Who is Josh Homme and Why Does He ROCK?!

JOSH HOMME IS THE MAN!

If you don’t know his name, you better press pause on that video of Batios’ Speed Kills.

Josh Homme, a native Californian, emerged from the desert of Palm Springs in the mid-nineties with his first band Kyuss, which was met with moderate popularity. Kyuss is characterized by Hommes’ saturated guitars and a singer with a healthy nineties rasp  . Their sound is best heard in the studio version of 100 (degrees). It was not until Queens Of The Stone Age (QOTSA) did he achieve rock star status. This band of was Hommes’ own. He started singing and creating more complex rhythms with a new brand of tonal saturation. I will pause while you go listen to Era Vulgaris…. Yes, listen to the whole album.

What makes Homme’s sound original? That would be his taste in equipment, a saturated sound, and personal philosophy of the guitar itself. While he never divulges any specifics on how he achieves his tone, in numerous interviews, he has said that he views the guitar as a percussive element adding a vital textural element. Homme has also mentioned that he stays away from common guitar companies, citing that he prefers cheap imports. This is all part of Homme consciously trying to create a sound all his own, trying to separate himself from the pack, which I think he does so well.

Homme is also a very smart musician considering the amount of projects he’s involved in. The big ones are Kyuss, Queens of The Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal, and now Them Crooked Vultures, a project involving Homme, Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters/Nirvana) John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), and Alain Johannes (QOTSA) for live performances.

THEM CROOKED GUITAR RIFFS

Last year my roommate Steve, a die-hard Homme fan, introduced me to all his recorded work. Some of it I knew, most of it I did not. Most everyone remembers “No One Knows” when it caught radio play but only those who dig deeper find the real gems. Steve was one of the first people I knew in college to find out about the new Josh Homme project, Them Crooked Vultures (TCV).

Every night Steve would pull me into his room and show me a new “leaked” TCV video, which contained only snippets of the material to be released on the album. After the update from Steve, I would hurry back to my room, listen to another QOTSA album, and figure out some riffs to jam on for the next day.

One of the first songs I figured out was “Little Sister.” Simple enough, the main riff:

Db5  Ab5  E5 Ab5 ( = an octave higher)

–7/97————————————————-

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I then started to figure out the sample TCV clips available on YouTube. The song that rocked out the most is called “Gunman”. This simple little riff has only a dash of complexity while remaining a drone. True to Hommes’ claim of being a percussive player, the key is in the timing and punctuation. For this one tune your low E down a whole step to D.

“Gunman”

Figure 1

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———-5/7—-3h5p3p0—————————-

—3p0———————–3p0———————-

This little theme drives the whole song with slight variations, LISTEN FOR TIMING! Variations and stops:

Figure 2

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—–3-5-2———–3–5——————————

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Figure 3

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————2——————————————–

—-3–5——-5p3p0———————————

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Chorus:

D5      Db5     E5     F5   B5

Bb5     C5   D5     Ab5   A5        E5  F5



IS THERE SUCH A THING AS COMPLICATED SIMPLICITY?

Yes, just listen to the end of the song for a summery of all the variations on the main riff. It may look and sound too simple, but that doesn’t really matter. With a full band behind you, locking in those riffs just feels good, and that chorus, does it even make sense to flow so well?

Josh Homme is a smart musician; he is involved in various differing projects but does not spread himself too thin. He takes from his influences but molds them into something that sounds new and current. He does not “pigeon hole” himself into one category although his style is recognizable. Homme not only makes music that is fun to play, it also serves perhaps the most important purpose in contemporary music, getting people to move their feet and bob their heads.

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