Eagles Of Death Metal
“Hey baby, what’s up?” asks the Fabulous Weapon, famed Casanova. “Well, you know. Not much. What’s up with you?” And henceforth with trademark Southern Charm (see: outrageous flirting mixed liberally with perfect manners), Boots Electric sallies forth with his innermost thoughts on rock and roll, the City of Angels, – “Waxl’ Rose, KISS, Kat Von D and perhaps most scintillating of all: rollerblading. You want to know why Josh Homme christened him Boots Electric, right?
Jesse – “Boots Electric’ Hughes, aka J Dilla, aka Fabulous Weapon, is Los Angeles. Even if he actually lives in Palm Springs and was born in South Carolina. The brutally mustachioed, bloodnut leader of the Eagles of Death Metal is all about LA. See, Exhibit A: smoking hot single number one off the new EODM album, Heart On, Wannabe In LA, for proof. Or maybe call him on the phone.
So, what are you doing right now?
Well, I’m driving now; I’m on my way to LA to see my buddy Kat. It’s four in the afternoon, I’m starting early!
[Famed tattoo artist, proprietor of High Voltage Tattoo, veritable modern day LA institution, and further, current squeeze to Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx] Kat Von D?
So Kat’s on this album, right? How did that come about?
Kat’s a really, really good friend of mine. I’ve known her a long time, she’s done a bunch of tattoos on me.
That’s what High Voltage (on Heart On ) is about?
Yes ma’am. This album is really about my love affair with Los Angeles. And about how much of a renaissance is going on there at the moment. And people like Kat are a really huge part of it.
You can really hear the influence of some of that dirty, early – “80s LA stuff on there.
Thank you! I can really see the early – “80s LA stuff, because that’s where I was just coming up as a young buck.
Just to be weird, I am right in hearing there’s a reference on the DVD By Sexy to Prayer of the Rollerboys? Because I watched that when I was a kid, and there’s something to be said for it. What was that about?
Oh my God, I can’t believe I’m confessing this. But yes, there is. I will never live this down, but I love rollerblading. [We’re a little dubious about this claim, awesome as it is. Please send photos]. I do it every single day. And Josh was giving me a hard time about it on stage. That’s where Boots Electric comes from, that’s what he calls rollerblading.
Man, you would love it down here. Check out Bondi Beach, there’s a little skate park there right on the water.
Really? I’m absolutely going to do that. I’m going to do tricks for you. We’re going to rollerblade together off into the sunset.
That would be great. [Here my critical faculties dribble out of my ears].
I have a real love affair with Australia, and I kinda look like a guy who just got out of prison there. But maybe you can tell me what’s with all the women in Australia being so hot? What’s with all the sundresses?
The hotter it is, the less clothes. It’s a sensible choice thing. So, anyway! What was the first record you remember you heard that made you think, yes, I am going to be a rock star?
I love that question. Well, I saw KISS with my Dad when I was six and Ted Nugent was opening, but I didn’t care, I just wanted to see KISS. My dad bought Destroyer for me, and that was the thing that really blew my mind.
So I fucking loved KISS, but now Gene Simmons makes me sad man, he makes me sad. I read his book, and he talks about his mother a lot in it in a way that I really appreciate it. But the other stuff, his attitudes to women are just not acceptable, ever in any way. Like that Terry Gross interview he did on NPR, did you ever hear that? It’s like being raped. [ We know ]. It’s horrible. But that whole sleazy attitude, it’s just bad, man. And also the whole stereotype of the Jewish guy wanting to make a pile of money. I mean, that’s not how it is, man!
What other records were really formative for you?
Well, there was of course Peter Frampton and the guitar solo. I had opportunities with my father, those real early moments when I got to spend time with him when I was able to see what doesn’t work. Just because everybody likes something doesn’t make it totally rad. My mother was obsessed with Motown, thank God. So Bob and Earl’s Harlem Shuffle was also on the turntable. But then she’s change it up to Gerry Rafferty’s Right Down The Line, which is one of the greatest – “70s singer-songwriters records ever made. My parents together, good music was the rule.
Tell us about the process of making this album – it sounds like it was done fast and loose, that energy. Is that what happened?
Wow, no. It was a quick album to think up, and then it took a year and half to record. It was my and Joshua’s touring schedules, it was us wanting to live out our rock star fantasies and live the dream, we wanted to make our cake and eat it too, you know what I mean? We toured with the Queens and went to Amsterdam for a month. This record was more thoughtful. To make the best record, we had to let the record decide when it would be made.
I go out and live this stuff and then I write it out and it’s the songs. Joshua is a producer unlike any other, he’s a wizard. When I give it to him, it’s transformed. The Eagles of Death Metal is two best friends having the shits and giggles best time of their lives.
You know each other from a long way back, which must make for a unique creative relationship.
It’s an absolutely unique relationship. He’s the greatest friend I’ve ever had in my life, and we’ve had the opportunity to see each other at our best, and it’s grown in that direction. It’s like we speak our own language. Literally. It’s a combination of German and French. Nobody understands us.
What were you doing work wise in the time before things really took off for the band?
At the time I’d taken a more lucrative, upper-management position at a video rental franchise, so to speak. A private business. I edited our school paper. I took it seriously. I love writing, I love journalism. I love it. So much bad attitude with journalists – it ain’t hard to be nice to you, I’ll tell you that.
You just picked up and taught yourself guitar one day, and then bam, rock star. What happened?
At the time I was getting a divorce and I just wanted to pretend I was sexy, I guess – that’s how it started. And I finally wanted to stand up to the bullies who took my lunch money and do something that would really piss ‘em off.
So I went through this messy divorce and Joshua was very worried about me, and my mother called on him and asked him to check up on me. So he did, and he found me, and he heard I Only Want You and he drove me to Hollywood in my mother’s car and I wrote the rest of the record in a week. I’d only been playing guitar for a few months. I went to sleep that night in Hollywood and I woke up and I had a moustache and a pair of leather boots and gloves on. That’s how it happened, I swear.
Sometimes is it like you can’t believe you get paid to do what you do?
No! I can’t! But I love it. I’ll take it. Sometimes I just want to go, ‘Thank you’, or, ‘You’re welcome, New York’. Just kidding.
New York? Tell us about LA.
No one’s from LA. Nine out of ten people there aren’t from LA. At night, after midnight, the city that never sleeps sure closes early. Any time that I saw someone who looked remotely like me on the street, I’d stop and talk. I got to understand how the RHCP could write a song about LA, with the city as a character with depth.
Is it a hard place?
It is a hard place. But if you’re willing to pay attention you can be surrounded by those who went before you, inside of which is the thing you mean to do. IF you cruise down Laurel Canyon you see Love Street where Jim Morrison was, or where the Laurel Canyon Cowboys, the Eagles used to hang out. Where John McVie took his famous drive through from Hollywood through the valleys to rage at Christie McVie. It’s cool.
What’s your opinion of Guns N’ Roses these days?
Guns N’ Roses are the last, truly dangerous rock and roll band, the last band that was absolutely dangerous. That was scary, that was actually doing what they say that they were doing, no prisoners.
The last big decadence.
I just want to be the same as Little Richard and Angus Young and people like that. I’m never pretending like I made any of this up. Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction was one of the greatest rock and roll records of all time. The rock and roll went to Velvet Revolver. I had to find that out the hard way. When we played with them that one time with those 20,000 kids who weren’t born when Appetite came out, I saw a weird phenomenon and my feelings stopped be hurt.
I saw what he had going, he was the Evil Knievel show. Like, what crazy shit can he pull out next? When Axl doesn’t take his Paxil, he becomes Waxl. He called us the Pigeons of Shit Metal from the stage then, and Dave Grohl came up to me later and told me being disapproved of by Axl Rose is like being knighted. I mean, what a hero of mine coming through for me that was. I made more money on this tour off Pigeons of Shit Metal shirts than I did from Eagles of Death Metal shirts. So I was laughing, literally all the way to the bank.
Axl Rose is like Apocalypse Now: we had access to too much money and too much equipment and little by little we went insane. It seems like that’s what happened there.
In an environment that let’s you destroy yourself.
How do you keep it all together?
I live in Palm Springs. I always, no matter what, leave LA at some point. I have a wonderful mother. I understand that I ain’t cooler than anybody else, I just want to try and be cool. And I’m a fan first. I do my own dishes. I say, “Yes Ma’am”. Just because I shave my dick and dance around like a monkey doesn’t mean I’m more entitled to anything than anyone else. And it’s not that brave or noble, you know?
Your manners are still intact!
I’m a Southern gentleman, baby.
Are we going to see the band down here anytime soon?
Yeah, in a couple months I hope. Are we gonna see you? We’re getting a drink and listening to that Gene Simmons Terry Gross interview, reminiscing about the good interview times.
Eagles Of Death Metal’s Heart On is out 25 October on Downtown through Inertia.