Eagles of Death Metal singer: Fan escaped gunmen by hiding under my leather jacket

Pubblicato: 24 novembre 2015 in La materia dei segni

“A great reason why so many were killed was because so many people wouldn’t leave their friends,” the band’s front-man, Jesse Hughes, told VICE. “And so many people put themselves in front of people.”

From head to toe, the Eagles of Death Metal lead singer is like a neon sign advertising the trappings of American rock. Tight jeans. Bright tattoos. Bold views. Wild hair. Several stints in drug rehab. And above all: sexually charged lyrics.

On Nov. 13, Hughes was belting those sexually suggestive lyrics on stage when three members of the Islamic State forced their way into the Bataclan concert hall in Paris. Hughes managed to escape but scores of his fans did not. Strapped with suicide vests and armed with Kalashnikovs, the gunmen slaughtered 89 people at the Bataclan. Across the city, coordinated attacks claimed 41 more lives.

In a statement, the Islamic State tried to paint the concert hall as a hedonistic pleasure palace “where hundreds of pagans gathered for a concert of prostitution and vice.”

But if the Islamic State tried to blame Hughes, his band and his fans for the supposed sins of rock-and-roll, then the attackers forgot about the genre’s other side: its saving grace.

In his first comments about the horrific attack, Hughes has highlighted the bravery and selflessness of his fallen fans.

“A great reason why so many were killed was because so many people wouldn’t leave their friends,” he told Vice in a snippet of an interview released Saturday. “And so many people put themselves in front of people.”

Hughes also described how the trappings of his rock-and-roll lifestyle literally saved one concertgoer.

“Several people hid in our dressing room and the killers were able to get in and killed every one of them except for a kid who was hiding under my leather jacket,” he told Vice.

Hughes’s emotional interview, which Vice says will be released in full later this week, is just one of several accounts of the Bataclan siege to emerge in recent days. As Paris struggles to deal with the country’s worst attacks since World War II, survivors and French police are opening up about the sudden spurt of terrible violence.

In the process, a frightening picture is slowly emerging of the two-hour assault.

It’s a picture not only of terror, but also of the two sides of rock-and-roll. The United States has exported its most iconic musical genre around the world for decades, winning admirers and arguably helping to undermine despotic governments.

But rock-and-roll also has made enemies, both here in America and abroad.

In many ways, Hughes is a fitting figurehead for American rock. Just last month, Grantland called him “rock’s last wild man.” In an interview laced with references to sex, drugs, religious devotion and Donald Trump, Hughes likened himself to rock-and-roll greats like Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Prince.

“Danger has been almost completely taken out of contemporary culture — pop stars are now discussed in terms of brand management, not bad behavior. But Hughes exists in an entirely different solar system. He’s #problematic the moment he gets out of bed at three in the afternoon,” Steven Hyden wrote. “Hughes speaks with an authority that tends to intimidate. His aura sticks into you like a shiv.”

Born in South Carolina to a rock-and-roll father and raised in southern California, Hughes now sports a bushy handlebar mustache and a slim, frenetic figure.

But there was a time when he was far from a rock star. Instead, he was an overweight video store manager.

It was around 2002 and Hughes’s best friend (and future band mate), Joshua Homme, had just hit platinum with Queens of the Stone Age.

“I was going through a really ugly divorce,” Hughes said in an interview earlier this year. “I went through a very typical, clichéd ‘I served you my whole life, and this is what I get’ anger. I weighed about 250 pounds, I was a big ol’ redneck boy. I was managing this privately owned chain of video stores and part-time freelancing for the Republican Party and speech writing and sh– like that. The most awful thing I could think of immediately was to start taking speed. I lost 80 pounds, got really depressed. My mother called Joshua because she felt he was one of the only dudes I listened to. She was worried I was going to commit suicide. I have a lot of guns; I’m a big gun owner. Joshua had just gotten back from Australia after [his album] ‘Songs for the Deaf’ went platinum. There was a knock on my door, and he pushed me aside and started putting all my guns in a pillowcase and went, ‘What’s going on, dude?’”

Homme drove Hughes to rehab and paid for it. When Hughes got out, the two recorded “Death by Sexy,” the Eagles of Death Metal’s first album. Their latest, “Zipper Down,” came out just a few weeks before the Bataclan concert. Its cover is a woman unzipping a skin-tight leather jacket to reveal her breasts, on which are pasted Hughes and Homme’s faces.

“One should not zipper up,” Hughes told the Guardian, describing the album and his life philosophy, “they should zipper down and let it all hang out.”

In true American rock fashion, Hughes’s songs are mostly about sex. Scroll through their biggest hits and the titles are “Miss Alissa,” “I Only Want You” and “I Want You So Hard.” (The Guardian review suggests that the band’s “ironic sexism” is now outdated and “limp,” however.)

“The whole point of a band like this is to reduce rock and roll to its most basic (and basest) elements: Simple, bluesy guitar riffs; danceable, syncopated drum beats; and lyrics that celebrate fornication and bad-assery,” wrote Grantland’s Hyden.

But Hughes also seems to capture, for better or worse, much more of the contradictory American condition. He is highly religious and politically conservative. He loves Donald Trump, believes President Obama was not born in America and considers George W. Bush his hero because “a dude who does blow and likes ZZ Top is my kind of motherf—–,” he told Hyden.

Yet, he is also hypersexual — “I’m a horny dude, man” — and unabashed about his continued drug use: “The only place you’re going to find the type of speed I like to do is at a gay bar at six in the morning.”

Hughes is an ordained minister who preaches fevered sermons online but has also posed for naked photo shoots with his ex-porn star girlfriend. He describes himself as devout, but goes by the nickname “The Devil.”

At times, Hughes himself seems deeply conflicted about America, about rock-and-roll and even about himself.

“I’m sorry, but I’m going to take full f—– credit right now for f—– the destruction of everything good, okay? Because it’s true,” he told Hyden. “Everything that the Bible thumpers said about Elvis is f—– true. It destroyed everything: Intimacy, the ability for people to be married — society at large is gone. [Pop culture] brought us the Internet, mass pornography, the death porn of Quentin Tarantino. It’s all f—– darkness and evil and has one goal, dude. And it’s not anything good for us. That’s the f—– reality of it, dude.”

Bizarrely, his language sounds similar to that of the gunmen who attacked Hughes and his fans in Paris earlier this month.

Although it’s unclear if the Islamic State specifically targeted the Eagles of Death Metal, what is certain is that the Nov. 13 concert was a prime target.

Three members of the Islamic State arrived to the Bataclan at around 9:40 p.m., immediately gunning down two young men on rental bikes outside before bursting into the concert hall and opening fire, according to theAssociated Press. Concertgoers initially thought the flashing lights were part of the show until Hughes and his band raced off stage and out of the building.

Many of the band’s fans weren’t able to escape. The gunmen mowed down dozens of them, leaving screaming victims and pools of blood where young people had been dancing moments before.

Also among the dead: the band’s British merchandise manager, Nick Alexander.

When a local police commissioner caught word of the concert attack on his radio, he and his driver sped to the scene, only to realize the SWAT teams hadn’t arrived yet. So the two cops sneaked inside the theater and the commissioner shot one of the gunmen before he could fire back with his machine gun, the AP reported.

The two remaining Islamic State gunmen retreated upstairs. Along the way, they stalked fleeing Eagles of Death Metal fans to the band’s dressing room, where, according to Hughes’s Vice interview, the gunmen killed everyone except for a single fan who somehow successfully hid under Hughes’s leather jacket.

It was a fitting, if unintentional, favor, from the band’s frontman, who was himself saved by rock-and-roll.

After marauding the dressing room, the gunmen held survivors hostage for more than an hour before dying in an explosive shootout with police.

For Hughes, however, the dressing room’s lone survivor wasn’t the only sign of rock’s saving grace. So, too, was the bravery shown at the Bataclan.

“People were playing dead and they were so scared,” Hughes told Vice. But they also took bullets for one another.

Sorgente: Eagles of Death Metal singer: Fan escaped gunmen by hiding under my leather jacket – The Washington Post

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