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TAYLOR HAWKINS - The Young Virtuoso


Riz Story Jun 28, 2022

Despite the fact that Taylor Hawkins had become a celebrity and a recognized drummer by the time of his tragic death, very few people have heard Taylor playing the music he loved best, progressive rock. Taylor often spoke of his love for the progressive genre and every true fan knows about his love for bands like Rush, early Genesis, and Yes. We can hear some of those progressive roots in some of his solo material and his guest appearance with Coheed and Cambria.

When I met Taylor this love of progressive rock was still to come. In the late 80's he would play me his favorite music, the music he wanted our band to be influenced by, and it was Jane's Addiction, Queen, and Sound Garden. I would play him Yes, Kate Bush, and Mahavishnu. It was a mixture of what we both loved in music that would blend together and form the ANYONE sound - the sound that would become known as MAXIMUM ACID.

Taylor was capable of amazing virtuosity, even when he was in his late teens, and much of that natural gift is present on 'The Sylvia Sessions'. On the song 'Dear Sylvia' we can hear Taylor performing a part that most drummers simply could never play. Not only is the beat intricate and highly detailed, but he also never plays it exactly the same twice. He is playing all of these intricacies at an impossibly fast tempo. But what sets him apart is that he is playing it with such power, the kind of power one associates with a standard stomping rock groove.

But it's not just power and speed that made the young Taylor stand out. On the song 'Sister Someone' we get a glimpse of the finesse, subtlety and huge dynamic range that Taylor was capable of. This is an aspect of music that I had instilled in him. When we first began working together Taylor had one mode to his playing - ALL OUT. He would perform everything at full volume, full power. Early in our working together he was learning one of our songs which contained a mellow section, followed by a heavy rocking section. I told him to play the mellow section quietly. He did. I said to play it quieter still. He did. And then I said play it as quietly as you possibly can, and when we hit the heavy part watch how it really explodes. Taylor was so excited that he ran over to me and gave me one of his big hugs.

He was inspired by this new concept of extreme dynamics and made it one of his trademarks. Almost every song on 'The Sylvia Sessions' contains this trademark.


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