Queens of the Stone Age singer Josh Homme discussed turning down a seven figure offer to play a show in Dubai in a new Let There Be Talk interview. Ultimate-Guitar transcribed his comments.
“Based on what my dad said, which was, ‘If you’re doing something for 20 years and it’s not easier, you’re doing it wrong.’
“The truth is, I probably shouldn’t use that one or have said it because I find writing songs much harder than it’s ever been. But I understand why.
“In the beginning, you’re inspired and you haven’t done anything yet, and that naivete and inexperience – all your choices are just like, ‘This feels good,’ and that’s it. ‘Josh feel good. Josh walk forward. Josh play this.’
“It’s so simple in that way. But then you’ve exhausted that phase. I like moving slow through the artistic phases, it feels like you maybe only get three – three sounds about right.
“The beginning – I didn’t want to get out of that phase so I stayed there a, while which was good. Can’t stay there too long, if you don’t go to the next one then you’re copying yourself or you’re not growing.
“And you’re either growing or dying. And there’s no stasis so you gotta grow into the next phase. And I think some people rush through those phases, some people don’t get to those other phases but that next one for songwriting feels like, ‘OK, lyrics are starting to be important to me, and I realize I have patterns of words so I can’t do that all the time…’
“You start eliminating things and you realize you’re standing on top of the pile of the things you’ve done, and the view is different but the pile is rickety.
“And the higher the pile gets of things you’ve done, the better the view gets though. It’s incredible and I just feel as though, at this point, I can tip my hat to things I’ve done in the past, which feels nice.
“Feels like, ‘Oh this is the cousin of regular John. That’s what that is and it feels. But I have to keep going forward,’ and that gets more treacherous, standing on that pile gets more difficult now.”
I often look at you, and I said earlier Jack White, in a way of a high-water mark as far as artists that are constantly trying to evolve, not do the same thing. The number one thing with you was not to go do Kyuss 400 times. And that right there it reminded me of Joe Strummer, I heard that they got offered like 30 million to do Lollapalooza, I don’t know if it’s true or whatever, and they’re like, ‘Nah…’
“Oh, money would never do that for me. Money is a byproduct of working hard and loving what you do. I don’t need money to be happy so I’ve enjoyed turning down big money.
“I actually love that – feels great to be like, ‘Oh, no. You thought you could buy what we do? Yeah, no.’ Like Dubai or something like that, I can’t remember, some families asked us to play his birthday party.
“I was like, ‘These people have played it…’ And that’s fine, I won’t mention them. But as Azerbaijan, it’s like a place with… Research this person, it is like against humanity or some shit.
“And the offer kept going up because we said no, and they said, ‘We’ll send a private jet.’ ‘You think that would do it? I get it. Yeah, that won’t do, by the way.’
“I got up to a ridiculous life-changing amount, it was like, ‘I see where the problem is – you think there’s a number that will do this thing, and that’s how you’re used to that. And you’re not used to this, which is – I won’t do it. I’m enjoying you keep coming back here to hear the word no, sad, and different stuff. You’ll hear it, this is getting better, the more money is, the better it is.’
“Because someone’s sitting there actually thinking, ‘Well, I can buy this situation.'”
‘There’s a number’…
“Yeah, there’s certainly a number – I’m sure there actually would be at some point, but it would be so astronomical. I’m sure everyone’s got a number.
“The number would be out of whack, just to be funny. I had no money, and I was happy too. I would just bump into you, we would have the same conversation.”