Well, he may have been kidding about that last part but Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse "Boots Electric" Hughes was dead serious about ensuring tonight's gig at the Mayan will be straight-up, hip-shaking, good time rock and roll for all who attend. The Los Angeles-based band led by Hughes and Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme is gearing up for the October 28 release of its third studio LP, titled Heart On, an album about Hughes' love affair with L.A.
L.A. Weekly gave Hughes a call to talk about tonight's homecoming show, the new album, and why you might see him on MSNBC drilling holes in the bottom of a Greenpeace raft. Interview after the jump...
Photograph by Kii Arens
L.A. Weekly: Josh said that much of Heart On was written on the road, through the heartland of America.
Jesse Hughes: Every song was written in my bedroom with the heartland in mind and then it developed throughout the heartland of America. I'm very self-centered about the writing process; I want to keep all the money. The recording process was an unbelievable, rock and roll summer camp experience. Being in the heartland of America to record is pretty amazing. Everyone is really hungry for rock and roll. The enthusiasm for corniness has been lost in some of the bigger cities and it's too serious. In rock and roll, all I really want to do it shake my dick and have a good time and make some money. Duh. This ain't a fuckin' Bible study, this is rock and roll. I didn't come here to save the whales so I'm not going to pretend like I am.
L.A. Weekly: So we're not going to see you in a wet suit saving the dolphins on MSNBC anytime soon?
Jesse Hughes: You might see me in a Navy Seal wetsuit drilling holes in the bottom of a Greenpeace raft.
L.A. Weekly: Heart On is your third studio album. Musically, are there any intentional departures or new directions on it?
Jesse Hughes: First of all, just to get to make a third record in this day and age is a great gift. I respected that opportunity. Joshua and I have a philosophy that you've got to respect your audience and you've got to stay true to who you are, but you also have to grow. When you're in a rock band... if you're gonna lead people, you've got to take them somewhere. All those things made for a unique process for me because the Eagles has been my only band. When we made Peace Love and Death Metal, I wrote that record in a week and I'd only been playing guitar for three months. It was a wonderful experience to think about writing songs a little more thoughtfully [with Heart On]. This is the album is the first time I was ever able to stand equally with Josh and input equally, which is a really big deal for me.
Let's face it, Eagles of Death Metal never would have gotten a lick of attention if it weren't for the fact that one of the greatest rock and rollers was in the band. From the get-go I had a responsibility to overcome the side-project death warrant, jump off his coattails and get my own coat. Joshua is the best friend I've ever had and I wouldn't be anything other than a bad friend if I didn't try to live up to the expectations and the quality that he brings. It made this album the best thing I've ever been a part of. Joshua's production genius was more fully realized because this time I was giving him more sophisticated weapons to fire. I'm the luckiest fuckin' hillbilly that's ever walked the face of the planet.
L.A. Weekly: So you're playing in L.A. with the Hives. What can we expect from the show? Any new tricks up your sleeve?
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Jesse Hughes: Yes, I've been working closely with David Blaine and Criss Angel. [Laughs] I'm joking. I take it as a point of absolute pride that we're an L.A. band. The best nights I've ever had in my life and the most rewarding have been the New Year's Eve show at the Roxy, our first headlining gig at the Henry Fonda... L.A. treats us like it loves us and I think that's an award. When we come to L.A. there's a different need and a different energy because we're playing for our gang. I think [tonight] you can expect the greatest night of your life and it will end rancor in politics for all time. [Laughs] I'm just kidding.
L.A. Weekly: Where are some places in L.A. that you like to get your "heart on" ?
Jesse Hughes: [Laughs] I think you asked the ultimate question because definitely my love affair with L.A. was the biggest influence on this record in terms of its content and its tone. I'm a midnight creeper. I sometimes like to avoid sleep because I'd rather do it when I die. At night, L.A. comes alive because it ceases to be about the amount of people or the quality of people and it becomes about its geography and its unique landmarks. The drive at night from the Valley into Hollywood via Crescent Heights or Laurel Canyon is one of the most magical experiences. You drive through the history of some of the greatest pop culture things that have ever happened on a single stretch of road, from the Doors to Cheech and Chong to the Eagles. It comes alive.
Don't miss Eagles of Death Metal perform tonight with the Hives at the Mayan Theatre, located at 1044 S Hill St. in downtown Los Angeles. Doors open at 7 p.m. sharp. Check back tomorrow for a slideshow of L.A. Weekly's photographs of the concert.