Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse “The Devil” Hughes promises that April 11 will be a momentous day. After all, his band’s Death by Sexy will land in stores on that date and, according to him, it’s the finest collection of rock tracks ever put to tape.
“I just steal from the best,” he confessed. “I take it all. Technically, this is the best rock record ever made, because I have stolen from the greatest rock songs ever recorded.”
Of course, Hughes isn’t completely serious about plagiarizing from the legends of rock. He said Death by Sexy was also inspired by life’s little moments and sculpted with precision for all the ladies of the world.
“I hole myself up in my bedroom, and I try to envision something that will make me feel sexy — and hopefully [make] someone else feel sexy,” Hughes explained. “I listen to a lot of Parliament, because I want it to dance. I listen to a lot of Stooges, a lot of Sonics, Marvin Gaye, James Brown — it’s like baking a cake. I want all the right ingredients in it, the right attitude. And you can’t fake it, because people will see right through it. You have to be writing about something you’ve lived, and honey, I’ve lived every single moment of the songs I have written, and it isn’t easy.
“There isn’t anything under the sun that’s new, so you can’t really invent anything yourself,” continued Hughes, who also credits his mustache with influencing the band’s direction. “I’d rather be compared to someone I love than try to make something different. I just want to make Little Richard proud. And I don’t think that’s a bad goal. Sometimes you get a bunch of these tough-guy rocker bands who’re pretending they’ve invented something, and it just turns into a giant boy party with a bunch of sweating dudes crammed into a little rock space bobbing up and down. That’s not fun and sexy. Hopefully people will remember the ladies are what rock and roll is all about.”
When Hughes claims to have lived his songs, he means it. Take the first single off Death by Sexy, “I Want You So Hard (Boy’s Bad News).” The Devil said he was chasing after a woman he’d met through mutual friends. She was thinking about going out with him, until some of his guy pals stepped in to warn her that he’d only love her and leave her. “I wrote [the song] in one breath and sent it to her,” he said. “And it worked like a charm, if you know what I mean.”
The album was recorded at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California, where the likes of Nirvana, Cheap Trick and Fleetwood Mac have crafted their masterpieces. “We set the vocal booth up in the same spot where Rick Springfield recorded ’Jessie’s Girl,’ ” Hughes said. “My name’s Jesse, so as you can imagine, it was magic.”
The magic continued two months ago, when the band shot a video for “I Want You So Hard” with the Lonely Island’s Akiva Schaffer (We Are Scientists) behind the lens. The clip, which features cameos from Jack Black and Foo Fighter Dave Grohl, has Hughes “blowing everyone’s clothes off whom I come in contact with, with the power and majesty of rock and roll” (see “Eagles Of Death Metal Frontman’s ’Soft Boomerang Of Love’ Takes Center Stage In Clip” ).
“Originally, Akiva had us re-creating the volleyball scene from ’Top Gun,’ ” he said. “And I said, ’Honey, I don’t know. Let’s think about blowing girls’ clothes off instead. Maybe that will work better — for me, anyway.’ And it did.” While there are no definite plans for the second video (“Just 19″ and “Cherry Cola” are the front-runners for second single), Hughes has an idea in mind for the treatment.
“Well, ’Just 19′ is obvious — it should be filled with 19-year-old girls, and it should be me, alone, with all them, fighting them off,” he explained. “It needs to [have] intensely hot dancing girls, with a highly coordinated dance number. Britney and Christina and Mariah aren’t the only ones who can dance, girl.”
The Eagles of Death Metal will be spending this spring on the road with the Strokes, a tour that runs through April 26. A few days later, the band will take the stage for this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. (“It’s a triumphant homecoming for us,” Hughes said. “Almost a ’local boy makes mustache and makes good’ story.”) The band is also planning a tour of its own this fall, but Hughes is keeping mum about who will be on the road with them.
At the end of the day, Hughes makes no mistake about what the Eagles of Death Metal are all about.
“We didn’t come here to save whales. We came here to make a little money — and save whales, too, if we can,” he said, which explains how the band’s songs have ended up in Budweiser and Payless ads. “This ain’t no Bible study. It’s rock and roll. And [when Death by Sexy hits stores], I am expecting riches beyond my wildest dreams and bikini girls every night, because it’s sex rock and I made it for ladies everywhere.”