The rocker loves music by everyone from Black Flag to Britney Spears (No, really)

By Eric Renner Brown
August 25, 2017 at 12:32 PM EDT
Elise Derwin/Newspix/Getty Images

For the alt-rock titans’ seventh LP, Villains, out Friday, Queens of the Stone Age frontman Joshua Homme teamed with a surprising collaborator: “Uptown Funk!” producer Mark Ronson. “If you write down ‘Mark Ronson produced the new Queens record,’ it reads funny, and I really like that,” Homme, 44, tells EW. “Excitement, surprise, curiosity, mystery: These are all the greatest parts about being in a band. I think on a fundamental level, it reads funny and I enjoy that.”

The snarky rocker lauds Ronson as a musical collaborator — he’s a “great communicator,” which helps him be honest “in a way that is completely wonderful to hear” — but praises other aspects of the producer’s persona as well. “I think he’s an incredible dresser,” Homme quips. “He dresses like a gangster on vacation.”

Besides teaming with Ronson, Homme has a lengthy history of high-profile musical unions. Queens’ previous album, 2013’s …Like Clockwork, featured Elton John and Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner; Homme has previously worked with Dave Grohl, Julian Casablancas, and John Paul Jones, to name a few. Naturally, he draws on an even broader slate of influences. Homme chatted with EW about the musical acts who have shaped him throughout his life — see his picks and a Spotify playlist compiling them below.

THE ALBUM THAT REMINDS ME OF GROWING UP: Running on Empty, Jackson Browne

I would spend summer in a small town in Idaho. Those were the days when you would let cassette tapes just flip over and play. On these long drives [from Palm Desert, California], my folks would always listen to Running on Empty by Jackson Browne — which strangely was recorded on and [was] completely about the road.

THE FIRST ARTIST I WAS OBSESSED WITH AS A KID: Carl Perkins

At about 8, I saw Carl Perkins play in Idaho, at a thing called the Festival at Sandpoint. This was the type of festival [where] you could bring your own fried chicken and wine and dance in a small-town baseball diamond. It put me in this understanding of Elvis Presley and Sun Records all in one swoop. It was an eye-opener for me.

THE FIRST ALBUM I BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY: Eastern Front, Various Artists

It was Eastern Front, a live punk-rock compilation recorded in San Francisco [featuring] Battalion of Saints, Channel 3, the Lewd, Chron-Gen. I bought it purely for the cover. People say don’t judge a book by its cover, but that’s what people with a s—ty cover say. The next three were the Cramps’…Off the Bone, Misfits’ Legacy of Brutality, and the Stooges’ Raw Power. When it’s time for you to revolt and buy real music, no matter what you end up buying, you’re kind of looking to go wild.

THE ARTISTS THAT MADE ME WANT TO PLAY MUSIC: Kenny Rogers, Charged G.B.H., Black Flag

When I was young, I listened to Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton songs. I knew when I heard Charged G.B.H. or Black Flag that [punk rock] was something I could play too — it made it possible for me. And then hearing the storytelling of Johnny Cash, that’s almost a book on tape with music behind it. Later, I graduated into Waylon [Jennings] and Willie [Nelson], but it started with Kenny Rogers’ [“Islands in the Stream”].

THE MUSIC THAT REMINDS ME OF MY FIRST CRUSH: Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, the Cure

I’ve been chasing the feeling of a first crush with every song I’ve ever written. I love Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, and the Cure because they remind me of that time frame, when I was young and having first crushes. But honestly, I had my first crush in kindergarten — and there was no music there.

THE CONCERT I WOULD SEE IF I HAD A TIME MACHINE: Jimi Hendrix, New Year’s Even 1969

I would probably go see Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys, live on New Year’s Eve 1969. But in this hypothetical, you’re forced to go see a concert, huh? Let me ask you a question: Is it cool if after the concert, I go see dinosaurs? I want to go to the show, but after something mind-melting like that, I’d like to go look at dinosaurs. That would definitely prime the primordial pump.

THE TOUR THAT CHANGED ME: Opening for Ween

I was lucky enough at 18, when I was in my second band, Kyuss, to tour with Ween. Ween changed my life in that they confirmed that all you have to do is love the music you play, and you don’t need to care what genre it is. They’re avant-garde and sensual and bizarre and aggressive and gentle and funny and romantic and honest, all in one go. It’s a very strange bite. At the time, I believed in doing something singularly, one thing so much that it was yours. And they believed in disregarding any rules that were available, everywhere. They’re peanut butter and I’m chocolate, and in a lot of ways, that’s how Reese’s were made.

THE UNEXPECTED ARTISTS I LOVE: Britney Spears, Spice Girls

My goal is to like as much music as I can. I don’t have guilty pleasures, because I don’t really feel bad. The Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun” is incredible. Songs about masturbation like that are hard to forget. I like Dean Martin. I like country music. I like Britney Spears. I like the Spice Girls.

MY FAVORITE CHILL-OUT MUSIC: Legends of Benin, Various Artists

I listen to a lot of Astrud Gilberto. I listen to a lot of Afrobeat compilations. There’s one called Legends of Benin. Compilations are great because they’re like going to a really wonderful buffet. What if you went to Hometown Buffet but it was delicious? I’ll try some of this, I’ll try some of that.

WHAT I LISTEN TO BEFORE A GIG: AC/DC, Motörhead

I’m an AC/DC man, because I like it primitive. There’s that beauty in Bon [Scott] guiding your way through an evening. I’m also an avid disciple of Lemmy [Kilmister] and Motörhead. But I don’t look at it in this sport, get-pumped-up way. I like to set myself on stroll and strut around — so, T. Rex.

THE MUSIC I WANT PLAYED AT MY FUNERAL: “One Hundred Days,” Mark Lanegan

“One Hundred Days” by Mark Lanegan. It’s crushingly beautiful. If Mark Lanegan sang about toothpaste, I’d wanna brush.

Listen to a Spotify playlist of Homme’s soundtrack of my life selections above.

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