- 28 Mar 22
Hot Press Assistant Editor Stuart Clark recalls his meetings with the Foos drummer, including the very last thing Taylor said to him last year: “I’m so fucking fortunate to have the life I have, I really am.”
I have to admit that the news of Taylor Hawkins’ death over the weekend in such tragic circumstances has hit me like a freight train.
We’d met and talked on several occasions, the last one being in January 2021 when we spent two hours first over Zoom and then on the phone as he drove to a nearby studio chatting about everything from Trump (he wasn’t a fan) and Duff McKagan (one of his best friends) to gym workouts (he was doing them regularly, I wasn’t) and the Foo Fighters' then brand new and extremely funky Medicine At Midnight album (“I’m not sure whether it’s Queen’s The Game or Hot Space: possibly the former,” Taylor joked).
The Foos’ drummer really couldn’t have been any more friendly, animated or upbeat.
“I’ve had the gig long enough not to have to be nice anymore, but it really is a privilege to be in a band with Dave fucking Grohl,” Taylor smiled, his teeth even brighter than the blonde highlights in his carefully dishevelled hair.
“Considering everything, I’m doing okay,” he went on to note. “I hate saying that because a lot of people fucking aren’t okay.”
He was seriously buzzed about being part of the all-star Ground Control – him, Corey Taylor, Dave Navarro and Chris Chaney – who'd participated in the virtual tribute to David Bowie that had just beamed around the world. Add in other recent collaborations with Ozzy Osbourne, Post Malone, Perry Farrell, Chad Smith, Duff McKagan, Matt Cameron and Nancy Wilson, and there was no reason at that point to suspect that Taylor’s drug use was getting the better of him.
“I’ve recorded drums on four songs that could potentially be on his new record,” he enthused of the Ozzy hook-up. “My friend Chad Smith was supposed to play on it, but he’s got stuff going on with the Chilli Peppers. Chad had explored the more Black Sabbath side of Ozzy with Andrew Watt, his producer, who’s another pal of mine, so I was like, ‘Let’s do ‘Shot In The Dark’ and all that other ‘80s stuff, which reflects that Ozzy’s a Beatles freak.”
As a journalist you’re only getting snapshots of the people you meet in an interview situation, but the vibe I always got from Taylor was of somebody who couldn’t believe how lucky they were to be in a kickass band who just happened to be huge with their best friends.
Our first time shooting the breeze was in 2005 at the Oxegen weekender out at Punchestown. The Foos headlining there alongside Green Day was a massive deal but, unashamed Queen fan boy that he was, all Taylor could talk about was meeting his hero of heroes, Roger Taylor. I kept trying to steer the conversation back to the Foos who he'd officially joined eight years earlier but he was having none of it!
A couple of months prior to Oxegen, Taylor told my colleague John Walshe that, "There was a time in our band where we sought, especially me, a far more grandiose lifestyle, but luckily I found out quite early on that it's more of a charade than anything else. It's not very fulfilling. It's not fun being hungover all the time. We try to keep everything pretty fucking normal. We're family-like as a band and with our crew. It's kinda like taking a construction team on the road: we go and build a rock show in a different city every night."
Having recorded and extensively toured seven albums with the Foos since 1997, time off was at a premium but whenever he had some Taylor would spend it working on a side-project like The Birds Of Satan, Chevy Metal, The Coattail Riders and his latest flight of fancy, NHC, with his mates. Rock ‘n’ roll wasn’t a 9 to 5, it was Taylor Hawkins’ life. That came across loud and clear in the very last thing he said to me in January 2021: “I’m so fucking fortunate to have the life I have, I really am.”
RIP Taylor, you made the world a whole lot brighter.
Read our last interview with Taylor in full: https://www.hotpress.com/music/taylor-hawkins-revisiting-his-powerful-2019-interview-with-hot-press-22898210
Main pic: Stuart Clark with Taylor Hawkins and Nate Mandel at Witnness 2002 as captured by Graham Keogh.