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“The title Villains isn’t a political statement. It has nothing to do with Trump or any of that shit. It’s simply 1) a word that looks fantastic and 2) a comment on the three versions of every scenario: yours, mine and what actually happened… Everyone needs someone or something to rail against—their villain—same as it ever was. You can’t control that. The only thing you can really control is when you let go." —Joshua Homme
Hundreds of epic shows, memory lapses, unexplained injuries, one yearlong detour with Iggy Pop and multiple Grammy nominations later, Queens Of The Stone Age reemerge from the desert newly scarred and somehow strangely prettier with lucky seventh album, Villains, out August 25, 2017 on Matador Records.
Produced by Mark Ronson and co-produced by Mark Rankin and mixed by Alan Moulder, Villains is the first full album offering from Queens Of The Stone Age since 2013’s …Like Clockwork gave the band its first #1 album in the U.S. Like the stunning artwork of returning illustrator Boneface, the sonic signatures of the lineup that took …Like Clockwork around the world and back are as unmistakable as ever, though coexisting with sufficient new twists to induce recurring double takes. As Homme himself puts it, “The most important aspect of making this record was redefining our sound, asking and answering the question 'what do we sound like now?' If you can’t make a great first record, you should just stop—but if you can make a great record but you keep making records and your sound doesn’t evolve, you become a parody of that original sound."
Of his role working within such a closed and confident ecosystem as Queens Of The Stone Age, Ronson says, "Queens are and have always been my favorite rock n roll band ever since I walked into Tower on Sunset and bought Rated R in the summer of 2000, so it was incredibly surreal to be welcomed into their secret, pirate clan—or the ‘jacuzzi’ as Josh likes to call it. There were moments during the making of the album in which i was aware i was watching my musical heroes craft something that was sure to become one of my favorite moments on any Queens album. And to have some part in that felt like being in a dream–a very heavy, dark, wonderful dream.”
Longtime Queens cohort co-producer Mark Rankin added, "After the baptism of fire that was …Like Clockwork, I was excited to get into the studio again with the challenge of pushing the sound for this record, especially with the the addition of Ronson into the creative mix… What we’ve made is forward looking yet unmistakably Queens."
The story of Biffy Clyro is as romantic as it is archetypal. Three childhood friends from Ayrshire formed a band, delivered three albums of abrasive youthful exuberance and finally cracked the big time when their fourth – 2007’s Puzzle – hit the charts at #2. By the time the promotion of their fifth album Only Revolutions had ceased, they were bona fide stars who could headline festivals, fill arenas and deliver hit singles in an era in which rock bands rarely trouble the charts. With well over a million album sales to their name, no-one would’ve been too surprised to see complacency set in.
Such thoughts, however, certainly weren’t going to cramp the creativity of Biffy Clyro vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Simon Neil who instead proposed the idea of a career-defining double-album, which was subsequently titled Opposites. “It was a reaction to music being so disposable these days. Music still matters to people but often it’s just a distraction. I want our music to be a companion to people’s lives and something they’ll listen to in the future, and not just something that they’re into for a week or two until they move onto the next thing.”
It makes sense then, that BRONCHO, born out of out a film project, its initial incarnation sparked when founder Ryan Lindsey was asked to create music, “to set to an early 80s punk film.” “That’s all I knew about it,” he remembers, “they were looking for songs that touched this era. And songs kept coming to me and turned something on inside of me artistically.” Lindsey found himself in the midst of prolific run of songs and he liked the idea “of starting out there and seeing where it could go.”
What’s evolved from those first tracks there has been a steady run of success, critical accolades and two full-length albums; 2011’s Can't Get Past the Lips, 2014’s Just Enough Hip to Be Woman. And beneath it all – the music has been constantly mutating and ceaselessly experimental. From that first inception as a soundtrack in 2010, BRONCHO has taken on a life of its' own – initial inspiration still there, but now pushing far beyond the stiff confines of score. And what began as an ode to ramshackle, high-energy early punk has become something deeper, weirder, and much more nuanced. The undercurrent of early 1980 punk is still there, but The Ramones pogo has been replaced more often by a kind of Love and Rockets inspired, honeyed, cotton-mouthed drift.
Double Vanity is Lindsey and band mates Ben King, Nathan Price and Penny Pitchlynn steadily moving ahead, transforming the raw angst of the first record into a sound decidedly more layered and complex. The result is a record that veers gleefully from BRONCHO’s roots, moving from graffiti spray backrooms into a sleeker, plusher sound, a place bright with the polished gleam of chrome and bleached white sunlight. Close your eyes and what you feel is the raw wound pulse of adolescence, what you see behind your lids is suburban shopping mall wastelands, glazed eyes, dead grass, lips glossed in bubblegum pink. There is the burst chest thump of teenage longing, the smell of hairspray and cigarette. There is glow of neon and the glint of streetlight rolling across hood. Double Vanity evokes a shared nostalgia, for the past and for the unknown future, as BRONCHO takes a turn off the wide freeways and into a world of intimate, intricate – but always universal – emotion.