The last time we caught up with the hyper-kinetic Taylor Hawkins, he had just joined Foo Fighters after their second album and hoped that he would be involved in the making of their next record.
This year his dream came true when the band holed up in front man Dave Grohl's home studio in Virginia to record the band's latest release There Is Nothing Left to Lose.
Unlike the first two Foo Fighters records, where the famously hands-on Grohl played drums on all but two songs, Hawkins found himself drumming on the majority of tunes on the new album. According to Hawkins, Grohl offered nothing but encouraging words when it came time to lay down the drum tracks. "Dave could have done it a lot quicker and it would have been just as good if not better in some places, but because he and I are so close he wanted me to do the songs."
Hawkins's work on the new record reveals a more seasoned, song-oriented approach than he showed when he was a sideman with singer Alanis Morissette. His syncopated twisting grooves have become more solid, due in large part to Grohl's influence and the relative simplicity of his guitar-based songs. "I know my playing has changed this time out as compared to last time," he says of his live performance. "I feel more relaxed and I don't think I'm hitting quite as hard. I'm trying to get less muscular and have more finesse."
Although the album credits won't say who played drums on what songs, Hawkins points to "Aurora" and "MIA" as good examples of his style. "Basically the more mellow or mid-tempo ones I played really well. I almost felt like handing Dave all the faster and crazier songs, and I wanted to do the jazzier, freakier ones. I feel like I added some things, like on the song "Aurora," which is totally me. It wouldn't have been like that if Dave played it. But I also listen to this record and hear things that I played that I feel were a little sloppy. I'm already thinking about the next album."