Eagles of Death Metal, Pigeons of Shit Metal, Boots Electric, J. Devil, The Fabulous Weapon, Reverend Jesse….
By Robin Linn
Jesse Hughes comes straight from the heart of the original desert rock music crew. He has been kicking ass and taking names as front man for Eagles of Death Metal since the late nineties along with Josh Homme, founding member of Queens of The Stone Age. The band has toured and recorded with a revolving cast of characters for nearly a decade. EODM is born from the question, “What would happen if you mated The Eagles with Metal”? The answer is powerful guitar driven melodies and deep dirty bass lines, combined with primal drum beats and the incendiary vocal approach delivered by front man Jesse Hughes. His lyrics are laced with comedy akin to an early Bon Scott (AC/DC). Jesse attacks subject matters that some might consider off-limits and puts them to song. His ease on stage, his relationship with the audience, and his light hearted nature make him an absolute blast to witness. He is known the world over for his highly charged kinetic energy on stage and his interactive performances. His approach to guitar is powerful and emotional….he plays with a lot of heart and soul. Jesse has a gift for taking us far away from the drudgeries of life with his irreverent live performances. How odd that this man of irreverence is an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church (World Headquarters), able to marry the rocker and his girlfriend….til death do they part. He is a real character out of the pages of desert rock and roll history. His roots here in the desert run deep as does his love for the music scene he was spawned from. He is part of the nucleus of desert rockers that broke out and had something to say when they got there. And for a moment…he is back among us in his native desert land.
On January 17th, I received a call from soundman DJ Ray Phillips asking if I could help publicize a last minute show at Schmidy’s Tavern in Palm Desert. The show was to be out from under the radar, and it would feature Jesse Hughes and his band of Assassins. The Pigeons of Shit Metal was the name on the poster prepared just hours before show time. The lineup featured his sexy sidekick Tuesday Cross on bass. Tuesday is a 23 year old woman with attitude. She delivers solid bass grooves with absolute confidence, and though she is tiny in stature, she isn’t someone to be trifled with. Eden Galindo from the band Sweet Water played guitar. Eden is a talent in his own right, and he delivered a powerful and tight set of rock and roll. Paul Castillo was on drums and he didn’t miss a beat. Dynamically heavy and solid as hell, Paul is brother to Joey Castillo, EODM drummer. Rhythm must run in that family because both brothers have it going on. On stage that night was a Hammond B3. I had been given the lineup by Ray and there was no mention of a keyboard player. When I see a HB3 on stage I always get excited because it is a key sound I favor, especially in the realm of hard rock. It was a delightful surprise to see Tony Gafrancesco (Parosella, Butchery Boys) step up to sit in with POSM. I think that was a first time venture and Tony is such a talented guy.
When I arrived I was eventually greeted by a Reverend Jesse dressed in a priest’s coat with that cute little white collar around his neck. Jesse isn’t playing anyone but him. He is ON all the time and the show is always engaging and uplifting. Within one song he had won the intimate audience over and we were all eating out of the palm of his hand. He performed several songs from his solo records (Boots Electric /Honkey Kong) before being joined by guitarist Dave Catching, his colleague in EODM. It quickly turned into a historic night of desert rock. The Pigeons of Shit Metal quickly morphed into the Eagles of Death Metal, and Dave is a beautiful player. His white hollow body guitar with pinstripes bore resemblance to a Gretsch. His tone was crystal clean and his leads were tasty and fine. Dave was sporting a red hoodie, and the traditionally hairless man was also wearing a long gray beard. Jesse kept calling him Santa as they playfully teased and challenged each other to bring it…song after song. I couldn’t tell if the beard was real or not. I sort of wish I had given it a tug now.
Dave Catching has played in such bands as The Earthlings & Masters of Reality, both with cult followings, and my earliest memories of him are seeing him with Kyuss back in the early nineties. Since those early days Dave settled into Rancho De La Luna, a well loved and respected house turned recording studio nestled in the wild of the high desert landscape. There Dave made a home for himself and began working with some legendary bands and musicians turning their music into a new reality. He has worked with producer Chris Goss on some of the biggest selling rock and roll records of our time as well as playing with Chris in his project Masters of Reality. Chris’s wife, Cynthia once told me that MOR would sell out the Viper Room on a 2 night booking in the middle of the week in just minutes. I have been revisiting their music as of late and it is wonderfully written, arranged and produced. I will never forget seeing Chris Goss with two brothers known as The Flies in Joshua Tree at what was then The Beatnik (now Radio Free Joshua Tree) . One brother played a beautiful upright bass. I can’t remember the song that they performed, but it was a total hit and one Chris had produced. Chris sang that song like nobody’s business. I still get chills when I think of it today. It is crazy how one musician is connected to another, and one story leads you to another, and then another. It IS a small world when it is centered around music. I spoke to Dave briefly and he said he is so busy at RDLL that he really can’t take on another thing at the moment. Between playing in his own music projects and working with friends on their music projects at RDLL, he is slammed.
Eagles of Death Metal has had a revolving lineup over the years, largely due to the fact that Josh Homme is ultra busy with his primary music project Queens of the Stone Age. QOTSA has been at the top of the hard rock charts for years and their tour schedule is busy year round. Jesse and Josh will join forces with Dave Catching and tour in Australia and New Zealand this February through the beginning of March. There are already enough songs in the hole for a new upcoming EODM record and according to NME, we can expect them to begin tracking sometime after schedules slow down next September. For now, I will find comfort in the 2008 release Heart On. Listening to that record is contagious…it should come with a warning label attached…..”Caution: Listening to this record is addictive”.
This won’t be the last time you read me addressing the fact that QOTSA will be performing near the top of the Saturday night bill at this year’s Coachella Fest(s). I have been hearing lots in the local news about this year’s CF…but not one word about the fact that a band from Palm Desert is at the top of the lineup. While I realize there is a wealth of musical talent included in each annual CF…..It is because of QOTSA that I finally intend to attend this year’s sold out event. To me…it is long overdue. Some of us music fans in the desert…actually prefer desert rock. Maybe the sun has warped my mind…but, I am absolutely one such music fan. To learn more about this year’s 2 weekend event visit: http://www.coachella.com/
You can visit the official website to learn details and keep up to date on all things EODM at http://eaglesofdeathmetal.com/.
To read the digital edition of this story with streaming live video (including a tour of Rancho De La Luna, songs from Master of Reality, Queens of the Stone Age, Sweetwater (featuring POSM guitarist Eden Galindo), Eagles of Death Metal and of course Jesse Hughes (Boots Electric)….visit my blog Robin Linn’s Desert Rhythms at http://rminjtree.blogspot.com/