Taylor Hawkins is 47-years-old. For the past 22 years, he’s been the grinning drummer in the Foo Fighters, one of the world’s highest earning rock bands.
He joined the band as a hard-partying 25-year-old, but a lot has changed over the last couple of decades. For starters, Hawkins is now married with three children. He’s also an accomplished solo artist.
Get the Money, the third album credited to Taylor Hawkins & the Coattail Riders, is out now. It’s an exuberant hard rock expedition that’s not worlds apart from the Fooies. Hawkins’ anxieties peak through the resilient exterior, however, especially on tracks like ‘I Really Blew It’ and ‘You’re No Good At Life No More’.
Hawkins tells Mixdown that fatherhood in particular has cranked his fears and concerns up a notch.
“I’m relatively healthy, I’ve gone through the most part of my wild years. I’m enjoying the later version of who I am,” he says. “But I have ten year old girl who’s about to start going through high school. It’s so scary, you’re so protective of them.
“You think of these pressures that they’re growing up with now, social media and all this crap. It’s nothing at all like what we grew up with. I look at our fucking president and I just think, ‘What is happening right now?’ But he’s a symptom of this fame obsessed, Instagram obsessed, reality TV obsessed culture.”
Hawkins’ distaste for the divergent aspects of contemporary culture might explain why Get the Money does so much looking backwards. The record unashamedly draws on Hawkins’ musical loves, including Queen, ELO and the driving hard rock music that emerged from his native Los Angeles in the 1980s.
Along with three Coattail Riders albums, Hawkins has performed lead vocals on a selection of Foo Fighters songs over the years. So does he ever regret not putting more energy into his own project?
“I’ve got so much more comfortable being a frontman and being a singer and a songwriter later in my life,” he says. “If I was serious about this shit I should’ve done it a long time ago, right? I think my strength lies really in being a supportive member to someone like Dave [Grohl]. That’s my strength – being a good drummer to Dave and being a good helpful guy live, being a background vocalist.
“I couldn’t ask for anything better than the gifts I’ve been given. We wouldn’t be having this interview if I wasn’t in the Foo Fighters. There’s no stadiums calling for Taylor Hawkins & the Coattail Riders anytime soon.”
Maybe Hawkins is right, but Get the Money is an intriguing project regardless. The records reunites Hawkins with Jane’s Addiction bass player Chris Chaney – an original Coattail Rider who played with Hawkins in Alanis Morissette’s mid-‘90s backing band.
A number of famous names show up in the tracklist including Grohl and Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell, as well as Chrissie Hynde, Joe Walsh, Guns n’ Roses’ Duff McKagan, Queen’s Roger Taylor, Heart’s Nancy Wilson, Yes vocalist Jon Davison and the unexpected inclusion of country pop singer LeAnn Rimes.
“It’s like, ‘What would it be like to have LeAnn Rimes sing on a psychedelic stoner rock song?” says Hawkins. “Nancy Wilson, I just love her voice. Dave? Well, I’m always going to ask him to come over and lend a hand. Duff McKagan is just a friend and we’ve written a couple of songs together and we like to mountain bike together.”
Hawkins has spent the majority of his adult life in one of the world’s biggest rock bands; it’s understandable he has some famous friends. That said, he’s not oblivious to the benefits of persuading his well-known associates into the studio.
“It doesn’t hurt, I understand,” he says, “but at the same time that honestly really wasn’t the intention. I wasn’t sure every time if it was going to work anyway.
“It’s really just chasing trains. To sing a song with Chrissie Hynde or to sing a song with Perry Farrell, that’s more of a fulfilled dream than it is a career move.
“I don’t have any lofty ambitions for this record. I’m already in a band that does more than I ever thought I could be in a band doing. It’s just having a fun – some of it’s an experiment and some of it’s a childhood dream.”
Taylor Hawkins & the Coattail Rider' new album Get the Money is out now via Shanabelle/RCA Records.