I’ve never got into the Foo Fighters. Look, I’ve tried, so put that flaming torch down. To me, their music never made me smile as much as one of their members. Taylor Hawkins.
And one of the saddest things about his untimely death is that we won’t get to hear where his musical journey would have taken us.
Because sort of from the beginning, from the Taylor Hawkins And The Coattail Riders album ‘Red Light Fever’ in 2006 (the album I came to him on, this is a personal piece) he delighted in confounding us by wallowing in the sounds he enjoyed. As he told Rolling Stone magazine; ‘Yeah, I grew up in Laguna Beach, where everyone was listening to reggae. So I hid my Van Halen records and Queen records and stuff like that.’
And so that first album has Glam bangers like ‘Not Bad Luck’ and an almost Sweet chorus of ‘Way Down’. This release has overwrought, over sugary backing vocals as a real feature, plus an aspiration to make you love late ’70s US radio Rock all over again, ‘Hole In My Shoe’ and ‘James Gang’ drive down the freeway with the top down.
And then ‘I Can See It Now’ holds Cheap Trick’s hand and jumps onto the dancefloor. As MusicRadar told us; ‘From the bombastic intro and falsetto chorus of Not Bad Luck to the laid back Never Enough, it’s a varied collection of feel-good old school rock tunes’ – yes, but there’s more than that…
There’s a superb percussive element to many of these tracks too, the Santana touch of the busy drumming and flowing guitar solo in ‘Get The Money’ whilst ‘I’ve Got Some Not Being Around You To Do Today’ raises the size of the platform shoes.
Birds Of Satan was his next stop in 2014, with his mates from cover band Chevy Metal, this was an ep, but the songs stretched out so much, that didn’t seem possible.
There was more of a Prog feel, yes, as the clicks and confessional whilst the band try to bash the door down of ‘Nothing At All’ shows, and ‘The Ballad Of The Birds Of Satan’, which at times walks around a Hammer Horror graveyard whilst the drums try to fit in, then picks up Sabbath riffing and musical theatre vocals; it’s a trip.
Otherwise, Taylor wanted a bit of Grunge in ‘Thanks For The Line’ and Ska with Pop-Punk on ‘Pieces Of The Puzzle’ and his beloved radio Rock, Cheap Trick and Glam in so many other places.
His biggest Glam party was on 2019’s ‘Get The Money’ album, ‘Middle Child’ almost throbs with ‘Top Of The Pops’ goodness, but the middle ep, ‘Kota’, mixes some more 70’s rock onto the notes, there’s a definite Mott The Hoople feel to ‘Tokyo No No’ and those quietly Queenly guitars make ‘Rudy’ a little sumptuous.
No surprise his main cover on these albums is late 60’s, well-covered ‘Shape Of Things’, which is so groovy here, you could ride it all the way home.
That self-titled debut? Even funnier sometimes. Even rockier at others; ‘Louise’ is a testament to that, itchy ‘Get Up I Want To Get Down’ and likeable ‘Better You Than Me’ are all standouts, but then what isn’t?
So yes, of course, the Foo Fighters, of course. But Taylor Hawkins had so much more to delight us with. RIP, Taylor.