Skypin' with Jesus, eating hot wings and flying high with Denver party rappers Bald Eagles
Courtesy of Bald Eagles
"Skypin' with Jesus on the Eagle Hotline. Flyin' so high, looking for a good time? Dial 8-1-3, EAGLE 69."
The Bald Eagles Hotline is real. If you dial 813-EAGLE-69 and Arthur Jimenez, a.k.a. Pimp Eagle, and Dominic Esparza, a.k.a. Sun-Ray Eagle Boi happen to be in the same room, they will answer the phone and talk to you. The number actually rings to both rappers' cell phones, but they made a pact not to answer a call unless they are together.
This has made for some Jerky Boys-esque voicemails left by unsuspecting Eagles Hotline victims, callers baited by the taunting text messages Esparza and Jimenez can neither confirm or deny sending. A handful of these exasperated voicemails can be heard on the Denver emcees' debut full-length album, Death From Above, which they will celebrate the release of this weekend on their own label, Dude Brothers Incorporated, or Dude Bros. for short.
The existence of a hotline is just one of the many things that might just as easily be jokes as not in Bald Eagles' arsenal. There's also Jeff the Chef, a Frankenstein of a rapper supposedly created by Jimenez and Esparza to be an artist on Dude Bros. Jeff the Chef is apparently an actual person, but the tale of his life as a manufactured star is a long and continually changing one. The way Jimenez and Esparza tell it, Jeff has faked his own death, gone to jail multiple times and forced his way onto Bald Eagles' tracks.
"His personal life a lot of times ends up in our lives shows -- we actually predicted him going to jail," says Esparza. "He died at one of our shows, but before he died at the show, he went to jail. It had to do with Jeff driving crazily -- he just drives super crazy and we told him, dude, one day... you're going to get into trouble."
"He faked his death," Jimenez chimes in to help pick up the pace the flailing story. "We made commemorative t-shirts, to commemorate his death, which was one of the better shows we've ever done." These t-shirts definitely exist, but as they tell these far-flung stories we genuinely have no idea if the man behind them does, and if so how much of his life is fiction.
We are talking about the specifics of Jeff and the Bald Eagles Hotline over buckets of chicken parts. On this, as on many Wednesdays, the duo is at Pub On Penn's all-you-can-eat wing night. Pointing to an empty loft-like space above the warehouse of a room where the wing eating is going on, Jimenez says, "That would be a dream come true for us - to get to play a show up there at Wing Night. Bald Eagles headlining wing night?"
"It's perfect," Esparza chimes in.
Esparza explains that he and Jimenez have been coming to this spot regularly for almost a year, attempting to get down on at least thirty wings a piece each time they pull up to the table. Someone in the Bald Eagles' entourage once managed 47 wings. That's the record, so far.
"We've been discouraged by the manager from, like, competitive-eating the wings," says Esparza. "I asked him, 'What's the record for most wings eaten?' And he's just like, 'I don't know. I don't keep track.'"
"We just have to make sure we don't get 'winged out' before the performance," says Jimenez. Bald Eagles will try to perform later this Wednesday night, venturing down 13th Avenue to the Deer Pile to try and force itself onto the bill at Too Much Fun. The weekly donation-based comedy and performance event put on by Denver's stand-up quartet the Fine Gentleman's Club has been a springboard for Bald Eagles, offering the dudes an audience to work on their comedic rap talents.
"'Winged out' is an important term in our vocabulary -- if you have too much wings and too much PBR then you pretty much just like, have to take a nap. You can't perform," says Esparza.
"Oh, and if you have too much weed, too," says Jimenez.
Despite the risks, Esparza and Jimenez have no plans to stop going to wing night. It has become part of Bald Eagles' lore. "We're trying to talk to (Pub on Penn) about a sponsorship with Bald Eagles," said Jimenez. This probably will not happen.
That may not stop the duo from incorporating the restaurant in their shows. Their fliers for are littered with both real and fictitious names and logos of people and businesses who may or may not know they are part of the Bald Eagles' world. Breckenridge Brewery, Denver Kush Club, Kevin Powell, Pablo's Coffee and Baker Brian are all listed in the shout-outs section of the liner notes for Death From Above, and the Denver Police even get some love. As with so many things about the Eagles, it's unclear where the joke ends and sincerity begins.
Friends since their teenage years in Lakewood, it wasn't until Esparza and Jimenez were in their early twenties that Bald Eagles materialized. Initially, it was (suprise!) a joke between friends -- in 2007, the dudes used to rally at a house Esparza shared with friends called the Race House. There, a loosely knit bicycle gang called the Bald Eagles was formed. Esparza, Jimenez and other coconspirators riding around the city mimicking eagles' cries and flashing the Shaka hand-sign at passing cyclists.
The bike gang held impromptu dance parties at the House. These parties consisted of a fog machine, a strobe light, some Rammstein on the stereo and a bong. The Bald Eagles name was inspired by a mild group obsession with patriotic '80s pro-wrestler "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, and his "U.S.A" inside-the-ring chants would be mimicked throughout the late-night get-togethers.
"At that point, we didn't know it would become something else," says Esparza. "Five years later we decided to start a rap group and we were like, what are we going to call ourselves?" Bald Eagles was born.
"We want to do something crazy that no one else is doing -- we want our show to be more than just a show," says Esparza. "We want to bring other joke bands into what we're doing and create a whole joke band scene. It's kind of like, where do you draw the line between what music is a joke and what isn't?"
"For a little while, we weren't sure ourselves," says Jimenez. "For a minute, we wanted to take Bald Eagles seriously because we wanted to make music. But when we performed our songs live and people were laughing -- we were not expecting that. We thought we were doing something wrong, like, 'Why is everyone laughing? This isn't supposed to be funny.'"
"We got defensive," says Esparza. "Don't laugh at us! This is our real life!"
"But we embraced that - we thought, 'If people were laughing then we should embrace it," says Jimenez. "We make original music. We are a techno-party punk band - we're about drinking beer and being rude and crude."
The group will hold a release party this weekend for Death From Above at a backyard barbecue at a friend's house. It is unclear whether the friend knows what he is hosting. The dude-bros say they are preparing for the big show by doing the Insanity Workout and, of course, eating hot wings.
The two are reaching their limit on the wings for tonight and preparing to head down the street when a man claiming to be Jeff the Chef walks through the door. Who knows? Maybe he really is.
Be my voyeur (or better yet, let me stalk you) on Twitter: @cocodavies