It features interviews with a wide range of drummers and their families, and director Justin Kreutzmann – son of the Grateful Dead’s Bill Kreutzmann – said Hawkins had changed the nature of the movie as they recorded his interview section.
“Growing up, when your dad’s a drummer in a band like Grateful Dead, you end up being around a lot of drummers, and people ask you about it a lot,” Kreutzmann told Variety in a new interview. “So you have a lot of funny drummer stories – stories you tell at a party. So I wanted to do really simple, funny drummer stories – hotel smashing type stories. But once we got into it, it grew into a film with a lot more depth than my original intention.”
He added: “So we made a film that will interest drummers, but because of the common theme of family, everybody can relate to it. You don’t have to be obsessed with drumming. And I fully blame Taylor Hawkins for this. During his interview, he asked me, ‘How stable did your home life seem?’ That’s when I was like, ‘Well, people need to know the guy behind the camera.’ And that’s why I begrudgingly put myself on screen.”
Confirming Hawkins’ question had “totally transformed” the work in progress, Kreutzmann continued: “He was just asking me a question, not for the documentary. But that’s when the light bulb went on. I had my 20 questions for each drummer, but they also had questions for me. So we traded stories … when you’re doing interviews and are talking about stuff they haven’t been asked a million times, you get a lot more interest and energy. So that’s why it really worked.”
Towards the end of the movie, Hawkins is seen discussing his future, saying that while it’ll be difficult to play Foo Fighters songs in later years, he and Grohl will probably slow them down a little to make it easier. In the light of Hawkins’ death aged 50 in March, Kreutzmann admitted it was “crushing” to watch the scene now.
But he argued: “[H]e’s talking in the context of bands like the Grateful Dead and musicians from the ‘60s who are still playing together. Now, the tone of all that has changed just by circumstances. Hearing Taylor talk about his family and his kids watching him play – all those moments that are joyful and fun – now have this real sadness to them.”
He added: “This film was done before Taylor died. This was the cut we sent him. We didn’t add or remove anything because it wouldn’t have felt real. I want people to know that this was the movie Taylor saw.”
Let There Be Drums is available via Amazon and Apple TV now.
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