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Eagles of Death Metal: BFFs

High school pals Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme let loose with an album of porn-store-gag-gift rock 'n' roll sleaze.

Published Dec. 2, 2008

It was Jesse Hughes' very first high school party. A local bully threw the Greensville, S.C., native and future Eagles of Death Metal frontman into the pool and wouldn't let him out. For 30 minutes, Hughes was helpless and humiliated.

"I was just kept in this pool while everyone was laughing at me," he says.

But years later, he'd have the last laugh.

"And I just remember this voice in the darkness go, 'Let him out.' And this big 6-foot-5 Viking monster was staring me in the face. He lifted me with one hand — I shit you not, one hand — out of the pool, put me on my feet and said, 'At least try and stick up for yourself and stop being such a pussy.'"

It was Joshua Homme, future frontman of Queens of the Stone Age and eventual co-founder and drummer for Eagles.

"We've been best friends ever since," Hughes says.

Hughes doesn't exactly mince words for the guy who yanked him out of a pool single-handedly that day in high school.

"He is, not kidding here, in all fucking seriousness, the best friend anybody could ever ask for in their life," he says. "And I fucking mean that."

In the years they've spent together, which have included talking about the music they love, listening to Captain Beefheart in the back of the bus as teenagers and Homme driving his friend to rehab and giving him his big break, the two have impacted each others lives for the better, Hughes says.

Both artists have a notorious flair for taking any topic and turning it into one big, flashing neon sign of a sexual innuendo.

While Queens of the Stone Age is more deliberate with its take on sexuality, Eagles of Death Metal is like that one uncle at every Thanksgiving gathering who talks — at the dinner table — about sex with your aunt and then asks you to pull his finger.

While Homme once told Rolling Stone in an interview, "We want sex to bleed into the music," Hughes' approach is one that wants ketchup-colored Halloween store novelty blood to literally seep out of your stereo. Extra points if it's actually just ketchup.

Eagles' latest album, Heart On — "Pun intended, innuendo, all that jazz," Hughes says — retains the porn-store-gag-gift fun of their previous two records but seeks show that the band is more than just one rock star's side project.

"When it came to making this new album, it was a weird album for me because it was the most fucking deliberate record I've ever made, and I wanted it to be good on purpose," Hughes says. "It was also the first album where I was able to contribute more equally with Joshua."

But he gives credit to the friend who got him the gig.

"He's been able to do something that no one in this rock business — and I fucking defy you to find an example of it — has ever done and that's been able to start a band that was hailed as a side project, step away from it, and allow somebody else to take the limelight and still stay there and support," he says.

Even though Homme has stepped back, Eagles are just as dedicated.

"I feel like the idea is to say that there's two types of rock bands in the world. There's a rock band that goes on stage and jacks off for everyone to watch and a rock band that goes on stage and fucks everybody in the room," Hughes says. "I just want to be the second type of rock band." He laughs. "I realized right out of the gate that this ain't no fucking Bible study. It's rock 'n' roll, so I came here to do what I'm supposed to be doing."

Perhaps now is a good time to say that it's best not to always take what comes out of Hughes' mouth literally. Here's the translation: There are bands that do it for the glory, and there are bands that do it for the fans. A good example of the first kind of rock band? Maybe, just maybe, a post-Chinese Democracy Guns 'N Roses?

"You mean the new album for the contemporary adult market? I have heard that. But I'm still waiting for the Guns 'N Roses album by the same title to come because I haven't heard a Guns 'N Roses album yet," Hughes says jokingly.

Axl Rose famously nixed the band from their 2006 tour, dubbing the band the Pigeons of Shit Metal.

"Which, I must tell you," Hughes says, "I've only recently had tattooed on my arm. A big brown pigeon taking a dump with the words 'Pigeons of Shit Metal.' True story."

Hughes makes it clear that he's thankful to be where he is and wants to stay grounded. Oh, and that he'll never dangle an album in front of his fans for 15 years.

"I hate when I get my heart broken by my heroes," he says. Looking at you, Axl.

"To me this is just the greatest fucking job in the world, and I'm just the luckiest hillbilly that ever lived," he says. "I can't imagine wanting to do this without all the other things I get out of it, like friendship and protection on the street, so to speak."

And that friendship and protection comes best in the form of a 6-foot-5-inch ginger Viking monster.

"He's just bigger than I'll ever be," Hughes says. "Pun intended? Yeah. I intend to be as big as him someday. But I'm going to need a lot of genetic treatments, you know what I mean?"

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