When I first heard that John Paul Jones, Dave Grohl, and Josh Homme were forming a band last spring, I must say that I was jealous. Are you kidding me?! These three mega-talented and unique figures playing hard rock in a unified and focused group? I was excited, to say the least, from a player's perspective AND as a fan. Then came the inevitable "supergroup" tags.
Duff McKagan's column runs every Thursday on Reverb. He writes about what's circulating through his iPod every Monday. Them Crooked Vultures play The Paramount on Saturday, November 21.
Lazy journalists like to put a tag on anything they can in an attempt to sum up a whole genre or movement with a quick phrase that will make their job easier and take a swipe at a band in the process. You know, "stoner rock," "grunge," "indie," "hair metal," etc. "Supergroup" conjures a negative image in my mind, and we in Velvet Revolver had to deal with this label in our first year. Fans never called us a supergroup, mind you, only journalists. I've heard this title being bandied about in reference to Them Crooked Vultures, and I think it is a cheap way out.To label an act a supergroup somehow suggests--to me, anyway--that they were formed to cash in on the members' superstar power. First, when you have been playing in successful bands for a while, your friends and comrades in the field are others like you. These are simply the people that you KNOW!
And NOBODY is cashing in these days. Acts are not selling enough records to turn much profit--if any--and touring is a shrinking business. TCV is in this thing for the right reason, and that is to fucking rock.
Judging from the single, "New Fang," Them Crooked Vultures has a lot to offer a rock scene that is suffering from a lack of the real shit . . . the dirty shit! Did I mention that John Paul Jones is in the band?
John Paul Jones
For those of you who may have lived under a rock for the past 40 years, or were perhaps squirreled away in some hipster scene that disallowed such things as earth-moving grooves, John Paul Jones was the groundbreaking bass player and multi-instrumentalist in Led Zeppelin. JPJ has influenced EVERY great bass player since then, and his bass playing and sense of pocket and melody may never be matched again. To me he was the heart and soul of the band. Zeppelin lore has it that Jones held that band together and helped to make it as musical as it was, giving it a sense of depth and movement that has yet to be matched. Enough said: John Paul Jones is a bad, bad man.
Josh Homme is someone who has gained a ton of respect in the community of musicians that I am acquainted with, not only for his songwriting and playing skills but as a straight-shooter and a guy who has your back if you are a friend. Josh has Seattle roots. He went to the UW while also playing in Screaming Trees in the mid-'90s before forming the stellar Queens of the Stone Age. Queens, for my money, has been the most influential band, as far as what new bands want to be and sound like, of the last eight or so years. Do I even need to add that he was a founding member of KYUSS? (FYI, everyone says they were into KYUSS when they were happening, but if it were true, the band would have been as big as U2.)
Ah, last but far from least, Dave Motherfucking Grohl. The drummer every other drummer, guitar player, and singer I know wishes they were. A songwriter whose verse and riffage flow with impossible ease and consistency. A man who is really just the nicest guy in rock and roll, who still bounces with excitement when some band or artist he likes is either passing through town or putting out a new record.
For these three guys to come together and form a real band--well, hell, it must be like some sort of fairy-dust shit just being at a band practice! Can you imagine? Them Crooked Vultures have created something new and fresh with no obvious nods to any of their past bands. A hard feat, for sure. Yes, you can tell it's JPJ on bass, Josh singing and playing guitar, and Grohl killing the drums. But the overall originality of the band's sound is startlingly refreshing. I sound like a damn rock critic right now, a breed of writer I absolutely detest. These guys are just straight-up cool and pretty fucking righteous, if you ask me.