Friday, October 2nd 2009
Interviews: Them Crooked Vultures
The first day of the 2009 Austin City Limits Music Festival isn’t even quite officially done yet; as I type this, Johnny is shooting photos of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Kings Of Leon who are currently closing up.
Before we bring you the full coverage, we have an exclusive treat for you: A few hours ago, Johnny talked to Them Crooked Vultures’ Josh Homme. We’ve been following the group for awhile now, but as long as the biggest questions being asked about the new group have continued to go unanswered, with rumors and hoaxes clouding the facts, we’ve been hunting down the elusive frontman to get the truth, right from the beak.
Antiquiet: We’ve got some basic questions here, since not too many people know what the hell’s going on…
Josh Homme: I have extremely complex and secretive answers.
Antiquiet: I heard this came together at a renaissance-themed birthday party?
Josh Homme: Yeah, well Dave, he mentioned this idea, and we’re always looking for a chance to do stuff together, Dave and I. So he said, “you know what, maybe I should ask John Paul Jones!” And I was like, “that’d be awesome. And I’ll ask… The President. And we can put it all together.”
And then all of a sudden he starts sending me emails, of correspondence between him and Jones, and I was like… ‘uhhhh… well shit. What do I do?’
I hadn’t played guitar for five months, and I was gonna maybe take a break for a second, for my first time in a long time. But then [Dave] has his birthday party at Medieval Times, and of course he sat us right next to each other. That was the blind date. But he sat in the next row behind us, like looking over (laughing)…
But you know, I think it’s fairly common to meet someone from Zeppelin at Medieval Times.
Antiquiet: What’s going on with the album?
Josh Homme: Well, we just finished figuring out what songs we’re going to put on it, which took a little bit of time. We couldn’t decide what [we wanted] to do. Do you make a triple album? An EP? How many songs is too much?
I tend to think that even if you’ve got a bunch of good songs, maybe you should err on the side of brevity, and keep it tight. But we really enjoy lots of songs, so we couldn’t decide.
Antiquiet: And they’re long songs…
Josh Homme: Some are, yeah. We call them battleships when they’re big. There’s about four battleships. And like, do you put ‘em all on? I dunno, it’s a tough call.
Antiquiet: Any name for it yet?
Josh Homme: It’s a self-titled.
Antiquiet: How about a release?
Josh Homme: We’ve been doing a lot of stuff real kind of secretive, and we actually made a pact to not know when it’s coming out, the band guys. I’m betting… Well it’s going to be before the end of the year… We kind of have a little running bet on what the date is. And I intend to win that bet, because I’m going to cheat.
Antiquiet: In terms of songwriting, and getting down and playing together, how quick did that come to be?
Josh Homme: Well it actually happened pretty fast after that meeting. Both John and I told equally dry and sort of scathing jokes to each other at Medieval Times, and so it sort of stamped the ‘let’s do this.’
What’s funny is once you agree to do it, I realized this after the first time we played, once you agree to jam together, it has to work. Or it’s like saying… ‘Why couldn’t it work between the three of you? Why wouldn’t you be able to do something that would be… that you would at least want to listen to?’ So it’s no pressure…
Antiquiet: What was the first song you guys wrote?
Josh Homme: Well, there was one called Reptiles… [But] we didn’t end up doing it until almost the very end, I had to sort of convince those guys that it was the right sort of angular thing to do. Because it’s a little bit hard to understand at first, I think, the way I delivered it. ‘Hey, check this out!’ (spastic convulsions) ‘Watch this broken robot clean your house!’
And then there was a song called Spinning In Daffodils that was the first thing we really recorded.
Antiquiet: Any idea as far as an agreement on a label, or how that’s all going to work out distribution wise?
Josh Homme: Yeah… It’s going to come out on Interscope in the states, and Sony/BMG internationally.
Antiquiet: How do you feel about that? You’ve been pretty outspoken in the past about not feeling so hot about Interscope anymore…
Josh Homme: Well, you know… If it was up to me, I’d just get a real big hot air balloon, and put ‘em all in the basket of that, and just (miming) pull the cord and let it drop over places, you know?
But, you know, it’s not up to me always.
Bonus for the readers: The following isn’t in the video above.
Antiquiet: Foo Fighters bassist Nate Mendel was asked about [Them Crooked Vultures]. He said that what’s most interesting to him is that he’s watching Dave in a band where he’s not in charge, and he’s not calling all the shots. (over laughter) Any reaction to that comment?
Josh Homme: Well he’s giving all the shots. All the B12s, and all the flu shots…
Well, I think by nature of it, this is three people interested in hearing what the other person’s opinion is. So there’s no need to run anything. If we’re not careful, it just runs itself. And you just gotta play catch-up anyhow.
Antiquiet’s trip to Austin for ACL 2009 was graciously sponsored by our friends over at camelcamelcamel. They set up a cool little site that lets you track prices of items on Amazon and a bunch of other online retailers. We’re happy to be aligned with such a non-lame company, and we’re happy to help them get the word out. Pay them a visit.