Break It Down: Joey Castillo of Queens of the Stone Age
Tue, 13 Nov 2007 16:37:05
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A group that hits as hard as QOTSA needs a drummer that can bang out monster rhythms and Castillo pounds his kit with teeth rattling intensity. That doesn't mean its all power, all the time, though. Currently on tour for the band's latest album, Era Vulgaris, he tries his hand at our Break It Down questions and lets us know why he likes playing it close to home and cranking up the soul music jams.
What have you been listening to lately?
Hmmm, I'm not even sure what the name of it is, because I just have it on my iPod, but it's the latest Black Angels record [ed: Passover].
Where are you currently living, and what's the best place to hang out in your current neighborhood?
I live in Los Angeles, and I live in the neighborhood of Silverlake. My favorite hangout is my house when I'm home, because I'm on the road. I love being at home and being able to relax and just sit and not do anything except hang out with my dogs and listen to music. It sounds kind of boring, but when you do this as a living these are the most important moments.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to grow up. I wanted to be older right away. I wanted to do adult things, whether it was driving a car or smoking, as a kid. I think I was a pretty average kid when it came to dreaming and stuff. I can remember loving music at a very young age. I don't remember much about wanting to play it, but I just knew how much I loved it.
Tell us one of your favorite musicians in the whole wide world?
As a young kid I was really exposed to a lot of soul and stuff. As a young child I remember listening to a lot of Al Green and Marvin Gaye and things like that. As I started to grow up and getting into my own, I think at first it was Kiss and from there it moved onto Led Zeppelin and stuff. I was completely engulfed with punk rock when I was 12 or 13 from a couple of older kids that I hung out with. It was just discovering bands like The Damned and The [Sex] Pistols really let me into bands like X and Black Flag.
What's your most cherished musical instrument, paraphernalia, or accessory?
I have two drum kits that belonged to Chuck Biscuits who is one of my idols as a drummer. I loved him, and he was one of my earlier influences. I have two drum sets; one was from when he was growing up. I'm pretty psyched about having those in my possession.
If you could change one thing about the music industry today what would it be?
Unfortunately, it seems to be a pretty interesting state. It doesn't seem to be very committed to any of the artists or their [the label's] artists. There are certain things about it that you know already and what to expect with people and record companies. My ultimate commitment is to music first—and art. So the business side of it is very, very important—and not to be taken lightly—but the way the shifts and the changes happen, and the way it is so ridiculously fair-weathered that you kind of just go with it, knowing that there's no real commitment. To me it seems like a big, money-making machine that people jump on for a long time, or just a second; they take as much as they can and they get off. If you're in it for the same reasons as we are—and a lot of people are—to be somewhat infiltrated by a lot of people who don't give a shit... it's sad and it's scary.
I would have to say if it was one thing... just the commitment. You want to know the people that work at the record company want you to —or they say they want you to—be as creative and engulfed in what you do to the point where all you think about is making music. But in the reality of it we all know that's not true. We want you to write for this, or write this way. This band is doing this, so they want you to do this. Nobody wants to bank on the artist anymore. It's just being creative in what you do. We all know that none of us ever want to recreate the same thing twice. It's about growing and discovering and going into areas and places where we haven't been. That's what drives us nuts and makes this the best thing in the world. When eight record people and a lot of the fans want the same thing over and over and over again... well, you can clearly hear and see that's what they want when you turn on the radio. You don't hear bands like us or like Black Angels and Blonde Redhead because they're not part of the mass. That's what I think is the sad part of music nowadays. That mass is so much more important than what is considered good, I think. Some kind of commitment to art and music is what is missing in the music industry. It's there for a lot of bands, and in the smaller areas it's there. For the big picture, it seems like nobody cares.
What's the craziest thing you've seen?
It's a pretty crazy lifestyle period. So, to do it and make it a living is pretty insane to be honest.
What never goes out of style?
Music will never go out of style. It can't. It's just in my soul; I know that. It's what makes things right for me. It's what makes things better for me. It's therapeutic. As far as making music and listening to it, it's known—it's proven to do that. It's truly one of the few things that I can always count on if I'm feeling a certain way. It can make you feel sad, or it can make you feel happy. It's one of the most powerful things around. My day and my life without it would be nothing, really. It sounds corny, I know, but I'm so surrounded by everything I do I cant imagine it not being there.
Do you have secret skills we should know about?
Yes, but if I told you they wouldn't be a secret. Unless you met me; that'd be the only way to find out.
What has been your sweetest victory to date?
For myself, I know that everyday I am so grateful to have and to be doing what I do. Every night, everyday when I wake up I realize this. And every night when I'm on stage I know this. For me, it's just being able to do this and still make people happy, and make myself feel happy about what I'm doing and knowing that the four guys that are up there with me I know are feeling the same way. Just being able to play music in this capacity is the most important thing for me.
How would you consider your relationship with your band mates? Do you all just hang out even when you're not on the road?
We hang out at home. We're all friends. We're not just band mates—which is weird when bands don't have a life outside of the band together. We do everything together. We live together basically on this bus while we're touring. We work together quite a bit at home. We don't really not hang out, because we all do things together. I guess it's kind of a big hangout.
—The ARTISTdirect Staff