After spending the past two years on the road with the Foo Fighters supporting 2017’s Billboard-200 topping Concrete and Gold, drummer Taylor Hawkins has released another album of his own.
Get the Money, by Hawkins and his band, The Coattail Riders, arrives on Nov. 8 via Shanabelle/RCA. It’s his third album with the band and fifth overall outside of the Foos. (In the nine years since the last Coattail Riders album, Red Light Fever, Hawkins released a self-titled record with side project The Birds of Satan, and a solo EP, 2016’s Kota.)
“It’s always go, go, go,” he says while driving his 2005 Subaru Baja through the streets of Los Angeles, where the Foo Fighters have already begun working on their next album. “Plus, I have a wife and three kids.”
That suburban dad life inspired Get the Money, on which Hawkins plays drums and sings alongside the Coattail Riders — bassist-keyboardist Chris Chaney, guitarist Brent Woods and percussionist John Lousteau — and a plethora of guest stars, from Foos leader Dave Grohl and Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan to Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde and country/pop star LeAnn Rimes.
“I almost called it Tales From Suburban Hell,” he says. “Because it has a lot to do with being a 47-year-old man with a family who never thought he would be in that position. When I was 25, I never thought, ‘I’m going to be a suburban dad someday.’ But that’s what I am, so I can’t write about being young and going to clubs, and I’m not very political. It’s all sort of tongue-in-cheek though.”
Hawkins describes the album’s sound as “schizophrenic,” because it winds through various states of rock’n’roll, including prog and glam, with homages to classic rock and everything in between. “I Really Blew It” is about how a man should always be the one to apologize in a relationship; “Kiss the Ring” is about “trying to get a piece from the missus,” as Hawkins jokingly puts it; and “You’re No Good at Life No More” is a line that came straight from an argument Hawkins had with his wife one day.
He also taps into being an “aging rock star,” though Hawkins claims to “hate” being called a rock star. “So many people use that silly term,” he says. “Yeah, I’m a musician, but that doesn’t make me above anyone else. A friend said to me the other day, ‘You can get away with anything because you’re a rock star.’ Bull c–p, man. Those rules don’t apply as soon as I walk through the front door of my house.”
Hawkins squeezed in recording the album while keeping pace with his main gig by doing it “in chunks,” he says. “I have a home studio, and even though the Foo Fighters tour a lot, we do it in two-to-three-week legs and then have a couple of weeks off. So I would write stuff on the road, and then when I was home, I would sneak over to the guest house where my studio is and put down tracks.”
While none of the songs were written with any particular guest star in mind — except for “I Really Blew It,” which features Grohl’s signature “howl” — Hawkins lined up an all-star cast. In addition to the aforementioned musicians, there’s also Nancy Wilson, Perry Farrell, Roger Taylor, Joe Walsh, Jon Davison, Mark King and fellow Foo Pat Smear. (Grohl and McKagan are featured on multiple songs.) Hawkins particularly sought out “the ladies” to duet with. “That was my aspiration with this album,” he says, adding that he got an “extra-sweet decline” from Olivia Newton-John, and also tried to bring in Berlin singer Terri Nunn, which didn’t work out.
But he was able to snag Hynde, whom unlike everyone else on Get the Money, Hawkins never had met before. A background singer who performs with the Foo Fighters put him in touch with her, and despite calling the album’s title track “juvenile,” Hynde lent her vocals to it. “Tough, man,” admits Hawkins. “She’s a tough gal. But I’ve caught her sweet side.”
While most everyone on the album seems like a natural fit because of their rock cred, one person stands out: Rimes. How exactly did the country artist get involved with the song “C U in Hell”? “She lives in my neighborhood, and our kids go to school together,” explains Hawkins. “We had met briefly at soccer practice, and then I saw her sing at a school event and she had a rad voice. So I asked her.”
Hawkins also worked with one of his biggest influences: Queen’s Taylor, who appears on “Shapes of Things.” “Queen was my first real love as far as bands go, and Roger was the reason I started playing drums,” he says. “But I never wanted to be ‘just a drummer.’ I always wanted to write songs and sing.”
And in that sense, he’s following directly in the footsteps of Grohl, who first achieved fame as the drummer for Nirvana before stepping out from behind the kit to front the Foos. But despite all of his side projects, Hawkins knows which side of his bread is buttered, although he didn’t see it as a slam-dunk when he first joined the band in 1997.
“I didn’t see it going that long,” he says. “We were playing three-quarters-sold theaters and at 3 o’clock in the afternoon at festivals. We were an opening band.”
Plus, it took some time for him to get into the groove with the rest of the group. Grohl sang and played all the instruments on the Foos’ 1995 self-titled debut and tentatively brought in other musicians for 1997’s sophomore album, The Colour and the Shape, which became an alt-rock blockbuster thanks to hit singles like “My Hero” and “Everlong.” By the group’s third album, 1999’s There Is Nothing Left to Lose, a cohesive band had finally started to jell.
“In the beginning, we really didn’t know how to be a band,” recalls Hawkins. “Now everyone has their roles and knows the drill, and it’s a lot smoother.” But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. “Dave knows how to get what he wants from me as a drummer in the studio,” he says. “I did a track the other day, and when I got home, I was mentally exhausted — because I’m trying to make one of the greatest drummers in the world happy. It’s like doing the lead vocal for Freddie Mercury.”
Hawkins says that the group is at a stage where they always find a way through, however. “Even when I think I’m never going to get it the way he wants, we always get there in the end,” he explains. “Because there’s a bigger picture: the family that is the Foo Fighters. There’s no quitting anymore, there’s no breaking up. We’re too old to break up. It would be like your grandparents getting a divorce.”
In any event, he doesn’t take his primary gig for granted. “You still have to treat every gig and every session like it could be the last — because there may come a point where Dave goes, ‘I don’t think I can get up there and scream like a wild animal anymore,’” Hawkins says. “I just hope that we stop before it gets bad.”
He continues: “Then again, The Rolling Stones are still one of the best live bands in the world, and they’re old as dirt! When I was in high school — you know, Steel Wheels era — I remember looking at them and thinking, ‘They’re so fucking old!’ They were in their 40s, which is our age now, and it’s like, ‘Oh my God, I’m on the Steel Wheels tour!’ But no matter what happens, I’ll never stop putting out records. I enjoy it too much.”