Eels: Finding Danger With 'Hombre Lobo' Mark Oliver Everett is the creative force behind the rock band Eels. Since the group's debut album in 1996, Everett has made moody rock music with rough edges and tuneful melodies. That tradition continues on Hombre Lobo: 12 Songs of Desire, the band's first album in four years.
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Eels: Finding Danger With 'Hombre Lobo'

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Eels: Finding Danger With 'Hombre Lobo'

Eels: Finding Danger With 'Hombre Lobo'

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SCOTT SIMON, Host:

His fans call him Mr. E, sometimes A Man Called E, sometimes just E. Whatever you call him. Mark Everett is the creative force behind the rock band Eels.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TREMENDOUS DYNAMITE")

MARK OLIVER EVERETT: (Singing) (unintelligible).

SIMON: That's a song called "Tremendous Dynamite" from the new album "Hombre Lobo," the first in four years. Mr. Everett, thanks so much for being with us.

OLIVER EVERETT: Nice to be here.

SIMON: Let me ask you about this cover hard on the CD. You've got a ZZ Top-like beard and of course I asked because hombre lobo translates to wolfman.

OLIVER EVERETT: Yeah. I was working on some other music, and I looked in the mirror one morning and I saw this werewolf staring back at me. And I thought, you know, this beard doesn't really suit the music that I'm working on currently. I should cut it off. And then at the last minute it occurred to me, well, why don't I just make some music that suits the beard, and I'll keep it?

SIMON: When you say you see this werewolf staring back at me, go with that, okay?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SIMON: Did you just mean facial hair or something else?

OLIVER EVERETT: Well, it's started a line of thinking at that point. And I thought about the last time I had a substantial beard, was when we did the album "Souljacker" in 2001. The reason I grew a beard then is I was really into the - I got into the character of the first song on the album, which was called "Dog Faced Boy."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DOG FACED BOY")

OLIVER EVERETT: (Singing) Ma won't shave me, Jesus can't save me, Dog faced boy.

OLIVER EVERETT: Then I thought it would be interesting to revisit a character from an old song who is now an adult all these years later and what's he like, and that's where I started to working into this werewolf (unintelligible)

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

OLIVER EVERETT: (Singing) (Unintelligible)

SIMON: Not exactly "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window," is it?

OLIVER EVERETT: Well, it's sort of an update on that.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

OLIVER EVERETT: I mean I - it occurred to me that something that seems to be kind of lacking in them so-called indie rock these days is an element of sex and danger. And I just thought, you know, isn't that where the term rock and roll came from? Let's howl after some girls now and then.

SIMON: There are some songs though in this CD that almost sound like innocent infatuations.

OLIVER EVERETT: Well, I look at the songs as kind of sales pitches from this character who is trying to convince the object of his desire that he's the man for them. And he takes different approaches and sometimes, like in the song you just played, he kind of loses his cool and what's - his passions take over. And other times he takes a more tender approach.

SIMON: Can we play a little bit of "All the Beautiful Things"?

OLIVER EVERETT: Sure.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALL THE BEAUTIFUL THINGS")

OLIVER EVERETT: (Singing) And the day I wake up, I wonder why. I am alone when I know, I'm a lovely guy. Words coming down from the sky so blue, see all the beautiful things you do. What can't I just get with you?

SIMON: That's a very sweet song.

OLIVER EVERETT: Yeah. He is not always scary. You know, he's got a tender heart. He's really just a delicate little flower underneath...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

OLIVER EVERETT: ...that great beard.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALL THE BEAUTIFUL THINGS")

OLIVER EVERETT: (Singing) You're the only friend in the world. You could be just be my girl.

SIMON: It's been four years since you put out a CD, I guess.

OLIVER EVERETT: Yeah, since we put out a new one anyway.

SIMON: And how do you fill the time?

OLIVER EVERETT: Well, I was quite busy over the last four years. I wrote a book and made a documentary about my father and...

SIMON: Can we talk about that documentary, "Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives"?

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "PARALLEL WORLDS, PARALLEL LIVES")

OLIVER EVERETT: But many of Mark's fans don't know that his father, Hugh Everett, is also a cult figure, in the world of physics for pioneering the strange theory of parallel universes. Hugh Everett proposed a multitude of universes, each a home to an alternate reality, including alternate versions of you and me.

SIMON: First of all, what universe is this interview going on in?

OLIVER EVERETT: Well, I'm only aware of this one. According to my father's theory, it's going on in many, many other universes and it's gone completely haywire in some of them.

SIMON: You guys didn't have exactly a Norman Rockwell family. Is that fair to say?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

OLIVER EVERETT: I think it seems pretty accurate.

SIMON: I mean around the house, he didn't get down on his knees and play jacks with you.

OLIVER EVERETT: No, he - the only time he ever resembled a human to me and did something like that is he would get down and play with the dog on the floor occasionally. But otherwise there is no signs of - that there was a human inside that body. It was more like a piece of furniture or a robot was in the house.

SIMON: He's a very gifted thinker, obviously.

OLIVER EVERETT: Yeah. And the tragedy of his life was that he was just too smart, too soon. He was 24 when he came up this theory that threatened to knock all the faces on the Mount Rushmore of physics off, and so he was brushed under the carpet. And the great thing about doing something like a documentary like this about your father, I feel like everybody should be so lucky to get to do something like that because it - I really learnt so much about him.

SIMON: Yeah.

OLIVER EVERETT: And I learned that we have a lot of things in common and it's made me identify with him in a lot of ways and it's ultimately led to me being able to forgive him for his shortcomings as a father.

SIMON: What you have in common?

OLIVER EVERETT: Well...

SIMON: Music is math.

OLIVER EVERETT: It's easier for me to forgive him now because I'm the same way a lot. I'm a fairly isolated kind of individual.

SIMON: Ted, there's a scene in the documentary where you discover some tapes in your basement that you have never heard before.

OLIVER EVERETT: It was really strange. I was really nervous to play that tape because I couldn't even remember what my father's voice sounded like. He'd been dead for 25 years. And then the second I heard it on the tape, I immediately knew it was him. And I remembered it and recognized it and recognized it as him.

(SOUNDBITE OF TAPE)

HUGH EVERETT: Now we're starting to say some ridiculous things about the implications of modern mechanics.

OLIVER EVERETT: And then - but the hardest part was hearing all the sounds from my house. You know, my mom laughing in the background. She's now dead also. And then my sister, who is also dead. And then the really odd thing happens where you start to hear me playing drums downstairs while my father's talking on the tape recorder.

(SOUNDBITE OF TAPE)

(SOUNDBITE OF DRUMS)

OLIVER EVERETT: End of this tape.

OLIVER EVERETT: No one is right, until they fought my fight, to understand just where I'm coming through.

SIMON: I gather that your sister died in 1996.

OLIVER EVERETT: Yeah. I did one particular album in 1998 called "Electro-Shock Blues" that was...

SIMON: Yeah.

OLIVER EVERETT: ...very explicitly dealing with my sister and my mother's death.

SIMON: I've been told your manager didn't like the idea of that album.

OLIVER EVERETT: Yeah. I look back on that as the defining moment when I finally became a man, when my manager, who was like a father figure to me, I had to go against his advice and stick to my guns.

SIMON: Was he trying to just protect you from hurt or...

OLIVER EVERETT: Well, I mean it was - it was the first time I had really done something where I was certain that I had done the right thing. I think if I had taken the advice of the record industry people at the time, which would be to just keep trying to have as many radio hits as possible, I don't think it would've worked, and that would have been the end of it and never would've heard from me again. I think doing things exactly how I wanted to do them was what's made it so I'm able to still be here.

SIMON: This new CD, is there any song you'd like to call to our attention?

OLIVER EVERETT: My favorite is the second one, called "That Look You Give That Guy."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THAT LOOK YOU GIVE THAT GUY")

OLIVER EVERETT: (Singing) I never thought that I could be so bold, to even say these thoughts aloud, I see you with your man, your eyes just shine, while he stands tall and walking proud. (Unintelligible) I wanna see, looking right at me.

SIMON: Mark Everett, the front man for the Eels. Their new album, "Hombre Lobo," was released this week. Mr. E., thanks so much.

OLIVER EVERETT: Thank you for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THAT LOOK YOU GIVE THAT GUY")

OLIVER EVERETT: (Singing) It always seems like you're going somewhere better than you've been before. Well, I go to sleep and I dream all night of you knocking on my door. That look you give that guy, I wanna see...looking right at me, if I could be that guy...

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