Thursday, July 23, 2009
Q&A with Jesse Hughes of Eagles of Death Metal
By DARRYL STERDAN - Sun Media
Jesse Hughes was not born a rock star -- he was reborn as one.
"I used to be a different dude completely, man," explains the singer-guitarist of Eagles of Death Metal. "My whole trip to rock 'n' roll is like a Cinderella fantasy. It's like I was a werewolf my whole life and didn't see my first full moon until I was 30."
"Before rock 'n' roll, I was a married square. But then I got divorced. And divorce has a way of making you feel like everything you ever believed in is wrong. So I lost a bunch of weight, I picked up a guitar and within three months of learning to play, I wrote my first record."
Of course, it helped that his musical collaborator (and best friend since forever) happened to be a guy named Josh Homme -- the hulking, redheaded mastermind of Queens of the Stone Age.
"He said, 'Check out these coattails. You wanna ride 'em?' " laughs Hughes down the line from Hollywood.
"And I said, 'Totally, dude."
The former journalist has been enjoying the ride ever since. With Homme (aka Baby Duck) on drums, Hughes (who also goes by the handles Boots Electric and The Devil) has recorded three albums of sleazy, sexed-up riff-rock aimed six inches below the belt, including last year's cheekily titled Heart On.
But don't be fooled; the 36-year-old rocker has plenty going on upstairs too. With Hughes leading his Eagles -- minus the studio-bound Homme -- north of the border (including Aug. 2 at the Kool Haus), it only seemed right to find out what's behind that 'stache and those aviator shades.
This is your most extensive tour of Canada. What can we expect?
We're going to end North America's dependence upon foreign oil. Then we'll bring an end to the financial crisis. Nah, really, we just want to come up there and get everybody pregnant.
That's a tall order.
I mean emotionally pregnant.
You should have fond feelings for Canada -- you borrowed the cover pic of your latest album from Loverboy, right?
Absolutely man -- and a little bit from William Shatner's version of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Nah, I'm kidding. I can pretty much tell already that you can probably figure out the source of all my songs, and my record covers as well. There ain't nothing new under the sun. I don't want to be different; I just want to be the same as people who are rad. And Loverboy's pretty rad.
A lot of your fans might be surprised to know you've got a degree in journalism.
That was my passion. It still is, in a way. I guess you could say that what I'm doing is documenting or telling you a story. It's not exactly newsworthy. And it wouldn't fit into six column inches. But I loved being a reporter. I worked for the Desert Sun in my hometown.
From mild-mannered reporter to sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll? A lot of people would call that a midlife crisis.
I call it midlife radness. Like, right in the middle of life, the Good Lord Himself made certain that I was able to get to the place where He always intended me to be. I just feel like He let the Devil carry me there, you know?
I've read interviews where you come off as politically conservative. How do you reconcile that with the debauched sleaze of your image?
It's easy. This ain't no Bible study. So I don't need the rules to be wrong to break them. I don't have to believe in magic talking monkeys just to commit a few sins. And as far as the debauchery goes, well, it's good debauchery, you know? And it all happens within the parameters of homeland security, so it's totally cool.
So there are no terrorist messages encoded in your lyrics?
No. Nor am I giving aid or any form of comfort to the enemy.
It's mostly you and Josh in the studio. But he's got so many irons in the fire. Do you have to take a number and wait around to work with him?
I did, but then several fortunate things happened. And the situation now is that we both have to wait for each other. And that's a wonderful difficulty to have. We accommodate each other.
On your new album, the songwriting has obviously advanced a lot. But are you worried about getting too advanced? Don't you run the risk of being too good when you want to keep it simple?
You just hit the nail on the head that defines my fear. You can overthink anything. In this business especially, people think too much. I was really scared with this record because to me Eagles of Death Metal is more of a philosophical statement. And that statement is that the state of music is bulls---, so check me out -- I'm just like Little Richard but I'm white -- and let's have fun. Get down. But some of the subjects on this new album were a little bit intense and dramatic, so I was insecure. You don't tell people you're taking them to Disneyland and then show up at the water park. But you can't stand still. We're not snakes here in Hollywood, we're sharks -- and if we stop moving, we die. And I want to do better as a songwriter and make better albums, so it is a weird balance.
You've talked about a three-album plan. Now you've made three albums. So what next?
That was always what we said. But anything can be modified. So maybe the three-album plan is really a three-stage, three-album plan.
So you're just making this up as you go along.
No, I say all this s--- over and over again. These are my catchphrases, baby!
Got any more?
When life gives you AIDS, make lemon AIDS.
Posted by Dan Goldin at 3:41 PM