On his third solo album, Hawkins proves he's a talent in his own right, and not just the guy who sits behind Dave Grohl for three hours every night
If you’re the drummer in the world’s biggest rock band, Foo Fighters, what do you do when you’re not selling out stadiums across the globe?
You could, for instance, retreat to the pool of your sun-kissed Los Angeles mansion, beer in hand, and take a well-deserved step back from life on the road. Another idea, perhaps, could be inviting self-proclaimed BBQ master Dave Grohl to said mansion to fire up the ultimate feast.
But none of these ideas apply if you’re Taylor Hawkins. If you’re Taylor, you see, you apparently spend your down time crafting what is arguably the most star-studded side project of 2019. On his third solo record with The Coattail Riders, the Foos sticks-man has assembled an all-star line up of rock royalty: Grohl, Queen drummer Roger Taylor, Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan, The Pretenders‘ Chrissie Hynde, Jane’s Addiction legend Perry Farrell, Heart’s Nancy Wilson, The Eagles‘ Joe Walsh and pop royalty LeAnn Rimes all make cameos.
An eclectic bunch they might be, but it’s Taylor’s personal connections to each of them that allow it to work. This is, by his own admission, a trip through his own record collection.
Opener ‘Crossed The Line’, for instance, features a Foos team-up as Grohl lends his efforts to the track. It’s the story of an anonymous man who apparently wronged Taylor, but it’s given an effective retro edge with space-age synths that eventually make way for Zeppelin-esque drums. This is followed by ‘Don’t Look At Me’ – which sees Hawkins teaming up with Wilson and McKagan. The track leans heavily on the sounds of classic rock balladry, but also wears Taylor’s love of Queen proudly on its sleeves.
‘Get The Money’, meanwhile, veers into ’70s stoner rock as he mocks the apparent gripes of pampered rock stars who can occasionally forget how good they’ve actually got it. “You think you’re not getting your due? / you’re out of touch and in for a while,” he sings alongside Hynde. “You’re a spoilt brat / Think you deserve this crap? / A grown man acting like a child,”
It’s all refreshingly self-deprecating – Hawkins has previously said that the song came from a chat with Walsh, who told him to “quit being a wimp” when he admitted that he was growing tired of touring with Foo Fighters. Later on, the record takes a more personal turn with ‘Middle Child’, as Hawkins attempts to remedy the feeling of exclusion that is exclusively felt by the kids in the middle. Lyrics such as “I see angels when you smile” risk leaning on the wrong side of sentimental, but it’s effectively offset by the fact that it’s the most consistent rock anthem on the entire record.
All considered, ‘Get The Money’ sees Taylor Hawkins seizing his chance to prove that he’s a talent in his own right, and not just the guy who sits behind Dave Grohl for three hours every night. He’s only too aware that this record won’t land him the stadium gigs either, but that’s no bad thing.
Instead, it’s a no-holds-barred trip into Taylor Hawkins’ personal favourites, and a loving homage to some of classic rock’s greatest voices.
Release date: November 8
Record label: Sony Music