“Everything’s going to be OK.”
Those were the words with which “Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Our Friends)” director Colin Hanks greeted the crowd on Thursday evening at the Avalon Hollywood, before tearing up slightly at the premiere.
It wasn’t your typical glamorous night out in La La Land for the HBO Documentary feature, which also marks the first film for Live Nation Productions. Sure, there were some famous names there to support the project — including Johnny Knoxville, Jack Black, and Amanda De Cadenet — but the topic at hand was too serious to merit typical red carpet banter.
The doc tells the story of friendship between the band’s founders, Jesse Hughes (aka Boots Electric) and Josh Homme (Baby Duck), and their journey returning to the stage following the terrorist attacks that killed 89 people during their November 2015 show at the Bataclan theater in Paris. The story-telling — which includes interviews with Bono and The Edge — is raw and emotional, while the accounts of the survivors — several of whom attended the premiere – are harrowing and heart-rending. Come 2018 Awards Season, it checks all the boxes.
“It’s important to tell this story, but I also think it’s important what this story represents,” Hanks told Variety. “This story represents all of the positive things that I saw in Paris for [the Eagles of Death Metal’s] return concert, and all of things that Jesse and Josh represent – their friendship and their love for each other. And more than anything else, I just wanted to help them put an end to this chapter in their lives so that they don’t have to talk about this publicly again. And that’s what I personally want this to be for them; a chance to move past this.”
“I’m usually a pretty happy guy, but we’re not too sure what’s appropriate,” Homme, who also plays in the band Queens of the Stone Age, said to Variety.
“It’s hard to have someone thank you on your movie,” Hughes added. “By the same token, I’m more mystified by Colin. Why did he do all this? I don’t understand. He did this wonderful thing and protected us. And he found some story that we didn’t even… I’d never even thought about our friendship like this.”
Hanks had been friends with the band for several years preceding the ISIL-claimed terrorist attack. The choice to make the documentary was, without doubt, a great gesture of love from Hanks to the band and to the victims and survivors.
“This is a nice way to end this,” Homme added. “You can’t let the bad guys win. Friends are important. Rock ‘n’ roll is important.”
The film serves as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, the ability of love to win over evil, and rock ‘n’ roll’s power to unite.
“The only reason I was even able to get back on stage, or that I was even able to want to go back, is because I had the sort of friends that made it possible.” Hughes added. “It’s a weird night for me because I feel really lucky. I have the best friends in the world. And I’m also ready for the rock ‘n’ roll discussion to begin anew.”
The night ended with a full-concert performance by Eagles of Death Metal, as several more fans arrived at the Avalon following the screening. Just like the band’s first full concert return to the stage, in February 2016 at the Olympia theatre in Paris, the message in the music came through loud and clear — love. Just always… choose love.
“Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Our Friends)” debuts Feb. 13 on HBO.
(Pictured: Producer Sean Stuart, Josh Homme, Jesse Hughes and director Colin Hanks)