Eagles of Death Metal

Putting some fun in death metal

By any abusive name, this band knows how to have a good time

The Eagles of Death Metal are not the kind of rock band to pass up a silly innuendo or obvious pun, as evidenced by the title of their latest release, Heart On. The band’s name originated in much the same fashion. A friend of drummer Josh Homme, trying to convince him of the virtues of death metal, played some music by the band Vader, which Homme promptly dubbed “the Eagles of death metal.”

Homme liked the term so much that he used it for his own band, formed in 1998 with a high-school friend, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Jesse Hughes. But their sound isn’t exactly death metal. Homme once described it as a combination of “bluegrass slide guitar mixed with stripper drum beats and Canned Heat vocals.”

It didn’t go over very well with Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses, for whom EODM opened a show in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2006. When he took the stage after EODM’s opening set, Rose derisively called the band the “Pigeons of Shit Metal,” and kicked them off the tour.

But Homme and Hughes proved they can laugh at themselves by printing the insult on T-shirts. “We’ve definitely gotten more serious about not taking ourselves too seriously,” Hughes told Prefixmag.com. It helped that the pigeon shirts ended up outselling their other merchandise.

The band’s latest record is an homage to life in Los Angeles, even though the title refers to the heartland of America, where they were touring while writing the songs. Heart On took two years to record, due mostly to the fact that Homme is also the front man for Queens of the Stone Age. Finally released in October last year, the disc delivers what EODM fans have come to expect: tongue-in-cheek rock ‘n’ roll with a dark touch to it, pulsing guitars, hedonistic lyrics, sexy vocals and silly song titles such as “(I Used to Couldn’t Dance) Tight Pants.” Other songs range from the catchy “Wannabe in L.A.” to almost-melancholy numbers like “How Can a Man with So Many Friends Feel So Alone.” Guest stars include former Screaming Trees singer Mark Lanegan, actor and musician Jack Black and Queens of the Stone Age drummer Joey Castillo.

On the current tour, Hughes and Homme are backed by Dave Catching on guitar and Brian O’Connor on bass.

Hughes is famous for his genuine and unpredictable interaction with the audience, and the raunchy sound of the band is conducive to a night of loud, sweaty fun. In a review on Pitchforkmedia.com, Joshua Love rightly points out that “the Eagles are far more derivative than the Queens [of the Stone Age], but they steal from the best and have a great time doing it.” Hughes agrees, and defended their approach in an interview with Burr: “When it comes to real rock music, everybody says they’re looking for something revolutionary. But there’s really nothing that new under the sun.”

Still, Heart On shows a development in the band’s songwriting abilities, especially compared to their previous release Death by Sexy. “For Heart On, I gave Josh better missiles to fire,” Hughes said in the Prefixmag.com interview.

EODM’s brand of rock comes straight from the heart, and is charmingly unpretentious, full of dumb puns and cheap jokes. In concert, Hughes’s getup is delightfully over the top – he sports a red moustache and is adorned with a plethora of tattoos, tight black jeans and cowboy boots.

Give the band a warm welcome on their first visit to Prague, and they’ll thank you with witty onstage banter, a great live show and a fresh take on classic rock ‘n’ roll.

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