Dysfunctionality may have been invented by the American family, but rock 'n' roll perfected it. One scan of the British tabloids will tell you the story of The Libertines, a band whose frontman, Pete Doherty, is more self-destructive than two cancer cells cannibalizing each other.
And, of course, music fans love it. We love our rock 'n' roll to play out like a schadenfreude after-school special.
Little Crack House on the Prairie or Junkie Brewster.
The Libertines were a strong, promising young band. But it was Doherty's promise to make himself a grotesque spectacle that turned them into media darlings. In a sad moment earlier this year, their manager even excitedly compared him to Kurt Cobain, as if to say, It's gonna end bad, but it's gonna be fun to watch.
Two bands who seem destined to make a career out of impersonating train wrecks are on one bill this week: Queens of the Stone Age and the Eagles of Death Metal. It's the sort of show that has as great a chance of being reviewed in the police blotter as it does in CityBeat.
After ascending the throne of modern rock-metal-aided by the high-profile return to drums by Dave Grohl and the input of super-adored indie musician Mark Lanegan-Queens of the Stone Age has essentially been boiled down to the only original member who hasn't lost his brain.
Of the entire desert-rock rat pack, only Josh Homme remains. Guitarist Nick Oliveri, Homme's longtime sidekick since the days of Kyuss, apparently jumped off the sanity wagon sometime last year. It's rumored (only because we haven't seen it firsthand) that a copious amount of drugs, taken over a long period of time, scorched Oliveri's gray matter into something resembling a pizza sausage that's been microwaved way too long.
Finally, Homme kicked him out. In doing so, Queens essentially became a solo thing. Not that an abnormal game of musical chairs is a foreign concept for Homme. For his longstanding studio project, The Desert Sessions, he has invited a coterie of sympathetic weirdoes into his studio to create 10 albums of impressive jam sessions.
Even PJ Harvey stopped by for the last session. And the "P" and the "J" in her name stand for "fucking hip."
It was during those Desert Sessions that Eagles of Death Metal was formed-a cheeky name to describe what happened when Homme played drums to the glam-blues tunes his buddy Jesse "The Devil" Hughes thought up. And Hughes thinks up a ton of 'em-partially because he's a man so wrought with chemically induced A.D.D. that he either needs to put songs to tape or risk bursting into flames while buying a 40-ounce Big Gulp at the most ghetto convenience store this side of Yuba City.
Hughes has a striking similarity to Oliveri, their main difference being that Hughes channels his psychic white noise into a homoerotic sense of humor. Oliveri had only rage. They're both one good, long night away from big hospital bills. And somewhere between where they are now (tenuous sanity) and where they could end up (drooling into tiny plastic cups of meds) lay some really bitchin' rock songs.
Late last year, after helping his buddy Hughes rightfully get some media attention for his good songs, Homme announced he's no longer drumming for the Eagles of Death Metal.
In doing so, it began to seem that Homme, somewhat stable or at least better suited to cope with excess, is the curator of these creative time bombs. If Wesley Willis or G.G. Allin were still assaulting this great earth, Homme would no doubt form a band with them as well. It's almost as if he's a ride-along on a suicide mission, using it as a thrill ride and pushing the eject button right before the part where death and destruction befall him.
But now rumors are afloat that Oliveri may be invited back into the fold. And the Eagles of Death Metal are touring with Queens on Homme's new jaunt around the U.S. So Homme might not be as sane as he comes off-as much as he tries to distance himself from Oliveri and Hughes, he seems addicted to their instability. Maybe he knows he doesn't really want to be like them, but he desperately needs to be around them.
It's a very rock 'n' roll need, the same need that lures readers into stories with titles like "Billy Joel Returns to Rehab." We need voyeuristic self-destruction, because undoing this mortal coil with a series of sexy vices is the ultimate devotion to hedonism-a purist's submission to escapism, no matter the cost.
Homme just seems like he's figured out that he can surround himself in that underworld without taking one for the team. He just looks to his right or left, feels the destruction of his supporting cast, and maintains his edge.Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal play at the House of Blues, 8 p.m. on May 19. The show is sold out.