Uma noite feroz no Teatro Sá da Bandeira com os Queens of the Stone Age

Assisti ao concerto, feroz, dos Queens of the Stone Age da época com o meu amigo Saul Davies, estavam os James “reformados” e o musico britânico, um Portuense como outro qualquer. Nessa noite, o Teatro Sá da Bandeira não veio abaixo por pouco, tal a violência sónica de Josh Homme e companhia. Mais historias sobre esta noite num dos próximos PodCosta.

Entrevista que eu fiz a Josh Homme para a Rocksbackpages, dezembro de 2002:

To pay homage to Songs For The Deaf, RBP’s Album Of The Year, Alvaro Costa is granted an audience with the chief Queen of the Stone Age.

THE PLACE: a plush Porto Hotel where, by a twist of fate, the vibrations of a low-key meeting in support of the Tibetan cause (attended by very important people) are mixing with the “vibrations” of a rock and roll circus in full steam.

Culprits: Queens Of The Stone Age, at the tail end of an insane European trek that started four months ago. In fact, Nick Oliveri is AWOL; Mark Lanegan carries that ” dry” northwestern sense of humour and presence; and the sound scientist Joshua Homme hangs out in the comfy hall, waiting to continue his media duties.

After a downtown Porto expedition, the lanky bassist does show up, but too late to meet yours truly. For some reason, Homme takes a liking to the reporter and decides to talk, announcing in a “desert-dry” stand up routine that “Nick doesn’t know that much” and concluding that I’m better off without him…

Still a few hours left to bamboozle in the fascinating Teatro Sá da Bandeira, a downtown theatre that’s about to be invaded by “Body Snatchers” or – even more cinematically – by 50 Foot Men on the loose named Queens Of The Stone Age.

By day, Sá da Bandeira moonlights as a porno cinema, a perfect scenario for the rock and roll medicine show that the Californians presented after a very hearty and meaty meal in an Oceanside restaurant, suggested by the man about town. Homme confesses that the worst thing about touring is what he calls the “bubble”….

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AC: This tour could almost be called a Never Ending One….

JH: Playing live is the essential QOTSA experience. However, this bubble that is created around a rock tour is almost unbearable. It is all about us, our little world, and I needed a break. That’s why I “got lost” in Italy, decided to travel alone, explore a different culture from mine. I know it freaked them out but I needed to burst the bubble for a while.

Do your think your origins as desert rats are overrated as an influence on the music you create?

To the outside world, I feel it does. For us, is too natural to become an issue. As we say in the States, you can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy. However, as you expressed it, is impossible not to reflect the lights, the atmosphere the space that the Mojave amplifies sound-wise. If there is something that represents what surrounds us, it’s the mastering of silence and the controlled explosions in our music….

Being a radio professional myself, I don’t underestimate the importance of the imaginary QOTSA Radio on Songs For The Deaf. What’s the role of the fantasy broadcasting in the overall feel of the record?

It’s essential, and not just a minor detail or variety effect. Basically it is a representation of a driving experience from 29 Palms to Phoenix. When I drive, I tune in to all types of stations, weird broadcasts from religious to Mexican. It felt really fun to imagine those stations playing our music in their own context and style….

A great detail is the ignition of the car right at the beginning of the record. Seems like a film screenplay – actor ignites, tunes in a radio station and is ready to take off, in this case from Los Angeles, as we hear references to the city…

Exactly. It works that way. In fact, we compose sounds to films that don’t exist. Soundtracks without images. Songs… is a record to be heard in a car, I do feel it is great road music, or at least was planned that way…

As usual Chris Goss, a “master of reality”, is included in the menu. But it is obvious that Dave Grohl is the media darling. It seems that all of a sudden lots of media did find out about the band. Knowing your sense of humour and distance, this works both ways. Were you aware of a possible “Grohlization” of the media input?

I can reveal that Dave wanted to play with us before and we were adamant about the dangers and, worse, about the media hunger for it. Sometime ago it would have destroyed the band, since all people would care about would be his presence and we could be seen as jumping on some bandwagon. It would have been too soon. Dave is a great human being, a funny man and one of the best rock drummers ever, and his contribution to this record is truly immense. But when we refused his offer, I am not sure if he did understand it. I feel he does know, because all of a sudden it became what we anticipated. Dave went back to his Foo duties at the right time and moment.

I did indeed notice the QOTSA when I got hold of your version of Romeo Void’s ‘Never Say Never’, a underestimated ‘80s song. But covering the Kinks is like a new rock and roll tradition. How did you come to choose these pivotal moments?

In the case of ‘Never…’, it’s because I have great sex memories of it….plus it’s an ‘80s song without being dated or limited by sound fashions. The sex beat of it is truly amazing. The Kinks is a common passion. I adore the apparent simplicity of the songs and – heard in context – it’s incredible how heavy some mid-‘60s material is…

If I can suggest something, relisten to some Wall of Voodoo or some Stan Ridgway, the Raymond Carver of Pop and, to top it all, some Gun Club….

I am big fan of that sound. In some ways it’s not at all removed from Romeo Void. As a real music fan, I am fully aware of that ‘80s sound…

To wrap it up, there is another name that comes to my mind. A Rancho Cucamonga legend: Frank Zappa. By this I mean the way he snatched sounds and styles and was able to incorporate them, in particular during his mid-‘70s period.

I understand your point of view, but the main difference is that he used those styles to lampoon and make fun. We use them because we genuinely like what we include in the sound pot. It’s not a parody, or an ironic stance as some ‘90s music displayed. And that’s why, if the listener is patient enough, the record sounds better heard without interruptions. Might be a ” scary” journey but there are rewards in the end.

© Alvaro Costa, 2002

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