In the early afternoon of November 13, I was working, and as always periodically scanning my Twitter feed to keep up with the world outside of my office. I caught wind of the attacks in Paris very shortly after the first explosion at the Stade De France was reported. And I followed, decreasingly casually, as reports came of gunmen shooting up cafés. And then I started seeing reports trickle in of a hostage situation at a concert venue. My initial assumption was that a perpetrator or two had gotten pinned down, incidentally, on their way out of a fight, taking hostages as some desperate sort of hail Mary, as you see all the time in movies. Movies that usually end with SWAT teams storming in and tying things up nicely. I looked up the name of the venue, and then decided, just out of curiosity, to see what obscure French pop band was playing that night. Maybe I’d heard of them.
And then I went pale.
Most of the current lineup of Eagles Of Death Metal are very dear personal friends of mine. Our shared history flashed before my eyes in an electric rush, starting with a messy, abandoned attempt at an Antiquiet documentary focused on Jesse Hughes (prototypically very similar to Vice’s Redemption Of The Devil), that formed a bond, through many late nights (and all nighters) at Jesse’s house, geeking about rock history, trading obscure YouTube clips, and openly arguing about so many things we’re both passionate about, most recently on a night Matt and I went over there after a party. I had left around 4AM, hugging both of them on the corner, telling them I loved them like guys do when they get drunk and reveal their rawest selves to each other and find that they are still welcomed. As memorable a moment as that was, as I read that the attackers had targeted the Bataclan specifically and were systematically shooting hostages one by one, I was physically hurt by the possibility that it could turn out to be the last moment I’d have with Boots and Junks.
As you may have guessed by our selective updates, I don’t see Antiquiet as a “news” site, even on normal days, but regardless, I didn’t have it in me to play journalist in any capacity. I immediately texted the guys in the band, then our mutual friends, helpless so many miles away, but just hoping for some news, any news that would pull me out of my ice cold panic.
By now, you surely know, as I eventually found out, that the band made it out, a huge relief that was tiny compared to the gravity of so many others’ fates, including friends of friends. And I hadn’t dared think too much about the unimaginable horrible details of what happened there that night; I only wanted to know that everyone was getting help, and getting home. Brief conversations with the guys in the days following were gifts I didn’t take for granted.
I had thought, though, a lot, about what kind of spotlight would be shone on Eagles Of Death Metal in the aftermath of all this. I worried about the rising xenophobia, and as a media veteran of sorts, I worried about what kind of agendas and narratives the guys – my friends – the victims – might get shoehorned into by shitheads on ratings-driven news shows. I knew that above all else, these were passionate, loving, amazing human beings. I knew that the only way out of this was to let them be a symbol of unity and hope, for good citizens and music lovers affected, rather than a centerpiece of a debate or a divisive reaction. So I’m very glad that it was Vice that handled this very important interview, responsibly and with the utmost compassion and respect for these guys’ humanity, and the miles of soul and love that exist in all of them, under all of the details.
Though those details, that the band describes in this interview, are heartbreaking.
The Sweet Stuff Foundation is accepting donations to benefit victims of the attacks. As Josh and Jesse explain in the interview, not only is Duran Duran donating all publishing proceeds from EODM’s cover of Save A Prayer, but EODM has promised to donate their publishing proceeds from any band covering I Love You All The Time.
Love kills fear.