rolling Stone in 1994 about the surprising sales of their third album, Sky Valley, declared that Kyuss blends the leaden insurgency of 60s heavyweights like Blue Cheer and Black Sabbath with the meandering explorations of Cream and Deep Purple, then infuses it all with a dry, scorched and gritty texture born of the California desert. Homme told the writer that If you could possibly put all the sand and dirt and lizards and rocks and canyons and isolated, open space on a tape, it would definitely sound like us.

Kyuss disbanded in 1995, and Homme moved to Seattle and enrolled in college. Finding it difficult to leave the music business behind altogether, Homme played with the Screaming Trees for a time as a tour guitarist, and formed his new band in early 1998 with former Kyuss drummer Hernandez. The pair attended the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin,

For the Record

Members include Dave Catching, guitars, keyboards; Alfredo Hernandez, drums; Joshua Homme, guitars, vocals; Nick Lucero, drums; Nick Oliveri, bass; Gene Trautmann, drums.

Homme, Oliveri, and Hernandez were members of Kyuss; band formed, 1997, in Palm Springs, CA; signed to the Loose Groove label and released self-titled debut, 1998; signed to Interscope, 1999.

Addresses: Record company Interscope Records, 2220 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90404. Websi te http://www.qotsa.com.

Texas, where they met up with Oliveri, who was then with a band called Mondo Generator; he soon joined his former Kyuss bandmates as bassist for Queens of the Stone Age, a name Homme devised in order to upset some of the more homophobic metal fans. Early shows were sold-out affairs. A review of one by Boston Phoenix reporter Matt Ashare compared Queens of the Stone Age new style of metal with the genres 80s predecessors who had fallen from favor with the advent of grunge, and found it an emphasis on substance over style, or, in some cases, substance as the absence of style. Ashare termed Hommes new band a figurative regression to the sort of primal musical ore the cavemen might have mined if theyd had Marshall amps, fuzzboxes, and wah-wahs.

Comparison with Hommes previous band were inevitable, but some critics felt that Homme and his new crew had pushed the legendary Kyuss sound to a new level. Like Kyuss, Queens are experts at laying down the kind of head-bobbing, knee-flexing groove, declared Mike Rubin in a Spin magazine review of a sold-out New York City gig that took place in January of 1999. Rubin further asserted that Queens of the Stone Age observe the Sabbath less devoutly, leavening the bludgeoning Kyuss attack with melodic hooks, hummable choruses, and even harmonic backing vocals. Rolling Stone writer James Hunter asserted that the new lineup seemed to have found a vital place between art-metal seriousness and pop pleasure. Hunter compared them to My Bloody Valentine, Soundgarden and, because of a sound so rich and alive, felt there were even similarities between Queens of the Stone Age and of all people, late-70s art-punk band Wire.

Queens of the Stone Age also found a receptive audience in the United Kingdom. The guitars are still flint-hard, the tunes still load-bearing, declared Kitty Empire of the British music paper New Musical Express, but she called the sound of Queens of the Stone Age far sleeker and more hypnotic than those who succeeded Kyuss in the stoner-rock genre. The bands self-titled debut was released on Loose Groove in 1998. A review from Village Voice writer Milo Miles lauded Hommes songwriting talents, such as the spaced-but-unstoppable momentum of I Was a Teenage Hand Model that refuses to waver even as howling feedback blurts overwhelm everything.

Hernandez eventually left the band and was replaced by Gene Trautmann, brief member of Kyuss at one time; steel guitarist and keyboard player Dave Catching also joined. When we put this together we wanted a band where everyone knew their role and was comfortable within it, Homme told Dome. Nick and I both write a lot of music and we chose which songs to record and play without any egos. We love the music, and we just wanna put out our best stuff, wherever it comes from. We want a band thats organic enough to survive. And make up the rules as we go along.

The sales figures for Queens of the Stone Age, combined with their cult following, soon won the band a deal with the Interscope label, which gave their 2000 release Rated R a large marketing push. The first track was brazenly titled Feel Good Hit of the Summer, and featured Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford on backing vocals. Halford sang just one word of a song whose lyrics, in their entirety, consisted of a litany of abused substances, which rendered it unfit for mainstream radio. Halford had been working in a studio next to one in which Queens of the Stone Age were recording Rated R, and was happy to help out. Hunter, writing in Rolling Stone, liked the sound of this songs burly guitar bites into a more sharply toned Ramonesy rhythmic drive. The first single from the record, The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret, was far more palatable and became a radio staple over the summer.

Rated R earned positive reviews. Songs drift from a flat-out punk anthem (Quick and to the Pointless) to some hallucinatory percussion (Better Living Through Chemistry) to a gentle vocal turn from former Screaming Trees singer Mark Lanegan (In the Fade), wrote Binelli in Rolling Stone. Reviewing it for the Village Voice, Hunter asserted that Like the debut but with added authority R shows off a gift for sonic arrest and formal rare any time, any place. It indicates that Homme may well end up a high legend beyond stoner rock.

Queens of the Stone Age have toured with a number of acts, ranging from Ween to Hole, though they never even met Courtney Love during that job. Some people are shocked, but we wanna go out with bands where the tours are skewed and theres the challenge of playing to a different and bigger audience, Homme told Dome. Were not out to get everyone on our side, just those who can join our scene, which is made up of people from all over: metalheads, rave fans just people who get into what were all about. In a rather daring decision, Queens of the Stone Age even toured with Ozzfest in the summer of 2000, the annual all-metal showdown headlined by Ozzy Osbourne. Often harassed by the audience, they spent nearly all of their free time hiding out in their tour bus. Homme didnt mind the hecklers, however. For every one boy that doesnt like us, theres two girls sitting behind them digging it, Homme told Binelli in Rolling Stone. You dont want every boy. You want their girlfriends, though.

Selected discography

Queens of the Stone Age

Queens of the Stone Age, Loose Groove, 1998.

Rated R, Interscope, 2000.

Kyuss

Wretch, Dali, 1991.

Blues for the Red Sun, Dali, 1992.

Welcome to Sky Valley, Elektra, 1994.

And the Circus Leaves Town, Elektra, 1995.

Muchas Gracias, Wea, 2000.

Sources

Boston Phoenix, January 28, 1999.

Guitar Player, May, 1994, p. 17.

Metal Hammer, August, 1999.

New Musical Express, February 9, 1998.

Rolling Stone, October 6, 1994, p. 24; December 10, 1998, p. 124; June 22, 2000, p. 38; September 14, 2000, pp. 110-114

Spin, April, 1999.

Village Voice, January 5, 1999, p. 102; July 18, 2000, p. 69.

Carol Brennan

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