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Hayley Williams reflects on how Taylor Hawkins influenced Paramore

The frontwoman suggested Hawkins helped shape Zac Farro's playing

By Joe Goggins

Split of Taylor Hawkins and Hayley Williams
Williams paid tribute to Hawkins. (Photos: Suzan Moore/Alamy/Zac Farro)

Hayley Williams has reflected on the influence of late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins on Paramore.

Speaking on her ‘Everything Is Emo’ BBC Radio Show, she discussed how Hawkins’ playing helped shape that of Paramore drummer Zac Farro. “[Foo Fighters] are a really important band to everyone, the whole world,” she said. “But such an important band to Paramore. When I first met the guys, there were a few albums that we talked about a lot, that we referenced a lot, Foo Fighters was a band that always came up.”

Hawkins died in a Bogotá hotel room in March, at the age of 50. No cause of death has yet been disclosed; Foo Fighters cancelled all upcoming tour dates in the days following his passing. Tributes to the drummer flowed in from around the entertainment world.

She also revealed that in the early days of the band, Farro ended up playing a drum kit that had previously belonged to Hawkins, suggesting that the Foos man had spiritually come to their aid during their hour of need. “A friend that lived in town lent him a drum kit – which he ultimately gave to him – and it belonged to Taylor Hawkins first,” she said. “For our first shows and tours, it’s like we stole a blessing from Taylor Hawkins. It’s like we took it as him saying, ‘Yes, go forth and continue’.”

She went onto suggest that Farro has followed in Hawkins’ footsteps stylistically. “I think about Taylor Hawkins a lot, when I think about Zac’s playing,” she said. “I don’t want to centre myself or Paramore in the conversation around Taylor Hawkins’ death, but it’s just to say that he meant a lot to so many people and there are so many stories I’m sure we’re yet to hear about him, and things that he’s done for people, ways that he’s touched peoples’ lives.” 

“But I think, more than anything, as a music fan and as a Foo Fighters fan, I love what [Hawkins] did for Dave Grohl,” Williams continued. “I listen to his album ‘There’s Nothing Left To Lose’ and I know it’s the first record that Taylor played on. He joined the Foo Fighters and they made this record together. And you can hear the difference; I think that it brought out something in Dave Grohl’s voice and the way that he wrote, all of it. It just really resonates with me and I loved this record so much as a teenager.”

Williams is presenting ‘Everything Is Emo’, a 20-part weekly series, as part of BBC Sounds’ ‘Back to Back Sounds: Amplified’. She told Rolling Stone UK that it’s “a cool opportunity to be nerdy about music and reminisce but also inject discovery for people that musically haven’t discovered these amazing new bands that are coming from a long lineage of great music.”