Taylor Hawkins On Riding Coattails, Dave Grohl’s Drumming & What Really Happened With That Guns N’ Roses StoryWritten by Brenton Harris on November 20, 2019
As the drummer for the Foo Fighters, it’s fair to say that Taylor Hawkins is kind of a big deal. Maybe not as big of a deal as the other drummer in his band, but a big deal nonetheless. So you would think that it stands to reason that when it’s time to make a solo record, he might want to be the centre of attention. Well, if the guest list for Get The Money, the stadium sized third album from Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders, is anything to judge the man by, it would seem he is more than happy being one of the ‘out of focus guys’.
Featuring appearances by Dave Grohl, Pat Smear, Roger Taylor, Joe Walsh, Duff McKagan, Nancy Wilson, Chrissie Hynde, Perry Farrell and LeAnn Rimes (yes, really) to name a few, Get the Money is a star studded, genre hopping, riot of a record, held together by Taylor’s trademark tubthumping style and wild vocal. It’s an album that begs to be played with the volume dialled up to 11. It’s exactly the kind of record that you’d expect a frenetic ball of energy like Taylor and his insanely famous friends to make. So it is perhaps surprising to find that when we got the chance to talk to the man himself, he was taking a leisurely drive through the mountains with his wife, enjoying the rare serenity of a child-free day, as if he were any other suburban dad.
Alas, there he was, ready, willing and more than capable of battling his way through poor cellphone reception to answer any and all questions we could throw his way.
Music Feeds: Taylor, thanks for letting us ride your coattails by talking to Music Feeds. How’s existence treating you today?
Taylor Hawkins: Haha. No worries. It’s good, just cruising around, got a little wife evening. Cruising around with the wife.
MF: Wonderful. A little bit of that suburban rock Dad living?
TH: A lot of that, yes!
MF: The third album by Taylor Hawkins and The Coattail Riders ‘Get The Money’ dropped recently, how are you finding the reception to the album so far?
TH: Some people are like “hah”, some people are like “yeah” some people are like “no!” A lot of the time when I release records I think people wonder aloud “can this guy make music?” But I’ve read some reviews, some really good, meaning favourable ones, I’ve read some okay reviews, I’ve read one or two not so nice, but so far, average to good I would say!
MF: Well the worst thing that can happen anyway when you make a record is that people are indifferent to it, so I think it’s safe to say that as long as you’re triggering some form of reaction, you’re succeeding in making art.
TH: I suppose so, I suppose you’re right. All press is good press as they say, even the bad, actually sometimes especially the bad it seems.
MF: It’s a really fun, rockin’ record, with some really interesting sonic exploration happening at times, did you have a particular vision you were trying to achieve when you were writing “Get The Money”?
TH: Not really, to be honest, I sort of follow a trail of ideas as they come. I’d just finished really making my home studio sound the way I wanted and this album was the culmination of that studio sound. It started out with me just really enjoying the sounds we were pulling in the beginning and as we progressed, it just kept getting better and better and I really just loved the drum sounds we were getting. It has a really nice natural ‘attack’ to it.
Then the songs themselves led to the sonic exploration. You take a song like ‘C U Now’ and it wants to be psychedelic and freaky and so that’s where we went with that. ‘Middle Child’ I started imagining it as a Slade song or T-Rex song, just that real kind of 70s glam rock sound and it definitely came out that way. ‘Crossed the Line’ that’s sinister sounding, I was thinking of Janes Addiction or Bad Brains, that kind of aggressive, stop and go type of thing. I thought when we started doing ‘You’re No Good at Life Anymore’ that I was channeling a Rick James kind of vibe, but I haven’t heard anyone pick up on that yet.
MF: Sounds like a riot to put together, to say there’s a few notable guests on the record would be really underselling the point, I mean you’ve got half the rock’n’roll hall of fame on this thing!
TH: Hahah yeah!
MF: With Dave Grohl, Pat Smear, Roger Taylor, Joe Walsh, Duff McKagan, Nancy Wilson, Chrissie Hynde, Perry Farrel and Leann Rhymes lending you some of their magic.
TH: It’s kind of a “grab ass” isn’t it?
MF: How did that come about? Did you write the parts with each in mind?
TH: I didn’t write with anyone specific in mind, but it did start with the idea of having some female contributors, so I reached out and asked a few and the ones that you hear are the ones that said yes. Then Dave’s always around, so I always ask him to come play on some things and he’s always down to do that and then Pat Smear I thought it would be fun to have him on. Steve Jones also plays guitar on that final song ‘The Shape of Things’ and then having Roger Taylor on that was well. It just kind of grew organically, and it became this thing that’s really kind of special to me.
I mean, they didn’t have to do it, but musicians, generally speaking, if it sounds like something interesting and fun to do, they’ll do it! I think it just sounded like something fun to do!
MF: I think it also gives them a chance to just play their instruments for the sake of playing it, for the fun of it, just the simple organic joy of using their talent, free of pressure.
TH: Yeah! Nothing on the line, ya now!
MF: Yeah! Now I really like the vibe that Chrissie Hynde brought to ‘Get The Money’, I think that track is wicked!
TH: Thank you!
MF: Do you have a favourite track?
TH: I really don’t, but I do love ‘C U In Hell’, I love ‘C U in Hell’ actually, because it’s just such an odd pairing and I enjoy hearing Leanne in such a weird space. I love ‘Get the Money’ because I love the fact that I got to sing a song with Chrissie Hynde, and to have Joe Walsh play a guitar solo, that’s amazing. I love ‘Middle Child’ because it’s about my middle child, you know. I think it’s a wide scope of sounds, and while it’s a little schizophrenic in the way its mood swings between tracks but that’s very much what a lot of my favourite records do too, so I think that’s a good thing.
It makes for a really fun and varied record! I love it!
MF: It’s probably more than fair to say that most people know you as ‘the drummer from the Foo Fighters’, which is a pretty fucking cool thing to be known as!
TH: Haha, sure!
MF: But….it does make me wonder, who is the better drummer?
TH: I would always say that he is, but in truth, he’s the best at playing drums like Dave Grohl and I’m the best at playing drums like Taylor Hawkins, it’s as simple as that. I mean, I can’t do Dave as well as Dave can do Dave, and I don’t Dave could me as well as I can do me. Although I guess I did spend a lot of time trying to capture his essence, maybe I could do better at being him than he could at being me, but who knows. I feel like we both have our own strengths and that our partnership in the end, works out for the best for both of us.
MF: The two of you seem to have a real connection, both musically and personally, and that connection was part of the reason that you said no to joining Guns N’ Roses apparently?
TH: Haha, that’s not exactly true, but it has got a lot of traction recently. So here’s what happened. I joined the Foo Fighters in ’97 and when I was over there I got a call from my mother, because Guns N’ Roses management wanted me to try out for them, but I was busy touring the UK with the Foo Fighters. So I didn’t do it. So I didn’t really turn them down as much as I just didn’t go to the audition.
MF: Well, still think it’s a cool claim to fame, and you made a good choice anyway!
TH: I think we’re all doing well now. I think Guns N Roses are in a good place now, with Duff and Slash back and my wife and I went to see them last year and they were fantastic.
MF: One quick one before I let you go, your moniker is very clever, but it does raise a terribly unimportant question that simply must be answered. In your opinion. Who is the best coat tail rider of all time?
MF: Hahaha! Self referential band name, I love it!
TH: It was just supposed to be called The Coattail Riders, then some genius at the record company said “oh let’s make it Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders” but there’s no question that I am the ultimate coattails rider.
MF: Haha, well I’ll let you get back to cruising through the mountains now man, and hopefully we can see you down under soon!
Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders’ full length new album ‘Get The Money’, is out now.