Interview with Foreigner’s Jeff Pilson

Jeff Pilson
End Machine
T & N

Foreigner will be returning to the scenic outdoor stage at Artpark this Tuesday August 27. We had the chance to catch up with bassist Jeff Pilson to give us an update on what the band is up to.

Rock Show Critique: So let’s start off with this summer here, obviously last year you were out on a really, really heavy tour there with Whitesnake with a lot of dates. How has this summer gone for you up to this point?

Jeff Pilson: Well, this is good. You know, we’re trying to keep out of that major markets this summer because we have another tour planned for next year. We did a lot of stuff in Europe this year, earlier in the summer, played a lot of the European festivals. So, this year is a different kind of year. We’ll also be doing a lot of state fairs and a lot of corporate shows and things like that. Like I say, sort of trying to stay out of some of the major markets because next year’s tour is going to be a biggie. But it’s been a great tour this year, we started off in Canada, which is great. We also intend on hitting South Africa and Australia and some Asian stuff oh and South America. That was the biggie I was missing. So, we have a lot of stuff planned around the rest of the world and once we get going here and then there will be another big shed to next summer.

RSC: Well it’s hard to believe it’s now been 10 years since Can’t Slow Down. Will we see any new songs or albums from Foreigner in the near future?

JP: Well, yes, you will see some new songs. We’re working on some now. We’ve put out a few in the last several years. You know, what we tend to do is we put out new material on other packaging that we’re doing. Like when we came out with a record a couple of years ago called Foreigner 40, which is 40 hits and 40 years. It was somewhat of a best stuff collection, but we also added in a couple of new songs on that. And that’s kind of what I see us doing more of rather than a whole record Just because with our touring schedule, the way it is to pull up the stakes and do a whole new record is just about impossible nowadays. As it is with working on a couple of songs at a time it takes extra time, what little extra time we have. Because Mick Jones doesn’t do things half-assed, if he’s going to do new material, he wants it to be all the way. So that’s kind of the plan. We’re going to put out stuff, but it’s gonna be more in packaging than a record of whole new material. I don’t see a whole new record for a while.

RSC: Now you guys have always hooked up with a local chorus for the” I Want To Know What Love Is”. How does that all work? Who sets all that up for you guys?

JP: Basically, they submit videos to our management. Then the management kind of narrows it down and then we pick the best choir that we see from the area and we have them come out to the show. They help sell CD’s. Sometimes they sell cds or sometimes the Shriners are selling cds and then the proceeds go to their schools and that way we help their music programs and then they come up and sing with us on “I Want to Know What Love Is” and it’s just a great experience.

RSC:Yeah. How did the project all come about? Whose idea was that?

JP: It was our managers idea who is a brilliant legend in music business, Phil Carson. I mean he signed, you know, AC DC, Led Zeppelin and Yes. I mean, he’s such a great traditional record guy. He’s the one that came up with this idea and it’s worked brilliantly because number one it gives us a press angle, here we are talking about it and number two, it’s helped so many schools and you know, I myself was part of a public school music education program. So, I understand and it’s very dear to my heart how important public school music education is. We just feel like it’s something that needs a lot of help with, with school funding these days. You know, usually the first thing that goes is the music program and that’s just such a ridiculous shame and so we’re very into helping out in any way we can.

RSC: Now as busy as things are for Foreigner, you still seem to always find time to do other projects. Is there anything that you can share with us that you’re currently working on?

JP: Yeah, actually, as well as the End Machine that just came out in March, which featured three members of the original Dokken and then Robert Mason, the singer from Warrant. That record came out in March. We even did a couple of shows and we had a great time. The response from the record was phenomenal. Other than that, I have a project with Reb Beach who plays guitar for Whitesnake and he was in Winger, Robin McAuley, who plays with Michael Schenker and who does Raiding the rock vault, he was also the singer in Survivor for a while and Matt Starr, who was the drummer from Ace Frehley and Mr. Big. We have a group that’s going to be putting out a record early next year. The record is done. It’s being mixed, incredible record, just fabulous record and we’re really, really excited about that. So, it’s going to be, it’s going to be really, really fun next year and I can’t wait for people to hear it.

RSC: Yeah, that’s not actually the first time you worked with Reb, obviously you worked together when he was in Dokken?

JP: Correct. Yeah, we established a real good songwriting chemistry there and I’m just really excited that it’s stuck.

RSC: Well, speaking of Dokken, obviously you probably get asked 3000 Dokken questions, but I’m just going narrow it down to just one and it’s obviously just a speculation probably at this point, but do you believe at some point that the original version, the Tooth and Nail era will do one last tour in the United States somewhere at some point?

JP: I don’t know. I mean, we’re all friendly now so it’s not out of the question. I know we’d like to, but you know, the biggest problem is time. I mean Foreigner works nearly year-round, so that’s difficult. I think it’s safe to say all of us would like to do one last final great record and if we did, it would be nice to tour that. So I hope it happens. I’d love to see it happen, but it’s just really tough because of time, so we’ll have to see.

RSC: Well you’ve played on many albums which album do you believe is your greatest accomplishment?

JP: Ooh, boy, that’s a tough one. That’s a tough one. That’s really, really a tough one. Well, you know, I think in many ways I guess I can give a couple from different angles. You know, in some ways Tooth and Nail was a real breakthrough. I mean, for Dokken and it was a breakthrough. It was a breakthrough for me and it was great because here I was new joining a band and, and these guys with open arms, welcomed me to write and be involved in putting the record together. And, and so from day one that was really intimately tied with the band as a writer as well. So that was a pretty cool thing. In many ways I think that’s kind of the most enduring Dokken record because it seems to have really, really lasted the test of time.

Then there’s little known things that people don’t really know about, that necessarily didn’t do great, but I am just extremely proud of and that’s the Starship record I did a couple of years ago. I got the write most of the record and Mickey Thomas, who I always thought was one of the greatest singers out there. It was mostly just he and I working on it and it was so much fun. And Mickey is so incredibly talented and such a great person. It was just a real pleasure. That was a real milestone for me. The Adler record that I did a few years ago with Steven Adler. I’ve read a lot of reviewers saying that it was the best post Guns ‘N Roses record that any of the Guns ‘N Roses guys made. I just really, really, really believe that because it’s a phenomenal record with phenomenal energy. So there’s so many, it’s kind of new. I mean, of course The End Machine and I also feel that way about the project that I’m doing with Reb right now. I’m not the best guy that to maybe make that judgment. I pretty much enter into this stuff with a lot of passion.

RSC: What’s your take on Under Lock And Key it’s been like what, 1985? I actually consider that the best overall Dokken album. It just flows great from beginning to end.

JP: Oh, I, I think it’s great. My main problem with Under Lock And Key is it sounds so dated sonically and it’s hard to get past. So Under Lock And Key, I do know the songs were probably the strongest set of songs on any Dokken record. But I felt just sonically, it sounds funny to me now where the other record Tooth and Nail sounds primitive and raw that I kind of feel like that has aged better in a sense. But Under Lock and Key, no question was probably the peak of us working together as a unit and, and really, really making sure that the songs were real strong.

About Joseph Suto

Location: Buffalo, NY Photographer/Reviewer
This entry was posted in Concert Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.