The Foos' Hawkins Stands Alone

Drummer makes like Dave Grohl and steps up to the mike

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Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins is set to emerge from behind the kit and front his own band, Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders, on its eponymous March 7th debut. After years without singing — save for the occasional Foo Fighters vocals, on Pink Floyd's "Have a Cigar" (a 1999 B side) and In Your Honor's "Cold Day in the Sun" — Hawkins began work on his own album, more than a year ago.

"I think it [was] Oscar Wilde who said, 'Why go on vacation when working's so much more fun?' " Hawkins says with a laugh. "I'm no good when I have nothing to do. I really wanted to make a record and have a project outside of the Foo Fighters, because we do take breaks. So I had to kind of create another little environment for myself to keep busy and excited."

It was during one of these holiday periods, in the summer of 2004, that Hawkins headed to a home studio owned by a friend — drummer and budding producer Drew Hester — and holed up for several weeks, recording most of the album. With Hester at the board, Hawkins laid down drum, vocal and guitar parts alongside guitarist (and Hester's housemate) Gannin and bassist Chris Chaney (Jane's Addiction, Alanis Morissette).

The record's 11 tracks — as well as the hidden track "Perfect Day" — were influenced by Hawkins' childhood heroes. "I hear a lot of stuff [in my work]," he says. "I hear the Police, I hear early prog-rock stuff from the Seventies, I hear Queen and Devo — everything I grew up listening to is on there. I don't think I'm John Lennon, but I like writing songs and making music, I really do."

Hawkins is readying a solo tour of the U.S. and the U.K. for this spring, where he'll take up the Phil Collins/Don Henley mantle, playing drums and singing lead vocals at the same time. But while he's grown used to playing stadiums with the Foo Fighters, Hawkins will be touring on a much more intimate scale with the Coattail Riders — "like, weeklong van tours," he says — and with a looser live show than the super-tight Foos rock show. "We're really stretching the songs out," he says. "I think our template in a way is Cream, where the song is the germ of what we're going to do and we'll just take it from there."

But before hitting the road, Hawkins will be enlisted for another Foo Fighters tour — a smaller jaunt in early 2006 in support of In Your Honor's second, acoustic disc.