Fly Like an Eagle
When the Eagles of Death Metal were touring with the Strokes in April, mistaking them for a headlining act was all too easy. Raucous audiences raised devil horns and beers alike for the band's sleazy, sexed-up tunes; think the Rolling Stones having a forbidden tryst with glam rockers and Foreigner. Vocalist Jesse Hughes (whose porn-star mustache, aviator shades and tight shirts make him resemble the Village People's cop) leered about "ladies" and tossed off a suitable number of F-bombs, as hulking Queens of the Stone Age front man Josh Homme (who co-founded the group) drummed furiously behind him.
When reached in NYC, Hughes and the rest of the Eagles -- sans Homme, who isn't on this current tour -- are en route to their hotel, the night before an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman. But the facial-hair-laden front man still took the time to discuss the genesis of their new CD, Death By Sexy, and to prove himself an appropriately alluring phone conversationalist.
Jesse Hughes: How you doin', baby?
Eagles of Death Metal
Warehouse Live, 813 St. Emanuel, 713-225-LIVE
Saturday, May 27
Annie Zaleski: I'm doing pretty good.
JH: You sound pretty good, can I just say that right now?
AZ: Thank you very much, I've been told that before...
JH: Well, it's easy to say, 'cause it's true.
AZ: People are into this record.
JH: Oh, thank you. We had a lot of fun recording it, it was the best album I've ever been a part of so far.
AZ: What made it the best one?
JH: I got to get a little sexier on it. And so far it seems like girls really like dancing to it, and that's really why I did it.
AZ: That's the best rock and roll music, when you get people to shake their asses.
JH: That's the whole point. When you get a big boy party -- I'm not putting anyone down -- but if it's like Limp Bizkit or Syndrome of a Down or whatever they're called, it's a big boy party and it's a bunch of sweaty dudes. But if you really focus just on girls, let them smile and have a good time and remind them how beautiful and wonderful you think they are, then boys are happy and everyone's having a good time.
AZ: People are really getting what you guys are doing. I think on the first record, people were almost like, "Oh, ironic rock, like the Darkness."
JH: There's very little ironic about us. There's very little complicated about us. We have a formula: Go on stage, shake your dick as hard as you can, and hopefully everyone will like it.
AZ: You recorded the record in 12 days.
JH: That was a wild recording process. I don't think I slept the entire 12 days. That's no joke. It was a lot of little rock and roll beauties and sweet baby girls and sugar bears running in and out of the studio. There was a lot of that kind of action taking place. We had a lot of great moments of, I don't know, studio magic...Hey, I'm going into a tunnel now, baby, so don't go anywhere, girl. You can still hear me?
AZ: Yup, I can hear you.
JH: We had these great moments of inspiration where...we were mostly an ingredient along with drugs and everything else in making this album. It's hard to pinpoint something I could tell you without being arrested. [to bandmates in background] What do you guys think was the greatest part about recording the album? [background talking] Yeah, the couch was great. Just being in Sound City, which is where they recorded Fleetwood Mac's Rumours. Also I set up my vocal booth exactly where Rick Springfield recorded "Jessie's Girl," so I was trying to capture some of that magic.
[Connection is lost, and Jesse has to call back.]
JH: Annie, I lost you, I was so sad.
AZ: It's all good. You out of the tunnel?
JH: Yes, baby, we're out of the tunnel. I gotta tell you, I'm actually a little nervous because you sound really hot and you have such a great speaking voice, it keeps throwing me off. [laughs]
AZ: I used to do radio in college; people used to tell me to do radio full time.
JH: I just want you to be my phone girl. [laughs] Please, baby, let's just go out on the phone.
AZ: Speaking of that, is your album cover an homage to Loverboy?
JH: Wow, that's really funny you should say that. That's specifically what inspired it, that and Sticky Fingers and Too Fast for Love. The Loverboy is the pose. I came up with that idea. It was like, what was Loverboy fucking doing anyway? Who are they advertising to, a dude in pink hot pants? Give me a fucking break.
AZ: Did you always know you wanted to be in a band?
JH: It's weird, I always had a feeling, I always had a sensation. But my passion was always in politics. I was obsessed with music as a child; my first concert was KISS, my daddy was a rock and roller. I loved the Rolling Stones from the time I was a little boy, T. Rex. I loved Fleetwood Mac. Politics was my passion. I graduated from Clemson University with a degree in journalism. I worked for Gannett News Service, I worked for the Associated Press. I finally ended up back home working for our hometown paper, The Desert Sun, doing some political work for Sonny Bono and his wife, Mary. I got married, had a kid, yadda yadda. Then I got divorced and it was a very horrific, horrible, life-changing divorce. I lost, like, 60 pounds, my friend Josh showed up and said, "Hey, you want to make a record?" So I wrote the first record in, like, a week.
AZ: That's, like, every journalist's dream. "All right, I'll become a rock star."
JH: I was 30 years old, I had nothing to lose. It was like rock and roll called me. I woke up and I had this amazing mustache overnight, a pair of leather gloves, a cape and black leather boots. And I don't even really, honey, know where they came from.
AZ: People do sleep-walking and sleep-driving. Maybe you did sleep-shopping.
JH: The gods of rock bestowed it to me. The cape was made by the gods of rock themselves, I'm pretty sure.
AZ: What is the care of your mustache? It seems the focal point of your look.
JH: It's my Samson hair, baby. I don't really know if you can characterize it as a mustache. I think technically it's a soft boomerang of love. I don't wear one; I own it. Like Tom Selleck, Sam Elliott, baby.
AZ: That's quite a mustache to aspire to.
JH: It's like, "Dude, I'm a man, check it out." That's what it's about, baby. [laughs] What did you think when you saw it in St. Louis?
AZ: I was kind of like, honestly, you look like an extra actor from CHiPs.
JH: Totally. I like to think of myself as an up-and-coming star in the adult industry.
AZ: I can see that, too. Well, you are infiltrating a different kind of TV with the TV commercials [for Wendy's, Payless Shoes, etc.].
JH: This really ain't no Bible study, we didn't come here to save whales, this is rock and roll. We came here to have a good time and hang out with ladies.
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