“So all I can say is right now as a band we’re kind of at some point we’re trying to get as good as we can to record as good as we can and then when we get to that level when we know we’re as good as we can be then we leave it alone, then that’s it, that’s humanly possible what we can do.”
Most of you, if not all of you will know Taylor Hawkins from his work in that somewhat popular band The Foo Fighters, but outside of one of the biggest bands in the world, Taylor keeps himself extremely busy playing and making music with other projects. This one in particular ‘The Birds Of Satan’ is his newest baby and they rock, their debut release is raw and a must listen, so… what are you waiting for? Go and listen (well, after you’ve read this of course.)
On a beautiful early evening in Southern California and discussing the weather and why dogs are man’s best friend, we chatted to one of, if not the best rock drummer out there today in Mr Taylor Hawkins about his new band The Birds Of Satan as well as inspirations, touring, memories and The Foo Fighters…
Hey Taylor, thanks for your time today…
Troyster, what’s up buddy?
Well firstly I need to know what the idea was behind putting The Birds of Satan together and how it all come about?
You know, I just always like to have a little side fun escape from my normal life you know and this was just another one of them, I like writing songs for better or for worse, and I’ve got to have some band to do it with. At one point I was like I’ll just make my own, the Taylor Hawkins record and I’ll play every instrument and all that stuff, because I was kind of like I’d like to do that someday, I don’t think it’d be the Taylor Hawkins album but I am keen to do that at some point. Because I do my own demos, but I don’t know, once I started playing with Wiley and Mick and we played all the time, and any way we could do it quickly and it sounded good, and we are who we are and it’s tongue in cheek but it’s great. We do Van Halen, we do The Stones, we do everything, it’s a certain heavy metal filter that are all our influences, like with The Stones, we play ‘Brown Sugar’ because I like that song, Van Halen we play the songs, but we don’t sound like Van Halen, we’re a tribute. All the bands we play originally sound like the bands, but they sound like us, my crazy on top drumming and Wiley’s scuzzy and dirty bass, and Mick’s heavy metal histrionics… *laughs* so when you play a Stones song you can imagine what that sounds like, it doesn’t sound like the fuckin’ Stones. So that’s how that sort of came about, well conceptually, I was like well ok, let’s just do my songs through that same filter and see what happens, and that’s what happened The Birds of Satan. I think it came out better than I thought it would to be honest. I think it’s a fun record, and Chevy Metal is a fun band to go see do shows, we’re fun, so you go see us play you’re gonna have fun, they’re good songs and we have a good attitude about it, we’re laid back yet the music can get right up in your face, and hey if I can apply tat to this record then great you know…
What was the inspiration behind the songs that appeared on the album?
Lyrically it’s sort of dark, well a lot of it is, ‘Thanks For The Line’, ‘Pieces Of The Puzzle’, ‘Nothing At All’ all these are songs about fuck ups, and in a sense, I truly see myself as basically a fuck up that just got lucky, and I’m not talking in terms of partying or anything like that, I just mean as kind of a dipshit you know? *laughs* and if you’ve seen the teaser for the album, before we put the record out I put this little teaser out online, ‘The Birds Of Satan’ like an album teaser, and it kind of tells the story of a forty-something year old dude that all just let it fuckin’ go to shit. I think a lot of my lyrics have come from that sort of paranoia, like oh my god, I feel like I’m holding my life and everything together by one piece of duct tape, all the time, and I always have that’s always been the way I lived *laughs* so I guess this is the forty something point of view of what can happen if it all really goes wrong, at least in my mind you know. So it built from that you know, and a lot of it comes from people, like ‘Too Far Gone To See’ I actually wrote that about five years ago, and that was something about someone really close to me, but you feel compelled to write songs about being an asshole, or fucking up or those kinds of things, but I think that you’re compelled to do that because you can see it in yourself, and it’ a scary feeling you know, as you look at someone and say ‘oh my god, that could be me, why is it not me?’ and all of that said, I just put a ‘who gives a shit?’ at the end of it, because at the end of it all it’s one fuckin’ life you know. Enjoy it while you can, don’t think about it too much, don’t over think it…
The album has been out for a few weeks now, so if you had to use only one word to describe it, what would it be?
Hmm… one word to describe this record… Quick… yeah, it’s a schizophrenic kind of album, the songs, a lot of them are fast there are a lot of quick changes, a lot of them are quick, it’s not a long album, it’s a short album, twenty five or thirty minutes, which was still a record back in the late 80’s, I mean ‘Diver Down’ is about the same exact length, people didn’t complain about it back then. Yeah, so quick, quickly done, I made it in a week. So quick would be my key word for it.
You take on vocals with the band as you do with the Coattail Riders, when recording or playing live do you have to mentally prepare in a different way than when just behind the kit?
Well, you have to prepare for it, but hopefully by the time you’re actually up on stage doing it you’re pretty well versed.
On touring, can we expect to see The Birds of Satan out on the road anytime soon, maybe a trip Down Under?
I would love to; maybe I’ll just wait until The Foos come back down there. That’s the most economically viable version of that scenario, I am busy with my other band, The Foo Fighters, so that’s taking up most of my time, between that and my family, so actually unfortunately putting this record out at this point might not give me that opportunity, and no one really has that much free time, as I don’t know if you saw the Sound City movie, we made that record and we all pitched in, I played on three songs, put together a couple of songs with Dave, and then we did a tour. We went right from that basically into pre-production of the new Foo Fighters record you know? We’ve been writing songs for this new record for ages, for a year, so we can get the best of it, no pun intended, trying to find the best of us. We’re in high gear right now, so trying to think about planning a west coast tour of America, and I’d like to go to England and I’d like to go to Australia… we could get on one of those little festivals of some sort, at least give us enough money and fly us down there and we’ll stay at a crappy hotel, we don’t care man, as long as we get to play for fans we’ll do it, it’s just making it happen and it’s a long way to go. It’s not really a financial thing, we could probably put that together, but it’s really a timing issue, but I’d like to, I’d really like to.
I wanted to ask about your love of Australia, being here more than a handful of times, do you have a favourite memory of a previous trip here?
Yeah my favourite memories are of the hotel that’s not there anymore, The Sebel, it was such a rock and roll hotel which is now apartments or condominiums I think, I have a lot of good memories of that place, that was the first time I ever came down to Australia and it was the first place I ever stayed in Sydney was The Sebel. You’d walk into the bars in the hotel and there’s pictures of everybody that’s come to town on that wall, and it’s a rock and roll hotel, and I just did a lot of damage at that place man, a lot, a lot, a lot of damage at that place, so with the partying and chicks, I’ll always remember that man, so that’s my earliest adult memory. Especially coming out there with Alanis Morissette funnily enough, we literally tore that place up, we had a good time man. So that was the most debaucheries tour I’ve ever been on *laughs* I swear to God, we were fuckin’ scumbags dude, you’ve gotta remember, you’re 23, 24 year old dudes with enough money in our pockets to do whatever the fuck we wanted, it was goofin’ around money, I think it was like $2,000 a week when we were there and for a 24 year old who ain’t got a house, ain’t got a kid, that’s pretty good money. So that was a wild tour, we had a lot of fun there… and man, a lot of girls like Alanis Morissette, so for the most part it was like ‘ha ha… this is great.’
You mentioned pre-production of the new album, can I ask the status of The Foo Fighters at the moment and can you tell us much more?
I can’t really tell you much more, I mean to be honest I don’t really know when the release date is… we’re working on new music, we’re putting it together, we’re doing it in a really interesting way and it’s gonna be great and it’s gonna be an interesting way to put out a record and hopefully it’ll work. The music’s really good, we’re really tight right now, we’re a tight rock and roll band right now. Also I think we’re really enjoying the sound of the good and the band with our band if that makes any sense, I feel like there was a couple of years in our existence when we were trying to… especially with ‘In Your Honor’ and ‘Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace’ we were trying to sound better than we were, whatever that means… Pro tools was around and those two records are the most sort of pro tools we ever got, recording on computers with the ability to fix things very easily. So there was too much bullshitting with those records for me to really listen to them and feel honest about them… that’s the one thing I really don’t like about computers and music, there’s a dishonesty that it brings to the table, because you don’t really know how good that drummer is, you don’t really know how good that singer is, or how bad… and I like that, you know I like The Rolling Stones, I don’t think they’re bad, I think they’re the greatest rock and roll band of all time, but I like listening to ‘Brown Sugar’ and the part when the whole band goes out of time for a second, that’s the shit I remember when I was a kid.
So all I can say is right now as a band we’re kind of at some point we’re trying to get as good as we can to record as good as we can and then when we get to that level when we know we’re as good as we can be then we leave it alone, then that’s it, that’s humanly possible what we can do. I finish drum tracks sometimes and Dave’s like, “well, I guess that’s about as good as you can do” *laughs* “I guess that’s all we’re gonna get from you…” and that’s ok man, because in there, in that striving for perfection, somewhere between the striving for perfection and the failure is where to me are the heart and the soul, that make sense? Somewhere in there, that’s the X Factor, what you can do and what you can’t do and when you just barely make it, that’s the great moments you know. So I’ve got fills all over the place on this music that we’re doing right now that are just barely fuckin’ making it, just barely, I mean, one of my favourite records of all time is ‘Zenyatta Mondatta’ by The Police, they just lose their shit man, and on this Birds Of Satan record, there’s a song called ‘Wait Til Tomorrow’ which on the record is kinda like a Van Halen type song you know, that’s one take, at the very end I drop my drumsticks and go ‘Done!’ and that’s because I sat down and tried to figure out how to put it together, me, Dave Grohl and Mick and we said ‘OK it should go like this’ and I said ‘OK let’s run one down’ and we recorded and that’s what it is, one take. Now it’s perfect BUT it’s honest and it’s real and it’s muddy and it’s dirty and smelly and it kicks ass too, and it’s funny I was mixing it with Drew Hester and I was like ‘oh my god dude, I was just spazzing so hard’ but it’s awesome, it’s crazy, it’s out of control. It’s like a car running down a street and the brakes don’t work and the guy is just missing every single car you know what I mean. That’s what it should be you know…
Lastly, the year is well underway now, so let’s predict the rest of it, so if you can finish this sentence for me, by the end of 2014 Taylor Hawkins will…
Be a lot fuckin’ older… no… Taylor Hawkins will… be in Australia… we’re gonna get there.
From: Southern California, USA
Band members: Taylor Hawkins, Wiley Hodgden, Mick Murphy
Latest Release: The Birds Of Satan (Out Now – Shanabelle Records / Kobalt)