By: Dennis Cook
The Eagles of Death Metal are back to revive handclaps, sleazy guitars, tambourines, girl backup singers and other gooey good stuff missing from most rock 'n' roll today. Their third long player, Heart On (released October 28 on Downtown Records), is their most focused outing to date with a swinging group feel from childhood friends Jesse "Boots Electric" Hughes (lead vocals, guitar, other shit) and Josh "Baby Duck" Homme (drums, guitars, keys, other shit). Miles away from the gnarled, razor teeth and incisive mood of Homme's Queens of the Stone Age, EODM relentlessly remind us of the original meaning of rockin' 'n' rollin' in tunes worthy of peak era Sweet and Cheap Trick, except these dream police are inside of your pants.
"This album's a big deal for us because it's the first album where I've truly felt able to give to the record and the Eagles the way Josh does. I was trying to write songs this time and it's different when you try," says Hughes. "That focus is a wonderful thing. At its heart, Eagles is about two best friends having the shits-n-giggles best time of their life, but it's also a superstar bringing his friend to a place where he always belonged AND making sure he feels this way. This album is the first full realization of that fact. It took a year and a half to record all over the world, including dragging our asses through the Heartland of America, which was amazing. Fargo, North Dakota and Boise, Idaho are WILD FUCKING PLACES to be recording, dude!"
"I admit to my own clichés. I always say, 'This ain't no Bible study.' I ain't here to save the whales or to get Ticketmaster to lower their prices. I'm here to have a good time," enthuses Hughes. "It was in the Heartland where we got [the title] Heart On. It's more like a 'bro-ner' [than a boner] for a good friend. Nah, I kid! When you're in the big cities like we are you get spoiled to what you have. You have the best of the best constantly running through in every part of the arts. So honestly, it's difficult to become impressed. But when you're in the Midwest you'll be at a mall where you're followed by a chain of girls whose eyes say, 'Take me away from here,' with a good natured, almost corny enthusiasm. I regret ever making fun of corny chicks. Losing your ability to be corny and romantic fucks you up as a person. The Heartland of America reminded me of this fact. Thus, that what's in Heart On - a return to true romanticism and secretly sleazy fuckin' interludes."
The '80s style heavy metal cover, highly reminiscent of W.A.S.P.'s single sleeve for "Animal (Fuck Like A Beast)," is blatant misdirection from guys who delight in confounding expectations.
"[Heavy metal] is one of the main things we aren't. We keep going into worlds where we don't belong," says Homme. "From the outset, there was the sense we need to touch every scene with some part of our body in some sick Twister game of rock 'n' roll. We make sure we've invited each scene to join us because it is like we're trying to unite the clans here. The [Heart On cover] totally has that Sunset Strip, Hollywood & Vine quality to it. And so does Eagles somehow. That's where one of our mantras - 'There's a way to do all things' – comes into play. Nobody owns nothing, and the heavy metalers don't own Sunset Strip and I'll show you why!"
|Eagles of Death Metal by Kelli Hayden|
"It's pretty easy to take stock of what's out there and NOT do that," succinctly observes Homme. "It's kind of gotten to the point where we were before Nirvana again, where [rock] music kinda sucked. There's stuff out there but now that there's no record stores or places to hang out it's harder to get turned onto something. You look around and everyone's on their computer, which isn't necessarily bad, but I think Axl Rose said it best when he said, 'Where do we go now?' I never think of Guns N' Roses but it seemed right for this analogy. Hey, Plato could have been a total asshole, too, you never know."
"Music is a pleasure device or a way to explain things that are difficult to put into words. Too often, much like comedy where no one gets an Academy Award, it's much easier to fake cry than to make people laugh. I think the same goes for music based in pleasure," notes Homme. "I think to even review an Eagles of Death Metal record may be fundamentally taking it too far. Eagles is supposed to do something to you or it's not successful. In this new model we're sort of figuring it out together, everyone's got this moment to step forward and take center stage, regardless of what they're communicating about. And this isn't because Eagles gets bad reviews or anything – to be honest, the Eagles get great reviews – but I find it interesting when publications act the way the Whisky A Go Go acts, where it actually thinks it's cooler than the bands that play there. There's such a symbiotic situation there that the WHOLE situation is supposed to be cool."
Let's Go To The Hop
Rock has lost its hips in many ways. It doesn't dance much and seems dead from the waist down. Turn on the radio or watch videos and there's little to be frightened of or truly stimulated by – titillation replacing actual carnal engagement and dance routines that focus on the individual rather than partnering up with someone. There's little of the danger or unpasteurized sex Little Richard or Elvis Presley rubbed in our faces in the 1950s. However, Eagles of Death Metal do their part to get a lil' musk up our nostrils as often as they can get away with it.
"All I came here to do is shake my dick and have a good time. I don't try to reinvent the wheel, but the way I look at it is rock 'n' roll forgot about the ladies. Even Little Richard never forgot about ladies! It's got nothing to do with being gay or straight. It's about understanding the ultimate romantic, sexual thing that is man & woman. Rock & roll, yin & yang," says Hughes. "So, when it's a bunch of dudes that are upset and pumping their fists in a boy party where your Biscuit is Limp, well, fuck, man, why would you ever want the word 'limp' associated with ANYTHING you got going in rock 'n' roll?"
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