April 04, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

Despite the name, there’s nothing remotely precious about Austin’s Poodle Dog Lounge. (The only furry friends in sight are the glass-eyed deer heads mounted on the wall.) Located among nondescript strip mall sprawl, the working class roadhouse is populated by flannel-clad regulars drinking their beer cans in cozies. It’s here that we arrange to meet with Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, in town to preview material from Queens’ latest CD, Lullabies to Paralyze — their first new disc since the firing of longtime bassist Nick Oliveri. Turns out that the beer-only Poodle Dog is more of a BYOB situation for the hard-alcohol-drinking desert native. With the liquor stores well past closing time, Queens’ publicist arrives with various little bottles purchased from her hotel’s secret ”vault.”



LTT (Budweiser, Absolut Vodka) Let’s play a drinking game.

JH (Corona, Absolut Vodka) Okay. How about if the next song has a vowel in it, we’ll drink. [Homme pours two shots and raises Styrofoam cup] See you at the bottom.

LTT Do you have any drinking rituals on the road?

JH We used to drink all the booze on our tour rider before we’d play. But it gets really debilitating after awhile. Sometimes I’m just not that thirsty.

LTT Garbage’s Shirley Manson and the Distillers’ Brody Dalle [Homme’s girlfriend] sang backing tracks on your new song, ”You Got a Killer Scene There, Man. . .,” after sharing a bottle of wine.

JH Shirley and Brody are friends and they were catching up and it was like 4:30 a.m., so the mood was smoky — and the notion of that is romantic. When I was a little boy, I wanted that smoky setting. Some people want a trophy because they won a basketball game. I wanted to make music and have there be sexy lighting. The reason I smoke is Matt Dillon — you f—er! After I watched Over the Edge, I started dressing like him, too, because (a) it’s very desert style, and (b) it’s not too macho and it’s not too sissy. It’s like I can have sex with you or I can fight.



Vodka all around. White Lion’s ”When the Children Cry” comes on the jukebox.

JH Dude, this song stinks of lame more than s— in dying grass. Were you like me, where you watched MTV as a kid hoping something punk-rock would come on?

LTT No, sadly, I liked bad hair metal.

JH I’d buy everything based on the album covers as a little kid — like Def Leppard’s High ‘n’ Dry. But then I bought this album called Eastern Front. . .it was all punk bands like Channel 3, Battalion of Saints, the Fartz. . . .From that second on, I was like, punk is rad.



Yeah, more vodka.

LTT There’s been a lot of press about personnel change in the band [with Oliveri being kicked out, rumors of sometimes singer Mark Lanegan also splitting], but Lullabies opens with the return of Lanegan.

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