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Eagles Of Death Metal

+ {The Desert Sessions} + {Them Crooked Vultures}

Lucky still to be alive after the terrorist attacks on Le Bataclan concert hall on the 13 November 2015 (a night that killed 89 people and seriously injured many more), EAGLES OF DEATH METAL have now become synonymous with peace, love and understanding. The following month, they joined U2 on stage (as guests) on a spirited return to the Paris night club.
Formed out of multi-instrumentalist Josh Homme’s extracurricular alter-ego The DESERT SESSIONS (his post-KYUSS and concurrent QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE combo), the EODM alumni presented itself in 1998 when long-time friend Jesse “J. Devil” Hughes (a vocalist/guitarist just out of drug rehab) discussed a name for the band. The story goes that on hearing a barfly ignorantly claiming the SCORPIONS’ `Wind Of Change’ was “death-metal”, Homme retorted “more like “EAGLES of death metal!”, the incident led to the pair rooting out its possibilities as a moniker and general genre/concept. Incidentally, because of his QOTSA commitments, Homme is rarely seen live for EODM; his place on the aforesaid night of carnage taken by Eden Galindo (guitar), Matt McJunkins (bass) and Julian Dorio (drums); Hughes and long-time guitarist Dave Catching were also present.
Back in 1997, The DESERT SESSIONS collective would play their first gigs at the Rancho De La Luna in Joshua Tree, California, with leader Homme at the helm. Over the foreseeable future, a series of 10-inch EP’s were intermittently delivered; the first “volume” featuring Peter Stahl on vocals (ex-Wool, of Earthlings), Fred Drake on guitar (of Earthlings), Dave Catchings on bass (of Earthlings), Ben Shepherd on bass (ex-SOUNDGARDEN, of Wellwater Conspiracy), John McBain on guitar (of Wellwater Conspiracy) and Alfredo Hernandez on drums.
By the time The DESERT SESSIONS’ VOLS. 7 & 8 (2001) {*8} album was recorded at Rancho De La Luna Studios, a fresh line-up had been found in Brendon McNichol, Samantha Moloney, Natasha Schneider, Fred Drake, Alain Johannes and of course, Chris Goss (from MASTERS OF REALITY). Featuring the insane desert-stomp `Up In Hell’, the MARK LANEGAN-voxed `Hanging Tree’, the grungy `Polly Wants A Crack Rock’, the record was an equal to anything by QOTSA.
The DESERT SESSIONS were back with VOLS. 9 & 10 (2003) {*7}, and these “sessions” featured guests Dean Ween, Joey Castillo (DANZIG) and the aforementioned Natasha Schneider (ELEVEN), as well as a ballad with PJ HARVEY: `Crawl Home’; a Top 40 hit in the UK.
Formed in 1998, Homme’s other side-project, the aforesaid EAGLES OF DEATH METAL (they’d made their debut on Vols 3 and 4 of his “Desert Sessions”), finally released their debut album, PEACE LOVE DEATH METAL {*7} in spring 2004. A tongue-in-cheek duo comprising Homme (aka Carlo Von Sexron) and falsetto-firing sidekick, Jesse Hughes, there was a little light fare in its sole cover of STEALERS WHEEL’s `Stuck In The Middle With You’. This hinted at the record’s looser, more humorous and gratuitously degenerate – if no less (ironically) 70s fixated – vibe, to which Homme made his unlikely debut on the drum stool. Whether classified as cowpoke-punk or skewered bluegrass, `Kiss The Devil’ and `Midnight Creeper’ were just dandy. In the meantime, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE were turning over platinum sales for their 4th set, `Lullabies To Paralyze”, in March 2005.
With no Desert Sessions double volumes in the pipeline, EAGLES OF DEATH METAL were back with a follow-up set, DEATH BY SEXY (2006) {*7}. This was more lascivious by nature, welcoming to the party LANEGAN, Castillo, Maloney, Troy VanLeeuwan, Homme’s missus Brody Dalle (of The DISTILLERS) and thespian Jack Black (on background vocals), among others. Harking back to the days of 70s star spangled glamour, one could vouch for `Cherry Cola’ and `I Want You So Hard’.
Keen for anything Josh Homme was behind, fans finally cottoned-on to EAGLES OF DEATH METAL’s third set, HEART ON (2008) {*7}. Sending up love and happiness, long-time pals from Palm Desert, Jesse and Josh were full-on for the likes of `Solo Flights’ (apparently about masturbation), the JAGGER-meets-DEVO kick of `Prissy Dancin’’ and the title track.
Marking yet another extracurricular project (we make it now, six!), THEM CROOKED VULTURES boasted the supergroup alumni of Homme, FOO FIGHTERS’ Dave Grohl and JOHN PAUL JONES. The eponymous THEM CROOKED VULTURES (2009) {*7} sounded very WHITE STRIPES, or, remarkably enough, Jones’ old band LED ZEPPELIN; tracks such as `Mind Eraser, No Chaser’, `New Fang’, `Elephants’ and the CREAM-cloned `Scumbag Blues’, were conventional hard rock without the frills and spills.
While the fresh-faced QOTSA were ticking over `…Like Clockwork’ (2013), Homme and best-buddy Hughes were planning another EAGLES OF DEATH METAL adventure. Nicknamed BOOTS ELECTRIC and taken as his pseudonymous solo moniker when `Honkey Kong’ was released for Dangerbird Records in September 2011, newly ordained minister Jesse Hughes was keen to get the show back on the road after several years. Tongue-in-cheek sexist cover aside and signed to UMe Records, ZIPPER DOWN (2015) {*7} was the pair’s tribute to the boogie and a glam-rock 70s. Updating MUD (yes, MUD) on `Got A Woman’ and T. REX/MUNGO JERRY for `I Love You All The Time’ (also BACHMAN-TURNER OVERDRIVE for `Complexity’), the revved-up, retro rock’n’roll of EODM balanced on the precipice of fun, frolics and self-indulgence – but somehow it gelled on a minor UK hit re-tread of DURAN DURAN’s `Save A Prayer’, dedicated to the Bataclan fallen.
A long 16 years since Homme’s extracurricular DESERT SESSIONS kicked sand into the eyes and ears of any opposition, VOLS. 11 & 12 (2019) {*7} cooked up a cactus Jack of all trades (including English comic actor Matt Berry on `Chic Tweetz’) from everywhere under the sun. However, clocking in at just over the half-hour mark, maybe value for money didn’t worry Brits who made the set a Top 40 proposition. Opener `Move Together’ gelled LES CLAYPOOL, BILLY GIBBONS, Matt Sweeney, WARPAINT’s Stella Mozgawa and Autolux’s Carla Azar, whilst the SCISSOR SISTERS’ Jake Shears, ROYAL BLOOD’s Mike Kerr and QOTSA’s Dave Catching made cameos elsewhere; the `Zeppelin III-esque `Far East For The Trees’ and the slow-burning Libby Grace-enhanced `If You Run’ possibly the best bits.
© MC Strong 2006/GRD // rev-up MCS Dec2015-Nov2019

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