The collaboration of lifelong friends Josh Homme and Jesse Hughes, Eagles of Death Metal grew from a side project into a full-fledged band with a riff-heavy, tongue-in-cheek identity of its own. Both Hughes and Homme hail from Palm Desert, California, and have been friends since Hughes' family moved to the aforementioned arid location in 1979. The pair bonded as teenagers while playing together on the same local soccer team, but went in separate career paths after graduation -- Homme went on to form the underappreciated Kyuss, before launching Queens of the Stone Age, while Hughes attended the University of South Carolina and became a journalist. Homme later reentered the picture, and convinced his old friend (who was down in the dumps at the time over a divorce) to start jamming on music, with Homme on drums and Hughes handling guitar and vocal duties.
The Eagles of Death Metal were formed soon after, as the group debuted with a few tracks on Vols. 3-4 of Homme's ongoing Desert Sessions series in 1998. Despite its name, the group's sound was more akin to classic garage rock, with some elements of the Rolling Stones added in for good measure. But the new group was put on the back burner while Homme got Queens of the Stone Age off the ground (interestingly enough, with another high-school friend of both his and Hughes, bassist Nick Oliveri). When QOTSA quickly became one of the world's most talked-about hard rock bands (due to such exceptional releases as 1998's Queens of the Stone Age, 2000's R, and 2002's Songs for the Deaf), Homme sought to relaunch the Eagles of Death Metal as more than just a one-off project.
Reconvening in 2003, the duo recorded three days' worth of material (almost all of the songs being taped on the very first take). A buzz surrounding the group began amongst the QOTSA faithful when Homme wore an Eagles of Death Metal T-shirt throughout QOTSA's Lollapalooza road jaunt that summer, while a sneak preview track, "I Only Want You," was mysteriously leaked via MP3 among fans online. With QOTSA taking a breather, Homme and Hughes (with guitarist Timmy VanHamel in tow) then set out on the Eagles' very first tour, as they opened for Placebo during late November/early December. The group's highly anticipated debut full-length, Peace Love Death Metal, finally surfaced in March of 2004 (after several proposed release dates came and went) -- issued via Homme's own Rekords Rekords label and AntAcidAudio (a sister label of Ipecac Records, run by Mike Patton). The group's first European tour followed shortly thereafter, opening for the Distillers.
Hughes and Homme reunited in fall 2005 to make the second Eagles of Death Metal album; joined by Jack Black, Brody Dalle, Mark Lanegan, and QOTSA's Joey Castillo, they recorded Death by Sexy in eight days. After a brief U.K. tour late that year, the Eagles of Death Metal toured with the Strokes in spring 2006, leading up to Death by Sexy's release. Issued in 2008, Heart On was more polished but still scuzzy. After touring in support of that album, the band went on an extended hiatus: among other projects, Homme worked with Queens of the Stone Age as well as Them Crooked Vultures, a power trio also featuring Dave Grohl and Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones. Meanwhile, Hughes released his debut album as Boots Electric, Honkey Kong, in 2011; became an ordained minister with the Universal One Church in 2012; and appeared in Björn Tagemose's 2015 silent movie Gutterdämmerung along with Henry Rollins, Grace Jones, and Iggy Pop. That year, the Vice film The Redemption of the Devil touched on the making of the Eagles of Death Metal's fourth album, Zipper Down, which arrived in October 2015.
A month after the release of Zipper Down, the Eagles of Death Metal (sans Homme) were performing at famed Paris venue La Bataclan when a group of terrorists attacked the club, killing almost 90 of those in attendance, including the band's merch seller. The bandmembers escaped and canceled the remainder of their European tour. Charity campaigns were set up for victims and survivors using proceeds from sales of their cover of Duran Duran's "Save a Prayer" and their own song "I Love You All the Time." The group returned to Paris a month later in December to perform with U2, announcing resumption of their European tour and free admission at the Paris date for all Bataclan survivors. ~ Greg Prato