186704-the-uncontrollable-nick-oliveri-in-his-own-words

The Uncontrollable Nick Oliveri in His Own Words

The bad boy of rock and the badass of metal. This is Nick Oliveri without a filter.
Nick Oliveri's Uncontrollable
Leave Me Alone
Schnitzel
2014-09-16

Singer, guitarist, bassist Nick Oliveri has gained a certain reputation in the music press.

Ever since his high profile ousting from the mega-selling rock band Queens of the Stone Age, Oliveri’s name has been oft reviled and his reputation as a bad boy of rock and a badass of metal has preceded him. The hard partying, hard drinking and fighting lifestyle that he has been seen to have cultivated reportedly caused his ouster from both Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss … and from both bands he was fired by the same man, guitarist and singer Josh Homme. To be sure the aggressive, fast paced metal stylings of Oliveri’s separate projects such as his work with Dwarves and his solo work with Mondo Generator and The Uncontrollable help to portray this badass image and the lyrics he writes for the latter two bands hardly shy away from the Oliveri the press has given to us. Allegations of domestic abuse and continued aggression have both furthered this wild image and harmed his music career.

Any interviewer might expect to encounter an angry guy who has earned this reputation as Nick Oliveri, the hard partying, hard-to-work with badass of metal. This is not the Nick Oliveri that I interviewed. Instead, I was introduced to a friendly and funny music professional who is very serious about his music and the evolution thereof. The Nick Oliveri I met has nothing but praise for his former bandmates (including and especially Homme) as well as his current bands’ lineups, takes responsibility for his actions in the past and even says positive things about the music his former bands have made without him (surprisingly even praising his replacement on bass in Kyuss, Scott Reeder). What started out as a rock interview quickly began to feel like a couple of old buddies laughing about music over beers livened by Oliveri’s sincere sense of humor and even a distaste for violence in real life.

Nick Oliveri’s newest record is entitled Leave Me Alone and helps to showcase the new Oliveri. Still heavy and hard driving, Leave me Alone is a much more diverse and personal album, with Oliveri performing virtually all of the instruments himself. “I wrote the songs on drums. I was humming the guitar parts and stuff, the riffs in my head while playing drums and I transposed them to guitar and so I played the drums on it, I played the guitar, I played the bass, I did everything on it. Some of the actual guitar solos themselves I had some friends do. I did a couple of them myself.

“I called it Leave me Alone because I was like ‘Leave me alone, I’ve got to finish this record!’ You know? I gotta do this myself. I gotta finish this. I gotta do it,” Oliveri says with excitement. “I’d done acoustic records but why do an acoustic record when I can do a whole electric record?”

This dedication has led to a much wider ranging musical and vocal sound than has generally been heard on Mondo Generator albums or his contributions to Queens of the Stone Age’s Songs for the Deaf and Rated R. “Rated R and Songs for the Deaf are the two, probably, the biggest highlights of my life. We really set out to accomplish something and worked hard at it. It wasn’t something that just came to us.” he reminisces. However, in the 12 years since his last album with the band, Oliveri has hardly been stagnant. “There’s always room to get better in everything you do. You know, you can always learn more and get better and you don’t get better unless you try,” the singer says. “And you’re not going to get better at something unless you go for it. I wanted to really try to open up my vocals a little bit more.”

Ironically, or perhaps, appropriately considering the evolution of Oliveri, the title track from Leave Me Alone is a light acoustic experiment with no vocals whatsoever. “I’ve been doing a lot of solo acoustic tours and shows and I have to change up the way I sing every night. If I’m doing like 20 shows in a row, sometimes my voice is going to sound different than if I had two days on, one day off, three days on, one day off.”

While the new album available now and his band The Uncontrollable is booked for a European tour with US dates to follow, Oliveri’s evolution isn’t simply about reinvention or doing his own thing. Much of this growth has led him back, full circle to the bands that made him famous.

Having long ago buried the hatchet with Homme, Oliveri contributed backing vocals to the song “If I had a Tail” from QOTSA’s latest album … Like Clockwork. Although the backing vocals were as far as this contribution went, new associations with the old guard are already continuing: “We have a show on Halloween with Queens of the Stone Age at the Forum in L.A. and it’s going to be an interesting night,” Oliveri explains. While he is careful not to oversell it, Oliveri is also set to join the band onstage for the Halloween show. “We’re going to actually end the set doing about five or six songs. It’s kind of a reunion but not a reunion. Just a good time for that particular evening and just a very special night.”

Oliveri’s association with Queens of the Stone Age goes back to before he joined the band (although his voice is heard as an answering machine message on the band’s self-titled debut, his first musical contributions were on the second album, Rated R) and in fact, before Queens of the Stone Age even existed. Although well known as the erstwhile bassist for Kyuss, Oliveri originally performed with the band as second guitarist when they were known by the moniker of Katzenjammer, while the band members were still teenagers. After only two shows with that incarnation of the desert rock band, Oliveri was let go for the first time.

“I don’t think Josh felt that he needed a second guitar player around. At the time he didn’t want one. So I was out. But I was there at the beginning and when they [Kyuss] needed a bass player … I was like ‘Well, I don’t play bass.'” This was, according to Oliveri, the only reason he ever played bass guitar, the instrument he is best known for in the music industry. “It turned out, as I tried more things, that I was more interesting on bass with my playing than my actual guitar playing. I don’t think my guitar playing is uninteresting, I just think that I’m better on bass than I am guitar playing.”

But in 1992 after years of touring and the release of the band’s second full-length album Blues for the Red Sun, Oliveri was fired from the band for (arguably) the second time. The musician explains that the death of his father in an auto accident caused him to go “off the deep end a little bit,” and the younger Oliveri self-medicated with copious parties and drinking, leading Homme and Kyuss to make a change to Scott Reeder on Bass. Looking back, Oliveri manages to make even this memory into a positive. “It was a terrible time for me, to lose that as well as my dad but, you know, life is hard and it just makes you stronger and you get over it.” Further, this freed Oliveri to experiment with his own musical style. “I kind of was going in the other direction anyway. I wanted to play faster music and Kyuss was going to slower and longer songs and more jammy and I was going more faster songs, shorter songs.”

That said, Oliveri’s firing from Kyuss does mirror his removal from Queens of the Stone Age and has been cited as something of a pattern in the bassist’s life and career. Likewise his admission into this new band was prompted by one of his more legendary badass moves. As both Oliveri’s current band and an early version of QOTSA were set to perform in Austin, Texas the Queens members went to see Oliveri play. Realizing there were record executives in the audience, Oliveri found a unique method of welcoming them to the show. “I was nude and I blew fire in the faces of the record execs before we started the show.” Needless to say this didn’t result in a record deal for Oliveri’s band. “I was just like ‘I know they’re not going to sign my band! Screw ’em!’ And I just blew fire in their faces. [laughs] I did some fun stuff when I was quite young. I’ve … mellowed out some, I guess.”

According to Oliveri, the ballsy move did result in a different and unexpected windfall for the musician. “Josh said that was the moment he was like ‘Dude, we need to get Nick back in the band,'” he laughs. After joining Queens in 1998, Oliveri found himself rising in stardom alongside his childhood friend, Josh Homme. Rated R (2000) was a commercial and critical success, while Songs for the Deaf (2002) proved to be the band’s commercial breakthrough and remains a critical darling. Oliveri largely credits former Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters multi-instrumentalist Dave Grohl for the band’s rapid rise.

“We were a ‘band’s band’. Other bands liked us and other bands don’t buy records, they get them for free. We listen to each other’s music and we go see each other live and we’d get on the list to get in [free] too. The band doesn’t really make any money when they’re a band’s band. You get the respect of the other bands and that’s basically what we had. Grohl took us on tour with Foo Fighters and we played to a crowd that we had never played to in our lives. Kids that were young, and bought records and were into it. And Dave liked us. He kind of opened us up to a crowd of people that maybe bought records that weren’t in bands.”

It was also Grohl’s involvement as the new drummer for Queens of the Stone Age that prompted their record label to heavily promote what ultimately became a huge hit in Songs for the Deaf. “They were going to make another record with us anyway. We had sold enough records that they weren’t going to drop us, but when Dave got involved, all of the sudden they were into it. Dave really lent his hand and his damned fine drumming, I’d say.” Oliveri is quick to add, “Thanks Dave!”

It was during the tour supporting that album that things began to unravel for Oliveri and QOTSA as the fans knew the band. During the band’s European tour in 2003, Oliveri had a direct conflict with Homme before a show in Spain. According to Oliveri, Homme was not feeling well and didn’t notify the band or road manager that he was unable to attend rehearsal and sound check, a move which angered the bassist. “I was like a dumbass kid and I drank a whole bottle of vodka and got all smashed. I didn’t think he was going to show up because he didn’t tell anybody.” However, the singer/guitarist did show up and the show did go on, regardless of Oliveri’s condition. “I was being a total jerk, you know? I tried to jump into the crowd and I landed on the barrier [laughs] and hurt my back.”

The crowd jump resulted in a back injury that led to the cancellation of the last few European tour dates. The altercation with Homme, following the show caused a rift in the band. “We were kind of gonna cancel the band at that point because of me being a jerk and then we had six months of touring left, dates booked, so we finished them out and that was that, pretty much.” Oliveri and Homme had what the bassist calls “fighting words,” a unique incident in five years of steady touring. “To this day I wish he would have just duked me, you know, just hit me down or knocked me down or something like that.” as opposed to the alternative.

“When Josh first came over to tell me that the band was over he didn’t tell me that I was out, he said he was breaking the band up because he didn’t want to do it anymore. And so I read online that I was out and he was making a new record in the spring. ‘WHAAAAAAT?'”

This began a strongly worded, yet, as we now know, short-lived feud in the press between Oliveri and Homme’s new version of QOTSA. Oliveri is candid about his hurt feelings and participation in the feud to boot. “We probably said a lot of things about each other that we since have apologized to each other about. It doesn’t really change the fact that they’ve been said in the press and that people read things and people believe what they read and people want to believe whoever’s point of view is stated. Whoever’s. But when you’re mad your point of view is going to be twisted and turned around.”

The jabs, however, were not limited to the press. The day after reading that he was fired, Oliveri reunited with the punk band Dwarves (the same band he joined after his departure from Kyuss) as a studio guest. “I go into the studio and they’re recording me and I’m saying, like ‘What am I going to do out there in this world. It’s scary all by myself!’ and I’m talking all this shit, and they dropped it in on a song”. That song was “Blast” from the Dwarves 2004 release The Dwarves Must Die and has been noted as one of the opening (and longest lasting) salvos of the feud:

“It was kind of fucked up, man, because I didn’t know they were going to do that. I think [Dwarves vocalist] Blag just thought he was defending me and he was going to make this Rock Feud thing and people would read into it and it would sell some records or something. I don’t know what he thought, but it really backfired on me.”

This was far from the final salvo of the feud. In a 2004 interview with BBC Radio, Homme indicated that a contributing factor to Oliveri’s termination was a rumor about domestic violence against Oliveri’s then girlfriend. “What really hurt me the most of probably my whole career ever was Josh saying what he said on BBC Radio. It was like ‘Wow, Dude!’ I mean, I know he was hurt about the Dwarves song, but I wasn’t part of that. I would never talk bad in a million years about Queens of the Stone Age. I’m a very proud member of that band’s past and for whatever I do with them ever. I’m very proud of that band.”

“That’s one of the reasons that I was out of the band,” he continues. “The only thing was that the anger was pointed at the wrong person which was my band[mate]. We were the owners, we were in a partnership of that band and we had a huge fight in Spain and the outcome was I went against the army at that point, just being a jerk and an asshole and I lost a lot from that and it’s a drag, man. I’ve since forgiven myself and Josh has forgiven me as well and I don’t blame him for saying whatever he wanted to say in the press.”

In 2011 the allegations of domestic violence became more than a rumor as Oliveri endured a four-hour standoff with a police SWAT team at his Hollywood home after police were called by Oliveri’s then-girlfriend. He was arrested on felony domestic violence charges as well as two counts of possession of a controlled substance with a firearm, two separate charges of possession of a controlled substance and one count of resisting, obstructing or delaying a police officer. Although he faced 15 years in prison, a plea deal allowed for probation, community service, and anger management classes.

As serious and sensitive as this is, Oliveri neither avoids the hardball questions on this topic, nor his own responsibility. Instead he is focused on pressing forward and changing as best he can. “I’ve had my problems with anger. I’m not denying anything like that. I’ve had classes that I’ve had to do and, yeah, I’m an angry individual. I’m not going to lie about that. I’ve had some trouble with that kind of thing but that’s part of the healing process, I guess they’d say. Denial is not a way out. You’re not going to get better. I’m not saying I’ve never been in any fights or anything like that. I’m not denying that.” Oliveri’s voice slows and becomes heavy with regret as he elaborates. “I’ve never claimed to be the best friend or relationship guy. I’m kind of a magnet for crazy people … girls or whatever. So, I don’t know. I’ve had my troubles with that and it sucks, but it’s something that has to be dealt with and faced.”

These questions, of course, have to be asked and Oliveri, while struggling with them, answers them with as much honesty as he can. The real question is whether or not he has changed in these life struggles or if he sees himself as a victim of an unfair situation.

What is Nick Oliveri’s stance on violence?

What is Nick Oliveri’s stance on violence? “I don’t think that makes you a badass at all to get angry or to hurt somebody in any way. I don’t think that’s a cool thing or a badass thing. I think it sucks. It’s something that I don’t think people should do or should happen. Some people don’t have control over that kind of thing and there are things you can do to try to find control over it.”

The man behind the band “The Uncontrollable” is open about the fact that he engaged in many fights ever since his teen years, sometimes alongside Homme and other friends, but just as his music has evolved, his attitudes about fighting have changed. “I don’t think that it makes you tough if you go around fighting people. I think fighting sucks and getting your butt kicked and kicking somebody else’s ass can feel even worse than anything.”

Part of the evolving Oliveri’s therapy has remained his own music and getting his aggression and demons out through playing, singing, and creating as best he can. “If you listen to the lyrics I sing I’ve always kind of worn everything on my sleeve, you know, I write about everything. I don’t hide. I don’t censor. All of my Mondo stuff is uncensored. I’m kind of a rude prick in some of the songs. Some of it’s humorous, some of it’s not.”

This music career, therapeutic or not, has led him not only back to a reunion (of sorts) with QOTSA but also Kyuss in the resurrected form of the band known as “Kyuss Lives!” After joining Kyuss singer John Garcia onstage with guitarist Bruno Fevery for a show at Hell Fest, Garcia invited Oliveri and drummer Brant Bjork to join him for the 2011 “Kyuss Lives!” tour.

This forced Oliveri to face another of his demons in that he then had to learn the Kyuss songs penned after his departure from the band. “I was a little bitter and I never really got to hear the songs, but when you’re learning, teaching yourself the bass and what Scott [Reeder] was doing on there and dissecting the actual parts of the song and the guitar parts and everything that’s going on and the drum beats … it’s a really good record! I really got opened up to these records that I had never really given a chance because I was part of the band and then I wasn’t.”

This reunion allowed Oliveri to actually meet some of the bigger, long-time Kyuss fans for the first time, as he was out of the band by the time they hit big. However, many of these “long-time fans” have certain misconceptions about history. “I’ve had people come up to me like ‘Dude, I saw Kyuss in 1990!’ I said ‘No you didn’t!’

“I knew everybody that came to those shows and there wasn’t many of them. There was like ten people, you know what I mean? We’d come up and play in LA, there wouldn’t be twelve people there. And I knew all of them. You know what I mean? Like there would be somebody we’d been introduced to that was from a record label that was interested in us. I was like ‘Why? There’s 12 people here!'”

Oliveri continues to laugh at this bizarre and repeated assertion. “And to say they saw me play in the original band? ‘Dude, there’s no way! Maybe you saw them with Scott [Reeder], like on the last record!’, cause that was a few years later. That was on a bigger level for sure.” Still, in Kyuss, Kyuss Lives! or any of his bands, Oliveri is grateful for any fans who come to the shows (possibly because of the empty houses of Kyuss’ early years). “Sometimes I’ll hear people tell me that and I’m like ‘Really? That’s cool.’ I don’t want to burst their bubble or anything. I’m like ‘Yeah, sure, right on! Great that you saw us, man. That’s cool!'”

Though initially met with the blessings of Homme and Reeder (who actually filled in on bass for a few Kyuss Lives! shows), these same two former band members ironically put Kyuss Lives! to death. A federal lawsuit prevented the band from recording as “Kyuss Lives!” It surprised many that Homme and Reeder were okay with the touring band “Kyuss Lives!” but drew the line at any recording band of the same name.

Oliveri explains that “when Brant left the band, Josh took the existing members and he included all the members that were in the band at the time as owners of the band name. That’ a fair thing to do.” Homme’s action gave equal rights to the name to all of the then-current members of Kyuss, which did not include Oliveri. Kyuss Lives!, in turn, included some of those then-current members, but not Reeder or Homme. Thus the federal courts decided that the band could tour as “Kyuss Lives!” but not record under that moniker unless Homme and Reeder gave permission.

On the flip side, Oliveri indicates that he decided to leave “Kyuss Lives!” due to a conflicting plan on the parts of Garcia and Bjork, which proved to be the opposite of Homme’s prior action. “They were going to register it as just Brant and John and they cut me and Bruno out and I was like ‘Wow! That’s odd! I thought we were a band.’ So it really wasn’t at the end of the day. It wasn’t like what Josh was doing with Kyuss.”

Much as Oliveri had Homme’s blessing to tour with Kyuss Lives!, Homme approached Oliveri before the lawsuit took place to ensure his old friend was okay with the decision. When Oliveri stated that he had left the band, Homme went forward with the lawsuit.

Still, Oliveri remains “on the fence” about the decision to proceed with a lawsuit. “It killed Kyuss. Kyuss is dead now. Kyuss is gone. Kyuss ain’t comin’ back unless Josh decides to do some version of it, but it would never be an original Kyuss lineup. It could never be. It’s something that’s gone forever. The shame about the Kyuss thing is that Josh does own it but … why you want to own something just to stop it or kill it? I don’t quite get that. But, hey, it’s not mine to worry about or get.”

As for Reeder’s involvement, Oliveri remains equally as ambivalent: “Scott wasn’t in the band when the band started. Scott is a fantastic bass player. He’s one of the best in the world. I could never take that away from him, but him owning the name Kyuss and for him to be in a lawsuit to own the name Kyuss, I can’t see him having ownership of it.”

Thus marked the change in name from “Kyuss Lives!” to “Vista Chino” and, in a way, the third time Josh Homme prevented Nick Oliveri’s participation in some form of Kyuss. As in most things in Oliveri’s current outlook on life, he has met this fact with a balanced stoicism and without holding onto anger. To Oliveri, the decision is, and always was, Homme’s alone. “He kept that band going. He’s on every single record. He’s the main songwriter. It’s kind of his band, you know what I mean?”

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Oliveri holds a similar opinion about his removal from Queens of the Stone Age. “One of the reasons that we’re doing this Halloween thing is because I never sued Josh. I don’t believe in the lawsuit thing … Josh already had the band name. I got cut in on it.

“It was something that I got cut in on as a bro and as a band member and given that opportunity and I wasn’t stupid, I said yes, you know what I mean? And so when it came to the time that I was out of the band, yeah, I was butthurt about it … I did think that it was partially my band. We did build it. He did have the name first but it wasn’t worth anything. We built it together. I mean, I can say a band name right now and it’s not worth anything, but when some pool of people come in and build it into this big thing, then it’s everybody’s. But it was his first and I never argued that. I was mad about it, but at the end of the day I never did, like, a lawsuit thing. I feel lawsuits kill music. Lawsuits make sure there’s never gonna be a reunion or any jamming together in any band on any level ever.”

What’s more, even at his most bitter or, as Oliveri put it, “butthurt”, the musician never wished his former bands to go down in flames without him. “You don’t want to see anything that you were a part of become something bad,” Oliveri explains. “For Queens of the Stone Age to sell no records and be dropped after the records I played on would have sucked … I want it to do well.”

To be sure, Queens of the Stone Age has done well with and without Oliveri and they continue to rise. “I had to start over from scratch all the way. No doubt about it and I’m still doing that.” Oliveri has been nothing if not a master of reinvention (while continuing to explore his favorite genres). Even his acoustic albums and tours have been his own special subgenre. “I call my brand of acoustic ‘Death Acoustic’. There’s Death Metal, there’s Death Punk and there’s Death Acoustic! I’m trying to get my stuff across with that. When I’m not doing my band stuff I can still get away with doing acoustic because I don’t know how to sing or play finger-picking, dazzling stuff.

“I actually started doing acoustic when I was touring with Queens when we had a day off I was going to record stores and if they had an in-store stage there, I’d be like ‘Hey, you have a stage. I’m from Queens and I have a night off.’ [They’d say] ‘Yeah, we’re coming to the show tomorrow!’ I’d be like ‘Can I play here tonight? I don’t need any money, I just want to play! Me and [erstwhile Queens vocalist] Mark Lannegan will come down and he’ll sing too.’ Mark was always down to do something, too, so, we filled in all of our days off with shows, you know? If we didn’t have our booking agents book shows in clubs on our days off we would go and ask the places if we could play.”

The constant touring and musical experimentation is both a matter of Oliveri’s self-expression and a matter of survival in the changing face of the industry. The death of the record store as it once was is lamentable to the constantly performing Oliveri for more reasons than one:

“To make a CD and sell a CD doesn’t really make any sense. Kids can burn it off the internet and burn the artwork too and get it for free. All it takes is for one person to buy the record and upload it onto their YouTube and everyone gets it for free, so why buy a CD? You have to buy a hard copy, physical vinyl and how that’s changed. And to move vinyls around on tour, the weight of them, and the sun melting stuff and warping, it’s very difficult, even if you do a 50/50 split with the label. In the old days if you did a 50/50 split, by selling 20,000 records, you could make quite a good amount of money. At least enough to make another great record. If you’re splitting seven dollars on a CD and you sell 20,000 of them you didn’t do too bad with a small amount of records like that. But 20,000 on a major [label] and you get dropped. It’s just that simple.”

Technology has been a double edged sword for Oliveri and the similarly hard working musicians out there. “The internet is a great thing, but it’s also a terrible thing.” he explains. “The record stores are closed, the places that carried CDs are gone. So it’s a very difficult time for music and to do it as a living. People aren’t really going out and playing live shows anymore. Some people are, but it ain’t like they can’t just watch it on YouTube or a live feed of it or something. Somebody’s gonna have it on their cell phone and it’ll be upload in half an hour.”

As Oliveri lists his musical favorites, bands like Slayer, the Possessed, the Ramones and Trash Talk, he is quick to add “And don’t download it for free! Go buy it!” Oliveri’s list doesn’t go to any extreme shocks, but there was one surprise he threw into the mix. “Dude, I love the Scorpions! It used to be my hidden guilty pleasure and now I tell everybody because I love the Scorpions! Especially the early Scorpions with Uli Roth on guitar and the ’70s stuff? I’m telling you, dude!”

And what of Oliveri’s favorite band? I’m speaking of Queens of the Stone Age, of course, which Oliveri once called his favorite band as he lamented his departure. Oliveri clarifies: “Well, Queens of the Stone Age is my favorite band that I’ve been a part of, for sure. Of everything that I’ve played on or been a band member of, Queens is probably my all-time favorite and we have great fans, you know? The fans are great and because of them we were able to do what we did and, yeah, that’s my favorite one for sure.”

Further, QOTSA is a band he continues to listen to. “I have put on Songs for the Deaf, not long ago. I hadn’t put it on in ten years and it sounded … Wow! Man, this is killer!”

Specifically with his most famous band, Oliveri remains incredibly proud of his work and hasn’t become more critical of the music as it, and he, has aged. “With the Queens stuff I was in my 30s and I kind of felt strongly about the stuff we wrote and the stuff that I wrote and I love it! I’m very proud of that stuff. I enjoy playing those songs acoustic when I do my shows. I enjoy doing some versions of some of the songs live with Mondo but doing it with Queens is a different thing. It’s with the originators of the songs and it’s going to be an amazing thing come Halloween.”

This “Rocktober” show with QOTSA and the preparation therefor does have echoes of Oliveri’s readiness for Kyuss Lives! as well. “I need to start listening to the stuff again and playing along with it because I need to be ready,” the bassist confirms.

As Oliveri’s tenure with Kyuss Lives! also forced him to learn (and appreciate) the songs that were recorded after his termination, might our subject continue to listen to the Post-Oliveri Queens of the Stone Age? “I bought everything Josh has put out since I’ve been out of the band. And sometimes I put them on and I listen to them,” Oliveri says proudly. As to whether this is an easy thing to do after a decade out of the band, Oliveri’s voice gets lower as he says “It depends on my mood. If someone else puts it on, sure, I’ll listen to it, but if I’m going to put something on I normally don’t put on the Queens.

“I still do have a hard time listening to a whole record and not feeling like I could’ve added to it or something crazy like that which shouldn’t even come into my mind because it shouldn’t happen. But I love the band and it was my band at one time and I still love the band. I can’t help but think ‘Man, I hear this thing and I wish I could’ve been part of this!’ or ‘I can’t hear this right now, it’s going to make me think of old times!’ or something weird.”

As with much of the recovering and evolving Oliveri, even the difficulty he has with listening to the band without his contributions doesn’t prevent him from being a fan. “I do go see them live and it’s a quite enjoyable time,” he says.

This is a far cry from the angry, fighting, grudge-holding bad boy that the press has long branded Nick Oliveri. While any listen to The Uncontrollable’s Leave Me Alone confirms that even the more diverse Nick Oliveri has not lost his metal edge or even his angry lyrics, the more, dare I say it, “controlled” Oliveri abhors violence and has nothing but reverence for his previous bands and bandmates, including and especially Josh Homme.

To be sure, Nick Oliveri has had a unique and long lasting impact on the music industry and the industry’s impact on the man has made for a more mature and diverse musician, constantly experimenting and inventing new ways to remain exactly who he is. He may still occasionally perform nude, but blowing fire into faces is a thing of the past. He may still struggle with anger, but violence is something he’s left in his past and regrets. With his moving on from the earlier troubles, healing and changing his ways, could the future of Queens of the Stone Age include Nick Oliveri in more than a backing vocal and occasional live performance role? Time will tell. Regardless, the Oliveri that I interviewed will surely be filling that time, not with drinking and violence, but with new forms of his very life’s blood, The Music, on his days off as well as his days on.

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