Taylor Hawkins has achieved his goal of trying to make a classic rock album with a modern twist with his side-band, The Birds Of Satan. The Foo Fighters drummer, who cites Bowie, Queen, Wings and Jane’s Addiction as reference points for the trio’s self-titled debut, steps out from behind the kit to voice its seven songs (he also performs its drums, piano, guitar, keyboards).
“I’m really pleased with this record – it’s honest, true and above all a lot of fun,” he says. “It’s the type of rock ‘n’ roll music that I like to listen to, and also to make. When people tell me it that sounds like early Van Halen, I take that as a compliment.”
It’s certainly a brave record. Opening track The Ballad Of The Birds Of Satan, boasts myriad time changes and last for almost ten minutes, while Too far Gone To See goes to the other extreme, ending things at a tortoise pace.
“That song’s dark and kinda sombre, but it also takes off into outer space which I think is a great way to sign off,” explains Hawkins. “None of its songs are in identical tempos, which I really like. Most of my favourite records, including Queen 2, were that way.”
Completed by bassist Wiley Hodgden and guitarist Mick Murphy, Birds Of Satan grew out of Hawkins’ classic-metal covers band Chevy Metal. They cranked out its contents in less than a week at 606 Studios, the Foos’ HQ. It includes cameos from Taylor’s band-mates Dave Grohl and Pat Smear. One wonders whether they don’t they see enough of one another already?
“C’mon, if one of the best musicians in the world was among your best friends and volunteered to come down for a few days to write and play on your record, wouldn’t you say: ‘Hell yeah?’” he deadpans.
Hawkins stumbled upon the group’s unusual name in a book “many years ago” and jotted it down for future use. “It’s a tongue in cheek drug reference,” he reveals. “When you’ve been taking things to keep you up much later than is advisable and you need a good night’s sleep, birds chirruping loudly can be among the most evil sounds you’ll ever hear.”
The Birds Of Satan have yet to play live. “My own family and that other band that I hang out with tend to keep me pretty busy,” chuckles Hawkins, alluding of course to the Foos. “It’ll be hard to put aside the time [for a short tour for TBOS], but I’m really hoping to do it in the summertime.”
Under duress Hawkins reveals that the Foo Fighters have begun preparing their first new album in three years.
“Dave’s got lots of amazing and extremely grand ideas and all I can tell you at this point is that we’re playing better than we ever have,” he confides. “We’ve already done some work and it’s sounding super-exciting. It will take the band into new territory, at least for us.”
Besides Hawkins’ commitments, Mick Murphy is also a member of My Ruin, the long running alt-metal group fronted by his wife Tairre B, who have an eight-date UK tour of their own in August. My Ruin can be seen at: Kettering Alt Fest August 15, London Camden Underworld 16, Brighton The Haunt 17, Manchester Sound Control 19, Birmingham Academy 20, Bristol Fleece & Firkin 21, York Fibbers 23, Colchester Tribal 23.