If we’re to believe Jesse “The Devil” Hughes, he didn’t find rock and roll — rock and roll found him. “I woke up one morning, and I had a moustache, a pair of black leather gloves and a cape,” he explained. “I went from being a married Republican activist into the greatest moustache in rock and roll.”
And when your face lodges rock’s greatest clump of facial hair, you’re expected to produce great things, the frontman for the Eagles of Death Metal said — even if you’d only been playing guitar for three months before the recording of your first album. So when it came time to start working on Death by Sexy, it was time for Hughes to pull out the big guns — and pull a few favors.
Along with his Eagles partner Carlo Von Sexron, better known as Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh “Baby Duck” Homme (who plays bass and drums), Hughes, who calls his band “the militia of rock and roll,” managed to recruit talents like Jack Black, Queens drummer Joey Castillo and sometime singer Mark Lanegan, and Homme’s fiancee, Brody “Queen B” Dalle (see “QOTSA’s Josh Homme, Brody Dalle Expecting Their First Child” ).
“This album was a great experience because it was wonderful friends coming together and trying to recapture the essence of what it means to be amazingly sexy and to have a moustache that probably is the greatest rock and roll moustache of all time,” Hughes said. “The Eagles of Death Metal is pretty much raw roots rock and roll without any bass in it, so for this record, I wanted to step it up, but without going too far, and still maintain the outrageous sexiness of it. Because really, all I’m here to do is get chicks.”
Funnyman-turned-musician-turned-director Liam Lynch also contributes heavily to the album, as does Queens of the Stone Age’s Alain Johannes and Ween drummer Claude Coleman. But for Lynch, who is directing the forthcoming Jack Black film “Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny,” his involvement developed out of sheer curiosity.
“Liam showed up one day, and said he wanted to do some filming, but he went from filming to recording to becoming part of this zany thing,” Hughes said. “He came to shake his ass, so to speak. Once he came into the process, he just sort of set a camera up and joined in and it just became this freak show.”
The footage Lynch captured over the eight days it took to record the 15 tracks that comprise Death by Sexy has been compiled into a DVD, which will accompany the record when it’s released in January.
“In those eight days, we achieved something so sexy, it’s going to knock your pants off,” Hughes said. Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of the recording process was watching Black’s magic in person.
“When Jack Black shows up, he’s one of the funniest men ever,” he said. “It’s hard to see him outside of being funny, so you think he’s going to make the song funny. But he’s got the most amazing voice I’ve ever heard — his range! His performances sometimes were hit-and-quit — like just a moment where you hear his voice, and it’s immediately defined as an important part. He would get running starts for some of his vocal tracks, where he actually stepped back about 25 feet and ran toward the mic, coordinating that as soon as he got two feet away from it, you’d hit ’record.’ That’s an amazing craft.”
Black provides the vocals on two tracks, “I Want You So Hard” and “I Came to Bang.” Other tracks on the album include “The Ballad of Queen B and Baby Duck,” “Poor Doggie,” “Shasta Beast” (a tune “about dating girls who still live with their parents and have to be home at a certain time”) “Eagles Goth,” “Movie Night,” “Cherry Cola” and what will be the first single, “Just 19.”
“That’s a love song I wrote to a girlfriend of mine,” Hughes admitted. “But I’m hoping it also is a way to get as many hot 19-year-olds backstage and at the shows as possible to dance, because really, it’s not a boy party I’m trying to host.”
Hughes said the Eagles will be playing four U.K. dates with the Foo Fighters this December, but plan to tour the States after the album’s release. Those plans are still being worked out — Homme may need to postpone those plans, depending on when his child is born. Whether the tour happens sooner or later, Hughes promises it will be a sexy affair, of course. “Come on, man — have you seen my moustache?”