Hey everyone – its Michael Regan. Hope you are all well! As I try to do at least once or twice a year, I’ve reached out to Jeff this weekend with a series of questions from a fan’s point of view. Jeff is always gracious with this exchange and his honest answers we once again worthy of a blog post, which is what I’ve compiled for you all below.
Before we kick off, I just want to personally say how much I enjoyed seeing Jeff twice this fall – once with FOREIGNER in Salem, Oregon, and once with DOKKEN in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Jeff has always gone out of his way to make sure I have been personally introduced to everyone – band members, crew, and management. I just want to personally thank you Jeff – you are truly one of the best human beings, much less rock stars, on this crazy planet.
Now… on with the Q&A! Enjoy…
- First, you are currently out touring with FOREIGNER featuring an all-acoustic set. What has been special about this particular run of dates so far?
Cold As Ice is fun cuz we do it very “swingy” and it doesn’t hurt that I get a bass solo!!!
- As you have spent more time in the FOREIGNER catalog, which songs really present well for the band as acoustic performances?
I’m excited about several. Our version of The Flame Still Burns, which comes out as a video on Nov 21, is really stellar. The version that we recorded starts out acoustically and ends up full-blown rocking and electric. Our live acoustic version is just emotionally thrilling. Bruce and Kelly do the intro together and it just builds into something epic.
- The band has a lot already lined up for 2017, but you have a nice break from the road between Thanksgiving and the end of January. Any fun plans for the Holiday season?
Hmmm, sleep? Time with the family, I love family time especially during the holidays. Olivia (my 12 yr old) and I love to decorate the tree and house – very old school. And I love the holiday vibe. But I also plan on recording and finishing a Warrant record between Thanksgiving and when I start-up again Jan 18. No rest this year!
- Speaking of Thanksgiving, I think its safe to say that your long-time fans are very thankful that you were able to reunite with Don, Mick & George this fall. Looking back, what were some of the highlights of the brief Dokken reunion?
By far the best part for me was that once we got together there was no tension and in fact we spent a lot of time just hanging as friends. What a gift that was. But the fan reaction was also pretty spectacular and I’ll never forget that. How lucky to have such loyal fans after 30 plus years. I never forget that.
- Your Japanese fans were clearly stoked to get those six dates. What is it about the relationship Dokken has with Japan that remains so special?
Their undying love for the band. I think the music just resonates deeply with them and they’re appreciative when we play. It’s pretty special.
- On the other hand, your American fans felt dismissed by the lack of opportunity to catch this reunion anywhere outside of one live night in South Dakota. How do you feel about balancing all those expectations?
Well there’s not a lot I can do about it, so I learn to accept it. I totally get Don not wanting to do reunion stuff at the expense of his ongoing version of the band. It’s the same principle that I have which is Foreigner has to come first. It makes sense. I have to look at it that if and when any reunion stuff gets to happen – even if just recording – appreciate it, do my best and enjoy the time we have making music together again.
- Many fans were concerned about old band tensions rising up again on tour. At what point during the reunion did you finally say, “you know, we’ve got this!”?
The first night in South Dakota all the tension went away. In fact we first saw each other at the bar early evening – stayed there for quite a while – then Don and George ended up talking and hanging alone for quite some time. It was a breath of fresh air. Then when we started rehearing, I could see how considerate everyone was being – I knew we were basically ok.
- Dokken was celebrated for the Unchain the Night video in 1986 that gave fans a glimpse at your collective sense of humor. Did some new funny moments come out while you were all together again in 2016?
Well of course – lots of laughs! We always did have a very funny side. The one thing that comes to mind was on the day of the last Tokyo show. As Don was entering the venue he got handed 3 packages from a fan and they said “To George Lynch Guitar Technician”, “Don Dokken Guitar Technician” and Jeff Pilson “Bass Technician”. We had a pretty good idea that they were really intended for the 3 of us, but we felt obligated to give them to our Japanese techs. Hey it said it was to the technicians!!!!! Anyways our very competent and hard-working Japanese techs were being so thankful they were getting gifts, and when they opened them there were 3 pairs of socks in each package. They still looked very “honored”, but a little curious. So we told them they were “Sockin with Dokken”. They loved that!
- What “classic” Dokken songs did you feel really great about as you played them live again?
Will The Sunrise gave me goosebumps, Don’t Close Your Eyes felt so good, Mr Scary was really powerful and fun. The whole set was really a pleasant experience for me – and singing with the guys felt like coming home!
- How do you describe the emotion you felt locking in with George & Mick again?
The moments that really locked were pure magic, no other way to describe it. Of course we were pretty loose from not playing together in so long, but when we clicked it was as comfortable as could be.
- Have you reviewed the audio/video from the Badlands show, and will you produce that recording into the Live DVD as you all intended?
Yes and yes. I’ve been editing in much of my downtime and on long plane flights. We also recorded two Japanese shows so the DVD will be a combo from all 3.
- What about the new song you and George were working on with Mick & Don before the tour – any plans to button that down to be included as a bonus track?
That’s exactly the plan. It’s mostly written now and everyone’s happy with the track, so we just have to do vocals and finish it up. Don had suggested we speed it up, which we did, and that turned out to be a great suggestion. Now the song is like a more melodic Paris Is Burning so I think fans are gonna love it. Plus its genuine and inspired – not assembly line writing.
- There has been speculation that you, George and Mick may finally be ready to release another T&N recording in 2017. Any truth to that and would you repeat the Slave to the Empire mix of classic & new tracks?
That probably comes from the fact that we do have 6 or 7 more Dokken remakes in the can, so we would love to put that out at some point in the future – but can’t speculate when just yet. One is Wild Mick singing “When Heaven Comes Down” and it is friggin awesome. He sounds so good on that track. As for new material, it doesn’t take much to encourage George and I to get together to write. I think we were originally hoping that there might be a studio Dokken CD, but that looks like it’ll be hard to pull off (again, mostly scheduling). So who knows, there could well be another T&N record at some point. But no definitive game plan or concept for it yet.
- Does T&N provide you the creative outlet for Dokken music or did the reunion spark a desire to do more work together as a full band again?
Both actually. I think we would love to do a record together as a band, but I just don’t realistically see it happening. So in that case T&N would be a perfect creative outlet. But you never know what the whim may be at the moment. I’m not all that keen on doing a whole record of me singing. One or two songs would cure my itch. I loved having the guest singers on T&N cuz it brought so much to the project. Dug, Sebastian, Robert, Ripper – they all gave it so much life and energy. That’s when collaborating is magical. I genuinely liked what I did, vocally, on the middle section we added to Into The Fire – if there’s more of that, cool. But other than that I think there are better vocalists for what we could do. Just my honest opinion.
- Some fans assume that Don really controls any future offers for the “classic” band to work together again. Other fans think you have the most challenging schedule. Most believe George & Mick would jump at the chance for more touring either way. Is all of this true at some level?
Well it’s true that my schedule is the trickiest, and Don is the one who isn’t all that keen on further reunion stuff. I think it comes from a genuine concern that he’s built up a version of the band which is his own, is very happy with it, and wants it to continue for a while. He’s afraid that reunion stuff would water that down – and I get that. But we’ve been honest with each other about all of that, so it is what it is. George is plenty busy, so he’s OK with it too. We’ve already turned down other offers. But who knows what may happen down the line. Maybe there are other corners of the Earth we could go play!!!!!!
- If Dokken never plays another show with you or George in the mix are you satisfied that you were able to end on good terms with great shows?
Yes. Were we absolutely our best as a band? No – there simply wasn’t enough time for that. But was there magic? Yes. And the fact that we got along was very important to me. Maybe in some ways (at our age) more important than the music.
- You had surgery earlier this year on your hip – how are you holding up physically after such a long year of touring?
Doing great. In fact I’m shocked at how well I feel. The other hip will have to go as well at some point, but so far so good. No more high dives off the drum riser for me – but that’s a small price to pay!!!
- Is yoga your best outlet for staying flexible and energetic during your time out on the road or do you mix other disciplines into your routines as well?
Yoga is pretty all-inclusive. I do regular working out with weights to a very small degree, but it is mostly yoga which gives me the most benefit. And most of that benefit comes from the meditation aspect. The physical side is icing on the cake.
- What is the one thing about you offstage that most fans would be surprised to know about you?
That I’m a total geek! I go to my hotel room and read (lots of history and science), watch YouTube videos about string theory, and pretend I know something!!!!!! Plus I’m really into metaphysics and, strangely enough, politics. I try to keep up and be a good citizen.
- Finally, we all know that you are a man of great conviction in our country’s political process. This particular election season was difficult for you and you were not shy about posting some raw thoughts on your Facebook page. Some of your fans are aligned with your point of view, while others are not. How do you feel about your role in communicating with all of your fans & friends?
Well I just want, in some very small way, to have a dialog between ideologies and get to the heart and truth behind what people feel. I’m really sick of people not at least trying to understand others’ way of thinking. You don’t have to agree, but you have to listen. I have dear friends (and my brother) who have the exact opposite convictions I do, but we still love and respect one another. I no longer care about being right (or at least that’s what I’m committed to attempt) I wanna search for truth when possible. And then I’ll make my voice heard. But I also believe that needs to go both ways – or it’s false equivalency which I also cannot endorse. Protesting a president-elect before he even gets into office I see as a bit pointless. As long as it’s non-violent, it is their right. But I wanna pick my battles and stay in the game to be a voice for progress. One thing I do love about Trump’s win is that he did it with a fraction of the money Hillary spent (although celebrity is currency in our society) and he truly did take on his own party’s establishment. That, to me, is encouraging. It was great to see that people’s involvement can pay off. I’ll leave out all my concerns here, but I will say that I accept that change is coming and I think the democratic thing to do is to fight for what I think needs fighting for, but not to simply oppose everything for the sake of partisanship. I very much did NOT approve of Republicans doing that to Obama. Yes it worked, so it would be tempting to emulate that on the left, but I think it’s time to think about the future. I can’t stand all the inaction. Even though Obama tried to get Congress to rebuild infrastructure, if Trump really gets it done and also gets the credit, well life isn’t always fair – but at least we may have better roads!!!! That’s just one example of how I’m working to see the glass as half full. But make no mistake I will be a fighter for Progressive causes when the time comes if, in my gut, it feels like we’re being thrown backward.
- So what do we need most right now – More War or Peace?
I, of course, see the irony in that question – but it is a deep one. Of course we need more peace. But we need real and lasting peace which comes from love and understanding, and not just military might. I don’t wanna get religious here, but remember Jesus Christ said “Love thine enemies” for a reason. I have a feeling our military will soon grow to quite a degree. If we take the responsibility of that seriously and really do become a voice for peace and reason and smart geopolitical maneuvering – great. But if we become a vehicle of geopolitical power without consideration for the rest of mankind, there may be an eternal price to pay for that. The message is stay vigilant. View all scapegoating of other religions and people with eyes-wide-open analysis. No we shouldn’t be taken advantage of, but let’s keep an honest and sober perspective. Let’s walk the walk as well as talk the talk. There are forces out there which are completely intolerant and have no love for this country and most of western civilization. We must be smart in how we fight back on that with all our power. But to be anything like that in return – even to the smallest degree is becoming a vehicle of destruction which we no longer have the luxury of allowing. Just my humble opinion.
Hope that helps. — Jeff