As the driving force behind various bands over the years, American multi-instrumentalist Josh Homme is a prominent figure in modern rock.
Despite all of his many musical faces, Homme is best known as the frontman of Queens of the Stone Age and a founding member of The Eagles of Death Metal – the band recently caught up in the horrific Paris Attacks.
The ginger guitar ninja is a man of many talents – founder, frontman, songwriter, pianist, drummer and producer – but it is as a singer and a guitarist that he is most recognised and influential.
Joshua Michael Homme was born May 17, 1973 in Joshua Tree (rather appropriately) California. He grew up in an affluent family in Palm Desert where the Homme’s have a street named after them in a local golfing community.
Homme used to holiday in Idaho, a place where he saw Carl Perkins perform live and bought his first electric guitar. He began playing at the age of 9 after his parents denied his wishes for a drum kit, and took polka lessons on guitar from ages 9 to 11.
Homme joined his first band Autocracy at the age of 12 and has been in and out of bands ever since. In 1987 when he was 14, he formed stoner punk band Kyuss with schoolmates John Garcia and Brant Bjork, garnering a cult following by the early 1990s. Over the years, Homme has formed QOTSA, The Eagles Of Death Metal, Them Crooked Vultures with Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones, and The Desert Sessions (a musical collective series featuring artists such as PJ Harvey, Mark Lanegan and many others from the Palm Desert music scene).
Generally speaking, Josh Homme is best known for his selection of Motor Ave and Maton semi-hollow guitars, including his signature model Maton (the BB1200 JH) and a red & white MotorAve BelAire guitar named Ryder.
Homme tends to look for the odd or unique, opting to stay away from the typical choices of other guitar players. He purposely does not own a Fender Stratocaster or a Gibson Les Paul, and instead searches for brands that are not always generally accepted as great quality but are great to use.
He has an extensive collection of over 35 different brands, including various model Motor Aves, Matons, Ovations, Epiphones, Gibsons and Gretschs.
As a young beginner guitarist, Josh Homme supposedly did not learn of a barre chord, nor of a pick until his third year – a lucid lesson that seems to have lent to his unique playing style today.
Although Homme is often vague about his specific gear, his actual sound is far from vague.
Often described as buzzy, skwonky with a mid-heavy tone, Homme’s sound is pure sluggish rock n’ roll. His style and sound is idiosyncratic, bowel-rumbling and heavy on the humbucker tones.
Vocally, Homme’s voice is just as grinding and bellowing as his guitar.Both have a true, old-fashioned macho sound that is part showman and part piss-taker.
The addictive aggression of ‘No One Knows’, the funky opening riff of ‘I Sat By The Ocean’, the gentle-turn-metal strums of ‘If I Had A Tail’, the sharp drum n’ strum of ‘My God Is The Sun’, the final fuzz of ‘…Like Clockwork’ , the driving rock riff of ‘Nobody to Love’, the ferocity of ‘New Fang’, the head-banging licks of ‘Elephants’, and the country-tinged echoey gruff of ‘Gunman’.
YouTube features a lot of live and official videos from QOTSA.
His emotional video with The Eagles of Death Metal following the Paris attacks is also worth a look here.
Below, watch Josh Homme discussing when he first picked up the guitar, his technique, and hear some of the first riffs he learnt: