Eagles of Death Metal Biography
Joshua -- the tall, redheaded one -- is better known for fronting another band called Queens of the Stone Age. But in EODM, he plays drums, produces, and just looks cool. Jesse -- the mustachioed, bespectacled one -- writes, plays guitar and sings lead vocals.
The band's first album, Peace Love Death Metal, applied the lo-fi, "generator party" sound to a set of tunes so trashy and ass-shaking they'd make Marc Bolan weep. It confused the hell out of fans looking for a Queens side project and delighted just about everyone else. Now the dynamic duo is back with a new album, Death by Sexy, that takes their raw, sleazy vibe to the next level. Just check out the video for "I Want You So Hard (Boy's Bad News)" for a taste of what the Eagles of Death Metal have in store for you this time around. And keep an eye out for the Jack Black and Dave Grohl cameos, too.
We caught up with Jesse during EODM's spring tour with The Strokes, and found out more about how this death-defying, rock 'n' roll boogie machine came into being.
AD: You guys are in the middle of a tour with the Strokes right now. How's that going?
Jesse: It's going amazingly well. We finally got to hang out with them last night on our bus and they're absolute sweethearts. It just can't suck, man. I think anyone who would sit around and complain about the kind of job we have would have to be a total prick.
How are the audiences reacting?
The Northeast was great, but once we hit the South it got better. Full-tilt boogie all the way. Last night in Atlanta, the crowd was out of control for us, it was awesome.
When did you first realize that you might be a rock god?
It was when the nuns first came to visit me in my crib...no, I'm just kidding. You know what, man? I never ever saw this coming. Ever.
Well then, what inspired you to play the style of music that you guys play?
It was a lot of isolation. When I wrote Peace, Love and Death Metal, I was going through a really ugly divorce and I was kind of broken-hearted and I was really feeling unsexy. And I was totally isolated. I mean, if I'd been around people to show me how to do it differently, I probably wouldn't have sounded [the same], but I was holed up in my bedroom going crazy. And I wanted to feel sexy, so I wrote songs that allowed me maximum posing potential in front of the mirror. So I'd record them into my computer so I could sing along with them and pose and feel sexy. Yeah, I know, it's outta control.
And because I was behaving so oddly, my mother was worried about me [and] called Joshua to come check on me. Joshua showed up at my house, heard the songs, asked me if I could finish enough for a full LP. I wrote basically the whole record in a week. Then he took me to Hollywood, we recorded the record, and I've never worked a square job since.
Well, I guess it's good your mom called Joshua to check on you.
It's absolutely true, man. No truer words were spoken than when I said I never could have seen this coming.
You and Joshua were friends from childhood, right?
Absolutely. I've know Baby Duck -- we call him Baby Duck -- for about 22 years.
How did you guys first meet?
It's kind of funny, Joshua's always been -- well, first off, he's the best friend I've ever had in the entire world. Honestly, one of the dearest persons in my life. Joshua's kind of like the cavalry for me. Whenever I get into trouble, which is often, I have to call in the cavalry. And I was getting beat up by a bully when I was, I dunno, thirteen? And Joshua stopped him.
That's something about him that's always been true his whole life. He's always been about 18 feet tall, you know what I mean? He's always been gargantuan. But instead of being a bully, he always has this very profound sense of justice. He hated seeing the bullies pick on anyone. Everyone always looked up to him. If people were saying something shitty, they'd often not want to say it in front of Josh. It's a really weird phenomenon. And I think that kind of set the pattern for his life. He's like the good shepherd to this whole gang. He is the captain of our motley gang.
The motley gang including a lot of bands [Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss, Fu Manchu] that have come out of the California desert scene.
Did Joshua also inspire you to pick up a guitar or was that something that you did on your own?
Not specifically him. When we came up with the band name, we were in a VW van. It was the night of my bachelor party, after [the party]. We were all getting stoned in a van. And this friend of ours is obsessed with death metal, and he was always trying to get us to like death metal. So we were giving him a hard time. He'd put on a band and we were like, "Dude, this is pussy shit. Put on something really death metal." And then he'd put something else on and we were all like, "C'mon dude, this is wimp stuff." And then he put on this band called Vader and I went, "Dude, this isn't death metal. This is like the Eagles of death metal."
I was gonna ask you where the name came from.
And so the next day Josh came over and was like, "What would that sound like?" And I was like, "I dunno. I'll probably have to learn to play guitar to figure it out." And so then I learned to play guitar.
And when I was writing songs, a lot of times I was writing songs to take to Joshua to go, "Look what I did." It kind of challenges me. It's a great relationship in many respects. I wrote Death by Sexy in my bedroom, and then a couple of the songs, I wrote at Sound City while the Queens were recording their album. I was kind of holed up in the lounge. And I'd go listen to what they were doing and I was just blown away by it.
Everything that I write is something I've lived. So like, "Shasta Beast": I had just gotten a phone call from the mother of the 17-year-old girl I was with, telling me to get their daughter home. "Keep Your Head Up": I was with a bunch of dumb hookers at a whorehouse in Georgia, that we started calling "The Pointy Kitty" after the scene in The Simpsons where Ralph Wigham sees a rat take a key and goes, "Look, the pointy kitty took it." So we started calling these less than smart hookers the "Pointy Kitties." And thus "Keep Your Head Up," if you understand the meaning.
I'm not sure I do.
Blowjob, baby. Think blowjob.
And the lyric on that is, "Pointy kitty, won't you give us some play/We'll show you secrets and you know we're gonna pay." It's not exactly rocket science, but you can dance to it.
So long as we're talking about song meanings, I have to ask what the story is behind "The Ballad of Queen Bee and Baby Duck." And I guess you've already revealed that Joshua is "Baby Duck," so maybe you can tell us how he got that name.
Joshua is Baby Duck and Brody [Dalle] is Queen Bee. And Joshua looks like a big-ass baby duck.
And is that Brody doing the female vocal on that track?
Yeah, Brody and Wendy Fowler, comprising our answer to the Marvelettes, the Eaglettes. Those two together [Joshua and Brody] have been there for me through a lot of weird shit -- without going into a lot of details. In the rock world, in the Hollywood world in general, it's very rare to find yourself in the company of people you can really, truly call your dear friends. They're the two people in particular that have been there for me through some of the hardest shit I've ever gone through in my life. Drug addiction, divorce, custody battles, all kinds of stuff. And they are truly in love with each other. It's a very sweet relationship. Just being in the room with those two watching them, you're like, "Aww." It's like a Hallmark moment every fucking fifteen seconds. Enough to make you wanna vomit day-glo, but at the same time it's very sweet and wonderful.
So Queens were getting ready to open for The Cramps at the Hollywood Bowl, and I was going to see them, and I thought, "Oh my god, I love their love so much. I would love to write them a fairy tale story." And I'm weird, so it came out that way.
You guys are playing Coachella at the end of April. Is this the first time you're gonna be playing there?
Very first time. And for me, it's super-exciting, because baby, that's where I came from.
It's like home-field advantage for you.
And it's also like local boy makes good. My mom's gonna be there. And then a lot of the girls I could never, ever even think about getting naked in high school -- at all -- are probably gonna be there and it's gonna be Jesse's Great Revenge.
And are you gonna be getting some of them naked backstage this time?
I'm gonna be getting them naked anywhere they go. I believe that artistic nudity is something that should take place anytime, anywhere. I'm not talking about pornography. I'm talking about artistic nakedness and all of the acts that go along with it.
And preferably at an Eagles of Death Metal show?
Baby, that's what Eagles of Death Metal are all about. Eagles of Death Metal live to make Little Richard proud, first and foremost. Secondly, they live to make lil ol' baby girls shake their asses as hard as they can. Cuz that's what rock 'n' roll is about. Rock 'n' roll's not about how amazing the bass solo is. Or hanging out with a bunch of white kids who can't dance and haven't taken a bath and stink of patchouli. That's not fucking rock 'n' roll. Or a big boy party where it's a bunch of sweaty dudes bobbing their heads back and forth, like at a Slipknot show. It's not fun, man. Rock 'n' roll forgot about ladies. The sweet baby girls are what inspired rock 'n' roll in the first place. It took girls to inspire a very gay Little Richard to sing about them. I mean, that's amazing.
To sing about them and to make them dance.
That's right. In fact, Little Richard is the epitome of death metal to me because when that son-of-a-bitch showed up, he was as tooty-fruity as they came, in a pink suit and silk slippers, and they still burned his records in fear.
Eagles of Death Metal's latest album, Death By Sexy, is available now in the ARTISTdirect Store.