OD – Let’s begin with the new album Zipper Down. How long did the writing process take this time around?
JESSE – Well, I write everything and I write it when I can. Some of those songs, such as Got the Power, were written during the Death by Sexy (2006) era, but I just write and really to me, I just take my favourite songs and put my stamp on it. Everything was written before the album was being recorded, except for Silverlake and Got a Woman.
OD – So would it be right in saying that there is a continuous writing process happening all the time?
JESSE – Josh (Homme, Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal) has given me this fantastic opportunity, (by the way, you’re gonna hear me gushing about Josh, because I have no problem giving credit where credit is due). You’re only as good as the people who you surround yourself with and your only be as good as the amount of work you put into it, so practicing as much and as frequent as possible it also gonna pay off. So, songwriting is very much like playing your guitar, you really have to practice at it and I really want to do well at songwriting. I’m also a horny mother-fucker and the fastest way to a chick’s “area”, is a song that she believes is written for her.
Seriously, it’s a constant process and I think the best way to describe it, is like this. I go to Joshua with a big box of toys and just dump them on the table and then he goes “oh I like that one and I like this one etc” and then he will start making suggestions like “maybe we should combine this toy with that toy” you know?
OD – Was it difficult working on a schedule around Josh with his touring commitments and QOTSA stuff?
JESSE – In reality, it was more difficult to work around my schedule. Joshua is king shit of fuck mountain and he can really do what he want’s at any given time. If he doesn’t want to do something then he won’t fucking do it and the schedule will adjust to him, but I’m kind of the baby and if we were gay, we would be the most adorable, idealistic couple in the world and it would be true love, but nobody get’s to tell me no! It’s a really wonderful and fortunate place to be in the world.
OD – You mentioned that if you and Josh were gay you would be the best couple, if this were true, who would be the more masculine in the relationship?
JESSE – Can you just imaging the red-headed switcheroo? (laughs) We would both be pitchers, so it would be very difficult. You can’t have a pitcher and a catcher, you know what I mean?
OD – What made you decide on Zipper Down as the title?
JESSE – When I was in the boy scouts and we were on camping trips, at bedtime they used to say “zipper down boys”, which meant shut down for the night. It came to me in the desert, to be more of a kind of expression to relax. Like “why don’t you just fucking zipper down for a minute and fucking relax”, that’s something you’ll hear, you know if someone is freaking out. Just zipper down and chill the fuck out!
However for me, this one time Josh and I had this tirade, which was brought on by another drug induced night of debauchery, which is where most of the song or album titles come from. Anyway, on this particular night, we were discussing the irony of boy scouts and the meaning of ‘zipper down’, meaning that it might be translated as, zip the tent down, because I’m coming in, dick out and your about to receive the fucking Eagle Scout award.
OD – The Eagle Scout Award?
JESSE – Yea, I got an Eagle Scout award when I was in the scouts, but I assure you, I didn’t receive the award that way (laughs)! I had to do all the scout masters at one time, it was like ski poling (laughs). In one weekend, I saw more dick ends than I had ever seen in my whole life! Plus, I’m catholic, so what the fuck?
You know, I go to mass every Sunday while I’m on tour, because I will never hear the end of it from my Mother. My mother feels like the key to being a good parent and makeing sure nothing happens to me, is by way of making sure that I get to church every Sunday and I have clean underwear on and I think that’s all she gives a fuck about (laughs)!
OD – Let’s talk about The Redemption of The Devil and how that whole idea / concept came together?
JESSE – I have not been able to sit through the entire thing, I just can’t do it! I can get up to where it starts getting heavy and then I’m out! I forged a trust with the producers of the documentary, Vice and they are actually some of my closest friends now. I made a commitment to them and you have to know that I’m weird right? Well, I came into this business very sheltered, so I’ve never really had to corrupt myself in the ways that a lot of other people have and that means that I’m not comfortable with breaking my word. There are so many people in this business, that give their word on something and with no fucking thought about it, they just pull it back!
OD – This is a very raw and deeply personal documentation of your life and one that I’m sure is painful to watch back over. Do you have any regrets in putting something so personal out there in the public forum?
JESSE – Well, I promised these guys that whatever footage they got over those two years, was fair game and then this custody thing started to rear its ugly head. (*A custody battle over Jesse’s son unfolds during the filming of the documentary, resulting in a very dramatic and sensitive period in his life.) I didn’t want to live through this in the first place, so the prospect of having to life through it again, is no way appealing to me what so ever.
OD – How did the idea for The Redemption of the Devil come about and what was the thought process behind it?
JESSE – Thank you for asking that, as most people just seem interested in the content, and not the story behind it. There is a circuitous route to how this whole thing came together. I did a thing called Vice – On The Road and I had an idea off the back of that, which I thought would be rad. The desert sessions are a very cool concept hat Joshua had and I thought if we engineered another desert sessions and put a camera there, as well as have a couple of cameras there to follow the day-to-day lives of the people who make this whole thing happen. So, you would get a recording session and all these really cool integrated stories happening, that would work alongside each other and eventually unfold into one overall story.
OD – So you mean, kind of like Pulp Fiction?
JESSE – Exactly!!! Pulp Fiction in reality! Pulp Fiction in Rock n’ Roll! I flew to London to have a meeting with Vice to talk about the idea and it was a very flattering meeting I can tell you that. I sit down and before I can say a word, all the guys in the room look at each other and just out right tell me that, ‘first of all, we don’t want to make your movie’ and I was like “ok, I guess I’ll leave” and they then began to explain, that they wanted to do a movie about me. They said “everyone here thinks your weird in a sort of wonderful way and it will make an awesome movie”. So at this point, I’m thinking “sure, I’m vain, let’s do it”!
So, after a little while, I’m thinking to myself, “yea this is gonna be fine dude, I can control this shit”, but that idea didn’t really sound very interesting to me and it also didn’t gel with my concept of honesty and integrity. It also started to ring true to me, that all the things that I started to complain about, when I’ve been in my moment of doing my Rock n’ Roll, that would have been the sort of thing that I would complain about. Then I was began to think about The Rolling Stones, Give Me Shelter (1969) and what made that so fucking amazing and it wasn’t the music, it’s those scenes when Mick Jagger is watching the video playback monitor of himself looking like an idiot and he’s just standing there watching himself, that to me was just so brave. However brave it may be, in the long run, as opposed to someone charging down a fucking bullet in a battle field, because that’s the greatest bravely the world will ever know, but I’m just saying in terms of Rock n’ Rollers and their ‘thin skins’, that was pretty incredible and that’s what I wanted.
So I decided that I wasn’t going to try to do anything different, but I could at least guarantee that the dude in this film, is one hundred percent the real me and that’s who I really am. It is, what it is!
OD – You have been recently and I read that you had said you give Catholic and Christian services to those who would otherwise be deprived of it in the rock ’n’ roll environment. How did all of this come about?
JESSE – This is a strange one too! My mother used to say to me, that if I stepped off a cliff, trees and rocks would fall to help me keep walking! I’ve had a very strange and beautiful life and it’s still pulling out surprises for me! Yes, I got ordained and the story behind it is this. The Catholic church wants people to stop talking about priests fucking little boys and you know what, they should! Personally, I find it very offensive to blame the Catholic Church at large, because people are responsible for their own actions. That being said and I’m not sure if you know this, but they decided in the 1950’s, to start working with Hollywood to help with the image of the religion and during that time the Catholic Church and Hollywood were very close.
A lot of Catholic charities were started in Hollywood back in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. They began to make movies that celebrated the faith, such as Bing Crosby’s, Boy’s Town (1938) and The Quite Man (1952), which had elements of the positive side of faith and was written into the movie as more of a strong positive force, with an almost warrior against evil, type of presence. That’s the kind of Catholicism that I believe in. So, the Catholic Church approached sympathetic minded celebrities, for what ever capacity they would want to do something and they reached out to me and I was like, “ok, cool, here’s what I want”. I wanted to be fully ordained and not have to take the vow of celibacy, so how is that possible? I also wanted to be charted with my own church and my own online independent Catholic church, that’s associated with the Vatican, to which I wanted to be the Bishop of this Church!
Three months later, I get a call from the Los Angels archdiocese, asking me to come in and I started doing like an online study every couple of months in the diocese and then I went full seminary, so it’s not just like I’m someone who can marry someone you know? Because of my life, I came into Rock n’ Roll at a late point in my life and previous to that, I was a YMCA youth councilor for almost four years, so because of my background most of my work focuses on marriage counseling. I’ve actually currently got three couples in therapy and have oversaw the ceremonies of about twenty-five people and I’ve refused about ten.
If I feel like someone is coming to me, because they want the guy from Eagles of Death Metal, then it’s a no! Marriage is a holy institution and I’m not ready to stand before God and ask for his blessing on your behalf, if you don’t even fucking believe in it! It’s not gonna happen, period! I take this very, very serious, it’s not a joke! I’m ordained now and I’m with the order of St. Mathew and the order of St. Francis and I’m the youngest Bishop in California!
OD – I believe that you had been approached to conduct confessions etc. Was this a strange experience for you at first?
JESSE – It’s still a strange experience for me, because it’s an impossibility to reconcile the differences in life, between the midnight runners and the lovers of the light. The Devils world, is the Devils world! This is not a place where we are gathering to glorify Christ, it’s just not a reality, because I’ve always believed that you let the facts dictate the terms of your decisions and if there’s three sides to a coin, there’s my side and your side, but then there’s the fucking coin and that’s both sides and that is the mystery of the trinity and that’s the only thing you can fucking spend.
Once that started happening, I came to understand that God led my heart into a place, that was an idea of performing Catholic services on the road, so at festival situations for other rockers or other people who not otherwise have access to it in any comfortable manner, all they have to do is knock on my fucking dressing room door and I’ll receive your confession and do the Eucharist, I will perform Mass and everything else that goes with it. It’s a beautiful thing to me and that’s the most Christian thing you can do, just being witness to the beauty of caring for others and helping them.
OD – When you compare the likes of playing a show in a sold out venue like tonight (The Olympia, Dublin, see below) and performing Mass or Confession, do you get the same high from it, or is it something totally different all together?
JESSE – Spiritual health is something that is very hard to describe. Because we are the creation of a divine master, there is no doubt in my mind or in my heart! When God works in your life, it is truly supernatural and I don’t mean some hocus-pocus shit, I mean totally supernatural stuff. When God is working in your heart, it’s a wonderful feeling, but when the Devil is working in your heart, that’s a totally awesome feeling also (laughs)!
OD – You strike me as someone who really enjoys what you are doing and is not afraid to have a little fun with things; do you think that music is a little stale these days, in terms of light heartiness?
JESSE – Yea, it’s true! Music today takes itself way to serious, to the point that it’s almost retarded buffoonery. To see a fucking tranney whore, with most of their privates hanging out, trying to tell me about morality? Come on man, this is a fucking joke right? These commercial pop stars are targeting a youthful market and it’s fucking disgusting man. Actually, I find it quite insidious, to be honest and just on the cusp of pedophilia!
I find that this is not a very popular view-point, as I find myself coming to odds with my peers most of the time and even now when I think about it, it just get’s me burning inside. I have a fifteen year old son and the way my business has targeted him, is diabolical and it’s nothing short of criminal. I think if we had less movies that showed bizarrely sympathetic homosexual characters fifteen years ago, we wouldn’t have gay marriage today. That simply tells me for whatever good or bad, what ever your opinion is, it’s powerful.
I think that television is he most destructive medium that has ever, ever, ever, ever existed. When my Grandmother was a little girl, the television was off to the side and it was on a stand with wheels, no days it’s on the fucking wall in every room of the house and they are just getting bigger and bigger! The huge TV in the master room where the family gathers, just defeats the purpose of the family actually talking to each other and sharing stories and values.
When I was a kid, I was so grateful for the fact that family time was my Dad or my Grandfather reading stories from the Bible and talking about the values that would ultimately make me a better person. The lack of family time today is actually one of the things that I find it be the great failure of parents of our time. To have surrendered their children to the night! Now, that’s a song title right there, “Surrender Your Children to the Night” (laughs)!
OD – You’re a man who seems very much in touch with your sexuality, but what’s the biggest turn off for you?
JESSE – Yea, I’m a horny mother-fucker! A finger to the butt-hole, that’s an instant turn off for me, other than that, I’m game for anything!
Eagles of Death Metal – Zipper Down is out now via Universal Music and can be purchased here. For more information on Eagles of Death Metal, click on the graphic below to get your copy!
Interview / Transcription / Words – Oran O’Beirne © Overdrive 2015
Photography – All images taken from stock photo’s via Eagles Of Death Metal.com
Interview contents – © Overdrive 2015
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