In music, as is the case in life, sometimes it’s important to strike out on your own – if only to see what you’re capable of. The uncertainty of such a daring break away from the known and the safety associated with it makes the rewards that much sweeter when they come; not for nothing does the old saying go, “Fortune favours the bold.”
The bold desire to stand outside of his own impressive history is what drove bassist Nick Oliveri to strike out on his own for his newest album, Leave Me Alone, and as the album’s release day finally neared, he was beginning to feel proud and excited enough about what he has made to start talking about the music as well as his hopes and dreams for it.
“When I first started working on the songs which are on Leave Me Alone, I just wanted to do a record where I played everything on it – especially the drums,” explains Oliveri of where the first desire to get away from conventional bad structures came from. “I mean, I’ve messed around with drums before and jammed with other people in practices and things like that, but I’ve never played drums on a record before. This was the first set of songs that I ever wrote while focusing on drum beats; the beat was the first thing that came to each of these songs, and that informed the guitars – I’d hum out the guitar parts as I played the drums – and then I recorded them. That was a new way of working for me – I’d never done anything like that before – and that was really exciting for me.
“Looking back at the time I was making the album, I could have called this album Mondo Generator, and it would have worked that way, but I had this idea that I wanted to start fresh with it,” Oliveri continues, outlining the motivation behind the album. “Years ago, I used to have this folder that I kept all the music I was working on in when I was a kid – I’d written ‘Uncontrollable’ on the cover in really distorted and broken letters, and that’s what I used to use when I’d tell people, ‘Yeah, I’m in a band.’
I always liked that and I always wanted to do it and, because Hoss [Moistboyz guitarist Stephen Haas] was spending more time doing things as a father at that time, I started playing the drums a lot more. Eventually, I decided that I was going to do another solo record but, rather than have it be an acoustic record as I’d done before, I’d just play everything on it. That’s exactly what I did; I mean, I didn’t play any of the guitar solos on the album, but I played everything else. That’s why I called it Leave Me Alone; I just wanted to finish it by myself.”
Oliveri’s ambition certainly yielded sweet and caustic fruit on Leave Me Alone. Right from the top of “Human Cannonball,” the bassist leaves the mathy, “robotic” leanings that Josh Homme brought to table for Queens of the Stone Age behind and inserts a staggering load of hardcore urgency and aggression in its place. Oliveri just unloads sheets of desert-fried, alt-rock-infused hardcore which seems destined to find its way into the playlists of metal-edged punks throughout songs like “Keep Me In The Loop,” “Luv Is Fiction” and the sort-of-suggestive “Come and You’re Gone,” and those are really the tip of the iceberg; the deeper listeners tread into Leave Me Alone, the heavier, darker and more aggressive they’ll find it gets, with absolutely no reprieve.
Because of that consistent, ceaseless onslaught of the same angle throughout the album’s nine tracks, some listeners may protest that the album is too samey as it goes, and that it would get frustrating quickly – were it not for the wealth of guitar assistance supplied by such guitar greats as ex-Ween powerhouse Mickey Melchiondo, Motorhead’s Phil Campbell, Mike Pygmie of Mondo Generator, Marc Diamond of The Dwarves and Bruno Fevery of Vista Chino. At every turn throughout Leave Me Alone, the dynamic of Oliveri barking out some great, desert rock-ist hardcore vocal anthems backed by some bombastic guitar genius keeps this run-time from getting samey or boring, and listeners will find they remain wide-eyed in disbelief throughout.
“I’m still a little amazed at how I got some of the guys who contributed guitar solos to participate in this album,” says Oliveri with a laugh. “Mickey’s one of the best guitar players in the world, in my opinion, and to have Phil Campbell on the album was a real thrill for me too; it was so cool that they were into contributing to the album like they did. I did play a couple of solos on the album, but I think other people play better solos than I do and, after I got one contribution of a solo from somebody else, I started looking and thinking what other players would be the best to get for the other songs on the album. I started asking them if they’d be interested in doing it and, luckily, they said yes.”
Once the album was set with a firm release date [October 28, 2014 on Schnitzel Records], Oliveri assembled a band to tour the album and is excitedly starting to fill his tour schedule for the remainder of 2014 as well as beginning to think about other possibilities for the new year – and not just for Uncontrollable. “I’m really looking forward to getting out and touring this record,” exclaims the bassist when conversation turns to his plans for the future. “As of now, Stephen Haas is playing guitar – he played on the second song on the album, “Keep Me In The Loop,” and he’s the guitarist in The Moistboyz with Mickey Melchiondo, and Mike Pygmie – who also plays in Mondo Generator – is playing guitar as well, and I’m playing bass and singing. As it stands right now, Joey Castillo is playing drums with us which I think is really awesome! I hope we can keep him a while and nobody who can pay him better asks him to play [chuckling], because he’s a really great drummer.
“I play an encore set with Queens of the Stone Age at The Forum on Halloween and then, right after that, a tour scheduled for Europe starting right after the Halloween gig. After that, I’m hoping we’ll be able to come back and do the States right away too; nothing’s guaranteed yet, but the chance of that being how it comes together is really exciting for me.”
Leave Me Alone came out on October 28, 2014 via Schnitzel Records.