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Interview: Taylor Hawkins on the Birds of Satan

Foo Fighter sticksmith reveals epic quest to make Queen II

The Birds of Satan released their debut album in April. The band features Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, plus Wiley Hodgden and Mick Murphy, while the record pays tribute to 70s greats like Queen, Aerosmith and Alice Cooper.

So, what were you aiming to achieve on the Birds of Satan album?

“I always set out with anything I do – this band, Taylor Hawkins & The Coattail Riders – to make Queen II. Of course, I know I’ll never do that, but that’s always the ambition. Doesn’t everyone want to emulate their heroes when they make an album? The ideal is to take that inspiration and make it your own. To add in your twist on what’s gone before.”

How did you fit this all in with the Foo Fighters commitments?

“It wasn’t easy. I’d record little riff ideas on my iPhone, add in melody parts, and build up a song that way. I then found the time to do demos and get the songs straight in my head…”

Sounds like this is more of a solo album, then.

“No, no, no. It’s not. Although Dave [Grohl] told me that’s what I should do. But when I had all the songs ready, I had the chance of spending a week in 606 Studio [owned by Grohl] and make the album. So, I called up Wiley Hodgden and Mick Murphy, who play with me in the covers band Chevy metal and said, ‘Do you fancy coming down and making an album?’. They said, ‘Sure it sounds like fun’. That’s what we did. The whole thing was done I five days… well, four, because things fucked up on the last day.”

Did you use a lot of electronic effects on the album?

“No way. We did it the old fashioned way. Yes, I used Pro Tools, but only to edit, not to replace real instruments with programming. Using computer programmes like that is OK by me, but never to take over from the real deal.”

You’re very passionate about staying true to the old school ways of recording, aren’t you?

“Absolutely. I had a chat with Butch Vig about this recently, and explained to him that it doesn’t matter if a guitar part is slightly wrong, or a drum beat is out of sync somewhere, if the atmosphere and spirit is there, then leave the fucking mistakes in.

“You know what I’d love? To see U2 kick out all the technology, go into the studio, jam for 75 hours and tape the lot. I love that band, but they really should go back to the way they recorded those early albums. I understand their desire to keep up with the state-of-the-art, but.. think about how amazing it would be to hear U2 going into a studio and just going for it. Someone call Bono and tell him to fuck off the UN and make a great album again!”

Will you tour with this band?

“I’d love to, but that depends on other commitments.”

How would you describe this album to someone who’s not heard a note as yet?

“Well, it’s spontaneous. Which matches my personality. When I want to do something, then I want it to happen straight away. I want to fuck my wife? I want to do it NOW. I’m hungry? I want to eat NOW! I want to record an album? I want to do it NOW! That’s the feeling you get from the Birds Of Satan. It sounds like it was done fast, and that’s the way it should be. “A high school friend of mine saw me playing a song from the album on TV and said, ‘You’ve made the album you always wanted to do at school!’. That’s what I’ve done – made my dream come true.”

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