The Foo Fighters, who lost their drummer Taylor Hawkins last year, will be touring this spring. The Boston Calling and Sonic Temple festivals in May and the Bonnaroo Festival in June were announced on Tuesday, and more dates are likely to follow.
But the most important question is still: who will play the drums? Hawkins joined Foo Fighters in 1997 and died suddenly of unknown causes while the band was on tour in South America last March.
He was a great drummer and a big personality: Along with the band’s lead singer, founder, and best friend, Dave Grohl, he was the most noticeable member of the group. His absence leaves a painful and hard hole that the band will never be able to fill completely, but must if they want to keep going as a group.
At the all-star Hawkins tribute concerts Foo Fighters played in London and Los Angeles last fall, they worked with several drummers, including session drummers Josh Freese and Omar Hakim, Darkness drummer Rufus Taylor (son of Queen drummer Roger Taylor), and superstar cameos from Metallica’s Lars Ulrich, former Police drummer Stewart Copeland, and Blink-182 star Travis Barker, along with 12-year-old British star Nandi Bushell and Hawkins’ son Shane.
— Planet Rock (@PlanetRockRadio) January 11, 2023
But those were special shows. Joining a hard-touring band like the Foos is a much longer-term commitment, and a musician needs to have the experience and stamina to play the band’s famously two-hour-plus shows several times a week. They are very, very big shoes.
Grohl is without a doubt one of the best drummers in rock history, just based on his work with Nirvana. This meant that Hawkins had a lot to do when he joined the band. He did this in a great way. His style of playing was unique, fluid, and powerful, and it was very different from Grohl’s.
He was just as good technically, but he was more complicated. This shows how much Copeland and hard rock drummers influenced him. But he could also play in a powerful way that was more like Grohl’s, even if he didn’t sound like him.
Grohl could take on the role himself, but it seems unlikely. He could, but it’s hard to lead a rock band from behind a drum kit, and the rest of the Foo Fighters are used to playing supporting roles on stage, so it would be hard for them to match Grohl’s charisma and excitement on the arena, festival, and stadium stages. So that seems like a safe choice to cross off the list.
If you were to look outside the band, your first thought might be to try to find someone with as much musical and visual flair as Hawkins. But in reality, a big personality would be about the worst thing the Foos could do. Anyone trying to show off as Hawkins’ replacement would seem rude. But, on the other hand, the new drummer can’t be shy or scared of the job.
Have a look at:
- How Did Taylor Hawkins Die? Did He Die Of Drugs?
- Taylor Hawkins’ Son Plays Drums At His Father’s Memorial Concert
If a drummer could do well on those stadium stages, they could probably do well on a tour as well, which makes Freese and Rufus Taylor the most likely candidates.
Shane Hawkins and Nandi Bushell may make guest appearances, but neither of them is a good choice to take over the job full-time. Omar Hakim, who also played with the Foos at the concerts, has been a jazz and rock drummer for decades (you can hear him banging the drums on David Bowie’s “Modern Love”). However, at 63, he is a lot older than most of the band members.
Taylor, who is 31, brings the legacy of Queen with him. Both Hawkins and Grohl grew up listening to Queen, and his years in the Darkness and his family history show that he is already used to touring and living the rock life.
His performance at the tribute concerts was good, and his family history puts him in a similar situation to Jason Bonham in Led Zeppelin, but without the pressure of having a direct family tie. But his long blonde hair and the fact that the lead singer of the band The Darkness is also named Justin Hawkins could make for some awkward moments.
But Variety says that Freese is a strong candidate, if not the favourite, and there are many reasons why that would make sense. He has known both Grohl and Hawkins for a long time.
Since Foo Fighters are playing shows again, who do you think will be on drums?
— 102.9 The Buzz (@1029thebuzz) January 11, 2023
He is an experienced session musician who has worked with Guns N’ Roses, A Perfect Circle, Puddle of Mudd, Nine Inch Nails, Weezer, Paramore, the Replacements, Sting, and the Vandals, and that’s just the rock bands.
Over the years, he has played on more than 300 recordings with a wide range of musicians, from pop to rock to country: At last year’s Coachella festival, he played with both Danny Elfman, the frontman of the new wave band Oingo Boingo and Tim Burton’s favourite film composer, and the hyper-pop band 100 Gecs. These were two very different artists who needed very different styles, and he did a great job with both of them.
But Freese is not only a very experienced and versatile musician who knows the band and its music, but his presence would also solve many of the problems that whoever took Hawkins’ place could face: He’s known as one of the best session drummers in the business, so musicians know him well.
The fact that the general public doesn’t know him as well is actually a plus, since it means people won’t remember him from any of the dozens of bands he’s played with. His long list of gigs shows that he can play in almost any style, and at 50, he is the same age as the rest of the band.
Also, it’s not clear if the person who plays drums with the Foos on this tour will be a full-time member of the band. A long-term freelance job can relieve stress in many ways: Bands, especially ones that have been together for a long time like the Foo Fighters, have a close bond that takes time to get used to.
Looking back decades for clues, the Who quickly chose Kenney Jones to replace the late Keith Moon as a full member. But he and singer Roger Daltrey didn’t get along, and Daltrey has said he didn’t like that Jones was a full financial member of the band either. The lineup never quite worked, and three years after he joined, the band broke up for the first time.
On the other hand, when Mick Taylor left the Rolling Stones in 1975, Ron Wood filled in as a temporary replacement. The band had known Wood for years and he had toured and recorded with them before he was officially named a member nearly two years after he started playing with them. He’s still there after almost 50 years.
But all of this is just guesswork since neither Foo Fighters nor any of the other possible candidates have said anything: There are many other options, and it’s likely that the band hasn’t decided yet. The first of the shows announced on Tuesday is more than five months away, which gives professional drummer plenty of time to clear their schedule and practise with the band.
But based on what has happened in the past, it seems likely that whoever plays drums with the Foo Fighters on their next tour will be a good choice that fans will like. It’s also likely that the band will make the announcement on social media, so everyone will know at the same time.
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