The Eagles of Death Metal, and the Capriciousness of Fate

The Eagles of Death Metal have given an interview with VICE about the horrific events of Nov. 13 in Paris, and it is difficult to watch. Frontman Jesse Hughes in particular appears seriously shaken by the experience, as surely as every other “survivor” from the concert that night must be. They will be haunted by what they experienced for the rest of their lives, and they’re the “lucky” ones.

Ah yes, the luck of the draw, a twist of fate. The most terrifying aspect of these kinds of unspeakable attacks is the utter randomness of it all. It all comes down to being on the wrong street corner, the wrong restaurant, the wrong concert hall, the wrong seat – at the wrong time.

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And so it was that the Eagles of Death Metal drew fate’s short straw that night, in some ways the unlikeliest of bands to be in the wrong hall on the wrong day. Hailing from the tumbleweed-strewn California desert, they could hardly be more culturally removed from the ultra-cosmopolitan pulse of downtown Paris.

This is a band that doesn’t dwell on feelings, isn’t interested in causes, and has absolutely zero pretentions about making “art”. The EoDM are a throwback to the Rock of the early 1970s, when political correctness wasn’t yet mainstream, and when getting laid and getting stoned were things to be celebrated in and of themselves, and in combination too.

The EoDM are a hoot and a holler, balls-to-the-wall rock & rollers whose game is all about having fun. Even their name is a really funny joke. They are truly one of the good-timiest bands going today. This is why it’s so goddamn painfully ironic that they were the band on stage at the Bataclan that night.

Now billions of people around the world know their name, and the vast majority of those people have the wrong idea about the band. On the night of the attacks, clueless CNN announcers variously called them the “Eagles of Death” or the “Eagles Of Dream Metal”, and none of the news coverage set the record straight about what this band was all about.

So how do these guys carry on? Judging from the interview, Hughes is going to have a hell of a hard time getting back on that horse, even though he and band co-founder Josh Homme say all the right things about moving forward. They want to be the first band to play the Bataclan when it re-opens. They are setting up a fund for the victims of the attack, and donating proceeds toward it. They want to celebrate life. These are beautiful, noble ideals.

But to me it sounds incredibly difficult to pull off. How can they deal with all of this and still be the just-fuck-it, good-time band that all their fans fell in love with? Because for one thing, suddenly their name isn’t funny anymore. And if they were to pick up where they left off and played their schtick as if nothing happened, surely some victims’ families would feel insulted.

It’s really an impossible situation they now find themselves in. These are uncharted waters for any band. As U2’s Bono noted, this is terror’s “first direct hit on music”. All we can do is wish the guys the best, and urge everyone to listen to more Eagles of Death Metal. Here’s my favorite track. Rock on.

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