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Queens Of The Stone Age - Talking with Michael Shuman
Touring till you drop

Queens of the Stone Age are among the bands who seem to be on a never ending tour. Every once in a while the band has a short break, only to return with a new album and.. to start touring again. But for the first time in history, the band is now playing bigger venues, and swerving away from the clubs. It seems the Queens are finally among the bigger rockbands in history, a place they’ve deserved for a long time. On top of that, the band’s getting ready to tour Australia to do the same, before returning to Europe to do a long list of festivals. Main stage after main stage performance is waiting for them.

We just did Europe, U.K. It’s been good. We’ve been doing bigger shows than the last time. Which is more fun than playing the same venues over and over. Since I’ve been in the band we’ve been playing small clubs and bigger theatres. Places like Paradiso are more fun because it’s more intimate and it’s made for music. I know this is supposed to be the Music Hall or whatever, but the bigger venues are so sterile, there’s no vibe, everything’s black. But it is exciting to see that many people in the audience. Just like the festivals, that’s great. What I really like about festivals is being able to see the bands and sharing the stage with them. Plus, you play to people who’ve never heard your music. That’s good. I get very little time to get home, but I love doing this. I could stay on tour all the time. Being with the bro’s, doing guys stuff.

Live is a whole other thing

Anyone who’s ever seen the band perform live, being as far back as their Dynamo Open Air performance, or the Rated R tour, knows that there’s a significant difference between the albums and the live experience. A lot of improvisation defines a different sound every single night. Something the group wanted to capture on a special live addition to their latest release, Era Vulgaris.

The touring edition is something for the kids to buy, not having to wait two years before a new record comes out. Making records isn’t like it used to be, releasing a record a year, touring, and releasing a new record. Plus it’s a little hint of what we do live, for kids who haven’t had the chance to come out to the show. It’s totally different than the records. We change the songs every night. We like to keep it fresh and different. There’s a structure, but it’s new every night. It keeps us on our toes. It’s a spontaneous thing. You never know what’s going to happen. Someone will trigger something for someone else to do, and we all go for it. It’s fun. That could be dangerous if someone fucks up. Luckily we don’t (laughs).

A new Era

Queens are a band that have had loads of line-up changes, from day one. From the group’s starting point in 1998, Josh Homme has been the only consistant member. But with Joey Castillo filling in on drums and Troy van Leeuwen on guitar since 2004, and Micheal wanting to stick around, it seems that after more than ten years in existence, Queens of the Stone Age are finally a solid band.

I joined a month after Dean (keyboardist –Lex) did, just when the band was finishing up the record. Now I’m a member of the band, I want to involved in what’s to come, and I will be involved. Queens of the Stone Age is my main priority, it’s what I do now. We aren’t a bunch of hired guns. This group has become a real band. People better get used to it, we’re not going anywhere. It’s a unit, and I think it shows on stage.

Josh Homme being the founder of the band doesn’t give him a leading role. The band really comes up with songs as a collective.

Joey and Troy have been with the band for almost four years. They’ve written the last two records together as a collective with Josh. We’re always jamming and coming up with new ways of playing the songs.
Micheal’s been a fan of the Queens for a long time, before becoming a part of the band.

When Lullabies to Paralyze came out, a lot of people critized it. I love that record, I think it’s the best Queens record. I see an evolution, it keeps getting better and better. Personally I would have loved being part of recording Era Vulgaris because no other bassist has played the songs live except me, I feel close to those songs. When preparing to play them live, I have been able to put my own twist on things.

That night Micheal, along with the entire band, proved his point. The new Queens has become a very solid unit in 2008. Like every show they play it seemed better than the one before. If you’ve missed it, no worries. Queens of the Stone Age play the final day of Pinkpop, alongside Rage Against the Machine. And if you miss that, undoubtedly there will be another tour coming up after that.