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. Freese, a veteran studio/touring drummer, has played with acts including Guns N’ Roses, A Perfect Circle, and Nine Inch Nails.
Freese, 50, was revealed as the drummer during the livestream after comedic cameo appearances by Flea, Tommy Lee, and Danny Carey of Tool.
Hawkins joined the Foos in 1997, taking over from the band’s first drummer, Sunny Day Real Estate’s William Goldsmith, who originally had the unenviable task of playing drums for the group fronted by Dave Grohl, one of rock’s most formidable bashers. Goldsmith’s tenure lasted from 1995 to 1997.
Just as Grohl’s drum stool was nearly impossible to take over thanks to the former Nirvana drummer’s formidable, crashing style, Freese will have a monumental task ahead following Hawkins, a beloved, blissful beat machine whose smile, good cheer and California cool became an enduring part of the Foos’ live appeal.
The livestream concert was the band’s first full set since a pair of Hawkins tribute concerts that took place in London and Los Angeles last fall. Those gigs feature a rotating group of drummers sitting in with the Foos, including Hawkins’ teenage son, Shane, Blink-182’s Travis Barker, tween viral sensation Nandi Bushell, The Darkness’ Rufus Taylor, Omar Hakim, Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk, Weezer drummer Pat Wilson, Metallica’s Lars Ulrich, the Police’s Stewart Copeland and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith.
Prior to Sunday’s show, both Pearl Jam’s Matt Cameron and the Darkness’ Taylor had publicly denied they were in the running for the FF drum seat amid unconfirmed reports that Freese — whose long resume includes stints performing with Guns N’ Roses, Devo, Nine Inch Nails, the Vandals, Sting, A Perfect Circle, the Replacements and Paramore, among others — would be taking over.
Last week, the band dropped “Under You,” the second single from the upcoming album, and Brooklyn-based graphic arts studio Morning Breath Inc. revealed the stark white-on-white package design for But Here We Are, which is dedicated to Hawkins and Grohl’s late mother, Virginia, who also died in 2022.
With the livestream under their belts, the Foos are slated to make their road return on Wednesday (May 24) at the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion in Gilford, N.H. They have a very full summer planned, including more than a dozen festival appearances at Boston Calling, Sonic Temple, Rock Am Ring, Bonnaroo, Ottawa Bluesfest, Harley-Davidson Homecoming, Fuji Rock, Wildlands, Outside Lands, Jazz Aspen Snowmass, Riot Fest, Sea.Hear.Now, Louder Than Life, Ohana and ACL, as well as a number of North American and international headlining dates.
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