Exploring the musical collaborations of Josh Homme

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Exploring the musical collaborations of Josh Homme

Josh Homme Collaborations PJ Harvey
Words by Mixdown Staff

Today, we're diving into some of Josh Homme's best and most innovative collaborative endeavours, from the expected to the downright experimental... the man can (pardon the pun) go with the flow!

Josh Homme is undeniably known world wide as one of the most prolific musicians and songwriters of the 21st Century, having forged a remarkable legacy within the world of contemporary rock music. The founder and frontman of Queens of the Stone Age, Homme and his band have consistently pushed boundaries, creating a signature blend of insistent riffage and brooding, brutally honest lyrics – all delivered with an inimitable swagger – that keeps fans coming back for more.

Read all the latest features, columns and more here.

What is perhaps lesser known about Homme, even to fans, is just how much he loves jumping into the studio, and up onto the stage, to collaborate with fellow artists, both within the bounds of the genre of alternative rock and beyond. Today, we’re diving into some of Josh Homme’s best and most innovative collaborative endeavours, from the expected to the downright experimental… the man can (pardon the pun) go with the flow!

Iggy Pop

In 2016, Josh Homme joined forces with Iggy Pop, contributing to the exceptional album titled Post Pop Depression. This avant-garde masterpiece echoed the influential collaborations Iggy Pop carried out in the 1970s with David Bowie, marking a brilliant return to that era’s innovative and boundary-pushing musical spirit.

Of the collaboration, Homme commented:

“For years I’d said, ‘Oh man, if I worked with Iggy, I’d do this’ but of course, that changed. I’m really glad we worked together in that moment, at that time, because he was 69 years old and he had something to say.”

Further delving into his collaborative dynamic with the punk rock icon, Homme said:

“Sometimes you find yourself holding back for a reason you don’t understand and find yourself never letting go. So I told Iggy, ‘I’m not holding anything back, I’m not saving anything, this is that moment’.”

Arctic Monkeys

Produced by James Ford and Ross Orton, the critically and commercially acclaimed 2013 Arctic Monkeys album AM features a couple of appearances from Josh Homme.
Speaking to Homme’s contributions to the album in an interview with Zane Lowe on BBC Radio 1 in June of 2013, frontman Alex Turner said:
“The Josh thing was very much a case of one of us returning a back scratch to the other… he came down and sort of got us out of a little rut. It’s just fun, it’s friends, extended family now – [they] came round, had a fun night. His contribution to our record is really exciting, it’s probably my favourite. The 30 seconds that he’s in there is just, I dunno, it’s like something that I’ve never heard before. Not to blow my own trumpet or anything, but you know what I’m saying.”
Homme’s direct contributions were relatively modest in light of Turner’s insistence that he dramatically breathed life into the studio session – having delivered two backing vocal parts for the songs “One for the Road” and “Knee Socks”.
On 4 July 2013, Homme mentioned AM at the Rock for People festival in the Czech Republic, commenting:
“I sang on the new Arctic Monkeys record. It’s a really cool, sexy after-midnight record. It’s called AM, so I guess that’s really obvious. And it’s really good. It’s really good. It’s not disco [as such], but it’s like a modern, dance floor sexy record. It’s really good.”

Elton John

Josh Homme and the Queens of the Stone Age crew collaborated with Sir Elton on their 2013 album … Like Clockwork with Homme having revealed how the creative process shook out in an interview with BBC 5 Live.

“He’s a workaholic,” Homme said. “He’s a music fan who’s constantly searching for new music to get involved with. He’s signing acts from YouTube, it’s really intense. He’s always playing 200 plus shows a year and he’s an amazing piano player.”

Speaking specifically about “Fairweather Friends”, the track Elton and the band recorded together, Homme went on:

“He called me on the phone and it took me a minute to work out if I was being punked or not. He came in and we tracked a rock song live together, which was a wonderful experience. That is what collaboration is all about, learning something from someone else and about someone else and maybe reminding them of something they enjoy too. To experience that with Elton was wonderful. There are piano-based, mellower songs on our record but that’s not really the point. It’s about strange chemistry and doing what you’re not supposed to do.”

Royal Blood

Stage rattling power rock duo Royal Blood’s 2021 is album Typhoons is yet another iconic record that boasts a collaboration with Josh Homme. During an interview on Elton John’s Rocket Hour on Apple Music, vocalist/bassist Mike Kerr dove into he and drummer Ben Thatcher’s experience of teaming up with Homme on a song called “Boilermaker”.

“Before this whole idea began for the record, we’d been on tour with Josh for a long time and he became a really good friend of ours and he’s always been such an inspiration to us and a real hero,” Kerr explained. “So it was an amazing moment to finally be together and he allowed us into his world.”

Kerr continued that observing Homme at work in the studio “blew our minds.”

“He’s so hands-on with everything,” Kerr explained. “I don’t think we’d ever seen someone be so creative with studio equipment before. And it woke something up in us, we realised that the studio, it doesn’t have to be this serious place.”

Lady Gaga

For her fifth album, Joanne, Lady Gaga’s longtime right-hand producer Mark Ronson invited Josh Homme to play guitar on the track “John Wayne”. Homme also ended up contributing drums to the album, co-producing one song and co-writing two, including the LP opener “Diamond Heart”. Although one of the more unexpected pairings on this list, Homme’s signature fuzzed out guitar stabs work perfectly with the track’s down and dirty pop rock groove. Homme remarked that he was impressed with Ronson at work on Joanne, stating:

“I got to watch him immerse himself in Lady Gaga’s world… He’s a good communicator who’s not afraid to say [something] you don’t like in a way that’s not being a dick.”

PJ Harvey

The first set of Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions compilations, featuring tracks recorded on the singer’s Joshua Tree ranch, were released back in 1998. PJ Harvey and Josh Homme’s collaboration within the project provided audiences with a remarkable fusion of their unique talents. Harvey’s distinctive vocals and poetic lyricism melded seamlessly with Homme’s gritty guitar work and production skills. Their collaborative tracks, such as “Crawl Home,” showcased a dynamic interplay of haunting melodies and raw energy. This collaboration exemplified the Desert Sessions’ ethos of creative freedom, resulting in a collection of songs that remain a testament to the boundary-pushing spirit of both PJ Harvey and Josh Homme in the realm of alternative rock.

Keep up to date with all things Queens of the Stone Age here.