Q&A with Jeff Pilson – Spring 2017

Posted: April 5, 2017 in Pilsonbrew

Hi Jeff – As spring has sprung it seems like your world continues to spin at a faster pace than any of us can keep up with! It’s only been a few months since we put together the “Winding Down 2016” Q&A on your blog, but we already have a lot of new things to talk about to keep your fans up to speed… so let’s dive right in!

 

First off, tell us a little about the FOREIGNER 40thAnniversary Tour – was the celebration all Mick’s idea or did managers & promoters come up with the theme?

 

The 40th tour has been planned for a couple years now. Mick wanted to do something special for it, and management came through big time! We had also been working with Live Nation for a while trying to figure out the best way to do it and to come up with the best package possible. It was worth the effort.

 

Agreed. So how did the package including Cheap Trick come together and are any of you old friends from the road?

 

Cheap Trick were someone we’ve wanted to tour with for quite some time. They’re friends, I’ve known them for years, not terribly close but it’s always good. They’re great guys. Mick has known them forever, they toured together a lot in Foreigner’s early days. Robin (Zander) has shown up at gigs in the past and always likes to jam. I’m up for that anytime! I sooooo love his voice and of course Cheap Trick as a band, and with their songs, are top of the heap!!!

 

Including Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience in the opening slot will be a perfect add to the mix – if you could pick his set list, what are the songs you would want him to perform from that legendary catalog?

 

Where do I start???!!!! OK, if I really get to pick my fave Zep songs, here goes: Good Times Bad Times, Communication Breakdown, Ramble On, When the Levee Breaks, Black Dog, Four Sticks (I’m sure they won’t do it but God I love that song!), Kashmir, Living Loving Maid, Dazed and Confused, How Many More Times – what a set that’d be!!!!!

 

An EPIC set list – tell him we all want that one! We all remember Jason’s Bonham’s tour of duty behind the FOREIGNER drum kit – what is one of your favorite memories from his time in the band from 2004-2007?

 

My favorite memory is spending time in the studio with Jason. He’s such a great all around musician and recording with him is magical. We wrote a song together for Rockstar- it didn’t make the final cut of the movie but what a great, fun experience. It was also a great time as we all rebuilt the Foreigner live band together. I think we all felt like teenagers in those days.

 

Jason works hard – he is recording with BCC again, touring with The Circle, and of course his band JBLZE. What is the secret to success for artists like you & Jason, musicians who manage such busy schedules?

 

Love the music and let that always be your guide!!!

 

A lot of FOREIGNER fans have been hoping that Mick would invite Lou out for some guest appearances – especially a tour that starts in Lou’s hometown. Can you tell us if that is going to happen this summer?

 

I can’t tell you for sure just yet, but it is absolutely being talked about. I would love to see that happen. There’s communication so that’s good.

 

That is good news! I’d also love to see guest appearances from the other surviving members – Al, Dennis, Ian & Rick. Assuming they are also up for it will any of them join you on stage for a few classic songs?

 

That too is being talked about. Dennis and Rick (Wills, bassist from 78- 92) came out and played a couple songs with us in Florida a few weeks ago. It was great and so much fun!

 

Nice! So… looking ahead, will this tour mark the end of an era for FOREIGNER or does Mick believe this band can keep going with or without him? And what would you like to see as far as your role in the band’s future?

 

No talk of the band ending yet! I know we already have bookings late into 2018 so all signs point to us going on for the foreseeable future. As for my role, I’m happy as Musical Director and Producer of some of the records. What else could I do????

Speaking of bands with a future, I think most American fans of DOKKEN have been hoping there is still some more gas in the tank for you, Don, George & Mick. Have any of you talked about another run?

 

We are talking about trying to figure something out. Nothing has really come together yet as far as any more live work. But the fact that we had such a great time working on the new song that will appear on the Live DVD as a bonus, that’s a good sign. We also did a couple acoustic remakes which we’re all very happy with. So musically we’re in a good place together. If we do more live stuff it has to be very special and likely very short. I’m so strapped for time as it is, and Don doesn’t wanna lose the focus on his version of Dokken. I get that. It’s his everyday gig so he wouldn’t wanna diminish it for short lived reunion stuff. But having said that, we’re past a lot of the hurdles from the past, so if the right opportunity comes along we just may surprise you! But don’t be disappointed if it ends up only being whatever we come up with for the Live DVD and Audio CD.

 

Disappointed? No way – most “classic” DOKKEN fans are really excited about the CD/DVD. In fact, some of the clips from the tour of Japan have been posted on YouTube – how is the progress of the official live concert DVD production coming along? Will this be a “raw” recording or will you have to add & edit to the recordings to get them up to the expectations you have for an official release?

 

The progress is great. As always with us, scheduling is tricky so it’s not finished yet. But we’ve got a bulk of the audio put together, the new song (and Don sounds AMAZING on it) and the acoustic stuff. So, all is good. As far as it being raw, you can always go to YouTube for that! In all seriousness, we’re trying to keep it real as much as possible, but also bringing the audio up to the high standard we’ve always had for Dokken. We want people to get the best listening/watching experience possible. There will be spots on the DVD where the visual will shift between different shows in Japan and the Badlands in South Dakota, but we just want it to look as cool as it can. We’re not overly concerned with making it look like one performance all the way through. It’s a combo of several shows, so why hide that?

 

You told us in November about this new song that you & George wrote & recorded for DOKKEN that was ready for vocals – I’m stoked to hear that Don’s vocals have been added and sound so good to you! I’m sure that will pump up the DOKKEN fan base!! What have you titled the track?

 

It’s called “It’s Just Another Day” and I’m quite excited about it. The session for Don’s vocal was nothing short of magic. I was getting goose bumps. It felt like we hadn’t missed a day together! Don really came through on that tune!

 

Man, I can’t wait now!! For you, as a writer, would you like to add more DOKKEN music to your recording catalog or does that style of music still inspire you as a writer?

 

Sure, I still often write in that style. In fact, I’m getting quite a back log of songs in that vein so I’m trying to figure out what to do with them. Do I do a solo CD, a new War and Peace, who knows? I’m thinking I’ll have time on the road for the next several months to finish writing for it, then maybe record during the holidays. Like I said, who knows? It’s just nice to know I have the studio to make it happen if I go forward with it. It’s all about having the time!!!

 

Bring it – we’d love to hear more! Speaking of your studio, what about your plans as a producer – do you have any new offers to take another great band into Pilsound Studios later this year?

 

Well I just finished the Warrant record which was a BLAST!!!! Those guys are so great and the record came out amazing. It should be out relatively soon. It’s called Louder, Harder, Faster and it’s got amazing songs. It really rocks, but also has lots of great melody. I’m very excited for that. Plus, I’m hoping I can do another Last in Line CD this year. We’re trying to figure out schedules but that too is rough. Vivian’s doing a lot with Leppard this year and pretty much when I’m at home, he’s working. So, we’ll see, but I really hope I can do it. It’s so great working with great friends who are such amazing musicians. I also have another project in the works that must stay secret for now – but it’ll be a killer!!!

 

Now you’ve got my mind racing… I’m sure all artists/producers have a list of other artists they would like to meet & collaborate with – who would you love to get a call from to get into the studio and record with?

 

Hmmm, how fun would it be to do a recording with Jimmy Page and Jason Bonham!?! OK, that’s reaching… How about something with Joel Hoekstra from Whitesnake? I love that guy and he is a monster musician!!!

 

He is. So many amazing players out there today. And sadly, so many are no longer with us. You and I grew up in an era of rock music that now is experiencing regular loss as the years go by. I know how I feel when one of my musical heroes passes away, but I can’t imagine how you must feel… I mean some (like RJD) aren’t just heroes – they are your friends. How do you handle all that?

 

I let myself grieve when necessary, then I try and live every moment to the fullest. You just never know when this wonderful journey may be turning a corner.

 

Good advice. As we all look toward the future we start to think about impact, influence – even legacy. Do you have a clear vision of what you hope will be remembered most about you or is that hard for you to think about?

 

I try not to get too much into that head space. I do try and maintain a big picture on everything but as far as worrying about a legacy, that’s really about the ego and doesn’t lend itself to productivity. Again, if you maintain your integrity, your work ethic and do your best always – that’s all you can do. For me, if I start thinking about legacy I just get disappointed at all the things I haven’t done- and that doesn’t seem too healthy. When I do think big picture, I use it to keep my priorities straight and to make better choices.

While we are on “deep thought” topics, let’s give you an opportunity to speak about your passion for politics. I have personally found you to be very “un-political” and rather more interested in digging into the factors that ultimately drive politics. Why is all that so fascinating to you personally?

 

Because I believe we all have good and bad sides, right and left. At some point I really feel that it will become crucial that the political sides learn to work together again. And to do that, I think self-examination, honesty and openness will be essential. Things are in such a mess at this point in history. I truly hope my daughter doesn’t become a voting adult in the political atmosphere we have now. We have a very long way to go, but I think it starts with being able to understand all sides. For Americans, I think it’s more important than ever that people become well informed, and not just read or watch the things that simply reinforce they’re already held beliefs. To find that truth can be tricky. But it’s that truth that I think we need. I worry about the state of things. Our place in the world, the environment, education and our moral center. However, I still have faith that our form of government, while not perfect, is still the best and the potential is there. No matter your ideology, getting more involved can only lead to better results.

 

Who were some of your political influences growing up?

 

My main political influence was and probably always will be, my brother in law. He and my sister are preparing for their 50th wedding anniversary this year, so that gives you an idea how long he’s been in my life. He turned me on to the Beatles BEFORE they were on Ed Sullivan!

 

Wow! Would you ever consider jumping the tracks and serving in a public office?

 

Maybe, but I’m getting a little old to think about starting in politics, even if it’s just city council! But there is a little spot in the back of my mind that wishes I could do more. Hey, maybe George will run for mayor of our town (we live that close to each other these days). I’ll be his campaign manager!!!!!

 

You heard it here first – Mayor Lynch!! So… as you look at the national landscape, what must happen in 2017 for us to come together as a nation, or is a house divided our destiny?

 

I doubt it will happen in 2017, but I don’t believe we’ll be a house divided forever. I hate to say it, but a major catastrophe may force us to work together, I just hope we get some sense long before then!!!

 

 

And there you have it… another awesome “State of the Union” with Jeff Pilson! As always – feel free to post your comments here on the blog and follow us on Jeff’s Facebook Page and Jeff’s Twitter as well.

Peace, Michael.

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