For Eagles of Death Metal’s guitarist-vocalist Jesse Hughes, it’s all about the funk.
Sure, the giant, mustached singer works hard to channel the raw side of rock, howling, grinning and jump kicking across the stage.
But despite his music’s grounding in trashy, disco-flavoured Some Girls-era Rolling Stones garage rock, Hughes says his swagger leans just as heavy on the funk. While he often covers Stones tracks at shows, he equally loves James Brown and George Clinton.
“I can relate to Keith Richards, since he’s the laziest guitar player in the world. I’m from the South (so I’m laid back), and I like open tuning,” Hughes told Metro ahead of the Canadian leg of the groups current tour. “But my biggest source of inspiration is George Clinton ... Keeping a groove that tight for eight minutes takes serious focus.”
Hughes definitely shares Dr. Funkenstein’s romantic streak. EODM’s three albums are peppered with odes to the ladies like Heart On, English Girl and Cherry Cola, which join love-hate reflections on the L.A. lifestyle’s glitz and glamour. In interviews, Hughes regularly hits on female journalists. On stage, he sweats and struts to get the girls dancing. Barks, howls and grunts punctuate his songs, echoing James Brown’s enthusiasm — another influence that he said guides his songwriting.
“The Rolling Stones wanted to sound like Chuck Berry and they sucked at it, so they ended up sounding like the Rolling Stones,” he said. “I wanted to sound like Prince, but ended up sounding like Eagles of Death Metal.”
With three albums released and another three “in the can,” Hughes said he and writing-recording partner Josh Homme are focusing more on studio work. While the self-taught guitarist hangs out with A-list musicians (Homme’s Queens of the Stone Age and Desert Sessions projects involve a ‘who’s who’ of some of rock’s finest players) Hughes said he prefers hammering out tracks in the studio than working towards virtuoso playing — perhaps another nod to Richards, who’s said he prefers rhythm to overly showy lead guitar.
“I’d only been playing guitar for six months when I recorded the first album,” said Hughes. “I wasn’t doing it to learn scales or impress people — I just wanted to sound like Little Richard and Chuck Berry. With the girls, but without any jail time.”
Eagles on tour
Eagles of Death Metal kick off a Canadian tour in Vancouver Monday night. The band plays Toronto’s Kool Haus on Aug. 2.
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