26 Mar 2022

Taylor Hawkins on Foo Fighters and his admiration for Dave Grohl

From Music 101, 10:00 pm on 26 March 2022

"[When you see a Foo Fighters show] what you're seeing is people having fun but you're also seeing people who genuinely care about making sure that it's really f---ing good."

Taylor Hawkins, drummer for the American rock band Foo Fighters, died this week at 50.

He spoke to Charlotte Ryan recently about the band's dynamic and the presidential leadership skills of singer Dave Grohl.

Taylor Hawkins

Taylor Hawkins Photo: Supplied

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"Doing a three-hour Foo Fighters show as the drummer, it's brutal on my body," Hawkins said.

"We always play longer than we need to. And there's a general sense that Dave gives off… we're thankful to have these people and we want to give back to them.

"We don't play along to computers or any of that sort of stuff live. So what you're seeing is what you're hearing is what you're getting."

When you feel like you're really connecting musically with your bandmates, it's the best thing in the world, he said.

"We always kind of look at each other before we run out on stage like 'ok… it is fun."

Dave Grohl is "the king, the master, the OG" of band leadership.

He's committed to fun after the gloom that surrounded his former band Nirvana, Hawkins said.

"Dave's seen the other side … being in a band where there's a lot of misery, a lot of bummerness going on, a lot of bullshit going on.

"Nirvana was the most important band of that time and one of the most important bands of all time ... you would have thought they would have been pleased, you know?

"Dave got another band together and through hard work and discipline and good timing, a second chance to be in a band that is big and respected… I can't think of anyone who's had this kind of second act."

Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters Photo: Supplied

In the Foo Fighters, "everyone gets a piece of the pie" but there's no questioning the leader, Hawkins said.

"If Dave says we do it then that's what we do. It kind of takes the inner band squabbling out of the equation."

Dave is also an expert at delegation and making people feel okay when they need it, he said.

"I'm telling you, he's going to be President of the United States of America someday. If this dickhead Trump can be then Dave could definitely be - no question. Both me and his daughter have said that to him.

"I think he'd be the president we've had ever. He's fair and he's not selfish and he's a good leader, so why not?'

Hawkins isn't sure whether he's a good leader himself, but with Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders, he uses Dave's Foo Fighters model - it's half about the music and half about hanging out with people you enjoy.

"You can't take any of it too seriously. As long as you're laughing a lot while you're recording… as long as you're having a f---ing laugh, for the most part, you know you're doing it.

"Because I've been watching the king, the master, the OG, do it, I learned. Half of what I know about making music and recording music, I've learned from Dave."


Listen / Read - Foo Fighters guitarists Chris Shiflett and Pat Smear

Listen - How the Foo Fighters have endured for 25 years

Listen / Read - Virginia Hanlon Grohl: 'I don't know how many miles David runs during a show'