If you’ve been to a rock or punk concert in the past two decades there’s a good chance you’ve seen Foo Fighters’ new drummer, Josh Freese.
The group revealed during a free “Foo Fighters: Preparing Music For Concerts” global livestream event on Sunday, May 21 that Freese will be taking over the drum kit in place of the late Taylor Hawkins, who died suddenly while the band was on tour last year.
Last month, the band dropped an emotional new song, “Rescued,” and earlier this week, put out the punk rock-tinged “Under You.” The band has mentioned on social media that its entire new record, “But Here We Are,” which is due out on June 2, is dedicated to both Hawkins and vocalist-guitarist Dave Grohl’s late mother, educator and author, Virginia Grohl.
In true Foo Fighters fashion, revealing the new drummer was a playful announcement. The livestream began with Grohl standing around in the studio with fellow members keys player Rami Jaffee, bassist Nate Mendel and guitarists Chris Shiflett and Pat Smear talking typical band stuff. There’s a knock at the door and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith pokes his head in to say a quick “Hello.” Another knock at the door and it’s Tommy Lee from Mötley Crüe dropping off some P.F. Chang’s, followed by another visit from Tool anchor Danny Carey.
Suddenly the camera pans to Freese, sitting behind the kit, asking the rest of the band if they’re ready to play. The guys then launched into “All My Life.”
The Foos are hitting the road in support of that album next week and kicking off things with a show in New Hampshire on May 24. The group is also headlining several prominent U.S. and European festivals including Boston Calling on May 26; Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in San Francisco on Aug. 12; Riot Fest in Chicago on Sept. 15; and they’re headed back to Southern California to headline the final evening of the three-day Ohana Festival at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point on Oct. 1.
Foo Fighters fans may have seen Freese sit in with the band during the pair of tribute shows for Hawkins both at Wembley Stadium in London and Kia Forum in Inglewood last year. Freese played the Foo Fighters’ song “All My Life” with the band and also joined Wolfgang Van Halen, The Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins and Grohl for a pair of Van Halen covers, “Panama” and “Hot for Teacher,” during the Southern California show.
Hey, it’s that guy!
It’s almost easier to list the bands Freese hasn’t played with.
He’s probably best known for anchoring the Orange County punk rock band the Vandals. He’s also long been the drummer in new wave band Devo and he’s toured extensively with A Perfect Circle, Nine Inch Nails, The Replacements, Weezer, Guns N’ Roses, Sublime with Rome and Sting.
Aside from touring, he’s a beast in the studio and one of the most in-demand session drummers of his generation. He’s played on hundreds of albums including releases by Social Distortion, The Offspring, Michael Bublé, Glen Campbell and Rob Zombie. He’s released a few solo albums too, including his COVID-19 lockdown project, “Just A Minute, Vol. 1,” in 2021.
But who is Josh Freese?
Freese comes from a musical family. He grew up in Placentia and his mother, Trisha, is a classical pianist and his dad, Stan Freese, plays the tuba and was the musical director for bands at both Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort for more than four decades. His brother, Jason Freese, is also a studio musician, multi-instrumentalist and touring member of the rock band Green Day.
He started playing drums at the age of 12 and kicked off his career playing several shows a day at Disneyland’s Tomorrowland Terrace in the ’80s. By the time he was 15, he was in the studio making music with Dweezil Zappa and he joined the Vandals a year later.
The now 50-year-old musician is also a family man, who lives in Long Beach with his wife, kids and their four standard poodles. He was most recently touring with The Offspring and played Danny Elfman’s career-encapsulating show, “Danny Elfman: From Boingo to Batman to Big Mess and Beyond!,” during both weekends of the 2022 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and when the extended version of the performance took over the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles that October.
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