Anthony Bourdain Cooks With QOTSA
The chef talks about this week's episode of 'No Reservations,' featuring the desert rockers.
Anthony Bourdain, host of the Travel Channel’s No Reservations and author of the legendary culinary memoir Kitchen Confidential, is an unabashed music fan — even writing about it in the pages of SPIN. But the subject permeates this week’s episode of No Reservations like never before: Bourdain headed to the California desert to spend a week with Josh Homme and Queens of the Stone Age in their studio, Rancho de la Luna.
Even more amazing: Homme wrote the score for the episode. “Make sure you watch the show on TV with good speakers, because everyone was ecstatically happy with the post-production sound mix that they just finished,” Bourdain tells SPIN. Here’s what else he had to say about the shoot.
You normally don’t spend an entire episode with one specific person, so what was the impetus to do an entire episode in the desert with Josh and his band?
Anthony Bourdain: What it comes down to is: You’re lucky enough to know Josh Homme, you’re kind of always looking for an opportunity. I guess I was waiting for the point that we had enough juice that we could pretty much do whatever the fuck we wanted, and do a show that’s skewed toward the musical side, as this was going to be.
How much did you get to see of their creative process?
We hung out with the guys for a few days, watching how they make music. It’s a very unique style; it’s a very unique setting. I mean, it doesn’t look like any studio I’ve ever seen. Somebody’s working on a mixing board, somebody’s playing and somebody else is cooking, all in the same room. It’s kind of awesome. I admire Josh a lot because, in his career, he’s pretty much avoided the usual routes and has embarked on one collaboration after another with people who he likes to hang out. In my own small way, that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m working with people that I admire, who I like being around, who do interesting things. There are few better examples than Josh Homme.
You spent last week’s episode with Ferran Adria, one of the best chefs in the world. What’s the comparison between that sort of artistry and what Josh does?
Ferran Adria has created flavors and experiences at a table. He’s created a space, an environment, and a series of processes that lead to flavors and sensations. It’s not that different from what a musician does. They get out there; they’re making lasting things in a collaborative process like cooking. Often with one person leading the way but a collaborative process nonetheless. I’m not a musician. I like music a lot, and over the course of making this show I’ve met a lot of interesting people. Given the opportunity to learn something and experience something like how they make music at Rancho de la Luna — hey, cool. Plus, I just like Josh a lot. We had a lot of fun. We even had a near-bar fight.
On that note, what are some of your favorite moments from the episode that you can share a little bit about without giving too much away?
Just everybody cooking, you know. Eating at Lord Fletcher’s, which is a restaurant that appeals to an older demographic, sort of an Old English style steakhouse, a steak and roast beef place in Palm Springs. Mostly ancient golfers patronize the place, but this is the sort of place Josh grew up around. You know, the day he graduated from grammar school or high school, that’s the sort of place that he’d go. So that was kind of kooky seeing where Josh grew up, and seeing how much it’s a part of the music. A lot of people, they grow up outside of a big city and then they want to run away and get to the big city and stay there and never come back. He’s still living and working very close to where he grew up and his family.
Arctic Monkeys, or any of those bands that go out there to work on a record with him, come back with a new little glint in their eye about how to do things differently, to make music off the grid.
We shot at this saloon up there, Pappy & Harriett’s, and apparently Arctic Monkeys played there. It’s a roadhouse in the middle of nowhere. It’s not a venue that you’d expect Arctic Monkeys to play. But apparently a lot of bands have played there when they’re recording. Josh warns them: ‘You’d better be good because they don’t give a shit who you are up here. Be good and be different than the band that was on before you.'” They’ve got a very low tolerance for bullshit out there. As does Josh. It’s another world, let’s put it that way.
How were their culinary skills, as a band?
They’re good. It’s funny; they all had their different styles. Dave has got a whole kind of New Orleans thing going, he spent a lot of time there. Josh is really into food. He cooks pretty well. He certainly knows his food. Hutch: Excellent cook. Did some slow barbecue. Everybody had a specialty. I’m finding this more and more: people who you’d never expect to be sophisticated about food often turn out to be. They cook a lot out there; it’s a big part of their day-to-day. And they do drink a lot of tequila. It’s just truly un-fucking-believable how much tequila they drink at that place. There’s an entire tree on the property stacked up with Patrón bottles. It’s truly terrifying.
You’ve gone on some trips where there have been some pretty boozy moments in different parts of the world. How do they rank on that scale?
They drink a lot of tequila. They seem to drink it all night. And I don’t recall ever seeing any of them physically drunk.
They’re big dudes. Josh looks like a football player when you really break it down.
When he gets those hands around your neck, that’s a place you don’t want to be. I may or may not have seen that.
Will that be in the episode?
You did a great column for our punk issue a couple of years ago, and you’ve written a ton about music, especially in New York City. What to you is the biggest difference between music created in this urban, decaying atmosphere versus a remote, desolate place like where Queens of the Stone Age work?
I don’t know. I think its interesting to note that if you look at all the musicians who have gone through that studio, they’re from a lot of different places. There’s just no common denominator other than a respect for other creative people and a desire to do something different than what everybody else is doing. There’s no shared worldview or wardrobe, you know what I mean? It couldn’t be more different than the New York punk scene.
What other stuff are you listening to these days?
Josh turned me on to Mark Lanegan’s solo work. I’m just fucking loving that. I’m late to the party, which often happens. I’m currently obsessed with the Danger Mouse/Daniele Luppi album, Rome, I think is amazing. The Gorillaz record with Bobby Womack on it. Anybody who puts Bobby Womack on a record is a hero to me. Kanye West’s “Monster,” I’m loving. Brian Jonestown Massacre.
WATCH: No Reservations Promo Clips featuring Josh Homme