The Eels' E says his beard inspired the wolf-man style character that voices his songs on the group's new "Hombre Lobo: 12 Songs of Desire," which comes out June 2.
"I had been working on some other music and was brushing my teeth one morning and looked in the mirror and saw this werewolf looking back at me," E (ne Mark Oliver Everett) tells Billboard.com. "I said, 'Y'know, the music I'm working on doesn't suit this beard.' I was about to cut it off, and then I said, 'Why don't I work on some music that suits the beard, and I'll keep it.
"So I'm now at the point where facial hair inspires my music. You've got to start somewhere..."
E says the look took him back to 2001's "Souljacker" album, "the last time I had a sizable beard," he notes. "The first song on that was called 'Dog Face Boy,'" E recalls. "That's why I grew the beard back then. I really got into that character. So I thought, 'What's this guy like as an adult, an adult werewolf now?' ('Hombre Lobo') is not a sequel to that album, but the whole album is a sequel to that song, in a way."
"Hombre Lobo" is the first album of new Eels material in 2005. During the interim E was plenty busy, compiling two Eels retrospectives (Meet the Eels: "Essential Eels, Vol. 1" and "Useless Trinkets"), writing an autobiography ("Things the Grandchildren Should Know") and working on "Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives," the award-winning BBC-produced documentary about E and his famed physicist father, Hugh Everett III. He's proud of all that, but he's just as happy to be working on something new.
"The hardest part of the last four years was I was pretty much constantly living in my past," he notes. "That's something I don't enjoy doing, looking back, but it was useful in that it did give me this freed-up feeling. The weight of my past was lifted off my shoulders when these things were finished, and it cleared the decks. Now it's so much fun to throw myself back into the future, or at least do something present."
E and his compatriots -- Koool G Murder and percussionist Knuckles -- have filmed a video for "Hombre Lobo's" first single, "Fresh Blood," and he says the album "might make a good play, even. Anything's possible." Tour plans, meanwhile, are up in the air. "We don't know yet. We have to decide what happens next, but it's definitely a possibility," E says.