Joshua Michael Homme was born in Joshua Tree, California, on May 17, 1973. He grew up in an affluent family in Palm Desert, California. His paternal grandfather, Cap, moved to the area from North Dakota. His surname is believed to come from the Norwegian town of Valle, and he also has English, French-Canadian, German-Jewish, and Swedish ancestry. The Homme family have a local street named after them in a golfing community, and Cap has a park named after him in an exclusive enclave of the Coachella Valley. In 2011, Homme discussed having to "create your own fun" as a child growing up in the desert, stating that he did not start playing music to "get girls or make money" and that he assumed he would grow up to be a contractor like his father.
Homme also has ties in Idaho and has talked in the past about spending summers there, including shaping experiences such as seeing Carl Perkins perform at the Sandpoint Music Festival and buying his first electric guitar (his Ovation Ultra GP) in a Sandpoint music store. He began playing guitar at the age of nine, after his parents denied his wishes for a drum kit. He took polka lessons on guitar for the next few years, during which he supposedly did not learn of a barre chord or a pick until his third year, lending to his unique playing style. Homme joined his first band, Autocracy, in 1985, at the age of 12.