Not My Job: We Quiz The Founder Of Queens Of The Stone Age On The Flintstones
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
And now the game where we ask people who've done a lot about a little something else. It's called Not My Job. Joshua Homme has more bands to his name than some other musicians have songs. He founded and fronted Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal, Them Crooked Vultures and a bunch of other musical projects that you will pretend to have heard of to sound cool. Joshua Homme, welcome to WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
JOSHUA HOMME: (Laughter) Thank you so much.
SAGAL: So we have heard that you, you know, giant of rock and all kinds of things, started playing polka music in the California desert. Is that true?
HOMME: Well, I mean, I think much of the rock 'n' roll that you love started with polka. And I - so yes, I...
SAGAL: You started your first band when you were 12?
HOMME: I was an early bloomer.
SAGAL: Yeah. And what was that band like?
HOMME: Well, it wasn't that good, honestly.
HOMME: It just - from the town that I'm from, there wasn't much to do in Palm Desert, Calif. And so to play around with your friends and to extend that into music and - was just something natural.
SAGAL: Yeah. Did you remember any of the songs that you wrote when you were that young?
HOMME: I do, actually. We had a band called Autocracy.
HOMME: And, well, we were in charge.
SAGAL: Wait a minute, as a 12-year-old, you had a band called Autocracy?
HOMME: Well, the dictionary is amazing if...
SAGAL: (Laughter) You know.
SAGAL: So the - your first big band that got attention was Kyuss?
Am I saying that right?
HOMME: Kyuss. But...
HOMME: ...That's OK.
SAGAL: That's OK.
SAGAL: And this, I heard, came from a "Dungeons and Dragons" thing?
HOMME: Well, as I said, in the desert, there's not a lot to do.
SAGAL: Yeah, you've mentioned that.
PAULA POUNDSTONE: Palm Desert, Ca. is like the - your band should've been named, like, The Melted Instruments.
POUNDSTONE: It's unbelievably hot there. It - I can't even believe...
HOMME: I was actually...
POUNDSTONE: I've never seen children there.
HOMME: Yes, well, all the children are melted down and turned into old people there.
SAGAL: It happens really quickly.
POUNDSTONE: That's very believable.
SAGAL: I heard that your entire band got the same tattoo, a particular date.
HOMME: Well, yeah. Unfortunately, that's true.
SAGAL: All right. Well...
SAGAL: ...What happened, and why did you do this?
HOMME: We played a show in Germany where everything went wrong from the intro music not going off when we started to singing into a mic that's only plugged in on one end.
HOMME: And it just sort of continued on and on and on. And it was at - the date was Freitag 4:15 which means Friday at 4:15 in the day. But also, coincidentally, in German, Freitag means black day.
SAGAL: Right. And fortunately for you, Germans are so forgiving and easygoing. So I'm sure...
HOMME: Well, it was only in front of 45,000 people, so...
SAGAL: Forty-five thousand people. So you decided to take this disaster and tattoo it onto your bodies.
HOMME: Yeah. But it's - it was - I only got it on my forehead. So it was no big deal.
SAGAL: Really, I mean...
HOMME: I mean, I believe - I play music and dance around and drink tequila for a living. And I think that never forgetting your worst show in order to make that floor of what you do and to try to reach for more, it's - that's the minimum obligation of the job.
SAGAL: I would...
HARI KONDABOLU: Josh, at what point did you know that was going to be the floor?
AMY DICKINSON: Right.
SAGAL: 'Cause that's confident.
HOMME: Well, I just assumed, you know, and...
HOMME: ...But I still have time left to break the floor open.
SAGAL: I was about to say.
POUNDSTONE: Yeah, yeah. Do you still have space on your body for another tattoo?
HOMME: I've got tons of - I'm 6-foot-5, so I've got a lot of space.
POUNDSTONE: All right.
DICKINSON: Can I just say though, I...
DICKINSON: ...I just want to weigh in as, like, an advice columnist. Like, that is the most well-adjusted response to failure I have ever heard in my life.
DICKINSON: I think that is awesome.
POUNDSTONE: Tattooing it on your body?
DICKINSON: Yeah, it's sort of...
SAGAL: Really, it's...
DICKINSON: Yeah, no, because - am I wrong, Josh?
I mean, I see it as, like, you're claiming it. Like, oh, yeah, we did that. That happened. Yeah.
SAGAL: We were there.
DICKINSON: I think that's great.
HOMME: Well, perhaps in this day and age, people don't take as much responsibility as they should.
KONDABOLU: I wonder how many people have Nov. 8, 2016 tattooed on their body.
SAGAL: Well, I think one. And she's on book tour right now.
SAGAL: I've - one thing I've - I don't know if I've ever spoken to a musician, certainly, who had so many different bands at once. Because - and these bands have, like, different people in them, right?
So you have one band with one group of guys and another band with another group of guys. How do you...
SAGAL: How do you keep them all happy?
HOMME: Guys and girls.
SAGAL: Excuse me, of course - guys and girls. How do you get them all happy? Do they ever get jealous?
HOMME: I do a lot of scheduling.
SAGAL: Oh, really?
POUNDSTONE: Does one know about the other?
HOMME: Well, they do now that you said...
SAGAL: Is it like they're listening at home - and says, wait a minute. He has another band?
KONDABOLU: Do you ever play a song from one band accidentally with another band?
KONDABOLU: And that's how they find out?
HOMME: Well, I mean that's the nexus of drinking tequila.
HOMME: Well, Joshua Homme, we are delighted to talk to you. We've invited you here to play a game that this time we're calling...
BILL KURTIS: They're the modern stone age family.
SAGAL: Since you founded the band Queens Of The Stone Age we thought it only right and proper to ask you about the kings of the stone age, namely, "The Flintstones."
SAGAL: Answer two out of three questions about the great classic animated show. You'll win our prize for one of our listeners, Carl's voice on their answering machine. Bill, who is Joshua Homme playing for?
KURTIS: Mike Seeburg of Baltimore, Md.
SAGAL: All right. First question - many of us watched the show, of course, during its many years in syndication long after its 1963 debut. But those lucky enough to see it when it first aired in primetime were lucky enough to see what on "The Flintstones?" A, the first known TV nip slip long since edited out...
SAGAL: ...When Fred leaned over to pick up a rock...
SAGAL: ...B, Fred and Barney taking cigarette breaks or C, a prehistoric minute with a scientist offering real facts about the stone age.
HOMME: I would say B. In that time, it was probably a ciggy break by those two.
SAGAL: It was.
SAGAL: It was, in fact, a commercial...
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: ...For Winston cigarettes...
SAGAL: ...Who sponsored the show. And in those days, what they would do is the commercials were a part of the show. The characters in the show would start smoking Winstons.
Hey, isn't it great, Barney? We're smoking Winston cigarettes thousands of years before they would be invented.
HOMME: It's way before - way, way, way before they had the information on cigarettes.
SAGAL: That's true.
SAGAL: It was - yeah.
They didn't know it was bad for them.
KONDABOLU: But they were still advertising...
HOMME: They were stone age...
KONDABOLU: ...Them to children.
HOMME: Stone age...
DICKINSON: Yeah, for children.
SAGAL: Well, as you may or may not know, "The Flintstones," which, of course, became a classic kids show for kids, started out as a primetime show for adults.
KONDABOLU: I did not know that.
DICKINSON: It was sort of a "Honeymooners..."
SAGAL: All right. Second question, Joshua. "The Flintstones" live-action movie, you may remember, came out in 1994 with John Goodman as Fred Flintstone.
HOMME: It was amazing.
SAGAL: The movie is historic in an unusual way. What is it? A, it featured Elizabeth Taylor in her last on-screen role; B, watching the Flintstones' silent, engineless car inspired a young Elon Musk to found Tesla some years later...
SAGAL: ...Or C, it features the first accurate depiction of bipedal dinosaur locomotion which is more avian than mammalian.
HOMME: The other - the B and C are quite exciting, I must say.
But I'm going to have to go with Elizabeth Taylor making that mistake in being in this...
SAGAL: You're right.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: It was, in fact, Elizabeth Taylor's last on-screen role.
SAGAL: Elizabeth Taylor, who you know was once the biggest movie star in the whole world, ended her career playing Fred Flintstone's mother-in-law.
HOMME: Well, you can't win them all.
SAGAL: You can't win them all.
SAGAL: Sometimes, you go out with - well, not so much a bang.
POUNDSTONE: Yeah. Well, you know what? She has the date she did it tattooed on her breast.
SAGAL: So that Flintstones movie - that live-action movie - took many, many years to get made. It went through many, many versions of story and script. In an earlier version of the script, the movie was going to be very different in what way? Was it A, it was going to be a loose adaptation of "The Grapes Of Wrath" in which Fred and Barney lose their jobs and travel through landscapes with want and hunger...
SAGAL: ...B, it was supposed to have a twist ending in which it would be revealed that it takes place thousands of years in the future after an apocalypse or C, it was supposed to be an opera climaxing with the aria "Nessun Wilma?"
HOMME: Or D, it was supposed to be good.
SAGAL: Hey. Do you know that movie made more than a hundred million dollars?
HOMME: In a row?
HOMME: Well, I'm just going to go out on a limb and say B. It was supposed to be from the future. Although, it's just a guess, really.
SAGAL: No, it was actually the first one. It was going to be Fred and Barney as Okies in an adaptation of, "The Grapes Of Wraths."
SAGAL: Yeah. They decided that was going to be a downer. And they threw it out and wrote something else.
SAGAL: But it's true.
KONDABOLU: I kind of want them to make that now.
SAGAL: I do.
SAGAL: Bill, how did Joshua Homme do on our quiz?
KURTIS: Well, he won with two out of three. Congratulations.
SAGAL: Congratulations, Joshua. Well done. The new Queens of the Stone Age album, "Villains," is out now. Joshua Homme, thank you so much for joining us on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
HOMME: Thank you.
SAGAL: Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SAGAL: In just a minute, what you and a rat have in common. It's our Listener Limerick Challenge game. Call 1-888-WAITWAIT to join us on the air. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.