Nick Oliveri
Nick Oliveri

Nick Oliveri: Mondo Uncontrollable

Presently roaming the UK with his latest incarnation of Mondo Generator and making the odd appearance with Dwarves frontman Blag Dahlia as The Uncontrollable, Nick Oliveri tells The Skinny about his new record.
Feature by Dave Kerr.
Published 13 October 2006

Unless you're a punk rock cave man living in a prehistoric age, you may not know that Mondo have been kicking around for nearly a decade. Existing primarily as a side project which was shelved to some extent when Queens of the Stone Age took off, appearing only for impromptu dates and brief spates of touring, everyone from Dave Grohl and Twiggy Ramirez to Brant Bjork and, in latter days, the remaining duo from Winnebago Deal have been a part of the whirlwind super group.

Things are a little different now, though. Following his sudden ejection from the Queens in 2004, Oliveri explains the work ethic of his new old job, which was his own vehicle to begin with. "With A Drug Problem that Never Existed Mondo was a side project, but this would be my real band now."

Who are the latest recruits?

"We've got Hoss on drums, Spud and Ian on guitar… it's a four-piece. I'm playing bass," he says. "I'm pretty happy right now. I think we've got a good band and I'm kind of enjoying what I'm feeling and watching it grow, we're having some good shows. I think people are digging it, I know I am."

Latest album 'Dead Planet (SonicSlowMotionTrails)' smacks of untameable chaos; split between the dynamics of psychedelic rock and the blood curdling punk signatures we've come to expect. From his jovial tone, Oliveri appears to be moving onwards and upwards in many respects, but one thing about the new record still baffles.

He's even recorded another version of So High, So Low - a track which appeared on the last Mondo album.

"It was an idea that I got from Josh (Homme)," he explains. "It was meant to be re-recorded for the last Queens record that I'm not on. I think there's 3,500 of the second album ['A Drug Problem...'] pressed. I thought it was a good song and it should be heard by hopefully more. So I re-recorded it anyway."

Say Josh called tomorrow and asked him to return to the Queens fold, how would Oliveri respond?

"I'm out on tour!" he laughs. "I'd say it's as easy for me to move with Queens of the Stone Age as it is with Mondo Generator. Although I'm not trying to do Queens without him and I don't need him to do Mondo Generator. I feel that Queens is something I can contribute to and he needs me to do it. Whether he believes it or not, me and a lot of other people seem to think that. I saw their show a couple of times and I really felt like getting up there and playing."

What if it was John Garcia making the call? There's still a lot of respect for Kyuss…

"Oh I would love to, yeah, that would be something else. If I was asked to do that, I would do it in a second. It would be a lot of fun. John's great, I don't know if he's doing anything now. I heard he got up and did something with Josh and played some Kyuss songs at a Queens show in LA. I always feel like you could get away with playing a Kyuss song with John singing and Josh on guitar, those guys are the only two who stayed for all four records."

As a key player in those two bands, two of the most critically respected and influential bands in modern rock, how did he get there?

"Right place at the right time – luck! I roll good dice."

And, as Nick momentarily swaps over from Mondo to take on a tour with Dwarves' front man Blag Dahlia as The Uncontrollable, it seems he already has another set of die to cast and a new side project to play with. "I just recorded with Blag when I was in LA; I played bass on 45 songs we did in three days. I was fried. We did them live, just went for it and it turned out really good. Two takes for each song, 45 songs, three days, it was great, it was a new plateau for me."

A rock n' roll immortal Oliveri may be, but life on the road still deals him a fright once in a while. "I've never really been afraid of too many things, but being apprehended and dragged into a van when we played Rock in Rio was pretty weird. My tour manager at the time was like; "I'm coming with you" and they said "no you're not." They slammed the door on him, and I was just sitting there with these five guys. They took me to a trailer and I'm just thinking "oh no, my god, what's gonna happen?" I didn't know what the hell they were going do with me. Luckily, there was a lady there speaking English and she had a Harley Davidson hat on and I thought 'ok, somebody I can relate to, help me, what do I do?' and she goes: 'they need to you to apologise,' and I was like 'I'm sorry!' (Laughs) It was all cool in the end."

Does this mean he'll think twice about removing his pants in public in future?

"At least when down in Brazil. I thought it was OK, you turn on the TV and you see nudity everywhere, it's not a big deal. But there happened to be an on site judge and his kid was there with him, he didn't find it funny."