Queens of the Stone Age bring new music to AMP Sept. 26

Queens of the Stone Age bring new music to AMP Sept. 26

The end is nigh, according to Queens of the Stone Age, but their new album is about more than the finale.

“I think there’s definitely some commentary in the lyrics just nodding to [the concept] that the end is coming soon. I think our world is in such a precarious spot. I think there’s so much divisiveness and hate — not that there hasn’t been in our world history— but it’s essentially prevalent right now. I think maybe just because everyone gets to have a voice now. For some reason, everyone gets to be a journalist,” says the bassist Mike Shuman in surprisingly calm voice.

“I think there’s a bunch of things that might end us soon, and we don’t know which one it is, and it could be tomorrow. It could be in five years, could be in 20 years. But I gotta be honest, I don’t really think it’s gonna last all that long,” he laughs. “So we really got to get on the road!”

QOTSA’s eighth studio album, “In Times New Roman,” came out June 16 via Matador Records and features singles “Emotion Sickness,” “Carnavoyeur” and “Paper Machete.” They are on the road for what they’ve dubbed their “The End Is Nero” Tour, which just came stateside this summer.

Unlike many of their peers, the pandemic didn’t necessarily derail any plans for QOTSA as far as touring or writing music; their last album, “Villains,” came out in 2017.

“We had ended our touring cycle in 2018, so there was gonna be a new record in the works at some point,” Shuman says.

“A lot of friends’ bands put out records in March 2020. And that record went away, and their touring went away. And it was really harsh. So I think we were lucky enough to not have to go through that,” he explains.

Instead, time was on their side, and they were happy to get back in the studio after lockdown.

“We had to wait a little longer than we had hoped. But I mean, to be locked down by yourself, and then have the opportunity to come back together and make music together was the most liberating thing, I think, for all of us,” he says.

In addition to playing bass and other percussion, for this album, Shuman was sort of a lyrical “sounding board” for Josh Homme — the statuesque ginger lead of QOTSA — especially in the final days of mixing the album.

“They’re Josh’s words. They’re always Josh’s words,” he says. “I think because the lyrics were so important on this record, it was it was important to make sure that they got the sonic space they deserve.”

Some of the songs, Shuman says, were written in the studio while others were extracted from Homme’s extensive notebooks of writings. The overall effect resulted in what NME calls some of QOTSA’s “darkest, knottiest material to date.”

Shuman says that their sheer time and experience working together helped them “learn each others’ ins and outs and idiosyncrasies” and allowed everyone to have their moments without outshining the lyrics or vocals.

“My role is to listen and stay out of the way when I need to,” Shuman says. As a bass player, “I was a big fan of James Jamerson and McCartney, who are guys that are really overplaying and playing all over the place on pop songs, but you never noticed. They always do it tastefully and fill the right gaps. So I think that my job is to listen and to play for the song, play for the part, and most importantly — play for the vocal. Because I think ultimately, that’s the most important part of the song.”

End of the world or not, Shuman is excited to share the new album with fans across the country.

“I really feel like we’re in the best spot we’ve ever been as a band, so I’m really excited to keep going. And there’s so many new songs off the record that we want to be playing,” Shuman says.

“I think that’s the most exciting part for us is getting to play the songs in front of our fans, and connecting with them on that level, and it keeps it fresh for us too, right? Like we’re not going out there and just playing the greatest hits or whatever. We really want to play this new record, and we really want to make it a prominent part of our show.”

Speaking of songs he’d like to share, I asked him what his end-of-the-world playlist would include — aside from the latest QOTSA record.

“I think Elliot Smith’s ‘Son of Sam’ and just because I’m all of a sudden seeing ‘Fight Club’ [in my mind], I’d say, Pixies’ ‘Where Is My Mind.’”


Queens of the Stone Age:

‘The End Is Nero’ Tour

WHEN — Gates open at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 26

WHERE — Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers

COST — $34.50 & up

INFO — amptickets.com

Categories: Music