Being "average" isn't always a bad thing – depending on the alternatives
In the case of the Foo Fighters, the rock band fronted by former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, the alternatives have included walkouts, tantrums, firings and overdoses.
But even unruly young rockers grow up, and that's what's happened to the Foos. They've settled down, kicked addictions, even bought homes, says drummer Taylor Hawkins.
"We're definitely becoming sort of average," he says. "Not musically – musically, I think we've gotten better – but lifestyle and all that stuff. We've mellowed out. Dave's getting married, and so is [guitarist] Chris [Shiflett]. We're all just kind of mellowing out. Not to go too far into it, but I was leading a pretty crazy lifestyle. It was all interesting and part of the book, if you will – part of what I always wanted to do, which was to do that stupid rock 'n' roll idiot thing for a while."
Probably the most notorious chapter in Mr. Hawkins' "stupid rock 'n' roll idiot" period was an overdose of painkillers in 2001. He spent the first five years of his life in Denton; his father had a motor-home company in Sanger. His family moved to California in the '70s. He was 20 when he started touring; he played with Alanis Morissette and ex-Queen guitarist Brian May before joining the Foos.
"We were a little more colorful, what with overdoses and people quitting and people being movie stars and ... [expletive] like that," he says. "But I think those times are over. We're becoming a workhorse rock 'n' roll band."
Still, when it came to making their most recent record, 2002's One By One, the Foo Fighters did not take the easy route. They recorded an entire CD, which they found so unsatisfactory that they ended up scrapping it and starting over.
"We had a hard time making the record – we did it twice," Mr. Hawkins says. "The first time was the most difficult thing we've ever done. The second time, it was like nothing – it was easy."
But Mr. Hawkins had to work through his role as the drummer in a band fronted by an ex-drummer.
"The challenge for me doesn't lie in, 'Can I play as fast as Dave?' Or, 'Can I play like Dave?' " he says. "It's more about, 'Can I have my own personality, in this framework, in this band, with this music?' I think on this album, when we got down to recording it the second time, that's what happened."
He credits producer Nick Raskulinecz, whose credits run the gamut from New York singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur to "stoner rock" band Fu Manchu.
"Other people previously would say things like, 'Wouldn't it be better if Dave was playing drums?' – that kind of vibe," Mr. Hawkins says. "I can't blame people for thinking that. Dave's probably the best rock drummer in the world. But Nick was a fan of my drumming, and he injected a lot of enthusiasm into the band."
There was some insecurity that resulted from Mr. Grohl's stint playing drums for the Queens of the Stone Age. He played on the 2002 disc Songs for the Deaf, did a few live dates with the band and also appeared in its video for "No One Knows."
"Dave was really enjoying being with the Queens of the Stone Age," Mr. Hawkins says. "There was tension. At a certain point, we didn't know if we were even gonna be a band. At this time exactly last year, I was thinking about other things, about starting projects with other people. But we said, We'll finish because we kinda gotta. We were already in it; we'd spent a bunch of money and we had to do it.
"I always think that this album should have been called There Is Nothing Left to Lose – not the last one," he says.
Dallas Morning News