Joey Castillo: The Spectacularly Crazy Former QOTSA Drummer

Joey Castillo drumming for Queens of the Stone Age
Put more effort into it, mate.

Here’s a tribute to the brilliantly entertaining heavy metal and rock drummer Joey Castillo, who played for Queens of the Stone Age at the band’s peak around 2002.

Castillo is noted for his thunderous style and heavily built frame that makes him a lean, mean drumming machine. Let’s smash this, man!

Joey Castillo and the Pursuit of Spectacular Drumming Madness

Right, so if you only watch one bit of this clip stick it to the 1:10 mark.

Mr. Castillo’s appeal is pretty obvious—spectacular, a little bit wild, and ever so slightly scary.

Like he’s about to flip at any second and go on a rampage, destroying a room in the process. Rock drumming at its finest.

That clip was from Jools Holland’s show on the BBC in 2002. Castillo is now 54, but happily still drumming away as ferociously as always.

It’s no surprise to learn that John Bonham was a big influence for him.

That’s evident across the three song set the band (headed by singer and guitarist Josh Homme) completed back in 2002. And other shows from around the time.

Nirvana’s drummer, Dave Grohl, played on and off with Queens of the Stone Age around this time, swapping with Castillo as and when it suited.

We often see Grohl nearing the tops of “best drummers” lists, usually voted there by Nirvana fans.

Now, we think Grohl is a good drummer. But nothing special, as Castillo amply displays—he runs rings around the Nirvana star for dexterity, fluidity, and showmanship. He’s just a much more natural player.

But many fans have ramped up his style compared to Dave Grohl like it’s a competition. And that’s despite the pair downplaying any rivalry.

Here’s Castillo discussing the issue in mature fashion. As with Grohl, he comes across as a cool and grounded bloke.

Of course, in the drumming community there’s a bit of snobbery about playing styles.

Particularly in the jazz community. Many jazz drummers just think they’re way above the skill level of the rock drumming world—it’s a bit snobby.

Buddy Rich was notorious on his views about this. He wasn’t impressed at all with the arrival of rock drumming stars such as Keith Moon.

Although Moon was inspired by jazz drumming greats such as Gene Krupa.

We love Rich’s chops! And for the record, here’s his opinion on rock drumming and matched grip.

Rich was famous for his forthright opinions (such as with country music). And we do think he’s wrong here, you can’t undermine rock drummers. It’s just a different style of playing.

We don’t particularly like heavy metal. Queens of the Stone Age and Led Zeppelin are the limit for us there and they don’t often drift through into total squealing guitars and pounding double bass pedals.

But Castillo’s showmanship is what does it for us. It’s not a case of whacking the kit as hard as possible.

His style is very precise, highly physical, and requires excellent timing.

The live gigs he did for the band between 2002 and 2006 demanded a remarkable level of fitness and endurance.

Plus, Castillo’s berserk facial expressions were endlessly entertaining—if slightly alarming.

So, praise where praise is due to the man! He knows exactly what his job is and he does it with considerable flair.

He still plays, of course! You can follow him on Instagram where, at 56, he still manages to look about 40.

He’s the type of wild drummer you want to see from time to time. That extra crazy element makes you question reality.

And for that, we say he deserves a special place in the drumming community.


  1. Great post. Joey deserves all the praise. And it’s great to see how people miss him in QOTSA and how those days of the band are well regarded. Just check the From The Basement performance recently posted. People are all praise for Joey. He fit the band like a glove.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely! I think the best QOSTA line-up was easily that period around 2002 with Castillo in the band. I’ve seen some of his recent stuff and he’s as nuts as ever! Gotta love the guy for his energy and enthusiasm.


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