For the first time since terrorists stormed the Bataclan theater in Paris during an Eagles of Death Metal concert, band members recounted the horror in an interview with Vice’s Shane Smith.
“We weren’t sure if they were targeting us or what was going on,” guitarist Eden Galindo said of the furious gunfire that erupted after the Nov. 14 show.
One of the killers paused to load a fresh ammunition clip into his gun, and someone in the band’s entourage yelled to the others, “Let’s go!”
Some band members ran for cover upstairs, but saw another gunman and retreated. Back downstairs, they found their way to a side exit and onto the street.
Matt McJunkins, the bassist, was in a dressing room with fans, hiding behind a curtain. He said people were “pouring through” the door from the stage. The band’s tour manager was nearby and made eye contact with McJunkins, who said they had the same thought: “There’s no exit over here.”
McJunkins made his way into another backstage room. “Several people had been shot and were bleeding,” he said. People barricaded the door with chairs. McJunkins said he grabbed a bottle of champagne from a mini-fridge as a weapon. “It’s all we had,” he said.
Water from a broken pipe was gushing into the room, McJunkins said. “We were worried because the water was up to here — it was covering our shoes,” he said. “It started trickling down the stairs and we were worried that maybe it would alert someone.”
Bursts of gunfire would continue for 10 or 15 minutes at a time, then would pause and pick up again. An explosion “shook the whole room, probably the whole building,” McJunkins said.
“The initial shots were so powerful for me that I immediately knew something was wrong,” said Julian Dorio, the drummer. “I saw two guys out front, and that might just be the most awful thing ever — them just relentlessly shooting into the audience.”
Dorio crawled to the right side of the stage, shielded by his gear, until he could escape to safety out the side door.
Jesse Hughes, the band’s co-founder, ran looking for his girlfriend. He opened a door and one of the shooters stood right in front of him.
“A barrel hit the door frame and I was like, ‘Oh fuck’,” Hughes said. He ran back downstairs and heard his girlfriend talking to a fellow band member, so he escaped out the side door.
Hughes said he saw throngs of people standing in the alley, motionless. “People just didn’t seem to know what to do,” he said.
“The show went well, these kids were having a blast,” said Shawn London, the sound engineer. Then the gunmen “came in the door and instantly started blasting, there were two of them.” People had nowhere to escape, so they ran toward his equipment and took cover beneath it, he said.
“I was still standing up and I looked right at the gunman and he shot right at me and he missed and he hit my console,” London said. “That’s when I went instantly down to the ground.”
The gunman continued to shoot, he said. He “screamed at the top of his lungs Allah Akbar.”
When the gunman stopped shooting to reload, London said he and five others ran. The gunman shot at them, but missed, shattering a glass door.
Eventually, band members made it to the nearest police station. “I instantly stopped worrying a little bit, at least about the uncertainty of things,” Hughes said.
“It was still chaos, cause there were kids coming from the venue covered in blood,” Galindo added.
The first person they called was band member Joshua Homme, who had not joined them in Paris that night. He was in his studio when he got a text message saying, “Everyone got shot. They took hostages. I’ve got blood all over me.”
Hughes reflected on who lived and who died in the mayhem. “Several people hid in our dressing room and the killers were able to get in and kill everyone, except for a kid who was hiding under my leather jacket,” Hughes said. “A great reason so many were killed was because so many people wouldn’t leave their friends.”
Nick Alexander, the band’s merchandise manager, died while protecting someone else. He “bled out because he didn’t want anyone else to get hurt,” Hughes said, beginning to cry.
Homme showed two pieces of paper on which he has been writing the names of those who didn’t make it. “It’s so hard to even believe it,” he said. “I just wanted to write it down to see it, for God’s sake, their parents, I wish I could talk to their parents. I sort of want to just get down on my knees and say whatever you need.”
Hughes said he now feels lucky. “I may be scared, I may have gone through some bad shit, but I’m breathing. I get to talk to my son tonight,” he said.
“I cannot wait to get back to Paris,” Hughes continued. “I want to play. I want to be the first band to play in the Bataclan when it opens back up. Our friends went to see rock and roll there and died. I want to go there and live.”
The band plans to finish their current tour. Members said they’ve asked other musicians to perform covers of their song, “I Love You All the Time,” and will donate proceeds to victims.
“We will never lose or forget you,” London said of the victims. “I love you all very much, and we will move past this,” Hughes added.
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