Why Taylor Hawkins Was Burdened With Playing Perfectly During Foo Fighters Shows

Taylor Hawkins was a bit of a perfectionist when it came to his music in and out of Foo Fighters. When he joined the band in 1997, he felt a hefty burden on his shoulders. He had to be just as great of a drummer as Dave Grohl, one of the best drummers of the 1990s. It was intimidating, especially since Grohl was not easily impressed.

Then, somewhere along the way, Hawkins placed a huge burden on himself. Hawkins wanted to be perfect for his own reasons, instead of wanting to impress Grohl.

Taylor Hawkins performing with Foo Fighters at Allianz Parque in Brazil, 2018.
Taylor Hawkins performing with Foo Fighters | Mauricio Santana/Getty Images

Taylor Hawkins wanted Foo Fighters to be perfect when he first joined

In 2021, Hawkins told Rolling Stone he always had an idea of perfection in his head. Initially, Hawkins pushed Foo Fighters to be perfect.

“It really was important to me that we maximize our potential as a live band and come up with cool endings and things like that,” Hawkins said. “It was already happening. Dave was already there, but I definitely was like, ‘We got to practice more. We got to practice more.'”

However, Hawkins realized that he couldn’t get in the way of Grohl’s process. “I was a loudmouth kid and I was like, ‘I have ideas, I have ideas.’ And finally I just went, ‘You know what? You have the best ideas. And if you want an idea, you’ll let me know.'”

Taylor Hawkins said he put a burden on himself to play perfectly at Foo Fighters shows

Hawkins always had stage fright. In 2021, he told Rolling Stone, “I have major stage fright, major, major, major.” At the time, Foo Fighters were about to play their first performance since before coronavirus shut everything down. He was nervous.

“I’m really nervous about tonight, because we haven’t done anything,” he said. “I’m hoping we’re OK. Still having a hard time playing certain songs again. I’m in hell right now.”

Hawkins enjoyed his break from performing for a time, even though lockdown was scary. “That’s been such a f***ing blessing,” he said. “But I’ve been on the road 28 years, literally, so I had a year and a half off from this feeling I have today. I’m still, I’m just not having a good day. I feel like everything in my body is wrong.

“My leg doesn’t feel right and all that kind of s***. Like all these kind of crazy psychosis kind of things that you go through to get yourself prepped enough just to play a little club show. So yeah, I’m petrified right now.”

Hawkins might have also had stage fright because he put so much pressure on himself to play perfectly.

He told Kerrang!, “It’s really with Foo Fighters shows. I do shows with my other bands, but I just feel a certain way when there’s 100,000 people waiting for you to go onstage. I put a big burden on myself to play perfectly – whatever that means – and keep in perfect time.”


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Hawkins also had to be perfect because the was no safety net

The drummer also felt he had to play perfectly during Foo Fighters shows because the band never hooked up to a computer.

“We’re not one of those bands who are hooked up to a computer or play to backing tracks,” Hawkins said. “We have no safety net, and what happens is what happens. If it’s a trainwreck, it’s a f***ing trainwreck. We live and die by the great sword of rock’n’roll.

“You’re getting something real: you’re getting blood, you’re getting guts, you’re getting a human exchange, and we’re actually really feeding off the audience and the excitement.”

Hawkins had to be very careful on the songs that were hardest to play, like “Rope.” He strived to give the best performance with Foo Fighters possible. He never wanted to repeat Foo Fighters’ gig in 1999, opening up for Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The group indulged in a heavy pre-show drinking session before their show and could barely play when they took the stage. “I think that we literally played like three songs and then just laid on the stage,” Hawkins told Radio X. “People were kinda like booing us, it was really a low point.”

Thankfully, it was only up from there for Foo Fighters. That never happened again, and the band went on to play many more successful gigs.