The Way You Used to Do

Album: Villains (2017)
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Songfacts®:

  • The lead single from Villains sees QOTSA adopt a dance-y swagger, with a swinging robotic guitar emphasizing the inherent groove-based elements of the band's sound. Asked about the song's 'super-sexy' vibe, frontman Josh Homme told NME: "Well it's about screwing so I guess that answers that question!"
  • The song was influenced by mid-20th century swing music. Homme told Beats 1's Zane Lowe:

    "Cab Calloway. Dean Martin. You know? If you listen to 'Minnie the Moocher' and like all the swinging stuff -or there's this cat C.W. Stoneking that's from Australia that's great too. That plays in an old manner, you know that almost 20s jazz. Or, you know, this 'bum bum be bu bum' this big band rhythm, yeah man. It's just wonderful and that sort of swing, just after morning after morning after morning for like a few years of going there. You know, you start to go (starts clapping rhytmically.)

    Homme added: "Like, where do we belong in all of this? And I think that's where influence is one of the greatest things ever. It's like, you know, influence shouldn't be like, 'We should copy that' cause that's gross. But it should be like, 'Where do I belong in this too? It resonates with me already when I listen to it, so if I were gonna be that, where would I be in all that?'"
  • This was the first song that Josh Homme wrote for Villains. He recalled:

    "We were actually on tour at the end of the last record. And I had this - I was setting up a home studio and I thought, 'well I should test it. Make sure it works.' Cause I don't make demos cause I just don't believe in them. But I said, well I'll test it and I just wrote that thing and came up with the song. And I liked it so much I was like, 'I can't listen to this cause I don't want to get sick of it.'

    So I didn't listen to it for a year and a half but knew it was there. And I would sometimes go 'dat de du duh' You know, and I thought 'oh, I can't even - I won't sing it.' And I played it for the guys once and I think that immediate reaction is a great litmus test for if something's good or not. And everyone - I just put it on in the room and didn't do anything. And within a few seconds, everyone was like, 'what's this?' And I was like, 'Great. Okay great. So I'm not going to listen to this for the next year and that's great.'

    And so it was the first song for this record. And it was the only song that we knew. But it was like this is the direction, you know? I think one song becomes sort of the talisman for where you're going."
  • The song, along with the rest of Villains, was produced by Mark Ronson, who has previously worked with Amy Winehouse, Paul McCartney, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga and Adele, among others. Homme told NME how he became a fan of the Ango-American producer's work when they worked together on Lady Gaga's "Diamond Heart" and "John Wayne" tracks.

    "I've known Mark casually for a couple of years – we've both been up late in the same places," the QOTSA frontman said. "In the same way that I met Mark Rankin by listening to 'Rolling In The Deep' and I thought, 'man this song sounds amazing'… My kids were listening to 'Uptown Funk', and I thought 'this sounds amazing, it's really tight and dry' and that was the direction I wanted to take this record in.
    Then Ronson called me up to work on this Gaga stuff and within half an hour I was like 'I think I'll ask Ronson to do this' – it will confuse and dismay people. I think one of the true joys of being in a rock'n'roll band is to define expectations just so you can defy them."
  • Lyrically, this is about how Josh Homme first met his wife, Australian punk rocker Brody Dalle.

    When I first met her she was seventeen
    Seventeen
    Jump like an arsonist to a perfect match
    Burned alive


    The 17-year-old Brody Dalle first met Josh Homme at Lollapalooza in 1996 where he was the touring guitarist for Screaming Trees. They didn't encounter each other again for another seven years, but she clearly left an impression.
  • Josh Homme told Q magazine: "There's this old school jazz meets ZZ top thing to that song. You can dance to all of it. The words came quickly and it was sort of like, yeah, bad stuff happens but none of that s--t matters now. In this moment, screw all that and screw me on top of that."
  • Shot by the Swedish filmmaker Jonas Åkerlund, who's helmed videos by Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Madonna, and conceived by Josh Homme, the clip sees the QOTSA frontman showing some impressive dance moves.

    "Dancing and headbanging are truly individualistic expressions of losing oneself fully in appreciation of music," frontman Josh Homme said. "It's our way of paying tribute to Cab Calloway and the film Hellzapoppin'. I fully realize that may be a little more than some are open to, and that's perfectly fine with me."

    There's the door," he added. "If some of the more close-minded are gently pruned, that just leaves more room on the dance floor for the open-minded ones to get loose. That's been the spirit of Queens Of The Stone Age and the space we've worked to create from day one."
  • Homme injured himself dancing during the 16-hour video shoot. He needed knee surgery for a torn right meniscus.
  • Homme said regarding the band's collaboration with Åkerlund: "Dancing and headbanging are truly individualistic expressions of losing oneself fully in appreciation of music - who better to combine these things into a singular vision than someone who's directed Madonna and Lady Gaga videos, and also happens to have been a member of Bathory?"

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