Even though it’s the group’s 40th anniversary this year, the Eagles — who wrapped a short spate of touring last weekend with a show at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival — are taking it easy while its members pursue solo projects. But he says the band is certainly on everybody’s mind.
Frey, who released his new “After Hours” covers album this week, tells Billboard.com that he and his mates are ramping up work on “The History of the Eagles,” a two-DVD documentary that will be directed by Academy Award winner Alex Gibney (“Taxi to the Dark Side,” “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room”). “We’ve been doing our interviews,” Frey reports. “We’ve interviewed 20, 30 different people, gotten every bit of footage we can — especially from the 70s. We found Super 8 footage, photographs, interviews and stuff we didn’t know we had. We’re trying to get the project ready for release hopefully by the first of the year.”
Frey says Gibney was chosen not necessarily for a familiarity with Eagles — or music, for that matter — but because “we wanted a great storyteller, someone who made visual, compelling films. Alex Gibney’s work was every bit of that. And he was one of the directors on Martin Scorsese’s seven-part series on the blues. He’s really good.” And while Gibney is handling the visuals, Frey doesn’t rule out the possibility of some new Eagles music for the documentary.
“I would like that,” he says. “I’ve got some ideas we might be able to do, but I don’t want to say anything yet. Obviously we’ve got to make sure everybody thinks they’re good.”
While the documentary is being created, Frey will be busy with “After Hours,” his first new solo album in 20 years and a collection of songs ranging from the Great American Songbook to the staple “Route 66” and favorites by the Beach Boys (“Caroline No”) and Randy Newman (“Same Girl”). The title track, meanwhile, hails from sessions for his 1984 solo album “The Allnighter.”
“I have two N’s in my name because my mother loved Glenn Miller,” Frey explains. “The radio was on all the time at my house. We heard all of the songs. The songs on this album, some of them are from the time when my parents were growing up and others are from the time I was growing up. Obviously this music is special, and it means a lot to them. One of the real motivating factors in getting this record finished was I wanted to give it to my parents while they were still alive. Both my mom and dad are alive and well out in Palm Springs, and it’s very satisfying to be able to give them this record and say, ‘Here, look what I did with this music you love.’ ”
Frey kicks off a six-show solo run promoting “After Hours” tonight (May 9) at Town Hall in New York City with the New York University Concert Orchestra. “We have a set-up plan in May — East Coast, West Coast and television to get this record kicked off,” Frey says. “Then hopefully it will do well enough to justify me going out and playing some more shows, ’cause they’re really a lot of fun.”
Besides Frey’s activities, Joe Walsh releases a new solo album, “Analog Man,” on June 5, and starts playing shows on May 17. Don Henley is working on a country album, while bassist Timothy B. Schmit begins a solo tour on May 19 at the Cherokee Creek Music Festival in Texas.
Some more Eagles shows may be on the horizon, too — most likely in 2013, though Frey explains that “we plan the Eagles a year at a time. We can’t be any more forward-looking than that.” But he does have a vision for what the group could do the next time it does hit the road. “If we get ‘The History of the Eagles’ done and get it out,” Frey says, “there could possibly be a show called ‘The History of the Eagles’ where we play our music in chronological order, a linear show where we start out with a couch and tow chairs and put 1971 up on the screens and play ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’ sitting around in a circle. Then we’ll go to where Joe (Walsh) joins the band…Maybe we can grow out our hair and cult it halfway through the show, take off my cowboy boots and put on Reeboks…See, this is what I mean about not getting too far ahead of ourselves.”