Joey Castillo's Queens Of The Stone Age drum setup in pictures
That Joey Castillo has been the driving force powering Queens Of The Stone Age for almost a decade is testament to his technique, ability and staying power.
The first six years of the stoner rock-pioneers’ career saw four drummers take up residency at the band’s Spinal Tap-esque revolving drum throne. Not only that, but with Queens mainman Josh Homme and long-time guitarist Troy van Leeuwen both also accomplished drummers, this is one demanding job.
But Castillo has made himself indispensable to the cause, not only with his breathless raw power and fluid technicality, but also thanks to the incredible musical bond he has developed with Homme, who he also replaced as drummer for Eagles Of Death Metal.
Since his arrival in Queens in 2002, which of course saw him step into Dave Grohl’s shoes, Joey has headed out on three world tours with the band and enjoyed commercial success with 2005’s Lullabies To Paralyze and its follow-up Era Vulgaris.
Four years on from dropping their last record, Joey and the Queens return regrouped, recharged and ready to hit the studio later this year. They got back into the groove with a recent sold-out European tour promoting the re-release of their seminal, self-titled debut album.
Rhythm Magazine caught up with Joey while he and the boys were in London for what would prove to be a masterclass in band dynamics and drums/guitar interplay.
Here we bring you shots of Joey’s drum setup along with extracts from that interview, which you can read in full in Rhythm 193. Or you can subscribe to Rhythm Magazine to read interviews with the world’s top drummers each month.
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DW Jazz Series: 24x16-inch kick drum; 14x10-inch rack tom; 18x16-inch floor tom.
What have you got in mind, kit-wise, for the new record?
“In the past we’ve set up kits based around the songs. I’ve had a couple of kits set-up here and there, one that’s a trashy-sounding kit and one that’s kind of a big kit.
“Myself, I really love my live-sounding kit because of the fact that I’m competing with four guitars basically and keys. Me and my soundman Hutch have done a lot of experimenting in finding something that cuts and that can compete with that many mids and that much high end. I think we’ve nailed it.”
14x8-inch Sonor snare.
Joey on his prized snare:
“The snare I use is a 14x8-inch that actually belonged to Chuck Biscuits. It’s completely banged up. It’s a total mess and my tech every time says, ‘Can we fix this?’ but I have to leave it exactly as is.
“It’s not a true round diameter anymore but it’s a great, great snare. I love it and it works amazingly. Chuck’s my guy. I’ve seen every band he was in and he really is the guy who inspired me most. He was somebody I was able to see and get close to multiple times and he blew me away. He’s amazing.”
Zildjian: 24-inch K Light ride; 21-inch Prototype K crash; 19-inch K Hybrid crash; 14-inch Soundmaster hi-hats.
Joey on his stripped-back setup:
“I’m always up for experimenting, but I really enjoy the basic set-up of a rack and a floor and couple of cymbals. At the same time with Eagles [Of Death Metal] there’s no rack tom, it’s floor tom, kick, snare, two cymbals and a couple of percussion pieces.
“I think ultimately down the line it forces you to be a little more creative with less. I know the less-is-more thing is a cliché, but I know what I do best - I can get the most out of what I use.
“But I’m always up for adding some colour to the kit and willing to try something someone else uses that I don’t. Live I use two crashes, a ride and a set of hats and occasionally I throw a china in for a couple of songs. That’s really about it.”
Latin Percussion 160 Cyclops Tambourine; Latin Percussion cowbell; Remo Black Dot heads; DW hardware: 6710 straight cymbal stands; DW 9000 bass pedal; Vic Firth Super 5B sticks.
How about your drum sound for the recording sessions?
“I really enjoy the single-head drum sound. The old-style concert toms. My kit basically is black dot heads on top and no bottom heads, so the concert tom sound. It seems to work really well. We’ve had a lot of great compliments and people have commented on the sound we’re getting.
“I like that dry, in-your-face kind of sound. It’s not a pretty sound, but I think it’s a really amazing sound for the band. Like anything, it wouldn’t work for everybody but it really works for what we’re doing.
“I’m actually really looking forward to recording that way [using concert toms]. Some songs on Era Vulgaris are that way but not all of them. That’s all my plan for now. Obviously a big dry drum sound is what I love, but we’ll see.
“It’s always a game with Queens and it’s always something different for each song. Each song always holds something - we try to anyway. I’m sure it’ll be something weird with something going on with the drums, it always is.
“For the tone I use just a little bit of Moongel for the rack and the floor. For the snares I use a ring with a bit of Moongel.”
On working with Josh Homme
It seems you like to write parts around Josh Homme’s guitar and there is a great chemistry between the two of you in that respect:
“Yeah. Josh loves drums and he’s a drummer himself and so I think with the Queens Of The Stone Age especially, it is a very guitar and drum-driven band. With the chemistry, there’s the things I know the band do really well live - stopping on a dime and turning things around - which is really with all of us.
“As a player you speak this language with people you’re playing with. It’s unspeakable but you are able to communicate with people that you’re playing with and you know what’s going on.
“Having played with Josh this long now, I can feel when he wants to push or sit back on something or if he wants to turn on something, it’s pretty apparent.”
Now pick-up Rhythm’s current issue 194 featuring an in-depth interview with Biffy Clyro sticksman Ben Johnston. Or subscribe to Rhythm here for a monthly dose of new gear reviews, kit buying guides, pro drum lessons and all-star interviews.
Liked this? Now read: Queens Of The Stone Age: Rated R (Rx reissue) track-by-track review
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