Eagles Of Death Metal
Side projects give a musician a chance to stretch beyond the limited confines of his day job (the group that is selling tons of CDs/downloads and touring the world). But Joshua Homme has turned side projects into a career.
When Homme's band Kyuss bit the dust in '95, he formed Gamma Ray, and that eventually led to Queens Of The Stone Age. While QOTSA was rolling, Homme recorded the "Desert Sessions" with an ever-changing musical cast. Then he was back with QOTSA before starting Headband, with Twiggy Ramirez, formerly of Marilyn Manson, and singer Casey Chaos. But before Headband got too far down the road Homme connected with vocalist Jesse "The Devil" Hughes, a former collaborator on the "Desert Sessions," to form Eagles Of Death Metal.
Actually, Homme and Hughes go back a bit further than the "Desert Sessions." The two met in '79 at age seven in lovely Palm Desert. Once out of school, Homme went the Rock route while Hughes became a journalist. Of course, years later Hughes made the trip to the dark side - or maybe it's journalism that's the dark side. Possibly, Hughes (who still looks like a journalist - not the devil) just went from one dark side to another.
Eagles Of Death Metal's boogie debut "Peace Love Death Metal" arrived in '04. A QOTSA CD ("Lullabies To Paralyze") was issued the following year so Homme could keep off unemployment. Then in '06, Eagles Of Death Metal unveiled "Death By Sexy."
With their album out, Eagles Of Death Metal toured supporting The Strokes, before taking a headlining jaunt. Next was what looked like a huge opportunity, opening for Guns N' Roses.
Controversy is often good. Gets the band's name in print and usually, little damage is done. And getting into a tussle with Axl Rose, a man with a long history of irrational, illogical and irresponsible behavior, is practically a no lose situation.
In Cleveland, on 11/24/06, the first date of the GN'R tour, the Eagles Of Death Metal's set was not well received. Not surprising, since die-hard fans are there just for the headliner, and not some opening act who takes up time and are usually only there to drive people to the bar.
Rose, always the peacemaker, came onstage for the GN'R set, and asked the audience how they liked "the Pigeons of Shit Metal." The audience's reaction was predictable. Then he added that Eagles Of Death Metal had played their last show with GN'R.
Though Rose later claimed he invited the band back on to the tour, the damage was done. Eagles Of Death Metal were gone (they released a statement in their defense that played on a number of GN'R song titles*), though reportedly, they were paid for the entire tour even though they only played a single show. Time to move on, which is exactly what Eagles Of Death Metal did.
Homme announced that the Eagles Of Death Metal's '08 album was titled "Heart On." It was written on their tour through the heartland, which is where they got their "heart-on." Nothing says 'middle-America' like the song titles "Prissy Prancin'" and "I'm Your Torpedo." The release led to another North American trek. No doubt to gather more material.
"Heart On" only went to #57 on the U.S. album chart but it was the group's best showing to date on that survey. The album also went to #3 on the U.S. indie chart. "Wannabe in L.A.," the lead single, peaked at #37 on the Alt. Rock chart, marking the group's debut on that listing. The song was also featured in Guitar Hero 5 and in the video racing game DiRT 2.
Often when things are going good, or at least okay, something happens that's a serious jolt. In '10, touring bassist Brian O'Connor was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo chemotherapy.
Later in the year, Queens Of The Stone Age (Homme's other band) put together a concert at the Nokia Club in L.A. to raise funds for O'Connor. Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees/Queens Of The Stone Age) sang with the group during the encore.
Despite having told fans to expect an Eagles Of Death Metal album in '14, "Zipper Down" actually dropped a year later. Hughes and Homme co-wrote all of the songs (the exception being their cover of Duran Duran's 'Save A Prayer'), played all the instruments and provided the vocals. Homme, who produced the album, described it as "an eargasm."
"Zipper Down" became an instant classic due to its cover. It showed a woman from the neck down, dressed in black leather. Her jacket was unzipped (zipper down) and she was braless, with strategically placed drawings of Homme and Hughes. They know their audience. However, they could never have known what was waiting for them on the supporting tour.
It's never good to be at the scene of a crime but on November 13th, 2015 that was exactly where the Eagles Of Death Metal found themselves. Their Paris concert was one of six terrorist targets. The killers burst into Le Bataclan club and opened fire on the audience. At least 15 people died at the venue and over 100 were killed in the separate attacks throughout the city.
*EODM Statement Regarding Their GN'R Experience: "At first, the audience refused to welcome us to the jungle, but by the time we took our final bow, it had become paradise city. Although Axl tried to November rain on our parade, no sweet child o' mine can derail the EODM night train. We say live and let die."
2004 Peace, Love, Death Metal
2006 Death By Sexy
2008 Heart On
2015 Zipper Down
T-Rex, Sweet, Slade, Mott The Hopple and the New York Dolls are evoked by the Eagles Of Death Metal, who sound neither like the Eagles or Death Metal. This is fun, riff-Rock with barely a thought in its head. Their songs are simply excuses to re-live of Rock's more indulgent moments, a time when "sex, drugs and Rock n' Roll" was a lifestyle rather than a slogan. And as such, they work perfectly.