Queens of the Stone Age are to release their seventh album 'Villains' on the 25th August. 'Villains' is Queens of the Stone Age's first collaboration with producer Mark Ronson and was recorded between January and March of this year at United Recording Studios in Los Angeles, a studio legendary in music history for being where The Beach Boys recorded their 1966 opus 'Pet Sounds'. To accompany 'Villains', Queens of the Stone Age set out on a world tour, which started in Port Chester, New York on 9th June. The world tour will reach the UK on the 18th November when the band play at Wembley Stadium.

Four further UK dates will follow, at Manchester Arena; London O2 Arena; Edinburgh Usher Hall and Dublin 3Arena.

The Influence of Mark Ronson

Mark Ronson is most famous for his production work on Amy Winehouse's multi-million selling, award winning 2006 album 'Back to Black' and for his own 'Uptown Funk' single. 'Uptown Funk' reached the top spot in both the UK and US, was the first UK single to be streamed on the internet over two million times in one week and became one of the biggest selling singles of 2016. The accompanying video for the song has been viewed on YouTube over 2.6 billion times, making it the fifth most viewed video on the site of all time. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme said of the band's collaboration with Ronson on 'Villains' that it is "frankly because I like to dance", going on to say, "If you listen to 'Uptown Funk', you hear that tight, kind of dry vacuous sound, and that's where I wanted to take the new Queens of the Stone Age record."

What to expect from 'Villains'

'Villains' is certainly looser and more uptempo than Queens of the Stone Age's previous album, 2013's '...Like Clockwork'.

This is evidenced on the album's lead single 'The Way You Used to Do', released in June, and its follow up single, the album's closing track 'The Evil has Landed'. In the four-year interim period between '...Like Clockwork' and 'Villains', among other activities, Homme and Queens of the Stone Age bassist Dean Fertita worked with Iggy Pop on his 2016 album 'Post Pop Depression', along with Arctic Monkey's drummer Matt Helders.

The influence of glam rock and Berlin-era Pop and David Bowie exhibited on 'Post Pop Depression' has definitely leaked into the production and sound of 'Villains'.

Additionally, in 2015, Homme produced and played on the fourth album of his side project Eagles of Death Metal, entitled 'Zipper Down'. On 13th November 2015, Eagles of Death Metal were the unfortunate band playing at the scene of the Paris attacks, which killed 90 fans.

Homme was not present at the gig but was deeply affected by the tragedy. The 2015 Paris Attacks were followed by a similar attack at an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena on 22nd May 2017, which claimed the lives of twenty-three adults and children and injured 250. Homme found that his faith in everything, including music wavered, telling Rolling Stone magazine, "It affected the way I did everything. It reinforced that you shouldn't wait to do something or you'll fucking regret it. Move now. If you have a beef with someone, squash it. If you want to do something, do it." This sense of urgency and positivity found its way into Homme's lyrics and as a result, 'Villains' is a much lighter and even a more pop-orientated album than '...Like Clockwork'.

This new found pop angle is in no small part due to the highly distinctive production work of Mark Ronson. 'Villains' consists of just nine songs in 48 minutes and, as with their last album, features artwork by graphic artist Boneface.

Earlier this week, due to an accident at the pressing plant, three songs from 'Villains' leaked onto the vinyl editions of Australian artist Gordi's new album Reservoir. The Queens of the Stone Age tracks 'Fortress', 'Head Like a Haunted House' and 'Un-Reborn Again' feature on several hundred copies of Gordi's 'Reservoir'. Referring to the future value of these records, Gordi joked on Twitter, "if anybody has a copy, I'll flick you 20 bucks for it."

Until recently, Queens of the Stone Age working with Mark Ronson seemed inconceivable but it works surprisingly well and 'Villains' is set to be one of the musical highlights of this year.