Posts Tagged ‘Dokken’

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?


  • 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.


Great time with Clint and the The Outsiders in Missouri… enjoy!

Really enjoyed my time in New Jersey with Mark Strigl of Talking Metal

Thanx Mark for helping us promote T&N!!

T and N Press Photo


Hey everyone! It’s that time of year when all of us in this crazy music industry come together in one big gang for a long weekend we like to call NAMM.  The National Association of Music Merchants convention has been happening every January for as long as I can remember, and every year it includes artists and artisans alike, along with all of the associated business people who help bring the love of music to the masses. The convention is not open to the public, just the trade, but there are still a lot of us who weave in and out of signing autographs and just being fans ourselves… it’s an amazing mix!

This year I plan to be at NAMM Friday & Saturday. I’m part of an autograph session with The RapcoHorizon Company at booth 4558 (Hall C) at 1:00pm on Saturday with my FOREIGNER band brothers, Kelly Hansen and Tom Gimbel!  Later that day I am scheduled for another meet & greet at the Dean Markely booth 5710 at 4pm with Sean McNabb, the current  bass player in… Dokken! Should be a fun mix! LOL

I know many of you tell me every year that you wish you could be there… and I wish that was how this all worked. But I look forward to seeing all of you who do attend, and I hope you’ll come out, bring your camera for a quick pic, and I look forward to meeting you!