NME talk to the Queens Of The Stone Age frontman about the memorial show for The Nick Alexander Trust
Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme has been announced as a special guest for this year’s A Peaceful Noise concert, taking place at London ULU on November 25. Read our exclusive interview with Homme below.
A Peaceful Noise 2017 is the second memorial show to take place in memory of Nick Alexander, who died while selling merchandise for Eagles of Death Metal at the Bataclan in Paris, the subject of tragic terror attacks in November 2015. Frank Turner, Maximo Park, Gaz Coombes and Travis‘s Fran Healy all played the inaugural event last November, which took place at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, and raised £30,141.06 for the organisations.
Speaking exclusively to NME, Homme revealed he’ll be performing an acoustic set solo, but he doesn’t rule out being joined by a special guest. “The notion of doing something that’s a bit of a surprise is a good way to go,” he cryptically said.
He also discussed how shows like A Peaceful Noise were an opportunity to work together and defy direct attacks on music and culture, such as those in 2015. “Music is how you explain yourself,” he says. “It’s how you respond to things in terrible times, how you exorcise those demons. And music is how you can celebrate the ability to stand back up on your feet.”
Read the full Q&A interview below.
He’ll be joined by previously confirmed acts Frank Turner and False Heads. The Libertines’ Carl Barat and Gary Powell will also play back-to-back DJ sets. Tickets are available here.
Proceeds will be split between the Nick Alexander Memorial Trust, which funds musical instruments for small charities and community groups in the UK, and Homme‘s own charity The Sweet Stuff Foundation, which assists career musicians and their families when struggling with illness or disability.
You’ve just been confirmed for the A Peaceful Noise concert. You weren’t able to play in 2016, so you must be really excited to be involved this time.
“I’m so pleased at the way this works, dates-wise. It was meant to be. Zoe [Alexander, Nick’s older sister] has become a close friend. I’m really glad to be there. And it’s gonna be raising money for a charity that’s pretty much my family as well, The Sweet Stuff Foundation. I’m really glad it’s working out.”
Are you performing on your own?
“It’s just gonna be me. I don’t really look at acoustic shows as different. They’re all on the same spectrum. It’s another version of the same idea. I’m going in front of people and saying, ‘Hey, I have a few songs if you wanna hear them?’ It’s nice to change the dynamic. What’s interesting to me… I’ve played acoustically, semi-acoustically, and I like it when that’s a surprise to somebody. It means something new and exciting can happen.”
After releasing ‘Villains’, you’ve played a piano session, you’ve performed with an orchestra on Jools Holland. Are you keen to mix things up?
“The best part about getting to do this for a living is being able to keep looking for different ways to do things. That allows you to move at the speed of exploration. You find different ways to do the same song. It’s nice to feel like you’re not chained to the music, and that it’s more free.”
Can we expect any surprises with the show? Any special guests?
“You know, I haven’t really figured it out yet. I’m gonna do 30 minutes that night, and I just wanna figure out something that’s entertaining, and then hopefully a surprise. The notion of doing something that’s a bit of a surprise is a good way to go.”
Your charity The Sweet Stuff Foundation is also involved in the show. How did that come about?
“I started the Sweet Stuff with my dad and my brother. It was something our family could do, because I’d had so many unfortunate dealings with musicians who were sick – terminally ill – and who didn’t have insurance. Every time the Queens of the Stone Age / Eagles of Death Metal family tried to get involved, here came the government to take money away. It was very frustrating. It’s difficult to live in the world where you need green paper before you can die. We were just setting up this charity to be able to help in this way, when the unfortunate events in Paris occurred. There’s a lot of pressure dealing with something like that. You want to make sure as much as every donation goes somewhere that really helps. It’s nice to be able to make sure the money goes where it should go.”
You took donations for families affected by the Paris attacks. Were you overwhelmed by the response?
“We unfortunately didn’t have the infrastructure to take food and clothing. It was primarily donations of money, and when we asked musicians to cover [Eagles of Death Metal song] ‘I Love You All the Time’, we donated the royalties from that. It’s still generating money that goes towards helping all kinds of people. I’ll tell you something – the response was so immediate. People want the chance to do something nice. People want to be part of something beautiful. And it’s difficult to know where to start, sometimes. You witness someone saying, ‘I don’t know where to start!’ And that can be frustrating. But from the moment we said, ‘Here’s what you can do,’ there was a tidal wave of generosity. It floored me. I really felt honoured to even be a part of it.”
In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, every show in Paris and across Europe seemed to share a sense of collective defiance. And last year’s A Peaceful Noise show was the same.
“Obviously it hit so close to home for me, and for Eagles of Death Metal. It felt like… This is the moment where you decide: what are you gonna do? Are you gonna run away from your life, and all the choices? Or is this the moment to say ‘No, this is who we are.’ In my life, music is more necessary than it’s perhaps ever been. Music is how you explain yourself. It’s how you respond to things in terrible times, how you exorcise those demons. And music is how you can celebrate the ability to stand back up on your feet. It was mandatory to play more and to play louder.”
Queens Of The Stone Age on tour
QOTSA’s upcoming UK and Ireland tour dates are below. Tickets are on sale here.
Saturday 18 – LONDON SSE Arena Wembley
Sunday 19 – MANCHESTER Arena
Tuesday 21 – LONDON O2 Arena
Thursday 23 – EDINBURGH Usher Hall
Friday 24 – DUBLIN 3Arena