Philadelphia-hailing rockers Mannequin Pussy have been conjuring music that moves, both physically and mentally, since …
If you’ve ever witnessed Queens of the Stone Age live before, you know that you’ll never be the same again after the experience.
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Masters of all things rock‘n’roll and wielders of one of the most acclaimed live performances on the planet, QOTSA have an often otherworldly ability to talk the talk and walk the walk with a wink and a swagger completely their own. And off the back of unveiling their brand new album, 2023’s In Times New Roman… and commencing ‘The End Is Nero’ tour overseas, rock Christmas will come in February for Aussie QOTSA fans, with the group confirmed to be headed our way next February, hitting Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, Torquay, Melbourne, Sydney, the Gold Coast, and closing out with two shows in Brisbane.
Marking the iconic group’s first appearances down under since 2018, The End Is Nero tour also invites fans to, as QOTSA themselves put it: “come celebrate the end of the world, which we hear is in a month or two…leave your judgement at the door, bring anything and everything else.”. And as guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen recently revealed to HysteriaMag.com ahead of this unforgettable tour, the band are just as excited as the fans are for a summer QOTSA x Aussie blowout.
“That’s our job!” says Van Leeuwen of the band gifting not only a new album but the cherry on top of a world tour to their adoring fans. “We’re supposed to do that. And we’re just going to eat it up as much as we can because I think the last show we did for the last tour was in Perth, and that was in 2018. So, we’ve been dying to get back.”
“You guys are always very kind to our band and your audiences are very, very good for us. It’s nice to go back and feel that warmth. And let’s have another summer, why not!”
A never-ending summer for Queens of the Stone Age feels entirely on brand for a group who have built their legacy on sun-kissed blues, stoner rock, and angular metal tendencies in their burgeoning signature sonic cocktail since forming in the 90s. And with their latest outing, In Times New Roman…, grinding, grooving, and grinning across future QOTSA classics, the chance for the band to play their new material live has already spawned a positive reaction, both on the stage and in the crowd.
“Yes, I believe that the new record is coming off very well,” says Van Leeuwen. “The last tour we did, we just kind of finished up here in the States and it seems like people are listening to the new record a lot, and that’s really nice.”
“As far as new songs that we like to play, I love playing Paper Machete. I also like playing Straight Jacket Fitting. Straight Jacket Fitting is this really interesting song to play live because, believe it or not, we get the crowd to sing along with us and that’s always kind of fun. So, those are two favourites of mine. And I like Time & Place too. It’s just kind of a fun groove and it’s got some really funny lyrics.”
“I mean, I could say we could play the whole record live and be happy because we really love it,” adds Van Leeuwen. “It definitely came out way better than we expected.”
And if anyone knows just how much Australian crowds also love a singalong, it’s Van Leeuwen, with the prolific guitarist and multi-instrumentalist enthused to return to the Southern Hemisphere, while also parting the curtain into the ever-oscillating Queens of the Stone Age setlist.
We try not to play the same set every night because, especially in the States and in parts of Europe, people travel to multiple shows and there’s nothing worse than seeing the same set – at least for me anyways.
[ Troy Van Leeuwen – Queens Of The Stone Age ]
“That’s the thing about our band,” says Van Leeuwen, “We try not to play the same set every night because, especially in the States and in parts of Europe, people travel to multiple shows and there’s nothing worse than seeing the same set – at least for me anyways. It keeps us on our toes and it allows us to pull out an old song, like I Think I Lost My Headache, I think we played that the other day. And I want to start playing Song for the Deaf.”
“Everyone’s got a favourite that they will want to throw in. We also started playing Regular John again off the first record, which was really cool. We’re trying to keep it interesting for us as well as you.”
Perennial Aussie favourites, the Queens of the Stone Age Australian memory banks span everything from headline runs to touring alongside Nine Inch Nails and appearing at Splendour In The Grass, Soundwave, and Big Day Out. And it was during 2003 when the band appeared at the latter that a core Australian memory formed for Van Leeuwen alongside the band’s dear departed brother Mark Lanegan.
“Well, what comes to mind right off the bat,” says Van Leeuwen, “and it’s kind of hard to say because every time we go down there we relish being down there, the people are great and we end up having fun in each city. But I’ll have to say recently I discovered some recordings that I did with Mark Lanegan in a hotel in the Gold Coast actually. So, that was back in 2003 before the recording of Bubblegum.”
“That was a really interesting time because, of course, Songs For The Deaf was number one, and we were doing the Big Day out with Foo Fighters and Jane’s Addiction and Deftones, all of our friends, and it was just a really fun, cool time. And there were multiple days off, so we’d find ourselves recording in my hotel room at three in the morning.”
“That memory’s been sparked recently because after Mark passed, I started going through all of our photos and stuff and I found these recordings, and they’re just super special. So that’s one that really sticks out to me.”
Van Leeuwen’s tenure with Queens of the Stone Age has only amplified in the decades that have followed the 2003 Big Day Out, with the extremely talented artist also lending his wares to time spent with Failure, A Perfect Circle and countless other projects throughout his career. And while renowned for his dark and slick aesthetic onstage in full QOTSA mode, Van Leeuwen’s most recent guitar addition, a summery signature Jazzmaster that heralded the beginning of his “Queens of the Copper Age” era, has added a colourful diversion to the Queens of the Stone Age established on-stage presence. And yes, fans can expect to see Van Leeuwen wielding that very axe in Australia in 2024 bringing some distinctly summery vibes.
“We’ll be seeing it on stage, yes, for sure,” says Van Leeuwen of his signature Jazzmaster. “It’s definitely a summertime guitar, it really has a surf guitar sound that I really enjoy. You’ll be seeing that for sure. And that colour really reminds me of the desert sun.”
“Usually I like dark colours, but this was kind of different for me, so I’m really enjoying it.”
And still on the topic of summer, the Copper Age finish on Van Leeuwen’s latest signature guitar very nearly scored an entirely different moniker, with the band’s go-to cocktail, a Corvette Summer, almost taking out the naming rights for the colourful Fender. But are the band still on board with their previously adored backstage tipple that traditionally mixes grapefruit juice, lime juice, and tequila? Van Leeuwen has the answer, unveiling another Feel Good Hit Of The Summer, beverage-style.
“I mean, we don’t leave home without some pink grapefruit juice and some tonic and limes,” says Van Leeuwen, “and of course tequila. The other one that I’ve been really enjoying lately is kind of a take on a Moscow Mule, but it has tequila, it’s ginger beer, tequila, and lime. It’s really refreshing. Another summertime hit!”
As someone who has music seemingly fused into his DNA, both in Queens of the Stone Age and beyond with his horde of other projects under his elegantly brooding belt, Van Leeuwen and his fellow QOTSA bandmates continually manage to make every single show they undertake feel special, engaging, and outrageously stimulating, with each new album also finding its own unique yet cohesive home against the sweltering back catalogue that spans #1 albums and certified gold and platinum releases. And the inescapable power of a Queens live show is as potent for the band as it is for the droves of fans who continually sell out giant venues across the globe, as Van Leeuwen elaborates.
“I’m really enjoying playing live right now since we’ve all had such a long sort of break from the road. There really is something about our band when we play live, I mean, you’re describing how it feels for you, I’m describing to you that it feels the same for me.”
“We’re really, really enjoying it,” Van Leeuwen adds. “There’s been a lot of recording over the last few years. We had nothing else to do, so I’m looking forward to kind of taking a break from all that and just cutting loose live.”
From first learning drums before pivoting to his ultimate creative destiny, the guitar, Van Leeuwen has gone on to perform with Iggy Pop at London’s Royal Albert Hall, join multiple musical supergroups, and still remain one of the most striking and fashionable onstage performers of this generation. But if you look closely next time Van Leeuwen is onstage, you may also glimpse his essential item he likes to have with him when he’s on the road at all times.
“I have this ring that I got from my grandfather,” says Van Leeuwen. “It’s this gold ring that I just wear all the time. He was a mechanic and he wore it to work every day. So, it’s filled with muck and dirt, grease and it’s actually got an onyx stone that’s cracked – and somehow it’s still holding together.”
“It’s just one of those things that makes me feel like I’m kind of bringing my forefathers with me. I know that sounds corny, but it’s true.”
Queens Of The Stone Age ‘The End Is Nero’ Summer 2024 Australian Tour:
Saturday, February 10 // Red Hill Auditorium // Perth
Tuesday, February 13 // The Drive // Adelaide
Friday, February 16 // Mona Laws // Hobart
Sunday, February 18 // Lookout, Torquay Common // Torquay
Monday, February 19 // Sidney Myer Music Bowl // Melbourne
Wednesday, February 21 // Hordern Pavilion // Sydney
Saturday, February 24 // Lookout Broadwater Parklands // Gold Coast
Sunday, February 25 // Fortitude Music Hall // Brisbane
Monday, February 26 // Fortitude Music Hall // Brisbane