Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures, Eagles of Death Metal, etc, etc) isn’t exactly a delicate figure. At 6′ 4″ and somewhere near 250 pounds, few people would be dumb enough to take him on. But even the most robust among us can collide head-on into our own mortality.
“I didn’t even speak to my closest friends at that time because stories like this are so awful that you just don’t want to tell anybody,” he told me. “It’s like saying ‘This tasted like s**t. Here: taste it.’”
“I had surgery on my leg.”Josh points to a spot on his upper left thigh. He continues quietly, obviously still shaken. “During the surgery, they were unable to get the oxygen tube down my throat to resuscitate me. So my blood began to de-oxygenate. So I guess I was choking to death.”
Josh goes very quiet. “And they lost me.”
And when he says “lost,” he means “full cardiac arrest.” Flat-lined. Technically dead.
“They had to defibrillate me, which added a lot of recovery time because, essentially, you’re being electrocuted.” Josh was in bed for three months.
The next day, he shuffled through the hallways of the hospital with an IV pole. When QotSA guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen showed up with a giant bunch of balloons, “It was the most amazing thing I ever saw,” he says.
So what about those mythical near-death experiences? Nothingâ€”at least in Josh’s experience. “I was out. I didn’t see any tunnel or anything because I was under. But it kind of turned me around for a little bit because I’d never really been hurt like that. It makes a lot of stuff seem really trivial.”
“It made me explain my own philosophy to myself a bit better. I’ve always been about my family and friends primarily. And [this experience] made parts of music utterly useless to me. I didn’t want to play initially anymor. It made me want to go away.
“You start asking yourself why do all the people I don’t know get all my love and attention and the people I really loveâ€¦I’m gone so much. It took me a second to get back to where I am now, embracing music again.”
Josh and his wife are expecting a second child in August. That’s all that matters now.