In the end, Whalebone Magazine decided to interview Taylor Hawkins as our one individual that we like and would enjoy having a conversation with. Taylor is an all around awesome person, one hell of a talented character and also happens to be a drummer for one of the best rock n’roll bands of all-time. We ran into Taylor on the beaches of Montauk this summer and were able to follow up on a call. Here is what we found out:
WB: How the hell did you stumble upon Montauk?
TH: I stumbled upon Montauk through the greatest living rock-n-roll drummer on the planet earth right now, a man named Chad Smith, who is also one of my dearest buddies. He invited us out there about five or six years ago. Then my wife stayed with them last summer while I was out on tour. My wife loved it so much. She loved the laid back-ness of it and the East Coast vibe because we are so west coast now. We found the time when Chad wasn’t touring and I wasn’t touring. It’s great, our little East Coast beach town. We’ll probably go every year now.
WB: Don’t tell too many people about it, but yeah…
TH: It’s hard because really you want it to maintain the charm, maintain the small-town feel and the localized feel. Places like Montauk and Laguna have always lived off tourism for the most part. On one level when we were kids, it was always like, “God! There are so many tourists here right now,” but I just remember my dad always saying, “Well, if it weren’t for those tourists, this town wouldn’t even be here.” I live up in L.A. now. I come here; I feel like a tourist. I am a tourist in Montauk, but I definitely feel like one even a little bit in my hometown.
WB: Yeah, right. A couple more fun questions for you. You’re stuck in Montauk for a day, what do you do?
TH: You go to Ditch Plains, man. Then you go to Ditch Witch. You surf beautiful, mushy waves with a bunch of other people… have fun. That’s what you do. Then you go down to The Dock and hang out with a guy named Jack.
WB: Be careful of that guy. Favorite band in high school?
TH: Favorite band in high school was Jane’s Addiction. I loved a lot of bands growing up. I loved Queen. I loved The Police. I loved Hendrix. I loved Zeppelin. I loved Floyd. But, when I was in high school, the band that meant the most to me was, without a doubt, Jane’s Addiction.
WB: You get to have a beer with one person. Where do you have the beer and who’s the person?
TH: Jimi Hendrix on the moon.
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WB: Best advice someone’s ever given you.
TH: My dad told me once, “There ain’t nothing that’s for free. Nothing. If someone gives you something for free, there’s always a price for everything. Nothing’s free so never take anything for granted. Nothing’s free; everything comes with either a good price or a bad price.” I think his point was you’re always going to work. You always have to work.
WB: Yeah, thank your dad. Best memory of surfing?
TH: I think it was the summer of ’84/’85 when I was first just really learning to be able to stand up on a board. I’m not really a good surfer at all. I was never really that good. I was much more into playing drums, playing music and stuff. I have friends who are absolute superheroes. A couple of them are pros. I just remember getting that first feeling of standing on a board, going down a wave and that magical, like no other feeling, there’s just no other feeling. When you get that stoke, it’s pretty addictive.
Some people call it an art, but you can call anything art, really, if it’s done well.
I choose to spend most of my time mountain biking. I don’t surf as much, especially during the winter. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become a little bit more of a fair-weather surfer. But that first feeling you get when you’re actually standing on a wave and you’re going down the line and it’s generating energy… you’re literally floating on water. I don’t think there’s anything like it. Surfing is one of those funny things that if you’ve never done before, you watch people do it and you go, “Oh that doesn’t look so hard.” I think it’s the hardest thing you can learn how to do sports-wise… if you want to call it a sport. Some people call it an art, but you can call anything art, really, if it’s done well. There’s just nothing like it.
Every time I don’t surf for a long time and I get back out there and start paddling, “Oh this hurts, this is painful,” and then I catch a wave and I’m like, “Oh my God, why am I not doing this every single day,” there’s nothing better.
WB: Aren’t things just a little bit better when you get done with surfing and you go to the beach?
TH: It is. There’s no better feeling. It’s good for you, that saltwater running through your nose and cleaning out your sinuses, being out in the sun, the best.
WB: The best. This one I think will be a softball for you — another kind of situation. Whalebone has the ability to bring people back from the dead. We give you a blank check and we want you to curate and bring to life the greatest concert in the history of the world. Who do you invite to perform and what’s the venue?
TH: That’s a good one. There’s only one show, not a string of shows, just one show, right?
WB: If you’re a success, I’m sure the promoter will sign you on for more shows, but this one is just one show, yeah.
TH: I want to bring Freddie Mercury back from the dead so Queen can get back together and do a string of shows. Do five shows at the Los Angeles Forum and then five shows at Madison Square Garden. That’s good enough right there, dude. I mean come on, bring Freddie back.
TH: You don’t want to do it at a stadium, because you want people to get the full effect of one of the greatest live rock-n-roll bands of all time, Queen. Best live rock-n-roll band of all time I think.
WB: Awesome. Sold. We’re in. You talked about a venue and how important it is to get that effect, right? What’s your favorite venue to play?
TH: There’s a place called Irvine Meadows, that unfortunately might be closing down soon. It’s near where I grew up in Laguna Beach, and it’s where I saw my very first concert, which was Queen, with Billy Squire opening. I remember telling my mom one day when I was like 10 or 11, and I was starting to play drums and really wanting to make music my life and wanted to be in Queen, Led Zeppelin, one of those bands. I remember I said, “Mom, one day you’re going to come see me play at this place called Irvine Meadows.”
Unfortunately, I heard that, like a lot of things in America, they’re going to tear it down. Build a Costco or something.
Now it’s called Bank of America Event Center or whatever, but back in the day, before everything had corporate sponsors, it was called Irvine Meadows. Sure enough, she came to see me there a couple of times. There’s something so magical and special about that venue for me.
WB: That’s awesome.
TH: I saw Queen there, then I saw Jane’s Addiction headlining Lollapalooza two nights in a row there back in 1990. Magical. That’s my favorite venue. Unfortunately, I heard that, like a lot of things in America, they’re going to tear it down. Build a Costco or something.
WB: Yeah, definitely, we could use more Costco’s…
TH: We definitely need more Costco’s and Starbucks. That’s the beautiful thing about Montauk, though. They really managed to keep that mom and pop thing. There’s no McDonald’s there, none of that. I love that. I think it’s great. It’s like the internet never existed. It’s a step back in time.
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WB: I would love for you or everybody to experience it in October or even in the middle of winter. It’s a different experience than the summer rush of Ditch Plains.
TH: Jack says it’s so cool. He says it’s really quiet, beautiful, mellow, no traffic, nobody there.
WB: Well I hope that we get to see you play at that venue before it closes down. I’m really appreciative of your time, but more importantly, your approach to things… man, you’re really inspiring. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for Whalebone and helping us out over the past couple of weeks and when you’re in town.
TH: I wore your shirt the other night and I will continue.
TH: You got it. Good luck and keep pushing that mag; it’s going to be huge. I’ll wear your t-shirts. I’ll definitely wear it with my cover band, Chevy Metal, but also when Foo goes back out; I’ll make sure to get a nice cut off that I can wear on stage and support the cause.
WB: I hope your son has fun surfing today. We’ll talk to you later, man.
Keep up with Taylor on his Instagram, on tour with the Foo Fighters, and via their alter-ego project, Chevy Metal. Thanks Taylor!