'The Jinx' Theme Composer on Robert Durst: "It's Hard Not to Feel Sorry for Him"
"It's all so tragic," says E of the cult band Eels whose song "Fresh Blood" opens the HBO documentary.
"Every once in awhile, our band somehow gets tied into world events, like when George Bush's campaign was quoting my lyrics to fight Al Gore," says Mark Oliver Everett, aka E, the leader of the cult band Eels. "But I've never experienced anything like The Jinx — my jaw literally dropped."
E's 2009 tune "Fresh Blood" provides the menacing theme song for Andrew Jarecki's smash HBO documentary The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst. The final, blockbuster episode aired on Sunday, in which Durst said, "What the hell have I done? Killed them all, of course." Durst, a millionaire 100 times over, was arrested on March 14 for the murder of his friend Susan Berman, one of at least three killings of which he's been accused.
E's music has been featured onscreen before, in Scream 2, three Shrek films, and American Beauty, and "Fresh Blood" provided the title and the apt lyrics for a 2010 episode of HBO's True Blood ("Sweet baby, I need fresh blood/Whoo, howl!"). But an Eels tune has never blown up this big — a timely break, since they release a triple live album and DVD on Apr. 14 called Eels Royal Albert Hall.
Before it became The Jinx theme, "Fresh Blood" originated as a video directed by Bob Dylan's son Jesse Dylan. "It's a very spooky tale of a werewolf-like man like me — I wore a Z.Z. Top beard then — pursuing a very attractive Latino woman through the dark streets of downtown L.A.," says E. "In 2009, I was fed up with indie rock and how it was getting over-earnest. So 'Fresh Blood' was an attempt to bring some balls back to indie rock. I took on this werewolf persona to represent desire — balls — where life comes from. It was a definite response to shoegaze music."
But, E continues: "I'm completely guilty of that [shoegaze] attitude too. ... It was not me reacting against someone else as much as someone else in me. I was part of the problem."
E thinks his internal debate about violence versus earnest introspection, expressed in "Fresh Blood," was like Robert Durst's muttered quasi-confession in the restroom, which chillingly concludes The Jinx and may have sealed Durst's fate.
Like Robert Durst, whose father Seymour ran a top New York real estate firm, E was estranged from his famous father, physicist Hugh Everett, who invented the Many Worlds theory, and participated in a documentary in part to investigate his own identity.
Because of this experience, E has empathy for Durst. "His mom commits suicide, he became the black sheep weirdo of his family, they tried to erase him, and the empire he was supposed to inherit was given to his brother. And I guess he became a psycho killer — allegedly. It's all so tragic. Obviously there's no excuse for murdering people, but it's hard not to feel sorry for him."
E says not to expect music as spooky and werewolf-minded as "Fresh Blood" in Eels Royal Albert Hall. "It's at the other end of the music spectrum — we call it a gentleman's Eels concert. Everyone wears suits and ties, and the audience is seated. But it's played with no less passion."