INTERVIEW: Sammy Jones talks with Nick Oliveri:“My main focus is Mondo...”

Mondo Generator: Set for UK return in 2014
Mondo Generator: Set for UK return in 2014
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Nick Oliveri has courted controversy more than once.

He has even been escorted to the police cells here in Milton Keynes for a very brief stay.

A little, shall we say, rough play with with another band on the Big Day Out bill at the National Bowl was to blame, when Nick was still a fully paid up member of Queens of the Stone Age.

It’s that long ago .

But having a S.W.A.T team bust down your door after a prolonged stand-off and domestic incident?

That’s up there with some of the best of them – and so was the threatened 15 year jail term he reportedly faced more recently.

“A lot of that stuff gets blown out of proportion, which makes for a cooler story to read – it’s not that interesting to read ‘there was a mix up’.

“But if it was something more I am sure I’d be in jail right now,” Nick tells me.

“I feel like it got way blown out in the press and my image or reputation let them feed off of that and make me more of a monster or whatever.

“But it’s cool, I probably got more press out of that than I’d gotten in years, so it’s like ‘run with it…’ I’m in the press again, cool!” he laughs.

“It’s over now and everything is going smoothly…”

And when we speak with him, so it seems to be – a European tour with his primary musical interest Mondo Generator, and some solo Death Acoustic shows have been well received.

Perhaps no-one was as stoked

to see the bassist back at his

best, though, than he was to be on the stage: At the end of June, on the way back from a heavy studio session, shattered, he fell asleep at the wheel of his car, which looked none too pretty afterwards.

The stage story of how ‘most people get knocked out in a car wreck, but it woke me up!’ gave audiences on that recent acoustic tour a laugh on a nightly basis, but really, Oliveri is lucky to have walked away.

“It was pretty bad. I’m lucky to be alive,” he admits.

And there is no crazy story of excess to insert: “I was just super tired and fell asleep.

“I wasn’t partying or anything like that.

“Still being alive was a great thing,” he laughs softly.

It must have made you take stock of things?

“It was an eye-opener on many levels – I don’t want to live my life at home in a bickering state or live with somebody to fight all the time…I try enjoying life and do what I want to do –just have some fun.”

The solo album Nick was working on at the time is almost complete: “Instead of doing an acoustic record I did an electric solo where I played everything on it, drums and all…I went for it and it turned out really good.

“I am really happy with it.

“I just need to do my vocals and mix it and maybe I’ll package it with a Hell Comes To Your Heart vinyl...it could be a good thing to put out and have a resurgence of that record.”

The aforementioned Hell Comes To Your Heart opus was Nick’s 2012 long-overdue, terrific return to form.

But for an album that deserved to drop with a blast, this one tip-toed into the room…and few people caught wind of it.

“I didn’t have any label, I pressed the discs up myself just to get them out there and it didn’t help me ... I am going to do it better next time with label support.

“It might be one of those records that just slips through the cracks and is out there, but isn’t really out there...” he suggests, “But I love it.”

Things are much more hands-on and organic for the bassist in the here and now, but bankrolling yourself and keeping all wheels in motion isn’t all that inviting.

“It’s a lot harder,” he agrees, “The business has changed a lot for me too on a personal level.

“It has been quite difficult to keep the ball rolling.”

Many a less determined soul would have packed in, given up and rode off.

But music isn’t something Nick does, it’s who he is.

And, as you read this, he is back home in Los Angeles, getting stuck into numerous musical opportunities – Mondo have recently played alongside Iggy and the Stooges, and a new Mondo album is coming too.

Material is in no shortfall.

“We have tons of new stuff, and my new guitar player Mike has a bunch of cool songs as well, so we are going to record more than what we need, then sift through and narrow it down to the best songs for the record…”

If things firm up as he wants them to, a Mondo tour will hit these shores next Spring as well.

And, in-between those Mondo commitments and that new solo opus?

“I am going to play a few shows with a band called Blast and I have another that I’ve been playing with, called Suntrash.

“I have been invited to do a Desert Sessions with (QOTSA frontman)Josh in December, and that should be interesting...”

And tell us a little about The Situationalists.

“There’s a single coming out, and it’s a good side project for right now.

“If we end up doing a whole record from it, that would be great.

“I have too many things on my plate right now to have another steady thing though.

“...something will falter and something will lack and I don’t want to do that, so I have to do what I want to do.

“I’ve got tons of stuff to keep busy with, and that I’m very, very excited about, but my main focus is going to be Mondo .”

Desert Sessions aside, there are plans for Nick to reconnect on stage with QOTSA in the not too distant future, he reveals.

“We are also supposed to do a February show with Queens. “I don’t know if it’s gonna be a West Coast tour or just a show at the Inglewood in Los Angeles…”

A lot of water has passed under that bridge now, but how will it feel supporting your old band. A little weird?

“No, it’ll be great – we could use the support that Josh could give us, and he could probably use the good name as well.

“It will probably help him as much as it will help us by doing something cool like that, and it will be a treat for some of the fans.”

Any bad blood between the Oliveri and Homme camps was spent a long time back – after all it is nigh on a decade since Nick lived in the Queens ranks.

“I’m over it – I might go up and sing a song with them at the show,” Nick reveals.

“I’m not crying about it, it’s Josh’s band and he is taking it where he wants it to go and more power to him. It’s his thing.

“We’re friends and we don’t need to play music to be friends...”

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