In person, it didn’t take long to understand why Taylor was the drummer he was. Though in possession of a laid-back, beachy, don’t worry about it, California vibe, he was also a man with ants in his pants. Energy hummed off him. In Foos videos, he was frequently the centre of the lolz, mugging for the camera even more than Dave. When he went to work on the drumstool, it was almost like he was flaring off what was oscillating through him, actually giving it a purpose. Unloaded into the framework of a Foos song, the focusing of such raw power could have put a dent in the Moon.
For all this, he had a reservedness about his own abilities. “I put a big burden on myself to play perfectly – whatever that means – and keep in perfect time,” he once told K!. “We’re not one of those bands who are hooked up to a computer or play to backing tracks. We have no safety net, and what happens is what happens. If it’s a trainwreck, it’s a fucking 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.”
As the band grew into one of America’s biggest, so did a period of partying. In 2001, this excessive time came to a head when Taylor ended up in hospital through taking “a lot of fucking drugs”, as he put it. “I believed the bullshit myth of live hard and fast, die young. I’m not here to preach about not doing drugs, because I loved doing drugs, but I just got out of control for a while and it almost got me.”
Following this, though, the years that followed would see him finding excitement in mountain biking. And even more drumming. And that energy, big smile, crackling eyes and sharp humour only increased.
Even not in Foos, time away from the kit was time wasted. He had his own jam band, Taylor Hawkins And The Coattail Riders (on whose Red Light Fever album guests included Roger Taylor and Brian May), as well as newer outfit NHC with Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro and bassist Chris Chaney, in which he indulged his love of “yacht rock”. He'd recently been working with Ozzy Osbourne on his upcoming solo album. When, in 2007, Coheed And Cambria found themselves between drummers for their No World For Tomorrow album, it was he who performed on the record. That band’s tribute thanked him for this, for “giving us a lift when we were at our lowest point”.
He played in metal jam band Chevy Metal, with whom other music luminaries would do a turn, like Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider joining him for a blast through Queen’s Tie Your Mother Down. He’d just hang out and play drums with Stewart Copeland. As well as dream fulfilment, having Jimmy Page and Jon Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin join Foos onstage at Wembley Stadium, or Roger Taylor and Brian May at Hyde Park, was simply another excuse to whack a drum. Even on his own, that was fine, so long as he could play somewhere.
“I remember Taylor showing up to a Foos show in Europe somewhere, about 8 hours early, just so he could pound the shit out of his drums out the back,” said Biffy Clyro/Oceansize guitarist Mike Vennart on Twitter this morning. “All on his own, just fucking going for it.”