Taylor Hawkins, best known as the drummer for the American rock band Foo Fighters, has been one of the most exceptional and influential drummers of all time. Polishing his skills as a drummer from a young age, Hawkins mentioned that growing up, two major inspirations of his had been Roger Taylor and Steward Copeland who also introduced him to a wide spectrum of drumming styles. His primary influences had mostly been classic rock drummers, following whom he was able to develop his own style.
Prior to joining the Foo Fighters in 1997, Hawkins was the touring drummer for Alanis Morissette’s band as well as the drummer in a progressive experimental band called Sylvia. Hawkins has been associated with many acts throughout his career. From the Foo Fighters and Alanis Morisette to his own projects such as Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders, Hawkins was also a part of SOS Allstars with Roger Taylor of Queen and Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers. While the Foo Fighters were on a hiatus, Hawkins played in a three-piece cover band called Chevy Metal with whom he played the lesser-known tracks by Van Halen, Aerosmith, Queen, Black Sabbath, and so on.
While Hawkins’ career as a drummer has been extremely varied and his performances, more than can be physically numbered – all of them have been inspiring and worth marvelling at. During his time in the Foo Fighters, he had also taken an active part in the songwriting process as well as featured on the vocals for many of the songs alongside playing the drums.
Here, we delve a little deeper.
Taylor Hawkins’ 5 isolated drum tracks:
‘Rope’ was released as the lead single for the Foo Fighters’ seventh studio album Wasting Light in 2011. Apart from being one of the songwriters for the song, Taylor Hawkins was also in charge of the drums, cowbell and backing vocals.
The track begins with and electric guitar riff before the Hawkins’ energising drum track picks up. Dave Grohl’s voice swiftly flows in and takes the song ahead. With an offbeat and unusual rhythm and the continuous playing of the cymbal towards the end, Hawkins really lifts the spirit of the song.
The song starts out calmly enough but once the drums start playing beat-per-beat and steadily picks up from there, you know something big is about to hit. The rhythm is unexpectedly firm, a stark contrast to the shrieking vocals.
‘Run’ featured on the Foo Fighters’ ninth studio album Concrete and Gold which was released in 2017, of which Hawkins was one of the songwriters. Hawkins worked his magic on the drums and percussions for this song.
‘The Pretender’ (2007)
‘The Pretender’ was the first single from the Foo Fighters’ 2007 album Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace. This song sees a shift in the band’s sound. Grohl and Hawkins have both been in favour of letting the instruments shine through in the songs. And that is exactly what happens in this song.
With Hawkins on the drums and backing vocals, the song shifts between deep and contained instruments and vocals to a hard rock sound with an almost quiet bridge. This sound is reflected on many of the other songs in the album.
‘Learn To Fly’ (1999)
‘Learn To Fly’ was the Foo Fighters’ first song that made its way into the Billboard Hot 100. One of their earlier songs, this was the lead single from their third studio album There Is Nothing Left to Lose which was released in 1999.
Taylor Hawkins was one of the songwriters for this song alongside Dave Grohl. The sound for this song tilted more towards the melodious side, a visible shift from their later songs, which had to them a rockier sound. Nevertheless, Hawkins’ grip on the drums and the tambourine for this song added a fresh flavour to it.
If the sultry vocals backed by the steady sound of the guitar and Hawkins’ fantastic and perhaps a little crazy drum track as accompaniment does not evoke the inner rockstar out of you, we don’t know what will.
Released as the third single from Foo Fighters’ fourth album One by One that was in 2002, Dave Grohl rightly described the song as “the kind that everybody likes, but there’s just no way ‘cause it’s too weird.” The song which began as an instrumental demo written by Grohl and Hawkins in Hawkins’ home studio, soon progressed to being one of the top songs by the band.
(Now, for this song, we couldn’t actually find the isolated drum track, but do let us know if you find it! Until then, here’s the whole song for you to listen to.)