Published Jun 24, 2009After four years away, all it took to get Eels main man Mark Oliver Everett back into the mode of making new music was some facial hair. Well, okay - a lot of facial hair. "You've got to get inspiration wherever you can get it," he says.
Everett, better known simply as E, found his muse in the mirror one day while brushing his teeth. "I saw the beard and I thought about the last time I had grown a substantial beard, which was probably only half as good as the one I have now," he says. "That was when I did the 'Dog Faced Boy' song."
"Dog Faced Boy" was the lead track on Eels 2001 album Souljacker. It introduced us to a hairy-faced kid living in a town that can't accept his lupine tendencies - Teen Wolf this ain't. "I thought, 'well it's all these years later, he's older now. What is he now?' I figured the best he could hope to be was a werewolf."
The resulting album, Hombre Lobo: 12 Songs of Desire is a sparse guitar, bass and drums record that flips between skuzzy, 21st century blues and sad bastard ballads exploring the many sides of desire from the character's perspective. "His life is still driven by the same kind of frustrations from when he was young. He's really driven by his passions and he's got nowhere to put [them]."
It's tempting to draw comparisons between the character and E himself. After all E has written entire albums about his personal tragedies. He says there's no immediate correlation between himself and the character. Yet "there's gotta be something for you to identify with in order to make it work," he explains. "If I look back on these things years later... I suddenly realize in hindsight that it had a lot more to do with me personally than I was aware of at the time."
He says he's not entirely sure why he decided to ditch the razor, but he feels strongly about staking his hirsute territory. "You're really disrespecting your rights as a rock star if you don't grow an enormous beard every once in a while," he says. "To disrespect that is a sin. If I can't do it who can? I was born with a lot of testosterone and I gotta use it."
Despite the gap, E kept himself busy in the four years since Eels last record, the double album Blinking Lights and Other Revelations. He penned his autobiography, took part in a BBC documentary about his physicist father and oversaw the release of an Eels greatest hits and rarities compilations. Though the length was unintentional, he says the break was necessary. "I felt like I had kind of painted myself into a bit of a corner with the Blinking Lights album," he says. "I figured I needed to create some space and give some time so everybody can get over that before I move on and say 'hey, by the way I'm still alive.'"
Though he's not ruling out the possibility of a tour, for now he's content to just lay low. "The fun part's making the baby," he says. "Now that we've squeezed the baby out, I've just got to let my artistic vagina heal."