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Jesse Hughes

Eagles of Death Metal

"Guitar playing is sometimes the greatest expression of pure joy that you can have. Guitar playing has become the means by which I’ve gotten to see the world. Guitar playing means the ability to express yourself outside of mere words." In this episode Ernie Ball artist and guitarist for Eagles of Death Metal Jesse Hughes discusses his influences, his history with playing guitar, and his Ernie Ball strings.

Transcript

Jesse Hughes:
What is guitar playing to me or what is music to me? That's definitely not a one-dimensional answer. It's faceted. What is guitar playing to me? Guitar playing is sometimes the greatest expression of pure joy that you can have. Guitar playing becomes the means by which I've gotten to see the world. Guitar playing means the ability to express yourself outside of mere words, and guitar playing has meant the most convenient and most routinely consistent means of which getting laid.

Jesse Hughes:
I didn't have a lot of friends in school. I was kind of a ... I got picked on a little bit, and music was where I went. If I had enemies, I listened to their music and realize why they were lame, and if I had friends, I listened to their music. Music is a universal language, but beyond just being able to tell someone, "I love you," you can meet a new person and find out two or three bands that you're into and know much more about the person than was spoken. You know what I mean? When you come to a new place, it's, "What music do you like" is the question to determine who you're going to hang with.

Jesse Hughes:
I started in music playing the flute. From the time I was six and a half, my father was in a rock and roll band and my mother really disapproved of it, and I think she wanted to discourage rock and roll, so she saddled me with the flute. So I started with flute and then I realized that's not the best instrument to carry around with you when you're 13 and 14 years old going to school.

Jesse Hughes:
So my first introduction to guitar was ... La Bamba was the first song I ever learned. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, that intro, and it wasn't until was 30 and I went through a divorce and was transformed that I learned to play guitar. When I wrote the first Eagles album, I wrote all those songs by myself and I did them all in a week. I mean, it was some of the first shit that I ever did. I couldn't even stand and play guitar at the same time. When we did the first tour, we had to hire a coach to give me tips on how to do it, how to sing and play. It was a lot of coordination for this hillbilly.

Jesse Hughes:
I'm a late bloomer. I always loved rock and roll. Music is what bound myself and my best friend Josh [inaudible 00:03:31] and I together throughout school, was a love of music and it was where I would go to have friends, but later in life after my life changed via divorce and having everything I ever believed in sort of wiped away, music became an inevitable thing. It's like being a werewolf your whole life and not seeing your first full moon till you're 30. That's what it was like.

Jesse Hughes:
I just made that up. It's cool. I'm going to steal it for myself. I've never used any string. This is no lighter other than Ernie Ball because the Musician's Outlet in the desert where I grew up, that's what they carried. The packaging was the most informative for me when I was a kid. It made sense to me and it delivered on its promise. I'm a very practical kind of dude. Like I said, I don't know a lot, but I know a little, and so if I'm not that great, I need everything that I'm using to be great and then I can be great with it. And Ernie Ball without sounding corny is a key to that because I have a weird tuning and I tune my E string up to G. It's a lot of tension. Ernie Ball has worked out a formula of string gauging for me that balances my guitar out, makes my tones crisp, and makes the chords ring out instead of losing and failing. They make it. And the difference truly is in Ernie Ball.

Jesse Hughes:
I don't like to change my strings. I don't like my strings changed every show, and I tend, because I downstroke, I will tend to beat down on two strings in particular and snap those strings. If I change a single string with Ernie Ball, the consistency remains. You can hear a difference if you change strings, just one or two strings between packs. Sometimes they don't resonate right. Sometimes it ... Ernie Ball is always consistent. It's always stays in tune and the strings stay fresh so that ... I have always needed strings that you don't need to change often other than simply because they break. I've come to rest on Super Slinky. Those are the most durable string and the most consistent performing product in the music world to me.

Jesse Hughes:
What was the band that made you first want to make rock and roll instead of just buy it? Firehouse and The Minutemen were some of the first bands. The SST music scene in general. Black Flagg. I'm a big Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart-ite, you know what I mean? But it was Parliament that really got to me. I don't know why. I'm a roots rocker, I'm a hillbilly, rockabilly, greaser. But the music I make is what happens when a white boy loves George Clinton more than anything. Funkadelic shows us that rock and roll, traditional rock and roll, Jimmy Hendrix-style riffs, whatever, is directly in tune with funk. It's what lets us know that really rock and roll is an attitude and that Public Enemy is just as rock and roll as Elvis Presley is just as rock and roll as Black Sabbath is just as rock and roll as Jurassic Five, et cetera, et cetera, forever and ever. Amen.

Jesse Hughes:
I always thought that it would be rad to mix hillbilly with hip hop. You know what I mean? And not necessarily in a Kid Rock way, which is awesome, but in a different way. Hip hop and George Clinton are what I am into, but I'm just a hillbilly. So when it goes into me, it comes out like this, just like white kids obsessed with Little Richard-made punk rock, in the 60s the Stooges and whatnot. It's going to go in. You never know how it's going to come out. Sometimes failing is awesome. When trying to make plastic explosives, some dudes fucked up and made Silly Putty and that's so much fun.

Jesse Hughes:
It's another orig. I wrote it, so it's cool.

Jesse Hughes:
I started playing Ernie Ball strings probably when I started playing guitar, which when I was like 19. I was originally a bass player and started playing guitar just kind of for fun or more as a joke on-

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