Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age talks to Metro.co.uk about his health woes (Picture: Taylor Hill/Getty Images for Boston Calling)
Queens Of The Stone Age are back with a new album and tour, and fans and critics alike have been praising it as their best, since their hugely popular Songs For The Deaf record.
The new album, In Times New Roman… very nearly didn’t happen following a host of trials and tribulations for frontman Josh Homme.
He sits talking to us on Zoom, and he doesn’t shy away from the difficulties he’s experienced lately, with divorce, loss, and health issues to boot.
In June 2023, Josh revealed he had cancer after being diagnosed in 2022.
Speaking in his first interview since the pandemic, he shared that he’d undergone surgery to remove the cancer.
While he refused to delve into details about his disease, Josh said his surgery was successful, but he was ‘still healing’.
He was diagnosed with cancer in 2022 (Picture: Astrida Valigorsky/Getty Images)
Writing music, the one thing he could rely on, didn’t come naturally for a while as he navigated his personal struggles.
He shares: ‘Writing this one was unlike anything else, because we were going through not only personal things that weren’t like anything I’ve experienced, in a whole timeframe where everybody is going through something they don’t understand en masse,’ he pauses to think: ‘Sometimes I’d think, “I don’t want to put myself out there. I don’t want to subject myself to a world that sometimes takes pleasure from its own brutality. There was this desire to be understood and feeling misunderstood instead.’
Alongside QOTSA, Josh has multiple musical projects to his name and says the writing experience differs for them all.
‘Making Eagles Of Death Metal records or [Them Crooked] Vultures is a much easier code for me to crack. The Queens thing is about feeling around in the dark. When you touch something that hurts… that’s the direction to go in. I mean, that sounds gross but that’s a fact,’ he smiles wryly.
He’s someone who clearly thinks very deeply and regularly speaks in metaphors throughout with some phrases sounding like potential lyrics.
On playing Glastonbury, he says: ‘I don’t want to be the biggest band, I want to be in the best band. To do that it requires you to turn yourself over to the process and give everything you have and understand that it might crush you in the process. That’s the job… find a cliff and throw yourself off, hoping you’ll float away instead.’
Josh has had the full support of his bandmates (Picture: Astrida Valigorsky/Getty Images)
He says he avoids reading reviews online because despite wanting to be the best and to be understood, he doesn’t think it’s healthy.
‘It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just that I don’t feel better when I do read them. Making this record was so different to all the other ones and it involved so many sort of emotional mountains to climb.’
Josh says this was the most hands-off approach he’s taken to a record: ‘Because I was too busy hanging on for dear life. I forgot to remember that people will receive this record and they will do something with it.’
Luckily, he had the solid support of his bandmates – Troy Van Leeuwen, Michael Shuman, Dean Fertita, and Jon Theodore – as he recovered privately from his cancer treatment.
Speaking to Revolver magazine, Josh previously shared of his illness: ‘Cancer is just the cherry on top of an interesting time period, you know?
‘I’m extremely thankful that I’ll get through this, and I’ll look back at this as something that’s f****d up — but will have made me better.’
I don’t want to be the biggest band, I want to be in the best band.
Despite the challenges of making the new record, he’s happy with the end result: ‘I listened to it yesterday driving by myself. I love it. When I first started doing this, it’s amazing how many bands say, “I hate my record.”
‘I don’t understand that. You’re supposed to make something that you love. This is a complicated job as it is, it goes up and down all around and the highs are high and the lows are low. You play the O2 Arena and go and take a shower afterwards and come out and it’s empty. Performing live – it’s just a moment of holding each other close, and then letting go over and over and over.’
Ahead of their tour dates in the UK, Josh has a message for anyone who is thinking about coming to see them: ‘Well, you know, in a world that is hell-bent on telling you what to do, and moreover, micromanaging you on how to do it: here at Queens At Queens Of The Stone Age Corporation, we don’t do that.
‘I turn the lights out, I turn the music up, so you can whisper in your friend’s ear about what you really want to do. We provide a safe space to not be told what to do, because I believe escapism is an undervalued resource, like a diamond. People who want to tell you what to do?
‘They should shut the f**k up’, and with that, he bursts out laughing. ‘You never know what to expect with Queens Of The Stone Age, and being kept on your toes is half of the fun.’
Queens Of The Stone Age, The End Is Nero Arena Tour, is touring now.
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