John Paul Jones is a man with many musical tastes. Ever since the release of his solo album Zooma in 1999, and especially since the launch of Them Crooked Vultures in 2009, Jones has forced listeners to reconsider his reputation as Led Zeppelin’s “quiet one.” More often, a modern-day vision of Jones is as a man of many talents.
As a record producer, he recently lent his helping hand to folksy artists such as the traditional bluegrass quartet Uncle Earl and mellow singer Sara Watkins. However, his resume also includes studio work with decidedly noisy acts like Diamanda Galas, the Butthole Surfers and the Mission. His work in producing and arranging began in the 1960s, when he also doubled as an in-demand session bassist.
As a performer, Jones can sometimes be spotted sitting in with bands that bear little resemblance to Led Zeppelin, whether he’s picking on a mandolin with a country act at Merlefest, jamming away on a Led Zeppelin song with musicians he’s just met, or improvising a full set of experimental sounds with Sonic Youth.
It was little wonder, then, that after plans ended late in 2008 for Jones to continue making new music with Jimmy Page, he quickly and secretly accepted an invitation from Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters to form a new venture with Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme. The trio spent the first half of 2009 in isolation, readying for their onslaught. …