Dan McKay goes from fan and friend to Tour Manager for Eagles of Death Metal
There are many moments over the course of Dan McKay’s career as renowned Tour Manager and FOH Audio Engineer that he will never forget. He has many highlights that stir up great memories working with some of the greatest rock bands of our time, whether working with Latin-rock band Cypress Hill at the time they received their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, or collaborating with Five Finger Death Punch, or bringing the reunion tour of The Distillers to life, there are too many to choose from. Another would be becoming the Tour Manager for his friends Eagles of Death Metal, a band he was always a big fan of.
“It’s funny because I was approached about six times between 2008-2017 and there was always a schedule issue as I was always committed to other tours. I’ve been a fan of EODM for a long time. This band brings its own set of challenges but most of the reason I wanted to work with them was because it’s all meant to be fun. Obviously, my work is very serious, but EODM always has a way to turn work into fun. It was a very different change of pace for me,” said McKay.
One of McKay’s top concerns as Tour Manager is security for the band and their fans. The band’s mindset on such a matter changed dramatically after November 13th, 2015, when Eagles of Death Metal were performing at the iconic Bataclan theatre in Paris. Many still remember the events that transpired that night, when a group of terrorists attacked mid show, opening fire and detonating bombs, killing 90 people. The event was a part of a series of attacks throughout the city that evening, taking 131 victims.
“On that night of November 13th, 2015, I got the news of what was happening in Paris during the attacks and my friends were on stage. I wasn’t sure what would come out of that situation. But then here we are, keep on keeping on, and they have the strength and the commitment to their fans to get back up on stage and rock out. That’s huge. That takes a lot of strength after what they went through and I think about it every night we hit the stage. I feel like every time they play a show, it’s in honor of the victims,” said McKay.
The attack was two years prior to McKay coming on board as the band’s Tour Manager and FOH Audio Engineer, but the event has greatly shaped the band and their live performances. Founded by lead vocalist and guitarist Jesse Hughes and drummer Josh Homme, the band has been together since 1998. It is these last four years since the attack, however, where they have taken on security as a major factor in their live shows, ensuring the safety of their fans. This level of security is a large part of McKay’s job now as Tour Manager, as he ensures a high level of security but still does not make it blatant, allowing this to be a foreground focus but appear as a background issue for both the band and the fans, hardly noticeable. Everyone deserves to have fun without worrying about security threats.
“Times have changed in the live touring business and now we have brought the standard up on security and evacuations because of situations like Paris. One thing that is important though is that we don’t work in fear, that all systems are in place and that the band and the fans can focus on why they are going to a rock show, and that is to forget their work and their stresses and to have a good time,” said McKay.
McKay enjoys EODM’s distinctive sound in the rock genre, with a circusy, groovy, yet dirty sound that he has always admired. They make music that is meant to be danced to, to enjoy at a party. It’s all about having a good time, and that’s what McKay loves.
“It’s never a dull moment working with these guys. Jesse Hughes is definitely an extravagant, extremely smart, genie savant kind of type that likes to wear capes and roller skates. He is a sweetheart and I love him to death. But he does keep me on my toes in the best way. And the whole band really just became family to me. Just good people having a great time on stage. That’s one thing about EODM, when the lights go off and the intro song kicks in, the band walks on stage and Jesse swoops in wearing a cape, it’s only time for a good time. It’s automatic, if you are at their show and you don’t have a smile on your face half way into the first song, I’m worried about you. No matter what type of music you’re into, you’ll be shakin’ your booty on the onset of the first note,” he said.
Eagles of Death Metal have not only overcome the traumatic circumstances they were forced to deal with in November of 2015, they have flourished. They do not ignore what has happened to them, and having a great team made up of people like Dan McKay has allowed them to continue to grow for their many fans around the world.
“It feels great to see Eagles of Death Metal hit the stage and continue to play great music. The band played Hellfest in France last summer and the reaction from the crowd, the fans and the band are one and having them come back to France is a huge deal. It means a lot to be there with the band,” he concluded.