On the Line with Jesse Hughes [Eagles of Death Metal]

Whether you know him as Boots Electric, Father Badass, The Devil or maybe even Fabulous Weapon, one thing that is known amongst all is that there is none quite like Jesse Hughes. He and Josh Homme are not just two compadres in Eagles of Death Metal, but they are two of the last authentic rockstars and they are redefining cool. The band will be releasing their fourth album entitled Zipper Down on October 2nd and prior to a gig in Birmingham, I had an incredibly enlightening and undoubtedly entertaining conversation with Jesse. You’ll get to see why he really is one in a million.

Alex Obert: To start things off, I’d like to wish you a happy belated birthday.

Jesse Hughes: Thank you, my friend! It was a great birthday.

Alex Obert: How did it feel to celebrate it in Nashville with an Eagles of Death Metal gig?

Jesse Hughes: Well, eighty seven women got spontaneously pregnant and no one knows how it happened. I always wear a camouflage condom so no one can see me cumming and I think that’s what happened. (laughs)

Alex Obert: Nashville happens to the home to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. An inductee there and one of the biggest names in country is Johnny Cash. As you know, he transcends genre and is no stranger to rock n’ roll. How do you feel about him and his legacy?

Jesse Hughes: I relate to Johnny Cash, a speed freak with a penchant for wearing black. I think that’s awesome.

Alex Obert: And here you are in Birmingham tonight for yet another awesome night of rockin’, what’s your outfit going to be for the stage?

Jesse Hughes: Tonight, I am gonna be wearing the most adorable pair of pants you’ve ever seen! I like to wear black. And a t-shirt. I’m gonna sweat through it. I’m gonna be sweating like a drug dealer under questioning by the cops. I don’t want to wear anything too fancy, you know what I’m sayin?

Alex Obert: There’s already been an addition of songs off of Zipper Down onto the live setlist. I’m especially glad to see Silverlake already making its way there. You’ve previously mentioned that the album is influenced by musicians such as Little Richard and Chuck Berry. When I heard Silverlake in particular, I had a sense that there was a Motown influence behind it. Would you agree?

Jesse Hughes: Oh, absolutely. It’s mostly Stevie Wonder, especially I Was Made to Love Her and songs like that.

Alex Obert: How do you feel about playing these new songs live at gigs?

Jesse Hughes: I love ’em. I think this album is actually the most accomplished of my albums, musically. It’s not like they’re more difficult, they just require a little more musicianship. And there’s nothing wrong with that, dude.

Alex Obert: I can fondly recall falling in love with Kiss the Devil the first time I ever heard it. And it was one of the first songs I ever heard from Eagles of Death Metal. What’s your take on it?

Jesse Hughes: Well the real question is how do you feel about it, son? If you’re singing the song and you’re calling out the name of the devil and the devil don’t give a rat’s ass if you believe in him or not, you call his name, he’ll show up. Then what are you gonna do?

Alex Obert: I was introduced to that particular song during a very rough point in my life. For that, I’ve always been appreciative. It really meant a lot to me.

Jesse Hughes: I really appreciate that. You know what, man, I wrote those songs, truly, when I was going through the worst fucking divorce I think anybody could’ve gone through. And a custody battle. I wanted to find some happy places. Music was the place that I could make where nobody could go except for me. Those songs literally fuckin’ saved my life, dude.

Alex Obert: That’s amazing to hear. Music undoubtedly changes lives whether it’s listening to it, recording it, reading lyrics, writing lyrics, anything. Your partner in crime, Josh Homme, has been making music even more special lately with his latest gig, The Alligator Hour. What did you take out of your appearance on there?

Jesse Hughes: Well it was the highest rated Alligator Hour that he’s had so far, so I think that’s pretty fuckin’ cool.

Alex Obert: How do you feel about him as radio host?

Jesse Hughes: Well I’ve been a radio host now for two years, so I think of him as two years later than me! (laughs)

Alex Obert: And how about his eclectic and diverse song selection for each episode? Through listening to what he comes up with, I never fail to be blown away.

Jesse Hughes: Well I’ll tell you what, I’m very glad that he listens to my DJ sets.

Alex Obert: As it goes for your endeavors on and off the stage, what you have to say about living life to the fullest each day that you wake up and until you go to bed?

Jesse Hughes: I live life to the hardest. Fullest is something else. But living life to the hardest is like having a dick bigger than John Holmes…all the time. I’m a horny dude and my music’s very horny. I stay horny, that’s my philosophy to living forever. You have to stay horny, that’s the rule. Outside of that, anything else goes.

Alex Obert: You’re also very comfortable in your own skin. What’s your take on that?

Jesse Hughes: I’m incredibly comfortable in my own skin, but I’ll tell you what, dude. I could probably be like Hannibal Lecter and be comfortable in someone else’s skin too. I’m a pretty easygoing dude. What do you think about living life to the hardest?

Alex Obert: I feel part of it does have to do with being comfortable in your own skin, learning about and utilizing what you have to offer. It’s not always about following the path that someone else has left behind, it’s about finding your way and searching for your inner strength when you feel lost on the journey.

Jesse Hughes: There are a lot of roads to get somewhere, but if you want to be a good lawyer, you better go to fuckin’ Harvard. There’s normally a right way to do it. A lot of times, people will say there’s two sides to a coin. But in reality, there’s three sides to a coin. There’s my side, your side and then there’s the fucking coin. And that’s all you can spend. That’s what my grandpa always used to tell me. Two sides to the coin doesn’t matter, you need both of them at the same time to spend. And that’s money.

Alex Obert: What have you gotten out of spending it?

Jesse Hughes: I like spending other people’s money. (laughs) Sugar Daddies are so cool, trust me!

Alex Obert: For a second there, I thought you were talking about the candy.

Jesse Hughes: I do like the candies, Sugar Babies and Sugar Daddies. I like Sugar Babies better than Sugar Daddies.

Alex Obert: If you stop at a gas station while on the road, what would you get?

Jesse Hughes: I would get Red Hots and Lemonheads. I would also get Abba-Zaba, which is my absolute favorite.

Alex Obert: While driving through the desert, what’s some ideal music to put on?

Jesse Hughes: I normally let my girl decide, she’s got the best road mixes. It’s always bizarre. It’ll be like Dwight Twilley, Looking for the Magic into something about eating dead babies from a necrophiliac-sounding band or some metal. And then it’ll jump into D.I., I Like Guns. I mean when you’re driving, you don’t wanna go to sleep. You wanna be entertained in a way. I have nothing in my life to do but listen to music and therefore, it’s difficult for me to find something that I haven’t heard. Looking for something that you haven’t heard isn’t really the point because everybody’s had vanilla ice cream and it’s still good. And my grandma used to tell me “Music’s like milk. It ain’t nothing new, but it’s only good if it’s fresh.”

Alex Obert: Makes sense, I can dig that. So we have not only Zipper Down on the horizon, but Gutterdämmerung as well. What does that mean to you?

Jesse Hughes: It’s a movie written by Henry Rollins and I get to act with Henry Rollins. And Henry Rollins called me an actor, that’s awesome! That’s like winning an award!

Alex Obert: How has he been an influence on you throughout the years?

Jesse Hughes: He’s influenced me greatly in that I’ve learned not to be so angry because he can do it all for me. I don’t have to ever be mad.

Alex Obert: Beautifully said. Before we wrap up, how does it feel to be in Birmingham tonight? What’s going through your head while here?

Jesse Hughes: What’s going through my head right now is “Damn, my girl looks amazing in that short skirt she’s wearing.”

Alex Obert: Thinking positive thoughts, that’s the way! I’d love to thank you so much for your time. I wish you the best with future touring and the official release for Zipper Down.

Jesse Hughes: Thanks, dude!

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Photo Credit (Above and photo on front page): Chapman Baehler

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