Not bummed out

Eagles of Death Metal pursue Death by Sexy
April 20, 2006 4:29:14 PM

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

“We collaborate. Jesse brings in marble and sometimes it don’t need to be sculpted, and other times it needs to be sculpted and we have fun doing it together.

“This is part of the three-record plan to take over the world. The first one, I’m playing drums, no one knows who Jesse is, and there’s no bass, and we did it in two days. And so people were like, ‘Yeah this is cool, but you’re riding coattails. You shouldn’t be playing drums, and it’s barely a band.’ It set the bar so low that it was easy to sort of . . . technically, this record will sideswipe you. This record’s fun as hell. It’s just catchy. It’s sort of like happy VD. Everyone’s getting it but they’re getting psyched.


'STACHE MAN: Homme describes Jesse Hughes as "Freddie Mercury's straight nephew."

“I figure if we sentence everyone to death by sexy, that’s a sentence everyone’s willing to serve. And why not, man? It’s like, Iggy Pop had a saying: ‘Sweet enough for the chicks, tough enough for the dudes.’ But it’s gotta be sweet enough for the chicks first, because the guys’ll always show up. I haven’t been playing for the guys for years. Queens of the Stone Age is almost like the dark, sexy side of this and Eagles is like the boogie, fun-time sexy side. We grew up playing at parties and going to parties, and so that mentality carries over. It’s supposed to be fun. Sometimes in rock, especially like in the last decade or so, you’re supposed to be bummed out or something. I don’t know; I wasn’t paying attention. This is like a celebration — good times. Hopefully what it does is it wakes everyone up after their disco nap and makes them go out — like a you-could-get-laid-if-you-go-out-now sort of vibe.

“I think both Jesse and I appreciate and enjoy the roles we play in the various things we do. Jesse’s a natural frontman, and he’s desperate for love. But it’s such an inspiring desperation. It’s the cutest thing I ever saw. I’m the drummer, and someday soon everyone will be flocking to Jesse and not me, and I will understand that. Ultimately, when the sun sets, this is the best job you could ever have in the world because it ain’t a job; it’s the passing along of inspiration where words fail to articulate your feelings. I’ve gone through hard times, especially in the last couple of years, and Eagles is one of the things that has helped to pull me out of it. It’s fun, man, and everything’s all right. Consider us like a donut on your Monday at work. Like you’re all bummed and then here comes a free donut. And it doesn’t matter how it got there, or what the situation is. It’s donuts, baby.”

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