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Troy Van Leeuwen

Troy Van Leeuwen performing live with the Queens of the Stone Age
Background information
Birth name Troy Van Leeuwen
Also known as T.V. Leeuuwen, Troy De Van Leeuwen
Born January 5, 1968 (1968-01-05) (age 42)
Origin Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres Alternative rock, space rock, stoner rock, desert rock, psychedelic rock, blues rock, art rock, neo-psychedelia
Occupations Musician, songwriter, engineer, producer
Instruments Vocals, guitar, keyboards, piano, lap steel guitar, bass guitar, percussion, drums
Years active 1990 - present
Labels Warner Bros. Records, EMI, Virgin Records, Interscope Records, The Control Group
Associated acts Queens of the Stone Age, Desert Sessions, Enemy, Failure, A Perfect Circle, The Gutter Twins, Eagles of Death Metal, Mark Lanegan, Sweethead, Puscifer
Notable instruments
Yamaha SA503 TVL
Yamaha AES1500
Gibson Les Paul
Chandler Lap Steel

Troy Dean Van Leeuwen (born January 5, 1968 in Los Angeles, California)[1] is an American musician and producer. Van Leeuwen began playing music at young age and started playing guitar at age 13. Soon Van Leeuwen was playing in various local bands such as Jester, 60 Cycle and later Failure. During this time Van Leeuwen also worked as a session musician for various bands and met Billy Howerdel who later recruited Van Leeuwen to play guitar in his and Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan's alternative rock supergroup A Perfect Circle. The band's debut album Mer De Noms became the highest ever debut for a rock band, with 188,000 copies sold in its first week.[2] After recording three tracks on A Perfect Circle's second album, Van Leeuwen accepted an invitation to audition for the Queens of the Stone Age, and after a successful audition Van Leeuwen was welcomed into the band as their second guitar player. In addition to guitar, Van Leeuwen was also required to play lap steel and keyboards. Since joining the band in 2002, Van Leeuwen has recorded two studio albums - Lullabies to Paralyze in 2005 and Era Vulgaris in 2007 - as well as recorded with various band members' side projects such as The Desert Sessions, Mondo Generator, Eagles of Death Metal and The Gutter Twins. He create his first side project Enemy in 2005 but currently Van Leeuwen is with Sweethead his second side project.[3]



Early life and career

Van Leeuwen was born January 5, 1968 in Los Angeles, California. His first instrument was the drums but after realizing that he could not sound like his idol John Bonham of Led Zeppelin[4] he switched to playing guitar at age 13.[5] In the late 1980s Van Leeuwen played in Jester, a successful southern California band fronted by vocalists, Eric Book. Jester released an EP which is the earliest and most rare recording of a 16 year old Van Leeuwen. He then played in a small band called Little Boots with which he recorded a number of demos and played a few shows before the band broke up. His next band was 60 Cycle which released their debut release "Pretender" in 1995 and their self titled album the year after. It was during his time in 60 Cycle were Van Leeuwen meet Kellii Scott, the two started working on a project which would later be known as Enemy. Van Leeuwen went on to play in Failure, the band released three records, but didn't enjoy any commercial success but was praised from critics as a talented and almost revolutionary group.[6] It was during a tour with Failure where Troy met former Kyuss guitarist Josh Homme who was playing rhythm guitar with The Screaming Trees for the first time. After the break up of Failure; Troy went on to be a session musician and recording engineer working with groups like Orgy, Crazy Town, Coal Chamber and KoRn.

A Perfect Circle

It was during his time as a session musician that Troy met Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan who offered him a spot in his and Billy Howerdel new band A Perfect Circle. Troy felt that the band had a lineup of talented musicians and good chemistry and accepted the invitation. The band played their first show at LA's Viper Club Reception on August 15, 1999, after playing shows in L.A. the band entered the studio to begin work on their debut album.[7] Soon drummer Tim Alexander was replaced with session drummer Josh Freese, however Alexander's performance can still be heard on the album version of the song "The Hollow". After recording was finished for their debut album, Mer de Noms (French for "Sea of Names"),[8] the band began touring, initially as the opening act for Nine Inch Nails on the 2000 tour. Later the band embarked on a number of headlining tours all over the world, including the Canadian festival, Summersault.[9] Mer de Noms was released on May 23, 2000, while the band was on tour. The album is distinctive in that it is the highest ever debut for a new rock band, selling over 188,000 copies in its first week, and appearing at number four on the Billboard 200.[2]

Queens of the Stone Age

On A Perfect Circle's second album Thirteenth Step Troy only recorded guitars for three tracks before successfully auditioning for a spot in the Josh Homme's Queens of the Stone Age for their Songs for the Deaf tour, where he beat out Jeordie White and was welcomed by the band as their second guitarist. Besides playing guitar Troy also contributed with lap steel guitar, keyboards, backing vocals and occasionally bass guitar work. Due to the bands schedule Troy only had one week to learn 30 songs before heading out on tour. For the European leg of the album's supporting tour Dave Grohl left to return to his main band Foo Fighters and was replaced with former Danzig drummer Joey Castillo who along with Troy and Homme has been the core of the band ever since. Songs for the Deaf was a critical and commercial success [10] and the singles "No One Knows" and "Go with the Flow" became hits on both radio and on MTV. The tour culminated in a number of headline dates in Australia in January 2004, before bassist Nick Oliveri was fired from the band by Homme for what was said to be disrespect of the group's fans and excessive partying. Later Homme revealed in a BBC Radio 1 interview that Oliveri was fired when Homme had become convinced that he had been physically abusive to his (Oliveri's) girlfriend.[11] Oliveri soon retaliated and said that the band had been "poisoned by hunger for power" and described the band without him as "Queens Lite". Later Oliveri softened his opinion and claimed to have a good relationship with Homme and "the new Queens record kicks ass".[12] As of October 2006, Oliveri remains interested in rejoining the band.[13]

Troy's first recording with the Queens was Lullabies to Paralyze, the band entered the studio with long-time collaborator and multi-instrumentalist Alain Johannes who replaced Oliveri on the album. Troy aimed to fill up some of the gaps in the music were he felt the sound could be expanded with atmospheric and ambient textures with guitar, lap steel and piano.[4] The album - the title of which is taken from a lyric in Mosquito Song from Songs for the Deaf[14] - featured several guest appearances, most notably ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, who performed backing vocals and lead guitar on "Burn the Witch" and the ZZ Top cover Precious and Grace. Despite Lanegan reportedly turning down an invitation to remain with the band, he recorded vocals on new tracks and appeared with the band on the supporting tour as scheduling and his health permitted. The album was leaked onto the internet in February 2005 and was aired by Australian radio on 3 March 2005 as an unsubstantiated 'World Premiere'. Lullabies was then officially released on Tuesday, March 22, 2005 in the USA, debuting in the number 5 slot on the Billboard Music Chart, the greatest initial success of any Queens record to date. On November 22, 2005, the band released a live album/DVD set called Over the Years and Through the Woods, featuring a live concert filmed in London, England, and bonus features which included rare videos of songs from 1998 to 2005.

After touring to support the album the band headed back into the studio to record the follow up in July 2006. In July 2007, Troy reported that the band had written new material that was, "still in its infancy"[15] which Homme later suggested might be released as an EP. This matured into their 2007 release Era Vulgaris to which Van Leeuwen contributed a significant amount of material. Several sites reported that the album would include many guest vocalists, including Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails, Julian Casablancas from The Strokes, Mark Lanegan, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top,[16] and wittingly, deceased humorist Erma Bombeck.[17] Josh Homme described the record as "dark, hard, and electrical, sort of like a construction worker".[18] Era Vulgaris was completed in early April 2007[19] and released in June 2007 in the U.S.[20] The tracks "Sick, Sick, Sick" and "3's & 7's" were released as singles in early June.[21] Bassist Michael Shuman (Wires On Fire, Jubilee) and keyboardist Dean Fertita (The Waxwings, The Raconteurs) took over touring duties from Alain Johannes and Natasha Shneider respectively.[22][23]

In July 2007, Van Leeuwen stated the band had written new material, "still in its infancy"[15] which Homme later suggested might be released as an EP.[24] Following a subsequent interview with Homme, The Globe and Mail reported that the EP "could contain as many as 10 B-sides recorded during the Era Vulgaris sessions."[25] It was since reported however that the EP would not be released due to the record label's unwillingness to put out another QOTSA release at this time.[26] In a September issue of NME Magazine, Josh Homme stated that he was going back to make the new QOTSA and Desert Sessions records along with remastering the 1998 self titled album for an early 2009 release. Homme also stated Queens' new album is going to be a "desert orgy in the dark".

Other musical work

In 2005 Troy released Hooray For Dark Matter with his sideproject Enemy which features bassist Eddie Nappi from the Mark Lanegan Band and his former bandmate from Failure Kelli Scott on drums. Initially Alan Cage from Quicksand played drums briefly before being replaced by Scott. Troy describes the band as his "big, dumb rock trio"[27] and "a vehicle driven by pure and utter disgust of mediocrity and general frustration with the human condition". During his time with A Perfect Circle the band recorded a five track demo, in what Troy called "Guerilla-style recording" at various recording studios.[28] After taking the unusual step of offering to be signed by a record label by advertising for the princely sum of $250,000 on Ebay,[28] Enemy were ultimately signed by Control Group/TCG who released their debut album. After joining the Queens of the Stone Age Troy also contributed music to band members various side projects such as The Desert Sessions, Mondo Generator, Eagles of Death Metal, The Gutter Twins and Mark Lanegans soloalbum album Bubblegum. After the end of the tour in support of Era Vulgaris Troy has been touring with Sweethead.

Musical equipment

According to Troy the Queens of the Stone Age has a "veil of secrecy" regarding their exact setup, in order to keep their unique guitar sound. But certain things have been revealed.[29] Troy favors semi-hollow guitars due to their natural resonance, to prohibit "bad feedback" he stuffs pieces of foam into the F-holes in some of his guitars. All of his guitars are fitted with a variety of Seymour Duncan pickups,[30] most often Customs or JB. His guitars are tuned in standard 440, D tuning and C tuning and he uses Ernie Ball 10 to 52 for standard tuning and heavy jazz gauge 12 to 58 for lower tunings.[31] Troy has also said that his live rig is considerably different than what he uses during recording, since he considers most of his vintage equipment too unreliable for touring.[32]

In addition to guitar and lap steel Troy has also plays a Clavia Nord Electro keyboard during live performances and recordings. After Nick Oliveri's departure from the band Troy also played a Epiphone Rivoli bass (he is also listed as a user of a Custom Yamaha SA-bass[33]) during several of the Queens of the Stone Age later recordings and during the tours following Lullabies to Paralyze were he and Alain Johannes often switched instruments which can be seen in the Over the Years and Through the Woods DVD. For the Era Vulgaris album Troy was the primary lead guitarist but also occasionally contributed with keyboards, lap steel, bass as well as provided back up vocals.[34]


"I like to have stuff in the studio that's vintage and I like to keep things as pure as possible. But when it comes to the road, I like to use stuff that works consistently. I don't like stuff that's vintage and cool, but breaks down. So that's why I'll use a switching system and new pedals. I don't care about using vintage pedals over new pedals. The difference live is so minute. First of all, you're in a hall or a theater which changes the sound. Then it's going through a mic, then through a PA. And live, it's not as much under the microscope as in the studio. "
Troy Van Leeuwen .



"A lot of guitarists only use solos to define who they are. I can shred when I need to, but, ultimately, I'm interested in playing what the song needs—even if that means not playing at all."
Troy Van Leeuwen .

Selected discography

Van Leeuwen has appeared on wide range of albums from various bands and performers from a wide range of genres.[37][38]

Year Band or artist Song or album Credits
1986 Jester Jester Guitar
1995 60 Cycle Pretender
1996 60 Cycle
1998 Korn Freak On A Leash Engineer
Orgy Candyass Guitar
1999 Coal Chamber Chamber Music Keyboards, technical assistant
Crazy Town The Gift of Game Additional guitar, programming assistant
Deadsy Commencement Guitar
2000 Professional Murder Music Professional Murder Music
A Perfect Circle Mer de Noms
Orgy Vapor Transmission
2001 Limp Bizkit New Old Songs
2003 UNKLE Never, Never, Land
A Perfect Circle Thirteenth Step
Slaves on Dope Metafour Production
Mondo Generator A Drug Problem That Never Existed Additional performer
The Desert Sessions Vol 9: I See You Hearin' Me Guitar, lap steel, bass
Vol 10: I Heart Disco
2004 Failure Golden Guitar
A Perfect Circle aMotion
Orgy Punk Statik Paranoia
2005 Queens of the Stone Age Lullabies to Paralyze Guitar, bass, lap steel, piano, keyboards, handclaps, vocals
Over The Years And Through The Woods Guitar, lap steel, bass, vocals
Mark Lanegan Band Bubblegum Guitar, piano
Enemy Hooray For Dark Matter Vocals, guitar, mixing, production
2006 Failure Essentials Guitar
J-AX Di Santa Pianta Chitarrone
Eagles of Death Metal Death by Sexy Performer, piano, backing vocals
2007 Queens of the Stone Age Era Vulgaris Guitar, bass, lap steel, piano, keyboard, vocals
2008 Eagles of Death Metal Heart On Vocals
The Gutter Twins Saturnalia Guitar
2009 Sweethead The Great Disruptors Guitar, production
Upcoming studio album


  1. ^ Family Tree Legends [1] Retrived:2009-07-16
  2. ^ a b "A Perfect Circle Storms Onto Chart with Highest Debuting First Album Ever From a Rock Band". NY Rock. 2000-06-02. Retrieved 2008-09-03.  
  3. ^ Troy this on for size. Troy this on for size. Retrieved:2009-07-05
  4. ^ a b Mister Enemy fansite - Troy Van Leeuwen interviews
  5. ^ FPE Interviews - Troy Van Leeuwen
  6. ^ Mister Enemy fansite - Troy biography
  7. ^ McIver, Joel (2002). Nu-metal: The Next Generation of Rock & Punk. Omnibus Press. p. 27.  
  8. ^ Kielty, Tom (2000-06-22). "New on disc; A Perfect Circle Mer de Noms Virgin". Boston Globe: p. Calendar; 8.  
  9. ^ Zahlaway, Jon (2000-12-08). "A Perfect Circle lines up winter headlining tour". LiveDaily. Retrieved 2008-03-29.  
  10. ^ Queens of the Stone Age: A Stone Unturned
  11. ^ Cohen, Jonathan (2005-07-06). "Homme Comes Clean On Oliveri Firing". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 2007-05-09.  
  12. ^ Jenkins, Sacha. "Ready to Rumble." Spin. May 2005.
  13. ^ Kerr, Dave (2006-01-10). "Nick Oliveri - Mondo Uncontrollable". The Skinny. Retrieved 2007-05-09.  
  14. ^ "Queens of the Stone Age Interview". Vertigo. Retrieved 2007-05-09.  
  15. ^ a b "Queens Of The Stone Age discuss Duluth tour" (article). NME. Retrieved 2007-07-21.  
  16. ^ "Casablancas, Reznor Rumored Guests on QOTSA Album". 2007-02-23. Retrieved 2007-05-09.  
  17. ^ "Queens of the Stone Age Will Not Settle Down, Except For Fans". Retrieved 2007-05-09.  
  18. ^ "Ask the Band". 2006-11-04. Retrieved 2007-05-09.  
  19. ^ Scaggs, Austin (2007-04-06). "Smoking Section: Playing poker with the Strokes, Foo Fighters album news, Marilyn Manson's "dirty" film, Roger Waters calls from the road". Rolling Retrieved 2007-04-10.  
  20. ^ "Queens of the Stone Age official website". 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-10.  
  21. ^ "Queens of the Stone age unveil new album artwork". Retrieved 2007-07-14.  
  22. ^ "Queens of the Stone age unveil new album artwork". Retrieved 2007-05-09.  
  23. ^ "QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE Films 'Sick, Sick, Sick' Video". 2007-04-28. Retrieved 2007-05-09.  
  24. ^ Coburn, Bob; Josh Homme, Troy Van Leeuwen (2007-07-30). "Queens new material" (radio interview). Rockline radio. Retrieved 2007-08-01.  
  25. ^ "Princes Charming – well, almost" (interview). Arts section. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2007-08-25.  
  26. ^
  27. ^ Enemy wiki
  28. ^ a b interview with Van Leeuwen
  29. ^ Ultimate Guitar - Troy Van Leeuwen interview Retrieved: 2008-12-26
  30. ^ Seymor Duncan Artist database - Troy Van Leeuween Retrieved: 2008-12-26
  31. ^ FPE Interviews - Troy Van Leeuwen Retrieved: 2008-12-26
  32. ^ Seymour Duncan Artist - Troy Van Leeuwen Retrieved: 2008-12-26
  33. ^ Yamaha Artist - Troy Van Leeuwen Retrieved: 2008-12-26
  34. ^ QOTSA - Era Vulgaris Digi Booklet Retrieved: 2008-12-26
  35. ^ VOX amplifiers Artist Troy Van Leeuwen Retrieved: 2008-12-26
  36. ^ Ultimate Guitar 10 question - Troy Van Leeuwen Retrieved: 2008-12-26
  37. ^ Allmusic- Troy Van Leeuwen discography Retrieved: 2009-05-01
  38. ^ Mister Enemy - Discography and bands Retrieved: 2009-05-01

External links

Preceded by
Brendon McNichol
Multi-instrumentalist for Queens of the Stone Age
Succeeded by
Preceded by
no one
Rhythm guitarist for A Perfect Circle
Succeeded by
Danny Lohner

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