“I wanted something that was mine”: Why Josh Homme began downtuning his guitars in Kyuss

“There was no example of tuning down to B, and C … There was no such thing.”

Josh Homme performing live

Credit: Hayley Madden/Redferns

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Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme began downtuning his guitar while a member of stoner rock titans Kyuss, but he was in a firm minority at the time.

In a recent interview with Tom Power, Homme says, “In Kyuss, one of the reasons [why] I wanted to detune is because I wanted something that was mine, and there was no example of tuning down to B, and C … There was no such thing. I think, maybe Black Sabbath was [down]tuning some songs, but I’d never heard them before. I was just a kid in the desert, with a very small record collection.

“I was like, ‘I wonder if you just do this, what happens?’ If I’d had a guitar teacher [at the time], the first thing they would have told me is, ‘That’s not allowed.’ But it is allowed. It’s allowed, because that’s what I want to do and because I simply can do it. So, everything is allowed.”

In the interview, Homme goes on to discuss the trend of downtuning the guitar that would continue. He explains, “It became such a thing. Now there are seven-string guitars with Bs on them. It sort of gave way to a lot of heavy metal, some of which I like, and much of which I don’t. But it doesn’t matter if I like it or not; it sort of opened the doorway to this thought…”

He admits that he wouldn’t have had the chance to “do the right thing the wrong way” if it wasn’t for the Polka-focused guitar teacher he had while learning the instrument. And, he says that he continued to downtune his guitar into his QOTSA days.

He continues, “Queens, still, is detuned much of the time, because it sounds unlike other things. [On] No One Knows, you’re hearing a song that’s tuned in C standard. And so, it’s a pop song with drop tuning, strangely.”


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