After months of speculation and radio silence, the Foo Fighters introduced their new drummer on Sunday (May 21) during the “Foo Fighters: Preparing Music for Concerts” livestream event.
The intimate studio show, presented in black and white, previewing the veteran group’s upcoming 11th studio album, But Here We Are (June 2), featured the live debut of Josh Freese, who is stepping into the formidable shoes of late Foos drummer Taylor Hawkins the band’s time-keeper died at age 50 of undisclosed causes in March 2022 while on tour in South America.
“We’re all free to some degree / To dance under the lights / I’m just waiting to be rescued / Bring me back to life,” he sings.
Hawkins was found dead at age 50 on March 25, 2022, in Bogotá, Colombia, while on tour with the band. The group planned to perform at the Festival Estéreo Picnic before they learned the tragic news. They later announced that all upcoming tour dates were canceled.
Freese will take the stage with the rock band as they embark on their latest tour, which kicks off May 24 at the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion in Gilford, New Hampshire, according to Variety.
The publication reported that Freese was one of the many stars who helped honor Hawkins’ legacy when he performed at the late drummer’s September 2022 tribute concerts in London and Los Angeles.
Hawkins’ 17-year-old son, Shane, also paid tribute to his dad and delivered a roaring performance of “My Hero” on drums in London. Other musicians like Paul McCartney, Liam Gallagher, Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor and Kesha honored Hawkins, as well.
Freese knew Hawkins and has been friends with Grohl for years, according to Variety. He previously performed and toured with Guns N’ Roses, Nine Inch Nails, Weezer and Paramore.
The tour marks the first time the band have performed live since their two memorial concerts for Hawkins last September, where an all-star lineup of musicians including Paul McCartney, Queen and Mark Ronson paid tribute to the late drummer.
Freese himself performed with Foo Fighters at those concerts, playing on Hawkins’ drums.
“I was asked what drums I’d like to use,” he wrote on Instagram at the time. “Without hesitation I said, ‘Taylor’s drums need to be up there and I want to play on his exact set-up.’”
The pre-recorded special may have been a sort of public rehearsal or sound check, but clearly no further rehearsing is needed: The performances were air-tight, with the band discussing only a couple of minor refinements.
Freese, one of the best, most versatile and most experienced rock drummers working today, shows why he’s got the chops to fill the shoes of both Hawkins and Grohl (himself one of the greatest drummers in rock history, although he’s the Foos’ lead singer and rhythm guitarist), playing with just the right amount of steadiness, power and flash. If it was a livestreamed audition for fans, it’s safe to say he passed with flying colors.
“Foo Fighters: Preparing Music for Concerts” is a streaming event on Live Nations Veeps platform “packed with rock & roll (including debut performances of songs from ‘But Here We Are’), exclusive behind the scenes footage, and a few surprises—all captured in the spacious yet homey confines of the band’s own 606 studios.”
“Shows like this don’t happen every day. To take this moment to gather fans worldwide, to give people an opportunity to share in the experience no matter where they are, is a gift. Having a place to make these moments accessible is why we built Veeps and we’re honored to be trusted with delivering this incredible show for Foo Fighters and all of their fans,” said Joel Madden, CEO and Founder, Veeps.
The band also joked around, briefly playing riffs from Huey Lewis and the News’ “Workin’ for a Livin’” and discussing unfortunate fashion trends of the 1980s. At one point, Grohl admitted that he used to wear a pink polo windbreaker in 1984. Guitarist Chris Shiflett remembered another sartorial tragedy of that decade: “Members Only jackets and parachute pants were the poor man’s leather,” he opined.
The band also verbally broke down drum parts, discussed Freese’s childhood job as a drummer in band that played at Disneyland, and tried to think of names for their one-hour rehearsal special. “Just Playin’ Some Tunes With the Guys,” was a popular option.
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