Nick Oliveri a.k.a. Rex Everything and Pierre Pressure served as bassist and vocalist of Queens of the Stone Age as well as the Iggy Pop-esque foil to Josh Homme’s usually cool demeanor from 1998 to 2004. He was born October 21, 1971 in Los Angeles, California and though he is best known by many for his unrestricted howling and stage antics (see- just about any live video of ‘Tension Head’), Nick’s place in the QOTSA lineup was much more than that of a loose cannon.
In interviews Homme has claimed, “Nick was the guy in high school that I drank with in the parking lot before school.” These were the humble beginnings of a beautiful relationship that saw the two playing with fellow schoolmates Brant Bjork and John Garcia in the early era of Kyuss, in which “Wretch” and “Blues for the Red Sun” were recorded and a desert rock legend that placed the band up in the ranks with lesser known acts such as Yawning Man was established in local mythology.
After his parting with Kyuss at their signing to the Elektra label, Oliveri got involved with Blag Dahlia and the gruesome crew known as The Dwarves in an exploration of his more purely punk side. Mondo Generator was formed in 1997 with Nick’s howl and almost criminally aggressive musical tendencies front center. The group’s debut “Cocaine Rodeo” was recorded that same year, but didn’t see the light of day until the millennium’s turn.
Collaboration with Homme resumed in the Desert Sessions and the original ting formation of QOTSA which also included Alfredo Hernandez and Dave Catching after the self-titled debut album had been recorded. The working relationship with Homme continued the overdiscussed, overanalyzed falling out between the two occurred during the spring of ’04. Whether it was simply his erratic behavior or rumors of potential domestic abuse that muddied the waters between the two seems somewhat irrelevant in the grand scope of things.
The post-Queens era of Oliveri’s career has seen him focusing more energy on Mondo Generator (now properly referred to as Nick Oliveri and the Mondo Generator) with “Dead Planet: SonicSlowMotionTrails” being released in the fall of ’06. Naturally, he’s also spent time on tour with the Dwarves and played acoustic sets on the road with Brant Bjork and the Bros.
His ability to convincingly play solo acoustic shows is a testament to his unique melodic vocal abilities which can be heard on Queens songs “Autopilot” and “Gonna Leave You” as well as “All I Can Do” and “Day I Die” from Mondo’s 2003 album “A Drug Problem that Never Existed.” In interviews Nick has expressed his enjoyment over the ability to explore both the intense and more mellow, melodic areas of his vocal range that doing solo acoustic shows allows. This can also be heard on his solo acoustic disc “Demolition Day.”
Nick’s straightforward bass style has been compared to that of Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmeister, as he uses a pick to get a punchy, brutal tone that drives the low end of whatever bunch he’s with, and in the fall of ’05 Mondo Generator (effectively Nick and duo Winnebago Deal at this time) toured with Lemmy and his gang for what had to be some pretty unbelievably thrash-happy dates.
Interestingly, Mondo Generator has taken on somewhat of a ‘revolving door’ policy similar to Queens, with a number of guests contributing to “Drug Problem” and Winnebago Deal and many others being featured on “Dead Planet.”
Songs like “Millionaire” and “Tension Head” are two terrific examples of Oliveri’s driving, screaming vocals that exemplify his metal/punk background. On the flipside, efforts like “Auto Pilot” and “Gonna Leave You” show that Oliveri’s vocal range can be melodic and soft. All the examples listed show not only the range Oliveri has, but also the range that the Queens bring to each album.
Whether it’s with Mondo, the Dwarves, or simply with an acoustic guitar in hand, it’s probable that Oliveri will be gigging and recording quite possibly until “the day he dies.” And though we thought the prospects for a renewal of his working relationship with Homme in QOTSA seemed somewhat unlikely, Nick did join the band in the studio to provide vocals for its sixth studio album in 2013.
Written by Ben Erickson