It’s Not Okay for Bands Not to Play Their Hit Songs Live, Says QOTSA’s Josh Homme

According to Qeens of the Stone Age frontman and leader Josh Homme, big bands deciding not to play their most popular songs live is not the most respectable thing to do to their fans. In fact, according to what he said in a recent interview on the “Tuna on Toast with Stryker” show, it’s “cunty.”

Discussing the matter of bands not wanting to include some of their biggest hits live, Homme brought up QOTSA’s major hit song “No One Knows” as an example of a song that they simply have to play at every live show. He explained: (transcript via Blabbermouth):

“I understand that I’m always going to play ‘No One Knows’ because I still like playing that song, and that’s something that, it’s an agreement with the audience. ‘I assume that this is a part of coming here to see us, and here you go.'”

Queens Of The Stone Age - No One Knows (Official Music Video)

Reflecting on bands that decide to not play some of their crucial hits live, Homme said:

“When there’s bands that don’t wanna play their big song or their big songs, I always think it’s a little cunty to do that. [Laughs] Acting like a song that a lot of people like is a burden is just a strange reaction to the gift that your fans have given you. Seems like an odd reaction.”

Going more into the matter, Homme adds that he understands why some artists may prefer to go down this path but that it still shouldn’t be the case. He continued:

“I think especially when something blows up, I can understand perhaps that feeling of it’s overshadowing the rest of what you do and all. But perhaps these are uptown problems, you know?”

Queens Of The Stone Age - Negative Space

And as Homme added, some artists may even be angry at the fact that they’re expected to perform these pieces and just decide not to:

“And while I understand bits of that sentiment, I don’t think the end result can be that you deny the sort of world that that song would give you… In the years of doing this, I’ve seen a lot of artists do that — at times they sort of get angry at their own music for doing well, for creating this world.”

On the other hand, Homme says that anyone should be appreciative of having fans loving their work, even if it’s a “cliché” hit song that everyone expects to hear:

“I don’t know. Having fans is a cool thing, and they want stuff, and when it comes to playing the stuff they want, I feel like that’s why this is happening, right?”

Queens of the Stone Age - In Times New Roman... Out Now!

“You guys are all here because you wanna hear some stuff and also have no idea what’s gonna happen. And you needed to have that basic food group in order for me to surprise you, too. Surprise requires knowing some constants are going to happen, you know?”

To conclude, Homme added that he sees no reason for Queens of the Stone Age not to play what’s considered to be their biggest hit song:

“So, I don’t know. I don’t sweat stuff like that. Why would I not play ‘No One Knows’?”

Queens Of The Stone Age - No One Knows (Glastonbury 2023)

We’re not entirely sure which bands Josh Homme is referring to. But, for instance, Iron Maiden is known for deliberately playing new material live and even filling up most of the setlist with new material and only leaving a handful of songs as classics. Then there’s also a guy like Steven Wilson who did a 180 turn and started making straight-up classic pop music instead of the stuff he was known for.   

And then there’s Lemmy Kilmister who, obviously, got sick of playing “Ace of Spades” live. But when you went out to see Motörhead live, it’s absolutely expected of the band to perform it live. As he revealed more than once, he was kind of getting sick of it but he still preferred to play the song every night:

“I’m sick to death of ‘Ace Of Spades’ now. We didn’t become fossilized after that record, you know. We’ve had quite a few good releases since then. But the fans want to hear it, so we still play it every night. For myself, I’ve had enough of that song.”

Queens of the Stone Age - Nuits de Fourvière 2023 – ARTE Concert

And then you also have Black Sabbath who ended up playing “Paranoid” on almost all of their live shows, through all of the band’s odd lineups, even though the song was initially conceived as nothing more but a filler.

In fact, Tony Iommi didn’t even like the solo take that ended up on the album and he despised what producer Rodger Bain did for the final version of the song which ended up being the album’s title track. In an interview with Kerrang! magazine back in 2020, the Black Sabbath guitarist said:

“Rodger also used that [ring modulator] on the guitar solo on the track Paranoid itself. At first, I said, ‘What the hell’s that?! It sounds horrible!’ But they went ahead and picked it as the solo that ended up on the record all the same. I’ve got to used to it now.”

Queens Of The Stone Age - Make It Wit Chu (Open'er Festival 2023)

As for Queens of the Stone Age, they’re currently promoting their new album “In Times New Roman…” which came out on June 16. Featuring a total of ten new songs, the album received mostly positive reviews and, according to Homme, the album’s theme reflects some of his own life experiences.

Photo: Mike Sprandel (QOTSA-StPaul-12-03-2017)

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.

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