Only freak luck saved Eagles of Death Metal front man Jesse Hughes from dying inside the Bataclan as terrorists raked the Paris concert hall with gunfire.
“I opened the hallway door, that’s when I saw the shooter and he turned on me, he brought his gun down and the barrel hit the door frame,” Hughes recalled to Vice News in the band’s first full interview since the Nov. 13 attack that left 89 dead and dozens of other wounded.
“That’s when I turned (and ran).”
In an emotional 26-minute interview posted Wednesday, Hughes and the rest of the rock band broke their silence on the carnage that unfolded an hour into their set.
Jesse Hughes (right) and Joshua Homme of Eagles of Death Metal speak about the Nov. 13 terrorist attack at their concert at Paris’ Bataclan in their first interview since the carnage.
“I could see the gunman and he looked at me and he shot at me but he missed,” sound engineer Shawn London told Vice. “He hit my console and buttons flew everywhere. I think he thought I probably got hit.”
London was able to flee out the shattered front doors during the lull when the nearest gunman stopped firing to reload. He helped guide an injured female fan to safety in the process.
Bassist Matt McJunkins got trapped in a room with fans, choosing the wrong direction to run off stage.
“I think about Nick, who protected a friend of his,” Joshua Homme said of Nick Alexander, who was killed in the attack.
“From my perspective I see the shooting, I see the pops go off, the lights flashing, I sort of dive over and just have to make that decision — do I really want to run across the stage or go in this room and hope for the best?” recalled McJunkins.
With only a champagne bottle to potentially defend themselves with, they prayed that the gunmen wouldn’t realize there was a room on that side of the hall.
“The gunfire got closer. It went on for 10 to 15 minutes. It just didn’t stop,” said McJunkins, “and then it would stop and there was a sense of relief and then it would start up again.
Eagles of Death Metal perform on stage on Nov. 13 at the Bataclan in Paris moments before terrorists stormed the venue, killing 89 and wounding dozens.
“And then there was an explosion that just shook the whole room.”
The explosion, the band found out later, was from a suicide bomber’s vest.
That batch of survivors fared better than the fans who tried to hide in the Eagle of Death Metal’s dressing room, where they were found and slaughtered by the gunmen.
“The killers were able to get in and killed every one of them, except for a kid who was hiding under my leather jacket,” Hughes, who co-founded the band in 1998 with Joshua Homme, said as he broke down in tears.
Homme had stayed behind in the United States and learned of the heart-rending news via text.
The band’s crew didn’t emerge unscathed — merchandise manager and longtime friend Nick Alexander was gunned down inside the club, along with three employees of the record label.
French firefighters aid an injured individual outside the Bataclan concert hall.
Homme broke down remembering Alexander.
“I think about Nick, who protected a friend of his,” he said. “We have a podium right now because we’re in the freaking band, but we represent the fans that did not make, the people who did not make it, whose stories may never get told.”
And Hughes vowed that the band would finish its tour in honor of those fans — particularly a return to the site of the worst night of their lives.
“I cannot wait to get back to Paris, I want to be the first band to play at the Bataclan when it reopens,” he said, “because I was there when it went silent for a minute.”
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