Machine Gun Kelly Performs 2 Songs and Remembers His Final Encounter With Taylor Hawkins Days Before His Death

Musician returns to the Stern Show following the release of his new album, “Mainstream Sellout”

March 30, 2022

Machine Gun Kelly can certainly take a joke. The 31-year-old actor, rapper, and platinum-selling rock star wouldn’t have named his previous two albums “Tickets to My Downfall” and “mainstream sellout” if he wasn’t comfortable with people poking fun at himself and his accomplishments. But while good-natured humor and fair-minded criticism is okay, MGK—born Colson Baker—doesn’t appreciate it when cynics question the time and painstaking effort he’s put into his career.

“It blows my mind,” he told Howard on Wednesday morning during his return to the Stern Show. “You can literally look back 10 years ago at rock festivals and my name is right there on the flyer. We’ve always been in the culture. I’m super confused [when people say] ‘He’s new to the scene.’ Like, fuck you. We’ve been here so long, defying boxes and genres and odds.”

In a recent article where he was crowned the “clown prince of pop-punk,” MGK said great entertainers dedicate themself to their performance, even when that means “giving a part of yourself, including your comfort, away.” Some questioned whether the artist knew what discomfort truly felt like considering how luxurious his lifestyle is these days, but MGK believes those people are overlooking his years of struggle before his fame turned into fortune. “I was fucking platinum with two albums out still living on a beanbag in my manager’s apartment. None of you had shit to say about the comfort of that,” he said of his haters, adding, “This was after I already had albums out. Do you know how much that mentally fucks with you?” Now, after selling out massive venues like Madison Square Garden and topping the charts with his 2020 album “Tickets to My Downfall,” he hopes his fans can celebrate his journey with him. “Be happy for me because I’m happy for you,” MGK said. “If I saw somebody really take 10 years to finally get their moment, by the time their moment came I’m clapping.”

Success still has its share of downsides, of course, and Howard wondered if people sometimes confronted MGK on the streets and challenged him physically.

“All the time. It’s its own plague. It’s sad,” Machine Gun Kelly lamented. “It’s almost like if you broke this wall down and talked with me, you’d have no reason to have any of these feelings.”

Remembering Taylor Hawkins

Like so many in the music community and beyond, Machine Gun Kelly was hit particularly hard by the news of Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins’ passing. In addition to being an “amazing musician” with a “great voice,” he recalled the special evening he shared with Hawkins in Paraguay just two days before he died. On a bill together for a festival that was canceled due to weather, Taylor, frontman Dave Grohl, and the remaining Foo Fighters were supposed to watch MGK’s set—instead, they invited him (along with his extensive entourage) back to their hotel rooftop. “[Taylor] went up to every single one of us and gave us each our moment,” the singer revealed. “Like every single one of us, man, like down to my assistant … He’s such a beautiful soul … He gave his heart.”

Noting how proud Hawkins was of being a parent, MGK wanted Taylor’s children to know what he meant to him as well as the kind things he said to MGK and his band that evening. “The last thing that he had said to [my drummer was] ‘I’m just so bummed I didn’t get to see you guys play,’” he remembered. “I really want to thank him and let his kids know that he made us feel … so confident in ourselves and loved, and your father [was] a great, great man and we were all lucky to know him.”

Movie Night With Pete and Kim

MGK told Howard he and his fiancée, actress Megan Fox, don’t yet have a wedding date to announce. However, the rocker did believe that when the time came his good friend Pete Davidson would be involved in the ceremony.

“I think Pete’s absolutely gonna be standing there with me,” MGK said of the “Saturday Night Live” star. “We should just mic him for commentary anyway.”

Pete and MGK have become pretty close to inseparable since appearing together in the 2019 Mötley Crüe biopic “The Dirt.” The two have partied together, taken road trips, and apparently even smoked weed with Dave Chappelle’s mom.

“It’s a bromance. It’s unbelievable,” Howard said.

“It is. I was blessed. We both came into each other’s life at the right time,” Machine Gun Kelly responded.

“What do you make of him with Kim Kardashian?” Howard asked.

“I’m so happy for him,” MGK said before recalling a humorous anecdote in which the celebrity couple joined him and Fox as they rented out an entire movie theater for what turned out to be a very bad film.

Howard wondered if MGK was there for Pete after Kanye West, Kardashian’s ex, rapped about  “beat[ing] Pete Davidson’s ass.”

“Totally,” MGK said. “I got thrown into that too, oddly enough. At the end of the day, man, we’re young men trying to find our place in the world and figure it out, and it doesn’t really help that you have a million voices ripping you apart.”

“We love everybody, man,” he continued. “We have so much love. It’s almost like, if we need to be the vessels for someone’s anger, then so be it. That must be why we’re here. I do hope that they can feel our spirit and see that we love you.”

MGK and Megan’s Shaman-Guided Ayahuasca Trip

Road trips with Pete Davidson aren’t the only kinds of trips Machine Gun Kelly has taken lately. He and Megan also went on a shaman-guided ayahuasca trip.

“Was that something worth doing?” Howard asked.

“Definitely,” MGK said, explaining he lived “three lifetimes” during his multi-day ayahuasca journey. “The second lifetime … I was a panhandler on the street. I was a beggar, and in my hand I had this crystal, and I kept offering it to people,” he continued. “I said, ‘Please take this. Take this good energy. I want you to have it.’ And they couldn’t see it as a crystal. They saw it as me with a bowl, asking for change, just begging.”

“I lived my whole life lonely and begging on the street, and I had in my hands love, but all they saw was a beggar,” MGK added.

While MGK wasn’t quite sure how to interpret that trip, he did know one thing for certain: the world needed to pay more respect to the indigenous cultures who cultivated the plant medicine and so graciously guided outsiders on their healing journeys of the mind and spirit.

“I was not around people that look like me. I was around Peruvian shamans who don’t speak English, who are looking at me with my tattoos and my bleached hair and my jewelry, and [they’re] being like, ‘I don’t judge you. I don’t see you for anything other than the soul that needs to be fixed, and I’m going to do that,’” he said, adding, “That fucks me up that they would still give us love and we can’t even just let them live. We’re killing their culture, and that culture is saving people like me.”

‘Jackass’ Cameo

MGK recently appeared on the big screen in “Jackass Forever,” where he made a cameo in a stunt that involved getting slapped by a giant hand, propelling him into the chilly waters of an in-ground pool. “My favorite part of that was they were like, ‘Oh, it’s not going to feel like anything, and it smacked me into like what was the coldest pool I’ve ever felt, and I got out and I was like, ‘It hits you so hard,’” he told Howard. “They were like, ‘… we tested it on another guy, but it didn’t hit hard enough to make him fly off so we like loaded in like four times as much nitrogen or whatever to make it slap harder.’”

Though the musician told the “Jackass” crew he was up for anything, he couldn’t help but feel relieved that the original plan for him fell through. “I was originally supposed to be in that mime sketch … [where] you had to be silent while the snake came up and bit your lip,” he recalled before adding, “I was really glad the scheduling didn’t work out for that one.”


Before tearing into the track “5150” off the new album, Machine Gun Kelly shed light on the title—a nod to the California code that permits people under metal distress to be held for a 72-hour psychiatric evaluation. “In layman’s terms, it kind of just means you’re crazy,” he said matter-of-factly. Fortunately, it’s not something he has experienced firsthand. “We got close a couple of times,” he admitted. “There were a lot of times where I was bent out of shape … people were just kind of questioning like my sanity.

But MGK insists the lyrics shouldn’t be taken too literally. I’m just doing songs,” he noted. “It’s a journal. It’s passion. It’s self-expression.”


Machine Gun Kelly and his band concluded their two-song set with a cover of System of a Down’s chart-topping 2002 single “Aerials.”

“We’ve never done ‘Aerials,’” MGK said of the guitar-laden heavy metal track. “[Singer Serj Tankian’s] voice is so untouchable. I’m just kind of here to just jam and have some fun.”

Howard was blown away by how good their barely rehearsed rendition sounded. “Holy shit. You guys just threw that together or you’re pulling my leg?” he said.

“We did it like once an hour ago, packed up our shit, and came,” Machine Gun Kelly said, adding, “While there are musicians super bent on being perfect, we kind of go the opposite way. We really just want to be just as we are.”

Machine Gun Kelly’s new album “mainstream sellout” is available now and his headlining arena tour kicks off June 8 in Austin, Texas.