Backstage at Auckland's Logan Campbell Centre, Josh Homme is preaching, brother. The Queens of the Stone Age main man is waxing philosophical about life, death and the meaning of art like an impassioned - yet totally badass - rock 'n' roll pastor.

Homme's a big dude with a charismatic presence. He walks with a sloping swagger, like a street-fighting Elvis, and speaks with an intense focus. He punctures his more lofty statements with self-deprecating gags, and often refers to Queens' multi-instrumentalist Dean Fertita for clarification or further explanation.

We're supposed to be talking about the band's new record, Villains, which is out tomorrow, but Homme has bigger things on his mind.

Josh Homme is not your guru. But he wants to change your life.

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"I want to grab myself and everyone else by the collar, give a nice hearty slap, and say, 'Let's go! WAKE UP!'," he says.

But before we get to that, there's an album to talk about.

"We use sonic examples to define the idea of what Queens is. Every once in a while you need to put those examples on a bridge and light the bridge on fire. Because it's the ideas that matter. Not the examples."

And on the big question Queens' fans want to be answered: why work with pop producer Mark Ronson?

"On every possible turn, I wanted to buck our own conventions. Any convention I can identify," he says. "I don't want to play along. I don't want to be understood. Initially. I don't want to revel in success. I want to shed all that like a snakeskin and attack. Without understanding what it is even. I don't see the value in high-fiving over what's finished. This is a new piece of art. It's a new time. I want to make a new mark and not be so ecstatic over the old mark."

As you can see Homme clearly had some things to say about some things. So, wake up and let's go.

"Rock 'n' roll is saying 'Yeah? So?' That's what it is," he says when asked about the philosophy behind the band. "It's flying in the face of a static set of rules. We're not a group of second-guessers. Because that means you're guessing for the second time and that doesn't sound great.

"An album should be like a sonic photograph. We're not trying to curate the best of ourselves and make everything perfect. That's the internet version of making a record. People nowadays are making a trailer of the best parts of their life. 'My life is like this. Here's my Best Of reel'. I don't believe in that. I like the scars and the mistakes."

Perfection, in anything, is a fool's errand, I say. An impossible goal.

"Well, it's an ideal," he says. "Like truth. Or fairness. Or justice. You strive for it but you don't expect to get there. And, if you get there... when people perfect a recording have you noticed how f**king boring it is? It's so linear. It's the safest. Safe..."

Homme spits out the word as he says, "safety, it's not a real thing. That's a temporary recognition, 'Oh God, for a second we're safe'. But you won't be. I promise you."

That's a fairly pessimistic promise.

"No, it's not," he answers. "I'm a realist. That's the reality. But I'm striving for justice and fairness and truth. That's the optimism that makes it realism.

"The pessimistic truth is nothing lasts. Everything fades. But the idealistic side says justice and fairness, they're there. Strive for them. That's how you make the most of now. By recognising, 'dude, shit's f**ked up and it don't last'. So make now everything."

He fixes me right in the eye and repeats: "Now. Right now."

He's fired up and speaking with such conviction that I can't help but get caught up. Does he think people are just too complacent, sleepwalking through their lives?

"Yes. Technology has surpassed etiquette and understanding. People think their fishing app is as cool as going fishing," he says. "I have no social media presence and that's 'cause I don't f**king care. I'm living."

"It's a distraction from critical thinking about who you are," Fertita says. "There's a lot of things to distract you from really figuring out who you are. All around in my life, I see it all the time with people. I don't even know if they understand, truly understand, what their values are as a person."

"I'm against anything - anything - getting in the way of you trying and failing and getting up again and going over here and trying again," Homme rallies. "I'm against any philosophical bent that puts more importance on trying to impress a faceless horde with a mock version of yourself. That's why it's important to allow yourself to be an outsider, or an insider if that's what you genuinely feel, without acknowledging the pressures of the horde as it moves."

And this is how Queens operates?

"As soon as you come in the walls of this place all you have to do is be who you really want to be. That's it," Homme says. "We'll protect you so that when you come in you can be who you want. But you definitely have to be who you want when you get in here because I'll turn the lights down, we'll make it a Saturday night, even if it's a Monday, and we'll set up a scenario where we can go, 'hey, go!'."

He's speaking softly, inviting. Then his voice turns cold and, again, he fixes me right in the eyes and says; "But you have to be willing to go or you'll have to go. To protect everyone else, you'll have to go. I'm sorry, that's it."

His voice softens as he says, "I sense value in that escapism. Where you can also escape the confines of expectation. Because rock 'n' roll is all about saying, 'thank God I don't have to impress anyone. I can just really do my thing'."

Homme's on a roll now, talking with all the limber and unexpected groove of a Queens' riff.

"And we'll soundtrack that. You don't even have to watch us. I would love to be the soundtrack to someone just dancing and paying attention to each other while we play," he says.

"I would revel in that moment to just be your soundtrack for whatever moment you're really having. Even if we're not the priority in that moment. That would be f**king amazing. That's my dream. To be the soundtrack for useful people in their biggest moments."

He pauses, takes a quick swig from his can of A&W Cream Soda and says, "That would be tight."

LOWDOWN
Who: Queens of the Stone Age
What: Villains, the group's new album
When: Out tomorrow