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Birmingham Town Hall, February 2008 (left to right): The Chet and E
|Origin||Los Feliz, California, United States|
|Members||E (Mark Oliver Everett)
The Chet (Jeff Lyster)
Koool G Murder (Kelly Logsdon)
P-Boo (Mike Sawitzke)
Knuckles (Derek Brown)
Big/Krazy/Tiny/Honest/Upright/Royal Al (Allen Hunter)
Eels (often typeset as eels or EELS) is an American rock band, formed in California in 1995 by singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Mark Oliver Everett, known by the stage name E. Band members have changed across the years, both in the studio and on stage, making Everett the only official member for most of the band's work. Eels' music is often filled with themes about family, death, and lost love. Since 1996, Eels has released eleven studio albums, seven of which charted in the Billboard 200.
In 1991, Everett signed a contract with Polydor and released A Man Called E under the name E a year later. The single "Hello Cruel World" was a minor success. Touring to support the album, E opened for Tori Amos.A Man Called E was followed by Broken Toy Shop in 1993. This year also marked the beginning of E's collaboration with drummer Jonathan "Butch" Norton. After Broken Toy Shop, E was released from his record deal with Polydor. E himself has recovered two of the songs ('The Only Thing I Care About' and 'Manchester Girl') from Broken Toy Shop for his own live shows with the Eels.
Eels were officially founded when Butch and E met Tommy Walter. The name "Eels" was chosen so that the band's records would be close to E's solo records in an alphabetical ordering, although it was too late realized that numerous Eagles and Earth, Wind and Fire releases were in between. Eels became one of the first groups to sign a record deal with DreamWorks Records, followed by Elliott Smith.
In 1996, the band released their debut album Beautiful Freak, a melancholy pop record with tormented lyrics. The singles "Novocaine for the Soul", "Susan's House" and "Your Lucky Day in Hell" achieved modest national and international success, winning the Best International Breakthrough Act award at the 1998 BRIT Awards. In 1996 and 1997, Eels toured extensively to support the album, building their name as a live act in the United States and Europe. In September 1997, Walter quit the band.
Following the success of Beautiful Freak, E experienced a difficult time in his personal life. His sister committed suicide, and his mother was diagnosed with cancer. These events inspired him to write Electro-Shock Blues, which focuses on his family, which he had never written about previously. "Electro-Shock Blues" was released in 1998. The album deals with many difficult subjects including suicide, death, and cancer. The tragedy of Everett's father's death became prominent once more in the context of his mother's pending death and his sister's suicide, and as a result the song "Baby Genius" is written for his father Hugh Everett III.
Still a three-piece band on stage, Tommy Walter was replaced by Adam Siegel. Part of the American leg of the tour was cancelled after the death of E's mother. They returned to tour Europe later in the year, to open for Pulp.
In 2000, Eels released Daisies of the Galaxy. The album, which was recorded almost entirely in E's basement, is lighter and more upbeat than its predecessor. Everett noted, "if Electro-Shock Blues was the phone call in the middle of the night that the world doesn't want to answer, then Daisies of the Galaxy is the hotel wake-up call that says your lovely breakfast is ready". He was joined in the studio by Michael Simpson (Dust Brothers), Grant-Lee Phillips (Grant Lee Buffalo), and Peter Buck (R.E.M.).
The first single, "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues", was co-written by Simpson. The song was not intended to be on the album, but the record company insisted on its inclusion. Therefore, it is not featured on the track listing but is instead listed as a bonus track, separated from the rest of the album by 20 seconds of silence.
To promote Daisies of the Galaxy another tour took place across the United States and Europe, as well as their first visit to Australia. This time Eels were transformed into an 6-piece orchestra, including Lisa Germano and Probyn Gregory. E also played some solo shows, opening for Fiona Apple.
In 2001, Souljacker was released, an album with a heavier feel and more rock-oriented sound than Daisies of the Galaxy.John Parish, previously of PJ Harvey's band, co-wrote most of the songs and played guitar on the album and first part of the tour. After Parish became a father, he was replaced with Joe Gore for the American leg of the Bus Driving, Band Rocking Tour. Koool G Murder played bass and keyboards and joined Eels on tour.
2003 marked the release of the album Shootenanny!. E now refers to the album as a break from recording the following Blinking Lights album. It was recorded live in the studio in only ten days. "Saturday Morning" was released as a single.
Butch was replaced on drums by Puddin'. In 2003, Eels did another big tour, the Tour of Duty. The live band consisted of E, Goldenboy (guitar), Koool G Murder (bass) and Puddin (drums). Later that year, E composed the score for the film Levity.
Eels' next album, Blinking Lights and Other Revelations, was released on April 26, 2005; it was the band's first release for new label Vagrant Records. It is a 33-track double album. Contributions were made by Tom Waits, Peter Buck, John Sebastian (The Lovin' Spoonful), Jim Jacobsen, and Butch.
The first tour in support of the Blinking Lights album, billed as Eels with Strings, featured primarily acoustic guitar-, organ- and piano-based performances by E backed by Allen 'Big Al' Hunter on piano and upright bass; Jeffrey Lyster (also known as Chet Atkins III or 'The Chet') on guitar, mandolin, pedal steel, musical saw and drums; and the string quartet of violinists Paloma Udovic and Julie Carpenter, violist Heather Lockie and cellist Ana Lenchantin. The tour resulted in a live album, Eels with Strings: Live at Town Hall, recorded in New York City. The performance includes tracks from all of their albums, and was released on CD and DVD on February 21, 2006.
In early 2008 Eels released their first "greatest hits" compilation as well as a compilation of B-sides, rarities, soundtrack singles and unreleased tracks. Meet the Eels: Essential Eels Vol. I spans the first decade of the Eels with singles from all their albums. Attached is a DVD featuring music videos and one live performance video. Useless Trinkets contains 50 B-sides and rarities and a DVD of their Lollapalooza 2006 performances. To promote those releases the band went on world tour ("An Evening with Eels"). This time only The Chet joined E on stage, both playing a broad cross-section from the Eels repertoire on a variety of instruments. The concerts also featured The Chet reading excerpts from E's autobiography, Things the Grandchildren Should Know. On this tour, the band released a live CD/DVD package of Eels' 2006 performance at the London Astoria - Live and in Person!), documenting a show from the second tour in support of Blinking Lights and Other Revelations.
Hombre Lobo, the seventh Eels studio album, was released on June 2, 2009. The album comprises twelve new songs. "Hombre Lobo" is Spanish for "wolf man" or "werewolf" and may be a reference to E's unusually long beard which he originally grew when writing the song "Dog Faced Boy". On March 31, 2009, the band made the track "Fresh Blood" available on Spinner.com, explaining that the song would be the lead single for the album. A Jesse Dylan-directed music video was released on April 29, 2009 as well. The album was released as a single-disc CD and a deluxe edition with a DVD. In September 2009, Eels released a music video for "That Look You Give That Guy" featuring Bobby, Jr., E and "Top Chef" host, Padma Lakshmi.
While promoting this album, Eels released the live EP The Myspace Transmissions Session 2009 on October 14, 2009.
On October 14, 2009, the band's website announced that a new Eels album entitled End Times would be released on January 19, 2010. It was largely recorded on a four-track recorder and is based on the themes of broken love. Three album tracks--"Little Bird", "In My Younger Days", and "A Line in the Dirt"--were made available as music videos or promotional downloads prior to the release of the album. Once again, Butch contributed drums to "A Line in the Dirt". On January 19, 2010, End Times was released. Mark Oliver Everett made no comment on touring and there was no tour scheduled to begin.
A second album was announced on May 20, 2010--Tomorrow Morning was described as "final installment of a trilogy that began with Hombre Lobo and End Times." The three albums respectively explore themes of desire, loss, and redemption. A world tour, the first since 2007's An Evening With Eels tour, was announced at the same time. This tour once again featured the Chet on various instruments, alongside Koool G Murder on bass, trilogy drummer Knuckles on drums and a new member, P-Boo, on guitar.
On February 5, 2013, the 10th Eels studio album was released, titled Wonderful, Glorious. The first single from the album, "Peach Blossom", premièred on SoundCloud on November 6, 2012. A month later, on December 4, 2012, the official video was released on Stereogum. The second single, "New Alphabet", was streamed pre-release on December 12, 2012 on Spinner.com
On March 25, 2013, the band released a parody music video called "Cold Dead Hand" through Funny or Die, with Jim Carrey replacing Everett on vocals. The song and video, set as a musical act during the variety program Hee Haw, lampoons American gun culture, and specifically former NRA spokesperson Charlton Heston.
Eels' eleventh studio album, The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett, was released on April 21, 2014 on E Works Records. In April 2015 the band released the DVD and double live album Live at the Royal Albert Hall.
On January 17, 2018, Eels announced their 12th studio album The Deconstruction to be released on April 6, 2018, their first in nearly four years. They also announced a supporting tour throughout the United States and Europe, beginning in Pomona, California on May 28, 2018.