Life in the Fast Lane

Eagles of Death Metal shake their meat for rock.

Soft boomerang of love: Jesse Hughes' mustache, with Jesse Hughes.
Soft boomerang of love: Jesse Hughes' mustache, with Jesse Hughes.
When the Eagles of Death Metal came through town with the Strokes in April, mistaking them for a headlining act was all too easy. The Agora's audience raised devil horns and beers alike for the band's sleazy, sexed-up tunes, like something from the Rolling Stones in a decadent tryst with a gaggle of glam rockers and Foreigner. Leering vocalist Jesse Hughes, looking like the cop from the Village People with his porn-star mustache, aviator shades, and tight shirts, tossed off a suitable number of F-bombs, while hulking Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme (who co-founded the group) drummed furiously behind him.

When reached in New York City, Hughes and the rest of the Eagles -- sans Homme, who isn't on this tour -- are en route to their hotel, the night before an appearance on Late Night With David Letterman. But the hirsute frontman still took the time to discuss the genesis of his band's new CD, Death by Sexy, and made an appropriately alluring phone conversationalist.

Jesse Hughes: How you doin', baby?

Zaleski: I'm doing pretty good.

You sound pretty good; can I just say that right now?

Thank you very much, I've been told that before.

Well, it's easy to say, 'cause it's true.

People are into this record.

Oh, thank you. We had a lot of fun recording it; it was the best album I've ever been a part of so far.

What made it the best?

I got to get a little sexier on it. And so far, it seems like girls really like dancing to it, and that's really why I did it.

That's the best rock and roll music, when you get people to shake their asses.

That's the whole point. When you get a big boy party -- I'm not putting anyone down -- but if it's like Limp Bizkit or Syndrome of a Down or whatever they're called, it's a big boy party, and it's a bunch of sweaty dudes. But if you really focus just on girls, let them smile and have a good time, and remind them how beautiful and wonderful you think they are, then boys are happy and everyone's having a good time.

People are really getting what you guys are doing. I think on the first record people were almost like, "Oh, ironic rock, like the Darkness."

There's very little ironic about us. There's very little complicated about us. We have a formula: Go onstage, shake your dick as hard as you can, and hopefully everyone will like it.

You recorded the record in 12 days.

That was a wild recording process. I don't think I slept the entire 12 days. That's no joke. It was a lot of little rock-and-roll beauties and sweet baby girls and sugar bears running in and out of the studio. There was a lot of that kind of action taking place. We had a lot of great moments of, I don't know, studio magic . . . hey, I'm going into a tunnel now, baby, so don't go anywhere, girl. You can still hear me?

Yup, I can hear you.

We had these great moments of inspiration where . . . were mostly an ingredient along with drugs and everything else in making this album. It's hard to pinpoint something I could tell you without being arrested.

[To bandmates in background] What do you guys think was the greatest part about recording the album?

[Background talking] Yeah, the couch was great. Just being in Sound City, which is where they recorded Fleetwood Mac's Rumours. Also, I set up my vocal booth exactly where Rick Springfield recorded "Jessie's Girl," so I was trying to capture some of that magic.

[Connection is lost. Hughes calls back. ]

Annie, I lost you, I was so sad.

It's all good. You out of the tunnel?

Yes, baby, we're out of the tunnel. I'm actually a little nervous, because you sound really hot. And you have such a great speaking voice, it keeps throwing me off. I just want you to be my phone girl. [Laughs] Please, baby, let's just go out on the phone.

Did you always know you wanted to be in a band?

It's weird. I always had a feeling. I always had a sensation. But my passion was always in politics.

I graduated from Clemson University with a degree in journalism. I worked for Gannett news service; I worked for the Associated Press. I finally ended up back home, working for our hometown paper, The Desert Sun, doing some political work for Sonny Bono and his wife, Mary.

I got married, had a kid, yadda yadda. Then I got divorced, and it was a very horrific, horrible, life-changing divorce. I lost like 60 pounds. My friend Josh showed up and said, 'Hey, you want to make a record?' So I wrote the first record in like a week.

That's like every journalist's dream. "All right, I'll become a rock star."

I was 30 years old; I had nothing to lose. It was like rock and roll called me. I woke up and I had this amazing mustache overnight, a pair of leather gloves, a cape, and black leather boots. And I don't even really, honey, know where they came from.

People do sleepwalking and sleep-driving. Maybe you did sleep-shopping.

The gods of rock bestowed it on me. The cape was made by the gods of rock themselves, I'm pretty sure.

What is the care of your mustache? It seems the focal point of your look.

It's my Samson hair, baby. I don't really know if you can characterize it as a mustache. I think technically it is a soft boomerang of love. I don't wear one; I own it. Like Tom Selleck, Sam Elliott, baby.

That's quite a mustache to aspire to.

It's like, "Dude, I'm a man, check it out." That's what it's about, baby. [Laughs] What did you think when you saw it?

I was kind of like, honestly, you look like an extra actor from CHiPs.

Totally. I like to think of myself as an up-and-coming star in the adult industry.

I can see that, too. Well, you are infiltrating a different kind of audience, with your music being heard on TV commercials [for Wendy's, Payless Shoes, etc. ].

This really ain't no Bible study. We didn't come here to save whales. This is rock and roll. We came here to have a good time and hang out with ladies.