A lot of U2 fans harbor a deep musical hatred for “Discothèque,” the band’s glitzy 1997 curveball single. But Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins really despises the song – enough to rant about it in A.V. Club‘s “Hatesong” feature, calling its unexpectedly slick direction “a bummer” after the emotional rock glory of their early albums.
Hawkins had a vivid memory of his first “Discothèque” encounter – and the extreme disappointment he felt as he watched its infamously goofy music video with his brother. “We were watching MTV and they said, ‘We’re going to world premiere the new U2 song and video today,'” he says. “I was like, ‘I hope it’s a little more like the older stuff. I mean, Achtung Baby was fine, but I hope it crosses over that ironic narcissism thing that they were doing on Achtung Baby.’ Then that ‘Discothèque’ song came on, and they were all doing the ‘Y.M.C.A.’ dance and shit in the video, and me and my brother were sitting there watching, going, ‘What. The fuck. Is going on?!'”
The pain went deep for Hawkins, who’d grown up listening to U2’s “very, very important” early LPs and was inspired by them as a musician. “Boy, October, War, The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree, those records, they’re part of my musical DNA and structure,” he says. “Then they did Achtung Baby. I was like, ‘Okay. I get it, sort of.’ And then they did fucking ‘Discothèque.'”
The drummer emphasizes just how much he loves U2 – when they’re channeling the raw rock spirit of their early work. “I think ‘Vertigo’ is a great rock & roll song,” he says. “I love that song. And ‘Beautiful Day’ was a great pop-rock song, and that’s getting back more to accepting who they are as a band: a band with their heart on their sleeves, you know? Bono is reaching for the rafters emotionally. I want that out of U2.”
For Hawkins, the “Discothèque” hatred wasn’t and isn’t just about the song itself – but also the musical and cultural shift Bono claimed it represented. “At that same time, when we were trying to go around and be a rock band still, Bono is going around saying, ‘Oh, rock & roll is dead and it’s all about dance music now,’” and we were like, ‘Fuck you, dude! Rock & roll is not dead! Fuck U2!'”
Hawkins didn’t mention whether or not he’s excited about U2’s upcoming, Danger Mouse-produced LP, but one can only assume he’s rooting against an electronic influence.
Meanwhile, the Foos are currently at work on their own album, which frontman Dave Grohl recently described as “badass.” Producer Butch Vig gave a progress report on the LP earlier this month. “We’ve been recording at some different locations, but we’re almost halfway done with the recording and it’s going well. It sounds different — we’ve thrown a few things into the mix, in the recording process, that are going to give the record a different sound and a different feel. It’s been a challenge, but it’s also been exciting.”