In his last interview with Rolling Stone, only parts of which had been published in 2021, Hawkins said he was struggling to deliver a satisfactory performance as the band worked on the 2002 album One by One – the first record on which Grohl left all the drumming to Hawkins.
“It was a pivotal moment in the band’s career, and it was definitely a make-or-break moment,” he said. “We hadn’t finished One by One, because it wasn’t going so good. … And I was still coming out of my fog from thinking that this should be a complete democracy. We were doing Coachella and we had a big argument because I was being a fucking smart-ass and know-it-all, thinking I know what was right. And he just fucking said, ‘You know what? I’m going to tell you right now. This is how it is. It’s my fucking band. If you don’t like it, fucking beat it.’ And I went, ‘All right, I quit.’”
He remembered Grohl reacted with a look that said “yeah, sure you do,” and then gave Hawkins a list of songs that had to be completed in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, Grohl was drumming with Queens of the Stone Age, who were playing the Coachella festival the day before Foo Fighters. “And I went and watched him play with Queens, and it meant a lot to him,” Hawkins said. “I didn’t know it at the time, really, but it did. He’s said before. He never said that to me, because we don’t have those kind of conversations. … And then we played that next night … and we fucking killed it.
“After the show, I remember going for a walk with him and him going, ‘We’re going to go back to Virginia. We’ll finish this record and then we’re going to go on tour and we’re going to be a band.’ … After we did that album and did our first headlining slot at the Reading Festival, that’s when the fun began.”
He also discussed the difficult experience of recording half of the drum tracks on the previous album, There Is Nothing Left to Lose, after the departure of original drummer William Goldsmith. “I was so scared … I had red-light fever so bad,” Hawkins remembered. “And [Grohl] said – it kind of chokes me up – he just held my hand through it, and he’s like, ‘You’re going to play some drums on this.’ And I did half the drums on it, because he fucking held my hand through it, like that older brother, best friend does. So there you go. That’s why we’re here today, because he knew he wanted me there with him as a friend, as a family member, as his younger brother that he can fucking rubber-finger any time he wants, that ultimately totally looks up to him and wants to make him happy. And also, he knew that there was just something we create on stage. And I know that.”
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