Hang on for the ride with Taylor Hawkins and his new band 'The Coattail Riders'

Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders

It's Monday, January 16th and before Taylor embarks on the second leg of the Foo Fighters European tour he has time to talk 'Coattail Riders'

Hi Taylor
Hey man, so where are you calling from?
I'm phoning from the UK, you'll be heading over here at the end of January. It's bloody cold, so you'll need to wrap up warm! So are you sitting next to the pool?
No, I'm smoking a cigarette inside and it's really cold here in LA too, but not as cold as your weather back in the UK.
Well Happy New Year to you Taylor did you have much time to spend at home with your girlfriend and family?
My wife, yeah we did thanks.
I was handed The Strokes album just recently and it's just great, the drumming is ace!
Ahh yeah Fabrizio's drumming, it's his best work yet he's finally come out on this record, and the guitar work is so cool. I love this band.
You also like the band Yes?
Yeah, I've been watching an old DVD of Yes this morning, it's real old footage of the band, nobody knows about it.
Alan White and Bill Bruford are great drummers. I got into their stuff by accident, I was watching a film with Vincent Gallo and Christine Ritchie in, you know the one I mean?
Buffalo 69! I've met Vincent Gallo a few times, he's one hell of a guy.
Buffalo 66 that's the film.
Yeah, your going to mention the strip club scene with the drumming in?
It's totally amazing, and it's my favourite movie. So tell me when did you start recording your solo album?
It has been a year and a half.
And had you been working on these songs for some time?
I've been writing songs and recording demo's since I was 12 - 13 years old.
Was it difficult getting started on the album after working on 'In Your Honour'?
This was done on a shoe-string budget, it's kinda old, two years now since it was done. I'm already writing new songs, but this is a warts-and all record. It only took one day to over-dub two or three times for the drumming, the rhythm guitar & vocals. And one day re-doing all the bass.
Have you been looking forward to making your first solo album or was you sceptical about what people might think of you outside of the Foo Fighters?
I wanted to do it for the joy of making music. Your not gonna please everyone, some people will say it sucks, and that hurts, but we can't all be The Velvet Underground.
All three band members have completed solo projects, Dave with Probot, Chris with Me First and the Gimme Gimmes and Jackson, finally Nate with The Fire Theft and previous band Sunny Day Real Estate. What do you think they have learnt from their solo experiences?
Well yeah Dave's always busy, when he was doing the Probot project which was really a metal album that he wanted to make for himself and if he wasn't working on that he would be playing with Queens of the Stone Age on tour at that time. Chris played in more a pop west coast punk band with Jackson, and Nate's The Fire Theft made a great album, and so was his previous band Sunny Day Real Estate. These are really different sounding bands and it's a reflection on the Foo Fighters on how we all bring our musical influences into the band.
Chris Chaney plays bass on all the tracks, and really brings the sound together on this album, how did you ask Chris to play on the album?
Chris is a great friend of mine. We always keep in touch and let each another know what were up to.
So you knew Chris from the times you both toured playing with Alanis Morissette. So what's Chaney's gig at the moment now Jane's Addiction is on hold?
Chris is keeping busy with session music and has just finished recorded a new album with the guys from Jane's Addiction, the guitarist Dave Navarro and ex-drummer from Jane's Addiction Stephen Perkins, their called The Panic Channel I think.
  You know Jane's Addiction was my favourite band at High School. I mean you take a look at each of the band influences at that time, Eric Avery the bass player before Chaney joined, he was into Joy Division and The Cure. Stephen Perkins was rock and Siouxsie and the Banshees, Perry was punk rock and Navarro is hard rock, new college punk kinda rock arty, eccentric type of playing. You would go along to their gigs and you wouldn't have just one kind of person, you would have metal heads, college frat heads and dead heads. In the early eighties I was listening to The Police and Van Halen not much else was happening, soon after that you would get all these Bon Jovi sounding bands, I don't want to say anything bad about Bon Jovi but there were too many of these kinda drab bands about. I like intelligent real music.
The opening track from the album is 'Louise', can you tell me what's ideas are behind this song?
Well it's about nothing, it's putting words together. It was a dream I once had about a girl who I know well from Rhythm magazine in the UK. It will probably be the first single to be released from the album.
Tell me more about your songs on the album?
Running In Place' are lyrics I wrote when I was going through a nervous breakdown some time ago. It was like Syd Barrett and Roger Waters. When Syd lost his wife he began to lose his mind and after a while you get tunnel-vision and start to become unrealistic, so these were lyrics I wrote down to this song during that time in my life, conversating with myself, saying don't go crazy. You finally come out of it and after that you end up saying goodbye to old friends and reality. 'End of The Line' is an untrusting love song, 'Drive me Insane' is about my wife, she drives me insane but I love her. 'Pitiful' is a John Lennon rip off, Roger Waters ripped off Lennon and I've ripped it off Roger Waters. It was a long time ago when I was abusing drugs, I was feeling weak and sorry for myself. So there's meaning to every song. The versus have nothing to do with the chorus, like the song Lennon wrote I Am The Walrus, it's wordplay.
Do you feel your song writing has improved with this to carry on and write more music?
It's fun, I'm already writing new songs! There are periods I can come up with songs in a short space of time. Then there are times I would sit on the couch with my guitar and think of nothing!
Did you get to play guitar on some of the tracks?
I played guitar on some like 12-string on the hidden song called 'Miles Away', which is written for my wife. It's my friends favourite, just a teaser like the Soundgarden song from Down on The Upside (Taylor starts singing the words to the song but still can't figure out the name of the track). It's such a great riff and it was only written for a brief part of the song and it should of been longer. Dave would play it at sound check to tease me, and I would go, I wish you wrote that, you could of wrote about five minutes of this stuff.
Who else has heard your album, and what do they think?
I played the record to Dave, he's heard all my stuff. And Dave said to tell, 'You know Taylor, this really sounds like you, it's all your favourite bands, drummers and singers all in one'. It's The Beatles and Buddy Holly with some classical music. The trick is coming up with something original and skewed enough. It like your own garage sale, my personality has shined through on this album.
I read a quote where you said this album led to the frustration of not being in own band, so how much of your own ideas are you able to contribute to the Foo Fighters?
I wouldn't say it was frustration because we all get to put our ideas into an album. I mean the album before this 'One By One', me and Dave worked from beginning to end. Dave likes to have a hold on things. We had 25 songs for the new Foo's record. We would go record the one song and then it would not get used, so we used certain parts or elements from that song that worked good and re-use parts from another song that was scrapped and you come up with one good song.
So I guess it was more relaxed and less pressured recording your own stuff in comparison. How did you work with the guys in your own band?
I learnt a lot from these guys, Gannin has played with Jimmy Chamberlin, drummer from The Smashing Pumpkins, and of course there's Channey. I am beyond the level of their musicianship. I didn't want a run of the mill record - and we all bring our own influences into the album. I would come up with an idea or something and Gannin would say I have an idea, then we would say to each other if that sounds crap or that sounds great. I'm also in a tribute band called Chevy Metal, we play Deep Purple covers and stuff. We once played a friends barbeque in Burbank, LA, I asked Channy and Gannin to come along, after playing the covers, me and the guys got together and we played four Coattail songs - it's a workout!
How did you come up with your band's name?
A friend of mine, Tim, who introduced me to my wife, would tag along with me to concerts, and we would go see Supergrass at the Troubadour, and he would say, 'I feel like a pale coattail rider', riding my coattails to get into a gig or something. And then some one suggested I should also use my name and I was like 'Naaa', but then came round to the idea, so the name stuck. And this album will be easier to put out because I'm in the Foo's.
What drummers influence you at present?
Fabrizio from The Strokes, the guy from The Mars Volta?
Yeah you mean Jon Theodore.
His drumming is great in this band. If I was back in High School and 16 years old, they would be my favourite band. I listen to them now but there's too much screaming for me.
You mentioned Supergrass at the Troubadour, are you friends with their drummer, Danny Goffrey?
Danny is a great guy, he's really cool to watch. Danny is the new Keith Moon of drumming, he will never keep the same tempo playing to the same song twice.
What's it like hanging out with someone like Chad Smith from The Red Hot Chili Peppers?
Chad is a fucking laugh, he is one amazing drummer to watch and a cool guy to talk with.
What are your thoughts on Lars Ulrich from Metallica, he's style of drumming was very unorthodox on earlier records, he would play without a ride in his set-up?
Which album are you talking about?
The Black album?
The Black album is really well produced. I heard it took over six months to over-dub the drumming on the album, I liked the Master of Puppets, And Justice For All, but there not my favourite band.
I guess you have a different drum set-up for certain venues and gigs?
I have the main kit for the Foo's tour, and old drum kits at home.
What bands have you been checking out recently?
I'm interested in individual songs, and I've have been listening to stuff from The Secret Machines and LA band The Bronx and The Mars Volta.
You hit the skins really hard, you must break a lot of sticks?
Yeah, you just use bigger drum sticks!
How do you stay fit because of your hectic lifestyle on the road touring with the Foos?
I do 75 push up's a day and each show I play is a work out for me.

return to Hawkins' Poor Brain