Who Is Josh Freese?

Get to know new Foo Fighters touring drummer Josh Freese and his impressive resumé.

Unless you’re a Southern California punk fanatic or someone who has spent the past thirty years devouring music news, perhaps you reacted to the Foo Fighters news with the question, “Who is Josh Freese?” While he may not be a household name, the list of bands and artists he’s worked with is rather mind-blowing since he’s spent much of his professional career as an in-demand studio drummer. Here are some highlights.

Polo (mid-1980’s)
Who? Starting when he was 12, Josh was the sometimes-drummer of a band of teens that played covers of Top 40 hits at Disneyland! During the recent Foo Fighters livestream that revealed Josh’s membership to the world, he told stories from this period. Okay, on to the real rock…

The Vandals (1989-present)
While several other drummers have filled in for Freese during Vandals tours over the years, he’s still considered an official member of this iconic Orange County, California punk band. The Vandals formed during the early days of SoCal punk, and were even the second band to sign to legendary indie label Epitaph Records (right behind Bad Religion). But, philosophically, The Vandals fell much closer to The Descendents in that their goal was to make silly, fun music. One of their best known tracks is actually a cover of “Summer Lovin'” from Grease.

Guns N’ Roses (1997-1999)
In a parallel universe where Axl Rose didn’t take a decade to record and release Chinese Democracy, Josh Freese might have stuck around GNR longer. Axl ultimately replaced what Freese recorded for that ill-fated record with another member’s drum tracks, but Freese earned a writing credit on the title track. The one surviving studio performance from his time in GNR is this industrial-tinged soundtrack single. “Oh My God” came and went very quickly in 1999 despite being the first new song from GNR in quite some time.

A Perfect Circle (1999-2005, 2010-11)
Perhaps one of Josh Freese’s more familiar performances among core hard rock fans, he played drums on all of A Perfect Circle’s releases during their first incarnation. A Perfect Circle is a supergroup of sorts, formed by longtime friends guitarist Billy Howerdel (who previously had worked as a guitar tech for Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, Fishbone, and Tool) and Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan. “Judith” was their biggest hit. NSFW language, if you’re cranking this at work.

The Offspring (3 albums, 2021-23 touring, unofficial)
Freese laid down drums from Splinter through Days Go By, including the band’s most recent big hit (below, NFSW lyrics), and also joined up to help The Offspring fulfill tour commitments in the post-Covid days when their drummer refused to get vaccinated. While Freese isn’t considered an official member of the band – at least according to The Offspring’s Wikipedia timeline – clearly he’s a part of their history.

Nine Inch Nails (2005-2008)
Freese WAS a full-time Nine Inch Nail alongside Trent Reznor. He toured with them for a few years and contributed drums to Year Zero (credited with two tracks) and The Slip (full credit for “drums and programming”). Probably NIN’s biggest hit during this period was “Capital G” (again, some NSFW lyrics).

Click here for more of Josh Freese’s crazy long list of drum credits including work with Rob Zombie, Puddle of Mudd, 3 Doors Down, Danny Elfman, Kelly Clarkson, Miley Cyrus, etc.

And congrats to Josh Freese on the cool new gig. Replacing the late Taylor Hawkins means filling big shoes, but it should be abundantly clear that Josh has the chops that the job needs.