Not bummed out

Eagles of Death Metal pursue Death by Sexy
By WILL SPITZ  |  April 20, 2006

Death by Sexy is 'a you-could-get-laid-if-you-go-out-now sort of vibe.'

Allmusic.com refers to Josh Homme’s old band Kyuss as “a heavy metal Velvet Underground . . . pioneers of the booming underground ‘stoner rock’ scene of the 1990s.” Homme and his mates truly were the Daniel Boones of “desert rock” (a less pejorative term, named for the Palm Desert, California, scene that Kyuss spearheaded), releasing four influential albums before breaking up in 1995 when Homme was just 21. These days, when he’s not busy with his duties as Queens of the Stone Age frontman, Homme and his childhood buddy Jesse Hughes, together known as Eagles of Death Metal, are hard at work as pioneers of a new genre. They call it “sex rock,” and after one listen to their horny, hip-shaking, and hilarious new Death by Sexy (Downtown), the follow-up to their 2004 debut, Peace Love Death Metal (AntAcidAudio), you’ll understand why.

Almost every lyric on Sexy, sung by Hughes in a lascivious falsetto, is directed at the ladies, whether it’s a promise of pleasure (“I’m your fabulous weapon/I’ll hit your target, girl”; “I touch you there because I know the spot”), an expression of desire (“I wanna pick the lock and break your chastity”), or just an invitation to get down (“We’ll shake some tail feather, baby, till we see the sunrise”). On paper, Hughes’s come-ons read like the sexist spoutings of some macho, meatheaded rap-rock band, but in context — it’s obvious that he’s not taking himself seriously — they’re pure comedy.

Same goes for the music. The guitar riffs and leads, albeit expertly composed and catchy as all get-out, are straight-up Stones and Stooges rip-offs. But what separates Eagles of Death Metal (who play the Paradise on Monday) from con artists like Jet and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is their sense of humor and lack of pretension. Throughout the album, Hughes, who also plays guitar, and Homme, who plays the drums, bass, and produced the album, punctuate rhythms with tongue-in-cheek cock-rock exclamations: “ow!”; “huh!”; “ooh!” And as Homme himself told me when I reached him by phone at his LA home last month as he was getting ready to head out on tour, “to critique this album is almost funny in itself.” Here are some other things he had to say about the album, Hughes, rock, and those sexy come-ons:

Death By Sexy does the two things rock and roll doesn’t oft do in the last bunch of years: it’s fun and it controls the dance floor. It has tight pants and our singer has a mustache that actually is very Selleck-like. It’s Selleck-like because, when you see Tom Selleck without one, you sort of feel uncomfortable, and I don’t recommend that you see Jesse without his ’stache. Is that wrong? That felt right to say. I’ve held him in the cold to stay warm. We’ve made love to survive. I’ve known him since I was 14. Jesse’s done some other stuff just in the des’, but this is really his first band. But see, he was born to do it. He’s like Freddie Mercury’s straight nephew.

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The Phoenix interviews Josh Homme (podcast mp3)

Eagles of Death Metal, "I Want You So Hard" (mp3)

Eagles of Death Metal, "I Want You So Hard" QuickTime | RealPlayer | Windows Media

Homme's homegrown
Since his teenage days, which were spent blowing minds at “generator parties” in the southern California desert with his first band, Kyuss, Josh Homme has been involved in countless musical projects, as musician, producer, and curator. Here are a few of our favorites from his discography.

Welcome to Sky Valley | Elektra, 1994 | Kyuss’s third full-length provided the blueprint for loads of psychedelic riff-metal bands to come: thick, detuned, fuzzed-out guitars, hypnotic drums, and plenty of drugs. A landmark album.

Queens of the Stone Age | Loosegroove, 1997 | Although QOTSA’s com mercial breakthrough was their excellent 2002 album Songs for the Deaf (Interscope), which featured Dave Grohl on drums, we recommend checking out the band’s homonymous debut. The album finds Homme refining the stoner-rock sound that he helped define with Kyuss. The guitars are cleaner, although still heavy and huge, and the riffs more melodic, but still trance-inducing.

Desert Sessions 9 & 10 | Ipecac, 2003 | Starting in August 1997 at musician/producer Fred Drake’s Joshua Tree, California, home studio, Rancho de la Luna, Homme’s “desert sessions” have become something of legend: rotating casts of like-minded musicians doing drugs, writing, and jamming on songs while tape rolls. The latest volumes feature PJ Harvey, Dean Ween, and Twiggy Ramirez, among others. Homme says the sessions are “going to go on forever. It should be the longest-running mixtape in history.”

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