Eagles of Death Metal, a rock group who proudly never take themselves too seriously, is now forever tainted by the deadly terror attacks in Paris.
The band had reportedly been on stage at the historic Bataclan theater in central Paris for about an hour when gunmen overtook the venue and opened fire in one of a series of attacks that rocked the French capital Friday. Dozens of people were killed and hundreds were held hostage for hours before authorities stormed the theater, NBC News reported.
"The path was full of bodies drenched in blood. The people who tried to escape earlier [sic]. Fortunately they all took the stairs at once so no one was watching and no one shot me," recounted Thomas Tran Dinh, who works for IBM France and attended Friday's concert. "One minute before or after they would have shot me. And then I ran fast and far away," he wrote on his LinkedIn page.
Family members said the band, including singer and guitarist Jesse Hughes, were able to escape the attack at Le Bataclan. The wife of drummer Julian Dorio told NBC News that he'd told her everyone on stage managed to get out and that he and other band members made it to a police station.
"I'm grateful and heartbroken at the same time," Emily Hall Dorio said. "I'm grateful he's alive."
It was a celebration turned nightmare for Eagles of Death Metal, who formed in 1998 in Palm Desert, California. The European tour was to promote the October release of "Zipper Down," the band's first album in seven years. Group members who had made the trip to Europe included Hughes, guitarist Dave Catching, bassist Matt McJunkins, guitarist Eden Galindo and Dorio, according to the band’s Facebook page.
Created by childhood friends Josh Homme, 42, of "Queens of the Stone Age" fame and 43-year-old Jesse Hughes (the only two permanent members of the group), Eagles of Death Metal—despite its name—is not a death metal band. According to Rolling Stone, the irreverent group surprise and delight audiences by producing "damn good straight-up rock & roll."
Homme, who is not currently on tour with the band, declined to comment when NBC News reached him by phone in Palm Desert.
In October, Homme told the Los Angeles Times that the band was an ongoing special project and labor of love with his lifelong friend Hughes. "If there were more bands trying to be like Eagles, rock 'n' roll would be way better and healthier," Hommes said.
Art Hainey is friends with the members of the band and said he'd been hearing stories about their escape from the theater. "They're just really nice, down-to-earth people and I know they love their fans and they're probably just heart sick right now about what's going on," Hainey told NBC4 in Los Angeles.
Fans, both in Paris and back in the U.S., took to social media to express their shock and disbelief after the attack. "There's nothing quite like making a new friend over the mutual love of an excellent band. That's why this is so heavy. We may not know the victims but we know they were the kind of people that liked pure Rock and Roll. They could have have easily been our friends," posted Adam G. Snow on the band's Facebook page. "My boyfriend and I were at the show tonight, near the front left next to the emergency exit," Lauren Nolt added via Facebook. "He shielded me and we managed to escape after being trampled. I cant believe what happened."
The band—comprised of a wide range of musicians that play under the Eagles of Death Metal moniker—has a lighthearted attitude towards its music. "We kind of have a rule with Eagles of Death Metal that it’s the fun show, and we want everyone to belong," Hughes recently told Rolling Stone.
Eagles of Death Metal's debut album, "Peace, Love, Death Metal," was released in 2004. It was followed by "Death by Sexy" (2006), "Heart On" (2008) and this year's "Zipper Down," which hit No. 59 on the Billboard 200. Their albums have sold a combined 234,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music.
Their best-selling songs in the U.S., per Billboard, are: "Miss Alissa" (31,000 downloads), followed by "I Only Want You" (26,000), "I Want You So Hard" (25,000), "Wannabe In L.A." (23,000) and "Don't Speak" (21,000).
The most recent post on the band's official Facebook page reads: "Our thoughts are with all of the people involved in this tragic situation."
Booked through December, the group's website lists 20 forthcoming show dates including stops in Zurich, Budapest, Stockholm, Oslo, Rome and Barcelona. European media outlets are reporting the band has canceled a concert scheduled for Nov. 15 in Belgium.
In a bizarre coincidence, the horror of what occurred at Le Bataclan now casts a frightening shadow over a tongue-in-cheek quote from founding member Homme heralding the release of "Zipper Down."
Musing on the effect their most recent absence from music has had on the state of the world, Homme jokingly said to Rolling Stone in September: "Yeah. We put out a record and human rights are better, the world feels better, people make more money, there's less anger, people are more respectful to women and to homosexuals, and they're generally nicer each other, they're kinder to each other, and that's why we really felt like it was time to let the healing begin."