When Dave Grohl started playing with Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins needed a way to keep busy, so he teamed up with longtime friends Wiley Hodgden and Mick Murphy for the cover band Chevy Metal. Started, in Hawkins’ words, “as a goof,” Chevy Metal has evolved to become first a regular live act, and now, Hawkins and his Chevy Metal mates have written and recorded new material as the Birds of Satan, a new project that features a nine and a half-minute title track co-written with Grohl and Murphy.
In this clip documenting Chevy Metal on the road, including cameos from Eddie Vedder and Perry Farrell, fans get the first official look at what life is like for the Foos drummer playing covers of his favorite bands, from Van Halen and Queen to Jane’s Addiction. The video was directed by Álvaro Farías Riquelme.
Hawkins spoke with us about the clip, being in a band with Grohl and the secret to staying humble when you’ve shared the stage with members of Led Zeppelin and played the White House lawn.
Where did the idea for the video come from?
That’s my buddy, Hans Hagen, who’s been one of my best friends since I was five. He’s managed to turn Chevy Metal into a vehicle for surf trips for him. So he set up the first Chile trip, which was when we went down and played Lollapalooza, Kidsapalooza.
Surfing trips would explain the cameos by Perry Farrell and Eddie Vedder.
We only got that cameo by Eddie Vedder – he just happened to be on the side of the stage and they took some video of him to make it look like he was hanging out with us [laughs]. I’ve met him a couple of times. I don’t really know him that well to be honest. Perry, we were lucky enough to have up there. Perry, obviously, as we all know, Lollapalooza is his baby to begin with. All those years ago I went to the first one, but we were lucky enough to have him come up on stage and play “Mountain Song” with us and he hung out for a couple of more songs too, sang along with us.
How does having this fun side gig with your friends influence Foo Fighters?
Chances are I’m not gonna come in and say, “Hey, I learned this new Van Halen lick, let’s put it on a Foo Fighters song.” But I think it’s more the energy, being reinvigorated. The funny thing is as we say, it’s all about making music with friends. That’s kind of the ethos with the Foo Fighters really. The Foo Fighters is a ramshackle sort of band, it’s not Steely Dan. Dave could do the whole record himself, no question, obviously he’s done it before. Or he could have a crack perfect studio band come in there and play as well. But part of the joy of having the Foo Fighters, and this is unspoken, is doing it with your friends for better or worse. And that’s kind of how I feel about this as well. It’s all about the hang, period, which is just so much more important than anything else.
Will Chevy Metal become more of a full band and will you tour?
Probably not, I just don’t think we’re gonna have time. And the original concept for me was I could make this record with these guys, we can go out and do fun little Chevy Metal shows and throw a Birds of Satan song in there here and there and that was kind of the idea, almost like how back in the day in Pasadena when Van Halen was a cover band they would throw in their originals and wouldn’t even tell anybody they were playing the original. . . . My main priorities are my family and then the Foo Fighters.
What is the timeline for when people will hear Birds of Satan?
I’m hoping before the end of the year, I’m hoping we can get it out quickly.
Will you have time before Foos goes into full gear to do one-off shows?
I’ll have time for that because we dip in and out working on Foos stuff. There’s a bigger plan at hand for this Foos record. I can’t tell you exactly what it is, but there’s a bigger plan. There will be a week here and there and a weekend here and there. I will have time to do a bit of press and possibly one offs for Birds of Satan.