Hey everyone – it’s been a year since my last Q&A with Jeff Pilson, and I’m excited to run another “State of the Union” interview for you all. As usual, there is a lot to talk about, and I’ve done my best to cover the bases, but this one will certainly play heavier on the “State of the Reunion” due to the big announcement this week about DOKKEN! – Michael

Here we go…

  • Hey Jeff – it’s hard to believe another year has come around since our last Q&A… I just want to start by thanking you for always being willing to update your fans like you do.

JEFF: No prob.  It’s all about communication these days. Glad you’re helping out with it.

  • Let’s dive right into the deep waters: Word is starting to spread that Don has finally agreed to an offer that brings back you and George with Don and Mick for a short run of six “classic DOKKEN” reunion shows in Japan this fall. How did this reunion finally come together after all these years?

JEFF: OK, full story. Tom Mayhue, (who in the 80’s was our crew chief but went on to GnR where he’s been ever since as Production Mgr) was contacted by Creative Man in Japan (the promoter). He was asked to contact us all to see about the possibility of a reunion.  Once everyone agreed to the premise and their offer (which is quite lucrative), they then asked for my Foreigner itinerary to book the dates so it could work for me. How do you say no to that???? The problem really has been scheduling in our last couple attempts at a reunion, so this solved that problem and we went forward.

  • Wow – that’s very cool! Clearly Creative Man knows Japanese fans have always been passionate about DOKKEN, and you guys had some amazing shows over there in the mid 90’s. Did “DOKKEN Live ‘95” capture the best performance from that era?

JEFF: Not necessarily, but it was certainly a good one. We had several really magical shows on that run, but it was great to record in Japan and it was especially cool of Mr Udo to do that for us. He was always soooooo good to us!

  • Yes he was! Going further back, many fans hold “Beast from the East” in high regard as a live recording release. As time has passed, more and more bands have disclosed their studio editing to their live albums… how “live” was that DOKKEN release?

JEFF: Not as live as it probably could have been. Personally I think we may have gone a bit overboard in fixing it, but it did come out good. Funny thing is, I have the original live board tapes  which, though there are mistakes, etc., actually have a better energy to them. Oh well.

  • You know fans would LOVE to hear those recordings, but I digress… Would a 2016 setlist revisit that “classic” setlist from BFTE, or can we expect a fresh mix of classics, deep cuts, and newer songs this time around?

JEFF: Well of course there will be the classics, but we have talked about trying to bring out at least one deep cut, perhaps one we’ve never performed or haven’t in a very long time, but we’ll see. I’d sure like to have an acoustic section, maybe 4 songs. We all agree it has to be a helluva show.

  • We know it will be! Here’s an idea… Many bands are now featuring a classic album anniversary by playing it live all the way thru… has anyone suggested you guys playing all of “Under Lock & Key” to celebrate 30 years of that release?

JEFF: That hasn’t been brought up, although it’s not a horrible idea. I just don’t see us doing that right out of the gate to start a reunion.

  • Fair enough. As you look ahead to the run of six shows in Japan, what are your plans to connect with Don, George & Mick for rehearsals here in the US prior to departure?

JEFF: We do have a plan and there will be rehearsals. Of course I’m the guy that feels there’s never enough rehearsal, but we’ll make the best of what we get. It’s so hard with everyone’s schedules.

  • I know you & George like to work together – what do you anticipate once you plug in again with Mick & Don at rehearsal?

JEFF: If I had to guess I’d say it’ll feel pretty damn normal!!!!! Mick came over to play drums and sing backgrounds for the T&N record in 2012 and that felt absolutely comfortable… in fact it felt amazing! You gotta remember what a huge chunk of all our lives Dokken has been, so it really is a familiar place. Deep down we all have a love for each other that is undeniable, even though, like families, it can get abrasive at times.

  • I think most fans of this band believe that and understand the reality of the family dynamic. Once you get to Japan, do you and George have any Scrotum Sound Studio sessions planned back at the hotel for any creative work?

JEFF: Not really, but he did come over 2 days ago and we wrote the music to a new track that I sent to Don yesterday. The plan is, hopefully, to somehow record one song before the tour to include as part of the packaging. The song we wrote is awesome, I can’t wait to hear what Don does to it.

  • Now that’s what I’m talking about – a new song! You know fans & promoters around the world will be hoping for more, especially if the magic is back in Japan – is that something you are even considering personally?

JEFF: Well again it comes down to, for me, scheduling. Foreigner has our big 40th anniversary tour next year, so that’s a factor. Plus Don is saying he’s really only interested in doing it in Japan, so guess that’s it. I’d certainly be open to doing more if it could work out, but if it’s just Japan- I’m fine with that too.

  • Ok, but have you prepared yourself for what will happen if Don & George actually enjoy this and suddenly the light shines on you as the guy with too many commitments to keep this going?

JEFF: Actually no, I haven’t even thought of that – LOL! Don has made it pretty clear he likes his current lineup of Dokken, and I get that. Hey if that did happen- wow! But I don’t see that happening.

  • How did you explain this whole DOKKEN opportunity to Mick & Kelly, and how did they react to your plans for Japan?

JEFF: I only spoke with management so haven’t actually spoken to either of them about it yet, but knowing it was conscientiously booked around Foreigner’s schedule, I can’t see them having a problem with it.

  • Could you foresee a future where it would be possible to balance touring w/DOKKEN & FOREIGNER, much like Mick has done w/Ted Nugent & DOKKEN?

JEFF: No.

  • That seems like a firm answer. What about recording with DOKKEN? Could that be a creative outlet for you & George to continue making great music with Don & Mick without the pressure of touring together?

JEFF: That’s something I would truly enjoy and know George thinks that as well. But let’s just take it one step (or song) at a time. I do hope this new song comes out as good as I imagine.

  • Speaking of recording, you also have built a solid reputation at Pilsound Studios as a dynamic producer. Some of your recent work – like Last in Line’s “Heavy Crown” – has been your best yet. Any plans for new studio work lined up for this fall or winter?

JEFF: Warrant has asked me to do a record with them this winter, and I’m hoping that can work out. Plus when Last In Line does their next CD, I sure hope I’m involved. And of course George and I would love to do another T&N record if there isn’t a whole Dokken record to do. Just so much I’d like to do and too little time to do it in.

  • What great problems to have, right? To bend a lyric from a Steel Dragon track, you seem to be living a life you were born to live. As you look ahead, what is your vision for your life in 10 years?

JEFF: A really really big garden!!!!! Actually, that is a fantasy of mine and fortunately Don Dokken happens to be an amazing gardener – so some brain picking coming soon!!!!  But that’s something I can’t really let myself think too much about til I’m off the road so much – so no hurry on that. But on the musical front, if in 10 years I’m producing, writing, maybe doing TV and/or jingle work, I’ll be a happy camper!

  • Your values about music seem to run deep and guide everything you do… what convictions would you say capture those deeply rooted values?

JEFF: Do what you truly feel in your heart. Do it to the best of your ability, and enjoy every second of doing it!

  • With this DOKKEN reunion booked – even if it is only six shows as an appropriate final chapter – do you have more audacious goals in your musical career?

JEFF: I’m still trying to write the greatest song of all time – that’s all!!!!!! Until I do, gotta keep trying!

  • How do you make decisions today about what you will do to make sure you keep your dreams alive and your musical choices lined up with your vision of the future?

JEFF: I’ve learned to listen to my gut a lot more. It seems like when I’ve gone the most astray it was when I did what I was “supposed” to do or what, on the surface, was the “correct” thing to do rather than what felt right. If I have a regret, it’s that.

  • Jeff – there will be so much more to talk about once you walk down the road in front of you this fall. I hope we can circle back around in the next 120 days and explore what you are experiencing with the band, the music, and the tour. Until then, keep up the amazing work you do that we all enjoy so much!

JEFF: Thanx – yes let’s keep talking through all this. Let’s follow up as we get closer to the tour.

Hi Jeff – its been a long time since we posted one of our Q&A interviews for your fans, and a lot has been happening, so let’s jump right in!
  • You are now entering your 11th year touring with FOREIGNER. Your tenure passed that of original bass player Ed Gagliardi (RIP) several years ago, and you’ve now served longer than Rick Wills who was with the band during the 80’s. Do you feel you’ve now made your own personal mark on this legendary band? It’s funny, but I have never really looked at it as leaving a personal mark. I think I’m aware that some of my personality is seeping into the band, but I’ve always viewed it as using our collective talents to take Mick Jones’ vision for a groove-oriented, extremely melodic rock/R&B band to the highest level possible. The template for Foreigner is so clear in my mind, I’ve just never thought of it as being something I would co-opt… I think we only enhance it.
  • Last year the band toured featuring it’s best-selling album “4” from 1981. Were you satisfied with the opportunity this version of the band gave for the fans to revisit that classic recording in a live experience? Absolutely. It’s still a pinnacle in our live recordings for me. I am SOOOO proud of how we interpreted, then performed these classic songs. Never an easy task, but one we approached with passion and diligence and I think the results speak for themselves.
  • Was it fun to mix in some of the deeper cuts from 4 into your classic set list, and did you find a favorite? Yes it was, the real cherry there! I just love Girl On The Moon and really am pleased with the version we did. I especially love the touches Bruce Watson added with his slide guitar. It’s also one of my favorite mixes on the album. Plus I gotta say our Break It Up is very cool. More guitars than the record, and slinky!
  • 4 was a great recording, and many fans hold the first record dearly, while some will argue that Double Vision or Head Games were their personal favorites. Do you think Mick will ever want to visit another album with a future tour like you did with 4? Because 4 was the biggest and most iconic record in the Foreigner catalog, I have a hard time seeing us commemorate another album in the way we did 4. But I’m sure 2017 will hold a lot in the way of honoring the band’s 40th anniversary!
  • Let’s talk about the tour you have booked this summer with Kid Rock. That’s not a pairing that most FOREIGNER fans saw coming… how did that materialize? Believe it or not, he wanted us! Our manager is a close friend of Bob’s (Kid Rock) and it all came through that. Kid Rock knows he has the potential to become a classic rock legend, and I think that’s where we tie in. Pretty forward thinking on his part.
  • Do you already know “Kid” or will you be getting to know him this summer? I haven’t met him yet, but Kelly and Mick had dinner with him recently and, as I said, our manager and he are very close (Phil Carson, one of Foreigner’s 2 managers, used to be the head of Atlantic Records as well as having managed Robert Plant, The Firm and several other artists. He’s also responsible for an endless list of signings during his tenure at Atlantic. Kid was signed by Ahmet Ertegun the legendary founder of Atlantic and also a close friend of Phil Carson).
  • Are you guys prepared for his full-on party machine, or is he prepared for your band of sober healthy people!? THAT I don’t yet know!!!!!!
  • Dennis Elliott joined the band for a brief appearance last year… any hopes for any new special guest appearances during the summer run? It’s always possible. Dennis lives in Florida and knows we’re more than honored any time he’d like to join us onstage. Rick Wills also played with us at one show last year. That was fun for me cuz I’m a big fan!
  • Later this year you have a short run booked with Def Leppard & Tesla, two of your 80’s contemporaries. What excites you about having that lineup out on the road in October? Well for one, great bands and great people. I’ve known the Leppard and Tesla people for over 30 years now. And Vivian Campbell has been at my studio a lot lately doing the Last In Line record. He’s a dear friend and such a wonderful musician. And I just have so much respect for Leppard, on so many levels. Their commitment to each other and the band as well as the personal support they all show each other for their side projects, it’s like a brotherhood… the way it’s supposed to be. As a Dokken member, it’s hard not to envy and/or admire that. Foreigner has a serious closeness as well, but ours is only 10 yrs old, theirs is over 35! And Tesla is a great band as well, with a bunch of very down to earth guys. It’s gonna be quick (I think it’s only 8 or so shows), but damn fun!!!!
  • Let’s say Joe Elliott asks you to come on stage to jam a classic Leppard track with them… what song would you love to play with them? That’s a very tough question… maybe Bringing On The Heartbreak? That would be killer – especially if you could drive the band right into Switch 625!!
  • At this point October looks like the end of the tour cycle planned for this year. Will that give you some time to get back into your studio to work on any of your projects? Yes, studio, studio and more studio. Might have a little surprise up my sleeve, but no question I’ll be in the studio.
  • Ok, knowing that… your fans will want to know if you and George will finally pull together the balance of your T&N recordings. Will you release another collection of classic Dokken tracks mixed with new music? We will eventually, it’s a question of how and if this is the year to do it. We’re talking about a few different options right now, so I don’t wanna announce anything prematurely, but I’m really hoping George and I get to do some serious work this year.
  • Speaking of George, when is the last time you two sat down and watched “Unchain the Night” together with all of your wacky clips from Scrotum Sound Mobile Studios? Not in a VERRRRRRRRRRY long time!  Well, I had to ask🙂
  • Do you ever look back at those 80’s videos with the vision that you had to marry the music with a story and think, “we nailed that one!”? My favorite video of ours is It’s Not Love cuz it was honest. It was us actually driving thru the streets of LA on a flatbed playing. Simple but effective. I don’t think you could ever accuse Dokken of being solely an image driven video band!!!! To put it nicely!! LOL
  • When you look back at the 1994 Dokken “reunion” and the “One Live Night” recording, what are some of your fond memories of that acoustic set? Just how powerful it felt for the 4 of us to be on a stage together again. I think it shocked all of us, it was very palpable. Our chemistry may have always been very strange, but it was absolutely there nonetheless!
  • Shadowlife seems to be the release that everyone agrees is an outlier… do you ever think that recording will come back and enjoy more support from Dokken fans? I kind of doubt it. It may, however, get a tiny reprieve with time as there are a few good and cohesive moments. But as a Dokken work it’s unquestionably the bastard child!
  • Later, with George out and REB Beach in the band you released “Live from the Sun” with a lot more audio/video production in the mix – what made that performance so special? We were very energized by Reb’s presence and reacted and performed accordingly. It’s no secret George was not the happiest camper in his run with Dokken at the end of the 90’s. I think he felt like he was forced into being in the band for various reasons, and that would frustrate anybody. Then, of course, we singled him out so once he was gone we felt liberated, fairly or unfairly. But Reb really was a breath of fresh air and truly loved the music we were making and you feel that. That record is an unsung hero in the Dokken catalog!
  • One more nostalgia trip… when is the last time you and Ravinder popped some corn and sat down to watch “RockStar” together and do you “Stand Up and Shout” when Steel Dragon comes on!? I’ve only seen passing clips on HBO over the last few years, but I believe Olivia (our soon-to-be 11 yr old daughter) was shown the whole thing fairly recently and that’s a bit like seeing it all by osmosis! I think it holds up rather well, all things considered. I do get a chuckle every time I see Zakk, Jason and I in those outfits and haircuts!!!!!
  • Jeff – your career is so diverse, and full of so many incredible accomplishments… How could one guy get to do all these amazing things while doing the one thing he loves so much? Ah, there’s the source of my gratitude! I really do feel fortunate. I came along in an era when you could have a career with all this, and I’ve never had to look back. I am way luckier than talented. But I will say I’m a hard worker and am verrrrrrry passionate about music and I know that helps. I rarely lose sight of the fact that it is a gift and that the magic in music is communicating on a higher plane, so I always try to do my best. And the fact that I have such an amazing family thru all this – wow that’s what really blows me away!
  • Is there anything else you’d like to share with your fans before you head off on the road all summer? Just that there is SOOOOO much they have to hear. If you haven’t checked out the Foreigner 4 and More CD, please do. It’s a great rock record. And wait until the Last In Line record comes out (original DIO band with Andrew Freeman singing) sometime next year. It is beyond phenomenal, and to say I’m proud and excited is an understatement! And if they’ve never listened to the ADLER CD- it is soooooo good. More music from them by years end as well, I’m hoping. Lots of music, even more coming!!
Thanks again Jeff – you know I love interviewing you and I know your fans love hearing from you. Thanks for making time for all of us!! Thanx to everyone for supporting me and all I’m associated with for a very long time. I can honestly say I couldn’t do it without you!!!!!!
And there you have it… another great interview with my friend Jeff Pilson – the hardest rocking, hardest working man in the music business! Please post your comments & questions on our Jeff Pilson Fan Page on Facebook – Jeff loves to check those posts and will add some fun posts from the tour this summer as well.
Peace.

New Interview at BreedloveMusic.com

Check out the latest Jeff Pilson news in this interview posted to the Breedlove website… enjoy!

 

Jeff Pilson of FOREIGNER

Jeff Pilson of FOREIGNER

Link  —  Posted: June 13, 2014 in Media Relations

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11769074.htm

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Link  —  Posted: April 20, 2014 in Media Relations
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Link  —  Posted: February 4, 2014 in On the Road Again
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Hey all – hope everyone is already off to a great New Year! Several years ago I picked up on a tradition of interviewing Jeff, Q&A style, to give his fans a chance to get all caught up on Jeff’s latest activities and current plans. These exchanges are always fun, and this one is no exception. I hope you all enjoy it, and if we missed anything you want to ask Jeff directly, post your questions on twitter @JeffPilson (where Jeff is known to occasionally pop in and post)…
Now, please sit back and unpack the latest edition of my Q&A with Jeff Pilson!
Peace,
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Hello Jeff – welcome to 2014! Hope you had a great Holiday break. Looking back on your 2013, what were some of the highlights that stand out?  Wow – definitely the Dio tribute (which won’t be out til sometime in 2014)! Recording that was really fun and inspired. Oni, Brian, Jimmy and Rowan were fabulous and the music just flowed. Then, the fact that as we’re recording the song, a rainbow appears in the sky – is there any better proof that Ronnie approved? Magical!!!

Awesome – I remember you even posted a cool video of that moment on your Facebook fan page… what a great moment that was!  Celebrating Ronnie’s music and legacy is an honor and I know everyone that’s doing that feels the same way. We all loved him as a person and all feel his music is timeless and should be honored forever. The only way to do that is to celebrate his music in tribute and passion. No one deserves that more. There’s hardly a day goes by where I don’t think of him or feel his effect. Somewhere he’s looking down and smiling his big contagious smile!

Your January schedule often includes a visit to the Winter NAMM show in Anaheim… Are you attending again this year?  Oh yes, doing my annual signing at Dean Markley booth. I’m also appearing with Kelly (Hansen) at the Rapco Horizon booth for a signing – I just don’t have days and times yet… I’ll make sure and tweet and Facebook all the info.

We’ll look for that. What is your favorite part about attending the trade fair? Is there any part of NAMM you try to avoid?  I really love the interaction with fans. It’s different from any other contact I tend to get. It’s not like a show meet & greet – it’s fast paced and often exciting. Then there’s looking at all the gear. I’m such a gear head… of course I love that. The only thing I like to avoid is street and freeway traffic, which at certain hours is horrendous!

Yep – traffic is a killer! NAMM is such an awesome celebration of all things music. One of the things I love about NAMM are all of the mash-up NAMM jams. Do you ever get included in the jam sessions that happen with the various artists?  I often get asked, but they usually happen at the after hour parties which I rarely go to. I’m usually beat by the time they happen!

True – some of those gigs go LATE into the night… Your old friend George Lynch seems to always be active at NAMM… do you two have any plans to perform or meet fans together at this year’s event?  We usually try to do some kind of a hang, but he’s so busy at NAMM shows. Besides, we don’t live too far from one another these days so it’s not like the old days when we were in different cities. 

Of course that was a hint to lead us to your recent work together as T&N. What is the status of that project?  We’re just waiting for the moment when we both have a chunk of time to do some writing. We were gonna do some writing in the break I have in January, but there’s so little time after you take care of all the things you have to deal with when you’re gone most of the year. Plus, I think George has been doing the KXM project. But I’m not worried, we’ll do it when it’s right – there’s no hurry. One thing I’ve had to learn is to accept that I just can’t physically do all the things I’d like… or I’d drop dead! I’m trying to be a little more relaxed about all the musical endeavors!

OK, that gives us an update on recording together, but many of your fans continue to ask regularly (on social media) about touring T&N as a band… if money was not a hurdle, would you book a club tour in 2014?  If there was no hurdle I’d love to do an opening or middle slot on some package tour – but that would have to be during the prime months of touring (which is when Foreigner is going full tilt). So it’s not really money – it’s time that’s the hurdle! If someone could invent more of that, we’d be set!!! My feeling is that at some point there will be a break in the Foreigner activity that coincides with an opportunity for T&N to play some shows. I wish I know when or how, but I just feel  that somewhere in the future. Again – I’m the most impatient person of all with regard to this so I’m having to learn patience and acceptance that the right thing will happen as long as I keep my energies and priorities straight. 

Just for fun, let’s say you were booking a T&N tour… T&N included Mick Brown for all of the classic Dokken tracks – would he be invited to play drums on that tour, or would you invite Brian Tichy?  So hard to say because there is no concrete plan right now, but we’d likely have Mick play live because the Dokken material would be a bulk of the live show and we do think the fans would want that. Plus, we love Mick and our chemistry together is undeniable. But having said that, Brian is a monster and if we did tour with him it’d be pretty scary (no pun intended!!!!). Gotta see what happens on that one.

That’s fair. Honestly, most of your fans would see any version of T&N with you, Mick and George as a Dokken band, minus Don. Is that fair? Does that limit your vision for T&N?  Well to some extent, how could they not? If you’re a Dokken fan, that’s only logical and we understand that. But that’s exactly what the vision of T&N has in mind. That’s why we embraced our legacy on Slave (as opposed to running away from it trying to pretend it didn’t exist). T&N is meant to be a melding together of the old and the new. Plus that seems the most honest approach, and I’m all about honesty these days. With T&N you get us playing the old material with a fresh approach and you get 2 (or maybe 3) of the writers from Dokken doing new material so it has a hint of where Dokken would be in 2014. Now of course without Don it’s different from Dokken, which is why I say it’s a hint. But I feel that the chemistry George and I (and also Mick when he’s there) have is very powerful, relevant, and a key component to the Dokken chemistry and legacy. So the honest approach is to say that it’s related to Dokken, but does stand on its’ own. I think that’s very fair. But we never intend to slight what Dokken has been to all of us, that would be bullshit. I’ve actually been very pleased at how many people seem to see and accept that. That’s all we can ask for.

Straight up – I like it! You know, Don seems to have laid low following your Slave to the Empire release – even resisting the opportunity to publicly slay Mick for working with you two. Is that a good sign for any fans who hold out hope that there is still one last run with the classic Don, George, Mick & Jeff line-up of Dokken?  I guess so. I’ve had email contact with Don and it’s all friendly… I don’t think that’s the issue. Again, the biggest hurdle is time. I would enjoy some kind of a Dokken reunion, but I can only be in one place at a time… so far!!!!!

Interesting. We’ve also read about George’s view of why this reunion has had so many false starts. Is it totally fair to say that the greatest limitation is your gig with FOREIGNER, or is it actually Don’s reluctance to split the band revenues four ways?  It’s a little of each, but the Foreigner gig is the elephant in the room as far as time goes. It cracks me up that we’ve aired our dirty laundry in public when it comes to financial arrangements – only Dokken would ever do that!!!! LOL But since it’s out there, let me give a little clarity. Dokken, in our day, was always a case of everything split equally. That was done by our managers in the early days (very smart men) because they knew how volatile we were and they hoped it would give us greater longevity. It probably helped give us a little more time, but it did open other cans of worms, as you can imagine. Nothing’s ever that simple with Dokken! Anyways, what George, Mick and I have said is that as long as the reunion exists we should split things equally as we did. Then, following the reunion Don gets it all back like he has it now – no questions asked. Don feels he’s owed something for carrying the franchise, but our feeling is that because he gets it all back afterward, his greater share would come about through whatever the reunion accomplished, but on the strength of what we all did together. The truth is, I don’t know if that will be resolved or if there’s even a right time for a reunion. It likely wouldn’t happen in 2014 anyways. My time is pretty spoken for this year, and I would like to finish a 2nd T&N record if possible and we’ll be lucky if we get that done by the end of the year. So whatever happens is cool with me. 

I get it. Here is the saddest part… we are now 30 years out from the release of what some fans still think is the defining release by Dokken – Tooth & Nail. Would you enjoy getting booked to tour a celebration of that release with your old band mates if a promoter could put a reasonable offer on the table?  There have been offers and there’s a label that wanted us to do a commemorative DVD with a live show. That would be very hard to pull off this year now. But yes, that’s a bit of a shame.

And if not Tooth & Nail, another fan favorite – Under Lock & Key – is lining up for its 30th birthday in 2015. Could you ask Mick & Kelly for a schedule break that far in advance, or would that put your role in FOREIGNER in jeopardy?  I don’t want to stand in the way of Foreigner progress – that’s my home these days. We have a band, crew and management who all make their living from this, so it’s not just me. That’s why I say, at some point there’s likely to be a break where either T&N or Dokken get to do something live, but the honest truth is I don’t know when. That’s why I stay focused on the music and keep the faith that the right thing will happen. Of course I need to apply patience to all that and it’s not THAT easy!

Speaking of your current band, here is an interesting fact – 2014 will mark a decade of touring & recording with FOREIGNER. What a run! Do you ever pause and reflect on any specific remarkable memories with this band that you can share?  Just that it shows how unpredictable life can be. Only 11 years ago, I never would have dreamt this in my wildest dreams! But when you keep yourself open to possibilities, stay focused on what’s important, and live an honest life – you’ll find that you’re well taken care of. You just have to get out of your own way!!!!!! I’ve been real lucky on this Foreigner run to work with some amazing musicians, see parts of the world I had never seen before – and open for Led Zeppelin!!!!! Life does not always suck!!!!!!! Seriously I’m just a grateful guy for all this.

2013 was a long, hard year of touring with FOREIGNER… how did everyone hold up, physically and emotionally?  We all got a little loopy towards the end, but we managed to hold up. No one lost a limb! But we are going to try to make next year a little more tolerable. 2013 was a killer!

Can you give us a preview of any FOREIGNER tour plans? Any gigs on the schedule that have you pumped up?  We have a big tour which we will announce in February (mums the word til then!!!!). But in the meantime, we start back up at the end of January, go to Israel and Europe (mostly the UK) in March and April, and then the big tour. Also, an acoustic tour of Europe in the fall. All exciting stuff that has me VERY pumped up!

You always seem to be one of those artists who “can’t slow down” (pun intended). Do you have any interesting production work lined up for 2014 at the Pilsounds Studio?  I’m actually trying to slow down a bit (pun also intended)! But one thing I have planned (other than an eventual T&N 2) is I’m working with a fabulous singer/songwriter by the name of Paul Gold. This record will be very different for me. Paul writes great storyteller songs and we have a blast working together. We have no planned release date, all we care is that the record come out great – and it will. It’s not really hard rock – but it does rock and the songs are fabulous. Troy Patrick Farrell (White Lion, Gilby Clarke) is doing the drums and I’m playing most of the instruments. It’s Americana rock, and I’m anxious for people to hear it. The other project I have is a secret, but I may be able to talk about it soon!

Let’s wind down with a reflection of a men you noted earlier who had a major influence on you as a musician and as a business professional – RJD. It seems foolish to ask if you miss Ronnie, but it would be interesting to ask if you could share a memory of a time with him that still stands out from all of your recording sessions together in the 90’s…  One thing that stands out is the session where we did the basic track for the doing This Is My Life during the Angry Machines sessions. Tracy had originally written the music on guitar and it was quite lovely. But then at the studio we all started talking about what it would sound like if John Lennon were there playing piano on the song. Then Ronnie and I walked into the studio and just he and I laid the basic track, him singing, me on piano. He had been singing for about 7 hours so his voice was very spent – but the emotion on the take was incredible. I get goosebumps when I even think about it. Because the vocal wasn’t “perfect” and only meant to be a guide – he redid it and it did come out great. But somewhere I have a tape of that night and it’s so magical, I hope one day people get to hear it.

Did he ever look you in the eye and give you his advice?  Yes he did give it. And one day always sticks out in my mind. I asked him how he always gets people to work so hard for him and he responded by saying, “I always give 150% 150% of the time – and if you do that people will kill for you – and you Jeff, you have that ability as well – use it”!!!

I will never forget that as long as I live.  

Physical death does seem to be inevitable, regardless of our beliefs in eternal life. Do you ever think about your mortality and the legacy you will one day leave behind?  Every single day and I have to be careful not to dwell on what I HAVEN’T accomplished. That’s why I keep saying I’m trying to learn patience and acceptance. I’ve come to realize that what I think of as “I” isn’t really driving the ship, but it wants to “think” it is! When I get out of my own way things are fine! I also have really learned to be grateful for whatever part of the Dokken legacy I may be, and keep showing respect to that. To a much lesser extent, the same with Foreigner. There is a lot more I’d love to accomplish, but I have to accept that by staying focused and engaged, and doing my best – that’s all I can do. Might as well accept that and avoid the misery!  Easier said than done, of course, but I do my best. I’ve been very lucky in my career, and I can’t lose sight of that.  

Jeff, you have always chosen to show love & respect for the people who share your passion for melodic, progressive, hard & heavy rock music. As a fan, I can tell you that this is why you are so appreciated by so many people all around the globe. As we wind down this year’s edition of our “state of the union” with Jeff Pilson, is there any special message you can share with your thousands of fans?  Just another huge thank you to everyone out there. No matter what any artists says, having people react to your music is the ultimate high. I believe music is an advanced and evolved form of emotional communication and it’s not a form of communication until it’s heard and causes a reaction. My high as an artist is when the emotional feeling I have making the music is a shared experience with someone listening to it. There is simply nothing more powerful. Yes you have to make music for your own enjoyment, and it has to be honest. But it is so incomplete if it’s not communicated and heard. I feel that’s the truth, so I’m extremely grateful and thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to share that with so many for so long.  

Have a great 2014 everyone and keep on listening and posting. I love it!!!!  

Thank you again, Jeff – these interviews are always great, and we all appreciate your candor. Have fun in 2014, and please keep tweeting… but no twerking!  You REALLY don’t want to see me twerk – I promise you!!!!  

Happy New Year one and all!!!!

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