It was intimidating for Taylor Hawkins to join Foo Fighters for many reasons. How do you be the drummer for one of the best drummers of the 1990s, Dave Grohl? More importantly, how do you make and record music with a serious rock band when you have no recording experience?
Taylor Hawkins felt intimidated joining Foo Fighters
Despite Hawkins and Grohl’s great chemistry, it was still intimidating for Hawkins to join Foo Fighters. Grohl was the drummer of Nirvana and one of the best drummers of the 1990s.
In 2021 on The Howard Stern Show, Hawkins said, “So like, Dave is never a d*** about it, really, honestly. I can honestly say that he’s never a d*** about it. But it’s intimidating; there’s no question.
“When I joined the band, I was super intimidated because I met Axl Rose, the first time he said, ‘What’s it like being the drummer for the greatest drummer of the ’90s?’ I’m like, ‘Ah, hard.’”
Hawkins almost quit Foo Fighters because the recording studio scared him
Thankfully, Rose’s words didn’t scare Hawkins too much. It was intimidating joining Foo Fighters because of Grohl, but Hawkins had other things to worry about. He nagged the band to practice so they’d reach stadiums. However, the recording studio was Hawkins’ biggest enemy.
In 2021, Hawkins told Rolling Stone, “Nothing Left to Lose, I did half the drums. I was still figuring out how to record. William [Goldsmith] tried to record drums for that second record.
“I was so scared when we went to go do Nothing Left to Lose. I had red-light fever so bad. How am I going to make it through this? And I didn’t know how to.
“And the producer, Adam Kasper, was like, ‘Oh, can Dave just play drums?’ I could just hear it in his face. I mean, he was a nice guy, but he had Dave Grohl. He’s like, ‘Why is this kid trying to learn to play to a click track right now in front of me? Let’s get this record done.’
“And at one point I just said to Dave, ‘Listen, dude, I just don’t think I can do this.’ And I was battling the demons a bit back then as well. I was just so scared.
“And he said — it kind of chokes me up — he just held my hand through it, and he’s like, ‘You’re going to play some drums on this.’ [At this point, Hawkins’ eyes visibly tear up.] And I did half the drums on it, because he f***ing held my hand through it, like that older brother, best friend does.
“So there you go. That’s why we’re here today, because he knew he wanted me there with him as a friend, as a family member, as his younger brother that he can f***ing rubber-finger any time he wants, that ultimately totally looks up to him and wants to make him happy. And also, he knew that there was just something we create onstage. And I know that.”
Dave Grohl didn’t ask Hawkins to join the band because he was the best drummer
After getting through his fears and insecurities and almost quitting twice, Hawkins figured out how to be in Foo Fighters. He found his place. However, Hawkins was right; Grohl wanted him to be in Foo Fighters because of their chemistry, not Hawkins’ drumming skills.
In his 2021 memoir, The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music (per Loud Wire), Grohl explained that he and Hawkins had a profound first meeting. Hawkins came into Grohl’s life like an F5 tornado.
“Tearing through the room like an F5 tornado of hyperactive joy was Taylor Hawkins, my brother from another mother, my best friend, a man from whom I would take a bullet,” Grohl wrote.
Grohl told NME that he asked Hawkins to join Foo Fighters because of their emotional connection more than anything else. He said that “there’s no such thing as a musical audition to join the Foo Fighters. It’s a much more emotional, personal thing. You could be the best drummer in the world, but you’d never be in this band if you didn’t fit.
“Everyone in this band fits for a reason. When I met Taylor, it took two-and-half minutes before we became best friends. It just happened. It’s that way in life, whether it’s a best friend, a lover or someone you know you’ll carry for the rest of your life.
“When he joined the band, his drumming was the least important factor – I just thought I want to travel the world with this guy, I want to jump on stage and drink beers with this person. That was my biggest concern.”
Eventually, Hawkins did things in Foo Fighters that he never imagined. He worked hard to make the band perfect and overcame a lot. Let’s hope Foo Fighters continue in his honor.
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