Eagles of Death Metal Interview

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I was in London playing with my band, The Shrine, when I heard about the terrorist attack in Paris at the Eagles of Death Metal concert. Paris was only three days away for us. It was so horrific it didn’t even register with me. The whole world wept in disbelief as the news spread that an American rock ‘n’ roll band’s concert turned into a literal bloodbath, leaving 89 people dead. A friend brought me over to Jesse’s place a couple months later. He was in the middle of an old Sam and Dave soul video completely stoking out on their dance routine. He quickly flipped to Hendrix for an air guitar session and then turned to moon-landing footage. His rock ‘n’ roll den is covered floor to ceiling with guitars, velvet paintings, knives, guns, gifts from fans, old porno-movie posters and much more. He had just hung above his doorway a giant Eiffel Tower peace-sign poster that was signed with love by many of the survivors of the Bataclan on that terrible night. Jesse has no filter; he instantly speaks his mind. He’s always psyched to share with anyone his favorite new tune, which might be old blues, obscure punk or some electro ‘80s campy freakout. He’s totally rad, hilarious, and no matter if you completely fucking disagree with his political beliefs, he’ll probably still hand you his guitar, bring you a beer and kick your ass at a game of foosball with a big smile on his face. Interview by Josh Landau | Photo by Olivia Jaffe

When’s the first time you remember coming across Thrasher?
My cousin showed me. Tony Alva was in Palm Desert in like 1985. He was really cool. There was the Nude Bowl and Portola Pool and he was there skating. We were hanging at Portola, this old ‘50s-style round pool, skating with him. I had a Bones Ripper board. I also had an Action Sports Kamikaze board. But Thrasher wasn’t just a skateboard mag to us. It was a punk rock mag to me and skating was just totally consumed by punk. It would talk about the scene, it would talk about parties that happened, it would talk about laws pertinent to skaters. In a way, if you really wanted to cut it technically, Thrasher was a counterculture, all encompassing digest for the punker for the ‘80s. It had hints of politics and hints of social issues, whether that was just fucking shit up or whatever. It’s called Thrasher! It is the most iconic. With some other shit that was going on back then like Action whatever or Skateboarder, it’s hilarious, like, yeah what time does the 12-o’clock show start? Thrasher is awesome too ‘cause it’s still alive!

Right, man. This shit cannot be killed. Thrasher is still here, bigger than ever. Rock ‘n’ roll is still here; you’re still here.
That’s what happens when you grow up skating. Thrasher is the digest of someone who will literally fall and compress their spinal column and get told they will never walk again if it they fuck it up worse and they still skate. That really is not letting the bad guys win. Watching a skater talk down a cop and refusing to relent with nothing but a skateboard is stupid, but it’s the kind of stupid I am. I’m willing to lose.

Amen. The same eye that sees the possibilities in a vertical wall outside of a supermarket will also see the possibilities to change or improve our crumbling world.
Evel Knievel was not a sportsman. It’s really a discipline, and I hate to make this reference, but much the same way Kung Fu might be to some. So in reality you could say one is a disciple of skateboarding.


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Here you are about to go back to Europe after one of the worst things imaginable: a terrorist attack while you’re on stage that left, like, 100 people dead, and you’re going back for a full tour…
I hate to use this cheap reference: does anyone not get back up on their board, even when they snap their tibia, even when they compress their vertebrae? It doesn’t feel like that, though. You just want them to land it; you don’t want them to die. I knew a girl whose dad stepped on her hand at an ice rink when she was three and snapped her finger off and they couldn’t reattach it, and two years later it grew back. It’s a common occurrence for kids under five.

What’s the guitar you play?
Maton, Australian company. I only play Maton. And Mastersound pickups. I don’t use pedals. I just like to plug into my Orange and the combo of the Maton and Orange amp 
is priceless.

Okay, your house is burning and you can only grab the guitar or gun. What do you grab?
I’ve got two hands. And they’re both weapons. God made men and women and guns make them equal, and if anyone can tell me how gun control helped save my friends in Paris I would love to hear it, but until then I don’t want to hear another thing about gun control. You know what I mean? I hate to inject that, but if there’s a lesson to be learned, I can’t think of a single one of my Jewish friends’ grandparents that survived Hitler after they gave up their guns, which is the first fucking thing he made them do. Just as we understand that the cop mentality against a skateboarder is wrong, there’s no point in entertaining or discussing it. The same allegory could be made to the enemies of us currently, without naming names. Skateboarding and the shit I got to read in Thrasher honestly helped me form my personal concept of being an American, through defying authority while living in the Palm Desert, a retirement community that wanted nothing to do with us kids. I mean, I wouldn’t have had it anywhere else and thank God I wasn’t some fucking hippie protesting some bullshit. How old is Tony Hawk? Normal people aren’t as youthful as he is, but look at him because of skating.

Right. And he grew up when skateboarding wasn’t supposed to last past being a teenager. It was still like a toy, a joke to most people. Companies would never pay you serious money for a little taste of what you loved to do anyway. He was looking back on the generation before him, all the Dogtown pool skaters, but he just keep going and going, doing his own thing.
The kid rockers of the ‘60s and ‘70s were watching old black dudes.

It always seems like the world is about to explode, like back in the ‘60s it seemed like the pinnacle of “Things have to change. This can’t go on any longer,” yet here we are and it feels like we’re saying the same thing today as shit seems to get worse.
Yeah, and maybe we’ve been deceived by the wrong question. Maybe we shouldn’t ask, “How could this get worse?” But instead, “How can this get better?” I know that sounds corny but it’s a much better place to be in because I don’t wanna know how it could get worse. And it’s really only as bad as it seems. You know, like if you only hang out with assholes you might think the world is full of assholes, but it’s not! You know cops used to be Andy Griffith and then Hollywood making them out to be idiots and buffoons and pretty soon now only idiots and buffoons will be cops. Also, I’m pissed off this Joan Jett guitar I’ve got isn’t right. She’s got two pickups and this one only has one. It’s supposed to be just like her guitar and it’s not.

How do you want to be remembered?
I just want “I TOLD YOU I WAS SICK” on my tombstone.


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