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.