Call it a side project; call it a labor of love; just don’t call Taylor Hawkins & the Coattail Riders derivative. For frontman and drummer Taylor Hawkins, best known as the rhythmic tour de force behind the Foo Fighters, the band is far more than a musical outlet; it’s a way of paying due homage to the tunes he’s loved since childhood.
On the Coattail Riders’ sophomore album, Red Light Fever, Hawkins channels everyone from Freddie Mercury to the Beach Boys with a coy wink to the past, making for a no-holds-barred offering that’s as fun-loving as it is hard rocking.
“It’s just sort of what I grew up on and what naturally comes out of me,” Hawkins said recently from his home in Laguna. “I’d liken it to sitting in the back of my mom’s car on the way to soccer practice in 1978. It’s like listening to the radio and all the things that I love: Queen, the Police, Rush, the Bee Gees, and ABBA.”
While the reference points on Fever are more apparent than ever, Hawkins points out that the project is less about recreating the past, and more about enjoying the present.
“When I get to make a record like this, there’s nothing riding on it except for me to enjoy myself,” he laughed. “I know I’m not reinventing the wheel, but hopefully I’m taking those things that I love and bringing them up to where we live now.”
In addition, Hawkins was able to enlist some of rock’s key players to help make Red Light Fever a reality, including Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor and The Cars’ Elliot Easton. As for what his fellow Foos think of the record, which also features buddy and bandmate Dave Grohl, Hawkins lightheartedly replied, “I think they laughed. I think they know how I am and they know how much I love that era of music. They kind of go, ‘Oh Taylor, don’t you wish it was 1977.’”
Taylor Hawkins & the Coattail Riders play Velvet Jones (423 State St.) this Saturday, April 24, at 9 p.m. Call 965-8676 or visit newnoisesb.com for info.