Mardi Gras 2006 was only the second Carnival in thirteen years that Eagles of Death Metal (EODM) guitarist Dave Catching was absent for, and he feels it.
"It's my favorite city, and my favorite time of year to be there," he says over the phone from Boston.
Catching lived in New Orleans from 1993 until 1996 and again, briefly, in 1999 and 2000. Since then, though he spends most of his time either on tour or in Southern California at his Rancho De La Luna recording studio, he's remained a member of New Orleans' fan club, coming to town several times a year to play or visit. He and EODM will play at the House of Blues Friday (July 28) with Peaches, another frequent visitor to New Orleans.
Catching first came to New Orleans as an auxiliary member of the Continental Drifters. "At the time, they had kind of a loose collective of people who played with them, and they were going to play Jazz Fest. I went down for the f*** of it, and got introduced to a whole side of New Orleans that I really liked, and a lot of cool people. And I was sick of the music scene in L.A." Catching wound up renting a restaurant attached to an Uptown bar with two partners, a short-lived project that evolved in New Orleans fashion.
"The guy we were renting it from wasn't insured, and there was a fire which destroyed the whole electrical system," he remembers. "The owners weren't insured, either. Then the guy we were renting it from died in my bed while I was out of town. We had it for about six months. So I just stayed for another couple of years, going back and forth between there and L.A. It was the best time of my entire life. We used to throw crazy parties at the Saturn Bar. O'Neil [Broyard] used to let us play there and bitch that there was too much business coming in."
Catching returned to L.A. more or less permanently, returning at least yearly to play a regular gig with his Mardi Gras psych-punk band, the Gnarltones, keeping close ties with the city, where his daughter and her mother still live. His most recent visit was for a few weeks in early November to record with another part-time New Orleans resident, the Twilight Singers' Greg Dulli.
"It was devastating to me, really," he says. "It was bizarre. When I came in, it all looked the same except for the watermarks. I went to stay with a friend of mine who had a lot of damage you don't notice at first, like the roof, or the back porch was completely gone. Most places I frequent, like Crepe Nanou or One Eyed Jacks ... the French Quarter bars and the Uptown bars ... everything was there except most of the people who made it interesting. The biggest thing was having so many people gone -- being in Mid-city at night or the Ninth Ward and no lights are on. I'm just very happy to be coming back to play this show, you know -- I miss that city. And you can't really make people understand how much help the city still needs. People don't realize."
Eagles of Death Metal play the House of Blues this week with Peaches, another regular visitor, who served as the Grand Marshal for the Ninth Ward Marching Band this past Mardi Gras. The tour is in support of the band's second full-length studio album, Death By Sexy (Rekords Rekords/Downtown), which came out this April, and Catching is pretty jazzed about it. "This is the most fun tour ever," he says. "Peaches is just killing."
EODM is a relatively loose collective of musicians based around core members Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss) and Jesse Hughes. The shifting membership has included Hole's Samantha Maloney, Jack Black, Dave Grohl and a host of others. Homme, a new father, isn't even in this touring incarnation of the band.
"Josh plays drums on the record, but he just had a baby and is recording, so he's tied up," says Catching. "We've got Mean Gene Trautmann from Queens of the Stone Age on drums. We've been lucky in the drummer department," Catching says, naming other sometime Queens member Joey Castillo and Maloney as EODM drum alumni. "When Josh has time, we do the double drumming thing, which is always fun." Death By Sexy is another helping of seemingly '70s vintage guitar-driven glammy garage rock, seriously hook-laden and rejoicing, audibly, in everything visceral about rock 'n' roll. It's a little cleaner and more produced than the slightly sludgy debut, Peace Love Death Metal, but easily still perfect for reckless driving or pumping devil horns into the air.
"It's the most fun band you could ever play in," Catching says.
Eagles of Death Metal and Peaches play the House of Blues with Deadboy and the Elephantmen Friday, July 28.