Frequent touring for Rated R generated support for the band which grew when Foo Fighters frontman and former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl joined in late 2001/early 2002 to record their third album. Songs for the Deaf was released in August, again featuring Mark Lanegan, as well as adding former A Perfect Circle guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen to the touring line up following the album's release. Although Songs for the Deaf gained major attention, Grohl returned to his other projects and was replaced on the European leg of the album's supporting tour by former Danzig drummer Joey Castillo, who joined the band full time. Also featured on Deaf for the final track Mosquito Song were former A Perfect Circle bassist Paz Lenchantin (on viola and piano) and Dean Ween on guitar.
Deaf' was a critical and commercial success and its popularity peaked when the album reached gold status in 2003, with sales peaking at over 900,000 copies. The singles "No One Knows" and "Go with the Flow" became hits on radio and MTV, with the former peaking just outside of the Billboard Top 40. Constant touring continued, culminating in a string of headline dates in Australia in January of 2004, after which Oliveri was fired from the band by Homme for what was said to be disrespect of the group's fans and excessive partying. In July 2005 however, Homme claimed 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. Homme said, "A couple years ago, I spoke to Nick about a rumor I heard. I said, 'If I ever find out that this is true, I can't know you, man.'" Oliveri countered in the press that the band had been "poisoned by hunger for power" and that the band without him was "Queens Lite;" later Oliveri softened his opinion and said, "My relationship with Josh is good. The new Queens record kicks ass." As of October 2006, Oliveri remains interested in rejoining the band