Queens of the Stone Age
My experience with Queens of the Stone Age in the years has been turbulent.
It started quite a while ago, July 1999. There was a free rock festival in Palestrina, close to Rome, called “Nel Nome del Rock” (in the name of rock). First night headliner were Morphine (from Boston) and, the following night, Queens of the Stone Age (QOTSA) that were just emerging in the Californian desert from Kyuss’ ashes.
I was (and still am) a die-hard fan of Morphine’s low-rock. I went to that concert hyper-excited. I had never seen them live before. It ended up being one of the most shocking experience of my entire life. Mark Sandman, Morphine leader and frontman, after few songs (I have never been able to realize how many) collapsed on stage, killed by a heart attack. That moment the concert, the Morphine and any of my desire to come back the following night to see Josh Homme and friends, expired. I was devastated and petrified. I remember myself sitting on a bench, hoping for someone coming out to tell it wasn’t serious. But it damn was, I knew it was. So all I am left now is a roll of film which stops after the 9th frame and a Morphine CDs collection. I know the show must go on, just give me a break.
I moved to UK and I kept listening to QOTSA music. I managed to bump into them live in 2003, it was at the London Brixton Academy. They were touring their third album, the superb Songs for the deaf. An impressive wall of guitar sounds took the Academy by storm, with a wild Nick Oliveri showing up on stage totally naked for the encore. I was blown away.
The following couple of years a series of quite worrying news for QOTSA fans. Nick Oliveri was abruptly sacked by Josh Homme, after spending 15 years together from school through the Kyuss’ days, circumstances are still unclear. A partially disappointing release, their fourth CD Lullabies to Paralyze certainly isn’t their best. Several UK dates cancelled and, not to forget, Josh Homme involvement with Eagles of Death Metal. A further distraction when it looked that the QOTSA were in desperate need of concentration.
They seem to find it back home, in the desert. 2007 brought good news. Era Vulgaris was released, I think it is a very good album, and the band was back on the road.
Since then, I have been chasing their PR for months managing to get access to the photographers’ pit of the Brixton Academy at the very last minute. Three songs of photos then I stayed to watch the entire gig.
A 20 songs setlist spanning entire career which I enjoyed despite it was missing my personal favourite, better living through chemistry.
They fit 3 more songs from the setlist sticked on the academy floor, clearly they were enjoying it too.
In fact, I was loving it. A breathtaking incessant sequence of songs. I always thought the Era Vulgaris riffs would be great live but I never thought that the cacophony of 3’s & 7’s would sound any good on stage especially after No one knows and before R’s In the Fade. It did.
I rediscovered a couple of pearls from Lullabies: Burn the Witch and Tangled up in Plaid, with its guitar chord progression which has the harmonic skeleton that both Amy Winehouse for Back in Black and PJ Harvey in the recent The Devil, transposed to piano. Have a go at it. Make it wit chu, the new single, shines before the encore. Encore where Homme pays homage to Amy Winehouse singing a refrain of her Rehab during Feel good hit of the summer.
I exit the Academy persuaded that QOTSA are one of the most important and influent bands this side of the millennium. A band that rotates around its mastermind, Josh Homme, which at the same time is excellent to blend together the best musicians and to deliver a sound that is his very own.
A band that in this decade managed to resurrect the anemic hard rock scene with new warmth, made out of Homme’s bursting guitar riffs, potent drums and pulsing bass. After all if warmth didn’t come from the Desert, where from?
There is no QOTSA music to stream for you, but there is something even more tasteful which will fit better the last chapter of this Desert Trilogy. The entire Desert Session vol. 9-10 album. I made it start with a proto-version of I wanna make it wit chu that became latest QOTSA single. If you want the real QOTSA music, you can always get it from their [myspace] [website]
This time I am not posting a tip, but a call for all concert photographers.
It happens sporadically, but it happens. Tour managers (or whoever manager) ask photographers, usually in advance but sometimes only when we arrive at the venue, to sign a paper where we must declare for which agency we work or, in case we are freelance, which publications will publish the images.
In a word we sign to renounce our rights on our photos!
Would musicians be ready to give away the rights of their music? No?
Well, this is how they are threatening photographers. Either we sign the agreement, renouncing to our rights or we get no pass, renouncing to the pictures!
There are debates online discussing whether these agreements have any executive value, first of all they are not signed by a counterpart but, beyond the legal issues which I am happy to leave to solicitors, the procedure is very annoying.
A photographer, especially a freelance, does not always know in advance which magazine will publish his/her shots and can’t spend an hour writing a list of all his potential clients, magazines, websites, hoping he does not forget a key one.
I deliberately decided not to photograph anyone supporting this stupid policy, but you know, exceptions happen. Having spent ages to get through a QOTSA pass, I didn’t want to miss them, but I am disappointed.
I wish all the live photographers out there agreed to join forces and boycott all the artists which ask to sign any sort of contract that restrains our rights on our photos.
I wish that any of you replied to the promoter specifying that we won’t be attending the gig only because of this request.
We do a key job on spreading artists’ music, image and work. To put it with a photographer friend’s words “At the end of the day all we are doing are promoting the artists so that they (the artists, record companies, promoters, PR’s etc….) can get rich” …much richer than us, be sure.
Are you control freak or what for, guys? I would love to hear from someone who can explain the logic behind the procedure.
I would also love to hear from photographers about similar experiences so we can build up and share a list of names.
Please, tell your friends about this.
To start the list following 5 artists who asked me to sign these agreement, most of them I declined.
“You’ll have to sign our release when you get there though”
BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB
“Please fill in the Photographers Request Form attached. Bring the filled in form with you and I will give you a pass. First 3 songs, no flash”
“Also ALL photographers will be required to sign a live photography agreement on the night.”
“We can sort this out and give permission for photos to be used, in the
articles that the photographer is directly commissioned for, but Hawkwind
have a policy of retaining all copyright on photos taken of themselves.
If this is not agreeable to you, we can let you use photographs for the
articles which have been taken by our own official photographer, there will
be no charge for use of these photos.”
THE DOVES (without any advice)