Exclusive: Ian Hunter Talks Collaborating with the Late Jeff Beck and Taylor Hawkins on New Album, ‘Defiance Part 2’

Ian Hunter released a star-studded new studio album titled Defiance Part 2: Fiction on Friday, April 19. The record is a sequel to the 84-year-old rock veteran’s similarly star-packed 2023 studio effort, Defiance Part 1.

Videos by American Songwriter

Among the many well-known artists who contributed to Defiance Part 2: Fiction were the late Jeff Beck and Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, who passed away on 2023 and 2022, respectively.

[RELATED: Ian Hunter to Release Sequel Album Defiance Part 2, Featuring the Late Jeff Beck, Taylor Hawkins, & More Stars]

Beck and Hawkins also were featured on Defiance Part 1, and their contributions to the new album were recorded around the same time as the tracks they played on for the previous record.

Hunter told American Songwriter that his collaborations with Beck came about thanks to his friend, acclaimed rock photographer Ross Halfin. Halfin introduced Hunter to Johnny Depp, who had been working and touring with Beck around that time. In turn, Depp connected Beck with Hunter.

“[It’s] like a train thing going on,” Hunter noted. “One thing leads to another.”

Beck and Depp both appeared on a song called “No Hard Feelings” from Defiance Part 1, and the two also contributed to the track “The 3rd Rail” on Defiance Part 2.

Beck plays tasteful riffs throughout “The 3rd Rail,” but Hunter says he regretted that he didn’t know that the guitar great planned to record parts for that specific track.

“I didn’t leave a verse for a solo, you know what I mean?” he told American Songwriter. “I mean, [Beck] plays beautifully throughout, but I just wish I’d have known, ’cause then I could’ve left a space.”

Collaborating with Taylor Hawkins

As for Hawkins, Hunter told American Songwriter that the Foo Fighters drummer called him while he was working on the Defiance project and wanted to contribute to as many tracks as possible.

“He wanted to do it all, everything,” Hunter explained. Hawkins ended up recording parts for seven tracks in total before he was called away to go on tour with Foo Fighters. Unfortunately, it was while he was on that trek in March 2022 that Hawkins passed away after suffering cardiac arrest at a hotel in Bogota, Colombia. Hawkins was just 50.

Hunter said that Hawkins’ passion and enthusiasm for music reminded him of his friend, Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott, who also contributed to multiple tracks on both Defiance albums.

“The same sort of personality, same sort of character,” he noted. “I was like astonished.”

Hawkins played drums on four tracks featured on Defiance Part 2—“Precious,” “Kettle of Fish,” “Everybody’s Crazy but Me,” and “Hope.” He also played bass on “Hope.”

On Track That Features Queen’s Brian May

“Precious,” which was the lead single from the album, also features Queen’s Brian May on guitars and bass and Elliott on backing vocals.

“I’ve known Brian forever,” Hunter noted about May. “[A] lovely, lovely man. And I think he’s a knight.”

Hunter then pointed out with a laugh that Ringo Starr, who also is a knight, had contributed to Defiance Part 1, meaning that he’s had “a knight per record.”

About Ian Hunter

Hunter was the frontman of Mott the Hoople before launching a long and prolific solo career. He wrote and contributed lead vocals to all of the songs Defiance Part 2: Fiction. He also played piano on almost every track on the record.

Other Guest Musicians on Defiance Part 2

Other guest artists featured on Defiance Part 2 include Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, and Tom Petersson; Def Leopard guitarist Phil Collen; Lucinda Williams; The Black Crowes’ Chris and Rich Robinson; Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready and drummer Matt Cameron; Stone Temple Pilots members Dean DeLeo, Robert DeLeo, and Eric Kretz; Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench; lauded session guitarist Waddy Wachtel; and Billy Bob Thornton

Johnny Depp Painted the Album’s Cover

Not only did Depp play rhythm guitar on “The 3rd Rail,” he also painted the portrait of Hunter that appears on the cover of Defiance Part 2.

Hunter told American Songwriter that Halfin informed him that Depp had offered to create the cover art.

“And I said, ‘Great’ … and so, Ross took a photo of me and gave it to John, and Johnny did that,” Hunter recalled. “And Johnny said, ‘You’ll hate it.’ And I said, ‘No, I like it. I think it’s great.’”

More Details About Defiance Part 2

Defiance Part 2: Fiction is available now as a standard 10-track collection as a vinyl LP, CD, and via digital formats. A limited-edition two-LP vinyl edition featuring three bonus tracks was released on Saturday, April 20, as part of the 2024 Record Store Day event.

Leave a Reply

Celine Dion

Celine Dion Wondered “Why Me?”—Now She’s Refusing To Let Stiff Person Syndrome Prevent Her From Living Life