Eagles of Death Metal talk to BMS

BMS talks with Jesse Hughes of the Eagles of Death Metal about all things rock

, Staff Writer

Jesse Hughes and Joshua Homme of the Eagles of Death Metal recently stopped in Boston to support their newest release Heart On. BMS got a chance to talk with Hughes just before the show about the album, the show, and their favorite band to open up for.

BMS: Hey Jesse.

Jesse Hughes (JH): Sup dude

BMS: How’s it going?

JH: Fantastic I’m walking around the streets of MontrealBMS: Sounds pretty fun. How’s the weather up there?

JH: It’s beautiful, although whether or not the people speak English isn’t so rad

BMS: That’s true. So how are things going on this tour so far?

JH: This tour is bitchin’ dude, it’s amazing. Any time you get to wake up and play a rock and roll show to me is a lucky great day. Independant of that it’s been a blast, so what can be better than that

BMS: Do you guys have as much fun onstage as it sounds like you have on the new record?

JH: If not more man. To me the record is always the promise of what you’re going to get live, and then live it should be, in my opinion, "This is what we promised times ten."

BMS: Do you enjoy…

JH: Oh hell yeah man, oh fuck dude. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t enjoy it. A bunch of people, live, looking at you like you’re a kitty cat and they want to pet you.

BMS: Of course, but do you enjoy that more than recording your songs in studio?

JH: It’s a different realm the studio, and I’ve started to really get off on the, I don’t know, the scientific aspect. But whenever we’re in the studio, you hit the nail right on the head, I’m like "I can’t wait to play this live. I’m gonna get to do this dance move for this song."

BMS: The vibe of your songs is really loose and laid back, do you think that’s something that is a product of the relationship that you and Josh have with each other?

JH: Wow man, that’s an awesome question. I think it is because of Joshua and I because there’s no tension there. Sometimes there exists a tension, or a bunch of negative competition even among friends, and Joshua and I aren’t out for that. We just want to make the song the best we can make it.

BMS: And how do you feel about the songs on Heart On now that it’s finished and you’re taking them on the road?

JH: Now that we’re a few shows into it I’m very happy with it because this album was the most deliberate album I’ve ever made, and it’s scary the first few shows. If you’ve never really played a song live you don’t know how it’s gonna go, and these songs aren’t as sort of dummy-rock as the other ones were.

BMS: You said it was deliberate, in what way do you mean that. Did you guys go in with a specific idea that you decided beforehand?

JH: Deliberate in that on the first album it was all I could do. It was me butt-fucking the Rolling Stones with lack of talent. I had never written an album, I had never written music before, I had never really been in a band, I had never really played guitar, so I was just kind of awakened one night by the spirit of rock and roll. The second album was kind of like, "I can play the guitar a little bit, and here’s what the songs I write show, that I can play just a little bit." But this album really I wanted to grow more and to get better at what I do, and I’ve taken that very seriously. So on this album I wanted to write songs that reflected some deliberate activity, I wanted to get closer to the level that my dear friend Joshua Homme is at. And I really feel like this is the first album I was able to give Joshua better weapons to fire, you know?

BMS: I think one thing about the reviews that I’ve read is that they’re lazy. They take the aesthetic of the first couple of albums and apply them to the new one and write you off, well not necessarily write you off because they’re good reviews, but…a band like TV on the Radio, who I think you share a lot with sonically, they will say is art-rock and totally serious but they look at you as sort of a joke vanity project. Do you ever get upset by that or does that even matter to you at all?

JH: No, it doesn’t. Any positivity is good with me, and we’re serious, we’re just serious about telling jokes. We’re serious about the music but we’re not serious about ourselves. Besides, TV on the Radio is a wonderful and phenomenal band, and a great example of how I think a healthier attitude for a band to have is. TV on the Radio are totally handling their complete area of rock and roll just fine, they don’t need me to fucking be artsy all of a sudden. I’m just a hillbilly, and us hillbillies don’t know nothing except dick-shaking dude.

BMS: I think it’s great because it’s two sides of the same coin, there are similar vocal sounds with falsetto, similar driving guitar work, but from total opposite ends of the spectrum.

JH: And it’s really weird that you would say that too because TV on the Radio is a band that we’ve really bonded to. We’ve played a lot of weird shows together and really spent some time with those guys and I fuckin’ love those guys, I think those guys are amazing. [to someone else] TV on the Radio dude. We just got described as being ‘the other side of the coin to TV on the Radio.’ That’s fuckin’ rad.

BMS: When you guys started this band did you ever think it would be sustainable for three albums and more?

JH: Well I knew I’d sure be horny for three albums or more, but going into it I didn’t know if I had what it takes, I didn’t know if I had more than ten songs in me. But I didn’t think about that very much, damn the torpedos full speed ahead, you know?

BMS: One of the cool things about the band is that you have some big name friends who come in and help out. What do you think the benefit to your music is to have them come in and have it be a release from their day jobs?

JH: To me it’s always been a great joy and honor in a way to be a relief from the bump and grind of something more constrained and let them get back to, as I see it, the primary school of rock and roll. And I also see it as sort of the Special Forces of rock where the best of the best assemble to make the roots of rock be heard again.

BMS: And get to play the sort of stuff that maybe they get away from that made them fall in love with rock in the first place.

JH: Absolutely, or you know, when you get to play my songs you’re basically playing variations on "Jumpin’ Jack Flash".

BMS: The Rolling Stones are obviously all over all of your music, but definitely in very specific ways on this album. Is that a blast for you to be able to make those sounds again?

JH: Absolutely dude. I really do love my heroes and that’s why I wear them on my sleeve, that’s why I really go out of my way to make sure that nobody thinks that I pretend that I made this shit up. I got to come into this business in such a weird way that I think it’s incumbent upon me to do the things that I’m supposed to do especially. I can’t help it, it was such a quasi-supernatural manner that I came into rock I feel like I’ve gotta obey some sort of fuckin’ edict, and I think respect is a big part of that because there is a massive lack of respect in rock and roll just in general. Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Angus Young, even Joshua Homme and Dave Grohl, they’re heroes of mine, and to the gods goes the glory first, so to speak. It’s really awesome to actually have a deliberate attempt to make a nod to the Rolling Stones instead of having that be all that you can do, and it seems that it’s been pulled off so that’s really cool, I’m not gonna lie.

BMS: What do you think of the attitude that some people have of calling that stuff untouchable and that it’s not to go back to?

JH: Well just because someone isn’t capable of touching something doesn’t make it untouchable, you know what I mean? I’m a great believer in never caring what an asshole thinks.

BMS: What are your goals when you bring that sort of stuff to the live show, do you try to take what you’ve learned from seeing bands like that before?

JH: Absolutely man. Actually every night I have a little ritual, and part of it is remembering the very first rock show I ever went to that scared the fuck out of me, that changed my life, and that was Kiss Destroyer. I try to see on the faces in front of me the way that I felt, and if I can do that I’m getting close.

BMS: And how do you do that without makeup and pyrotechnics?

JH: I shake my dick extra hard.

BMS: So can we expect more of that Saturday at the Paradise in Boston?

JH: Baby, you can definitely expect that. This tour has been so great and it’s been wonderful in that it seems like as we’ve gone from date to date there’s been some rumor of what’s happened the night before. And to me Eagles of Death Metal fans are just fans of rock and roll. We’re all fans, I just get to play guitar. But there’s this rad enthusiasm and expectation that you can’t fuck with and you have to deliver for, but when you show up and they’re already like "Dude, you’re gonna bring the rock tonight" that’s awesome, that means that something about your propaganda is being believed.

BMS: Well it’s the total opposite of fans showing up and waiting five songs for the band to win them over versus being ready to go from the first song.

JH: See I’m a great believer in that you know within the first five minutes if a girl is gonna get down with you or not, and I just try to apply that philosophy to the audience. I look at it like I’ve got five minutes right out of the gate to make these motherfuckers happy. If I don’t see smiles…

BMS: Then you know it’s a long night

JH: Yea I know it’s gonna be like opening for Guns ‘n Roses.

BMS: So are you guys done opening up for big names, are you happy where you’re at?

JH: I’m totally happy being where I’m at. I don’t believe in big names anymore, I only believe in great names. Guns ‘n Roses was definitely a great name, but I didn’t understand that the rock had gone to Velvet Revolver and that GNR now is just a big name.

But ironically I’m looking at a Chinese Democracy poster right now, we have like 50 posters on the bus.

BMS: That’s very fitting I guess.

JH: Everybody in the world is giving us Chinese Democracy posters, and I think it’s sweet, I’m gonna go buy the record. I’m gonna go get it.

BMS: I was surprised from what I’ve read. I haven’t heard it yet but I’ve read good things.

JH: Really? About Chinese Democracy?

BMS: Rolling Stone gave it four stars. I don’t really agree with them all that much but they said it.

JH: Well you know what? That motherfucker may have had the last trick up his sleeve because let’s face it, he was part of one of the greatest fucking most famous rock bands, one of the last that we’re ever gonna see. Guns ‘n Roses Appetite for Destruction, that era, you cannot fuck with that, they’re one of the greatest. Who knows, that dude might just be pulling a real lunatic move and actually pulling a great album, I mean he had every great artist in the world working on it. It’s either going to be the most schizophrenic insane album of all time or it’s gonna be rad.

BMS: Who knows? We’ll see I guess. So are you guys just going to finish out this tour and see where this album takes you?

JH: Always, because your success dictates the terms of your decisions. But we finish this tour in a few days, then we go off on a radio station tour, and I’m pretty sure we’re planning more after that man. It’s really exciting right now. I really do feel like I’m a lucky son of a bitch. Not everybody gets to have jobs like this, this is one hell of a cool fucking job. It beats flipping burgers for sure.

BMS: Well we’re really excited to have you here in Boston Saturday. I’m not sure if you’ve seen the weekend at the Paradise but Friday night is Bang Camaro, a local band with two metal guitarists and twenty or so lead singers, so it’s a big weekend of rock this weekend at the Paradise.

JH: [to someone else] They have a band in Boston that’s two metal guitarists and twenty lead singers. That’s crazy dude, I want to see that.

BMS: Yeah it’s too bad you’re not here a day early, it’s their second album release. It’s gonna be a pretty good weekend here.

JH: Are you gonna be at our show?

BMS: Well, I’m assigned to the Smashing Pumpkins.

JH: That could be interesting. If you don’t make it we’ll have an after show party just for you.

BMS: Well I might be able to because, how rock is this, the Pumpkins are playing the Wang Theatre which is the ballet theatre in Boston, so I’m guessing they’ll have an early curfew.

JH: I’ll hold the show for you if we can.

BMS: Alright, I’ll see if I can escape from Billy Corgan.

JH: If he’ll let you…

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