It's been over a year since Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins tragically and suddenly passed away last March while on tour in Bogotá, Colombia.
In the months that have passed since the band and Taylor’s family, alongside his musical heroes, peers and those who he influenced have dealt with the loss by celebrating his life and legacy.
With a new album, But Here We Are now announced, with a release date of 2 June, plus the first taste of what to expect thanks to single Rescued, the question remains, who will be the new drummer in Foo Fighters?
It could be Jorma Vik (The Bronx, Eagles of Death Metal)
Jorma Vik is the former drummer for California punks, The Bronx, but his most recent gig was performing drum duties for Eagles of Death Metal (featuring Foo Fighters close friend, Josh Homme).
Interestingly, a KISS concert enters the conversation with a July tour date in Norway featuring The Darkness and Eagles of Death Metal clashing with a Foos gig. However, back in March this year, Jorma announced his exit from EODM, prompting comments from fans about his next venture on both his social media account and this thread on Reddit. With geographical clashes taken care of, Jorma Vik appears to be free to play the Foo Fighters dates.
Now, a lot of the speculation around the new Foos drummer could be has centred around drummers who performed at the Taylor Hawkins Tribute concerts. But even though Jorma wasn’t playing, there’s a couple of obvious connections that make sense. During his time in The Bronx, the band toured with Foo Fighters as its Mariachi El Bronx alter-ego. Add to this the fact that Jorma — also a Seattle native who cites John Bonham and Stewart Copeland as two of his biggest influences — was the live drummer for Foos bassist Nate Mendel’s Lieutenant side project, and Jorna Vik is looking like a strong possibility. Which brings us to the next guy…
Don't forget Joey Castillo (Queens of the Stone Age, The Bronx, Circle Jerks)
When Dave Grohl moonlighted to record and tour Queens of the Stone Age’s Songs For The Deaf, Foos fans were wondering if he’d ever come back. He did, and QOTSA bagged themselves a powerhouse replacement in Joey Castillo.
Sharing many of Grohl’s heavy-hitting traits, Castillo recorded two albums with the band, as well as two EODM records to boot, and while he isn't as strongly-rumoured for the role, his blend of punk and classic rock influences would certainly make him fit for the Foos gig.
Following Jorma Vik’s exit from The Bronx, Castillo took up the throne. Most recently, Castillo has recorded an album with DOOM Regulator alongside half of Operation Ivy (Jesse Michaels and Rancid’s Tim Armstrong) and Trash Talk’s Spencer Pollard. To complete the circle, Castillo depped-out some gigs with The Bronx in 2022 to Atom Willard.
Josh Freese is a potential favourite
We still think the smart money could be on seasoned session ace, Josh Freese. Why? Well let’s just look at the evidence. Freese has played with a who’s who of rock legends, to the point where he even forgets doing some of them.
Ability is one thing (and his performances at the Taylor Hawkins tribute concerts proved he has that, as if there was any doubt), but stepping into one of the biggest rock bands on the planet is a daunting prospect for many.
With a CV that boasts hundreds of recordings, and live work spanning everything from club gigs to stadiums, there’s no chance of Freese finding a gig of Foo Fighters’ size intimidating. Plus, as a California resident, Freese (who’s just celebrated his 50th birthday) is a prime candidate for the job in terms of logistics and age.
“Yeah, but he’s a session drummer, he’ll be too busy to be a full-time member!”. Yes, he is, but while Freese possesses the slick session player ability to slot in to musical situations as varied as Nine Inch Nails to Sting or Michael Bublé, he’s also cut from the same ‘band guy’ musical cloth as Grohl and co.
Let’s also remind ourselves that Foo Fighters is led by one of the most influential drummers of the last 30 years, so it’s no stretch to imagine a situation where Grohl handles the recording duties, and Josh Freese plays them live, keeping his diary free for other gigs. After all, the first two Foo Fighters albums featured Grohl on drums almost exclusively, and There is Nothing Left to Lose featured drum tracks by Taylor Hawkins and Dave Grohl.
There is a potential diary clash, with Freese due to to perform with Devo in Europe while Foo Fighters play in the US this August, but of all the people on this list who are used to juggling their calendars, we'd say Freese is most likely to be able to make himself available. Time will tell!
It’s not Atom Willard
Rocket from the Crypt, The Offspring, Against Me! and Angels & Airwaves are just some of the bands that have Atom Willard has counted-in during his career.
Earlier this year, UK tabloid, The Sun reported that according to a “source close to Foo Fighters” Atom and Pearl Jam/former Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron would be sharing drum duties on Foo Fighters’ summer tour dates, backed by claims that Atom had been spotted “rehearsing” at Foo Fighters’ Studio 606.
Atom himself posted a video of his time at the studio, mentioning that he’d used a Tama Starclassic bass drum and Gretsch USA toms belonging to Taylor Hawkins during a session. The same video clearly shows Alkaline Trio frontman, Matt Skiba — who Atom has collaborated with before — in the studio’s control room.
In March, Atom, who was involved in a motorcycle accident in 2022, took to Instagram to announce that he is now fully recovered and actively participating in sessions and live dates, adding “Also, I’m not in the Foo Fighters.”
It’s not Matt Cameron either
As mentioned above, The Sun previously looked strongly in current Pearl Jam drummer/founding Soundgarden member/alt-rock royalty, Matt Cameron's direction, and for a moment it did seem like a likely outcome.
Just like Josh Freese, Cameron is a similar age to Grohl and shares a very similar background, sadly even down to the tragedies of their journeys. Cameron was another idol of Hawkins, and also performed with Taylor, as well as at the LA Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concerts.
But, just as the rumours were reaching their peak, Cameron took to social media to quash the speculation. Writing on his Instagram story on 26 March, Cameron said, "FYI the internet rumors are false, I haven’t joined the Foos”.
Dave Grohl on the recordings?
Yes, it’s a curveball. Who better to provide the backbeat for Foo Fighters than the guy who pens the songs and leads the band? As drummers, it’s fair to say that we’d love nothing more than to see Grohl back in action on the drums for more than just side projects and one-off performances, and new song Rescued certainly sounds like Grohl behind the kit.
As we mentioned above, this would absolutely work in a studio context, with Grohl laying it down for recordings as he already has countless times. But live? He’s still the band’s vocalist, and would need to choose between playing guitar or drums.
Remember all those times you went to watch a stadium band and they were ‘fronted’ from the back by a singing drummer? It might have worked intermittently for The Eagles, and Foo Fighters would only need to replace Grohl on guitar to maintain the triple-pronged six-string attack.
Indeed, Taylor Hawkins even stayed seated for performances of Cold Day In The Sun. But a drum kit placed centre-stage with Grohl resorting to a headset mic for an entire gig? We just don’t see it.
We can't rule out Rufus Taylor
There’s no denying that the case for Rufus Taylor sitting behind the kit for Foo Fighters is a strong one. His performances at the Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concerts ranked among the fan favourites, and deservedly so.
As Rufus told MusicRadar in our recent interview, he grew up from age six with Taylor Hawkins as his “mentor, hero and big brother”, and watching Rufus back the band showed just how big an impact Taylor Hawkins had on his approach to the drums. In short, he nailed it.
It was clearly an emotional evening for Rufus, too, as he sat in for one of the Foo Fighters’ biggest hits and performed a nerve-wracking drum solo in honour of a drumming icon who he - with no exaggeration - considers family.
In January, Rufus and The Darkness completed a short but sweet UK arena tour, and have openly started writing new material. The Darkness has also announced a 20th anniversary tour in November celebrating debut album, Permission to Land.
Rufus is included in the bespoke promo posters, which casts some doubt on his potential future with the Foos. More importantly, though, is the fact that The Darkness have a date in the diary with Kiss on 15 July in Norway, the same date that Foo Fighters will be playing at the Harley-Davidson Homecoming Festival in Milwaukee.
Barring a fill-in drummer, we’d expect this to rule Rufus out. But this week, Rufus’ dad (Queen’s Roger Taylor) spoke to Zoe Ball about rumours that Rufus could join Foo Fighters, and while Roger didn’t confirm it, he didn’t rule it out either.
"Well, he does play brilliantly with them. He knows all their stuff, knows them all very well. He did play Best of You with the Foos, and it was phenomenal at Wembley, and at The Forum in LA. What exactly is happening now, I don’t know.”
We don't think it's Shane Hawkins
We’re not sure anyone expected what would come next when Shane Hawkins - the teenage son of Taylor Hawkins - stepped on stage to perform My Hero. The original’s famous double-tracked drum intro from The Color and The Shape pre-dates Taylor Hawkins’ time in the band, and spare a brief period where Foo Fighters hauled two drum kits on tour for a duet, it’s been amalgamated into a one-kit part.
But what did follow was a jaw-dropping display of power and accuracy from Shane: hair flailing, right arm perched at the same angle, left foot constantly bouncing on the hi-hat pedal, and even some stick twirls for good measure.
The unimaginable emotional weight of what Shane’s performance - heavier than that of any other drummer on the line-up, and at Wembley Stadium, no less - must have taken shouldn’t be overlooked. But by the time he gets to the machine-gun roll that brings in the outro, or the trashcan ending it’s clear that playing drums on a huge stage is something Shane was born to do.
But Shane is still young, with plenty of time to forge his own musical path and we think that’s the most likely outcome.
A multi-drummer line-up?
There are a lot of potentials there, and given that Dave Grohl is often a fan of experimenting with the way Foo Fighters do things, it could be a case of expecting the unexpected.
Touring with half-a-dozen drummers doesn’t really make sense, but it wouldn't be the biggest shock if Foo Fighters continued - at least for now - with a rotating line-up of drummers for different tour dates.
Rage Against The Machine's Brad Wilk, Red Hot Chili Peppers' Chad Smith and any or all of the drummers mentioned above (including the ones who've said they aren't 'joining' the band) are strong contenders Clearly, there’s no shortage of options, and with gigs booked we’ll know for certain pretty soon!