Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders emerged from the stylings of Foo Fighters in the same way the latter did from Nirvana. In 2004, before Foo Fighters even started working on In Your Honor, drummer Hawkins pulled together a group of himself, Chris Chaney and Gannin Arnold for their debut self-titled album. The 2006 release bubbled under the radar but generated a steady interest with rock fans and Foo Fighters devotees. It placed rock’s favorite grungy surfer dude at the forefront with more leisure for humor in rock music than Foo Fighters could ever permit — albeit with a not too dissimilar sound. The Coattail Riders made their return in 2010 with Red Light Fever, reuniting the trio alongside a star spangled set of features including Brian May, Roger Taylor, Elliot Easton and, you guessed it, Dave Grohl. Not surprisingly, Queen influences tinged many tracks on the album.
And perhaps it was Hawkins’s destined inferiority to Dave Grohl, or the waning traction for grunge rock, or the important business of keeping up as Foo Fighters’s drummer, but the follow-up for Fever seemed out of scope. Nearly a decade passed without so much of a mention. However, at the very tail end of 2019, we finally reach a continuation with Get the Money.
If Red Hot Fever was star-spattered, Get the Money is the Ringo’s All-Stars of punk-rock. The album features contributions from Dave Grohl, Jon Davison, Nancy Wilson, LeAnn Rimes, Roger Taylor, Pat Smear and Mark King. Queen is yet again a touchstone for Hawkins’s work, squealing guitar tips marking up track “Don’t Look at Me That Way.” Classic rock influences touch nearly every track. “Middle Age” beckons back to the rock age ruled by David Bowie in the ’80s. A loving dedication to Hawkins’s daughter, the track carries itself on angle-grinder guitars and thrashing harmonies that feed into a synthy outro. It shouldn’t work given the lyrical content, and it’s arguably doesn’t by the end of the song.
Maybe the coattails he’s riding on are his own; synth-laden metal intro “Crossed the Line” burrows a snippet of Foo Fighters’s “Best to You.” Grohl makes three appearances across the album. Most notable is his feature on lead single “I Really Blew It,” not so much for his impressive,shrieking guitar but for his screaming “I really blew it” repeatedly throughout the intro. This is encapsulated perfectly in the track’s music video, with his disembodied head in a fireplace yelling.
Title track “Get the Money,” much like the rest of the album, is a labyrinth of genres. A psych-inflicted folk intro settles into a reggae groove that reverts back before an absolute guitar freakout that carries the last quarter of the song. Similarly, “C U in Hell” begins with a classic rock edge that morphs into a psych rock element with spattered piano keys before locking into a classic Fighters-esquechorus. The lyrics, however, run trite. Hawkins croons cliches throughout the song and especially in the chorus: “Maybe these oaths were made/ To be broken/ Maybe these paths we take/ Have been chosen.” The same unfortunately rings true for the rest of the album. “Kiss the Ring” presents perhaps the most creative and crude rework, “You’re my queen/ And I’m your King/ I wanna give you everything/ All you gotta do is kiss the ring.”
Despite its shortcomings, Get the Money does enough with its classic rock worship and synth to not reinvent but toy with the wheel a bit. In an age of music absolutely regulated by the push and pull of media, rock is in a vulnerable state; it makes sense for rock albums with classic artists like Taylor Hawkins to beckon back to the sound of rock from the past. This is not to say that rock is dead so much as it is to suggest that the shifts of the playing field permit more variety in the ways we consume and consider music — there’s no classic or grunge rock categories that prevail anymore. Rather, rock and its newest artists have made names for themselves by implementing newer elements. Hawkins, however, has no interest in this and there’s nothing wrong with that. Inspired by the oldies, the album feels a lot like it’s for fans of the classics too.