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Blending rock and beats

Of two artists recently covered by Queens of the Stone Age, which fits their mindset best...


Of two artists recently covered by Queens of the Stone Age, which fits their mindset best — Billy Idol or Brian Eno?

Hint: according to Queens’ guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen, it’s not the snarly blonde punk.

“When you strip down (Idol’s) White Wedding and pull back and examine it, it’s a really dark song,” said Van Leeuwen. “(But) we grew up with Brian Eno, and he’s been a huge influence … He was making pop music that’s odd sounding and always exciting, and I like that.”

Van Leeuwan explained that description also applies to the Queens. Despite their crunchy riffs and rock rhythms, Josh Homme and company are also interested in electronic music — and in a deeper way than the 90s trend of recruiting a scratch DJ. Similar to now-defunct Death From Above 1979 (whose Jesse Keeler almost collaborated on Era Vulgaris), Van Leeuwan’s band likes drum samplers as much as Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham.

“Instead of computer having a meltdown, we do that as humans,” he said. “(If you) take a sampler like an SP-1200 … and if you’re sampling and doing something different, it sounds like 12-bit distortion … We’re capturing a real drummer making those kind of sounds.”

Asked about the handclaps and drums used in the skronky fuzz of I’m Designer, Van Leeuwan said that song demonstrates Queens’ approach to blending rock with the dirty side of beatmaking. He said the band turned to the analogue claps of the 1980s and flattened the drums to sound like an old SP-1200 to fit that pattern.

“I’m Designer is a great example — the drums sounds like a drum machine but they’re not (one),” he said. “Being adaptable (to new sounds) to me is the most important trait for a musician … Not be static but to always evolve and listen. Otherwise you get bored and play the same old shit.”

 
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