Alain Johannes

Since the Tuareg guitar band Tinariwen from Mali was launched into the international stratosphere nearly 20 years ago, it’s become something of a rite of passage for rock musicians to guest on their albums. This time around, for Elwan (Elephants), their eighth international release, they’re joined by Kurt Vile, Mark Lanegan (formerly of Screaming Trees), Alain Johannes (formerly of Queens of the Stone Age) and guitarist Matt Sweeney, who’s worked with everyone from Will Oldham to Run The Jewels.

But that’s all a sideshow: The main draw continues to be Tinariwen itself — with the band’s swirling guitars, rhythms inspired by the gait of camels and gutturally declaimed poetry.

First Listen: Tinariwen, ‘Elwan’

Photo: Courtesy of the artists


Arctic Monkeys at Rancho de la Luna in the Mojave desert recording their 3rd studio album Humbug with Josh Homme and Alain Johannes. (February 2010)  

For as long as I’ve known the Monkeys, they’ve always wanted to play that most dangerous of games, which is to grow and change with each record that they made, while retaining their sense of themselves at the centre of it. It’s the most dangerous thing a band can do, and also the most necessary. These guys have grown as people, and musically, during the making of this record, and I did too.“ - Josh Homme.


Pearl Jam with Dave Grohl - Kick Out The Jams - Rock Werchter 2010

  • It
  • Desert Sessions

“I think about it, baby, all the time


it feels so good, it must be a crime


I wanna do it, baby, every day


in a bed,

on the stairs,



I wanna do it, baby, all the time


‘cause when we do it, girl, it’s so divine


I could be guilty for my honesty


I’ve got to tell you what you mean to me