A Conversation with Foreigner Bassist Jeff Pilson

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 The pandemic has hit everyone hard, perhaps no group more than touring musicians and their road crews.  Rock legends Foreigner have seen how hard it's been for their crew and are stepping up to do something about it.  Bassist Jeff Pilson recently joined me to talk about a brand new selection of merchandise the band is selling with all proceeds going to help their crew.

Please press the PLAY icon below for the MisplacedStraws Conversation with Jeff Pilson:

On setting up a webstore to help their crew - What we're trying to do is we're trying to auction off things to raise money for our crew. And we're doing things like I got a guitar donated by Breedlove Guitars and it's a beautiful acoustic guitar, sounds and plays wonderful. We will autograph that to whoever buys it personally, and then we will send it to them. What we're trying to do is just raise money for our poor crew. This is, what they do, they don't do anything else. This is their career. And their whole career was just completely upended for a year, and we just felt like we had to do something. So we're just we're going out there. Kelly (Hanson, vocals) got a pair of his stage pants and some shoes that he's gonna auction off.  We have T-shirts we're auctioning off. We have other things from vendors that are out there. So there's an online store at foreigneronline.com that will be a wealth of things that you can bid on (and bundles you can purchase) and when you're doing so you're doing it for real good cause because our crew are not only wonderful people, but they're the best at what they do. And through no fault of their own, they're without work for a year....It's gonna be on for the foreseeable future. We don't really know when everybody's coming back to work. So that aspect of it will probably maintain for a while. We always have an online store. You can always go buy stuff. But as far as it being for the crew that's gonna be until we're all working again. 1:23
On the possibility of new Foreigner music -  As a matter of fact, we are working on some new music. There's a couple of different songs that have been beating around here. So there's some things we're working on.  I have no concept of when that would happen because in Foreigner world, it's not about when, it's about is it ready? Mick Jones has a very, very high precedent.  So I won't guarantee any time when, but we are working on music. In fact, I just got an email just before I spoke with you from Mick's assistant, we're gonna meet on Friday to talk about stuff,  but, yeah, there is some new material. 3:30
On a second record from his band Black Swan - There's absolutely a follow-up. Reb (Beach, guitar) is probably gonna come here in the middle of January to start work on that. We're gonna start writing on that. That is gonna be a big focus of 2021 is doing a new Black Swan record. So looking forward to that for sure. 5:27
"Cold As Ice"
On playing "Then & Now" shows with the classic Foreigner lineup -  I'm excited because I was a Foreigner fan. So for me, it's really fun. But beyond that, because I'm the musical director I kind of run the rehearsals, so even their rehearsals, I kinda run. It's really exhilarating for me because not only do I love the band, but I love the people. They're wonderful people, and we've just established the most delightful rapport between all of us.  I know they've all said in their own way, how much they love and respect the way we do the music, and of course, they've got to be grateful because Foreigner does considerably better than a lot of bands as long as you guys catalog sales. There's an upside for them there as well. But honestly, I think they respect the way we respect their music and yet give it what we have. It's a pretty ideal working relationship between the two sets of bands, and that's a very, very cool thing. 7:17
"Feels Like The First Time"
On the relationship between the two bands - I'm most proud of the fact that most bands get into such hostility between the new and old line up and all that kind of stuff.  I think to Kiss and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, not letting two guys come up and play and all that kind of stuff. And I'm just so glad that we're beyond that, I really am. That, to me, feels like an evolution that's really healthy. And I know the fans love it and it makes for both bands to do better. I think when we get up there and play, we kick each other's butts.  I wouldn't call it a competition really, but a motivation, Well, they are what they are and we are what we are the common bond is this delightful music that Mick and, in many cases, Lou (Gramm, vocals) came up with and it just it really makes for a great evening. And it makes for a great long term band relationship that I think has helped carry the torch down the line. And so if they're passing it to us, we're gonna run to the finish line. 9:31
"Double Vision"
On why Foreigner isn't in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame - I think it's very, very simple why, and that's because critics we're never all that into Foreigner. They always viewed is very commercial and corporate. You have to you always have to see where critics are coming from and to them when something sells a lot of records, in most cases, they will view that as having been because of some kind of compromise made by the artist. I don't feel like Foreigner did that, I feel like we made honest music that's just really good that people happen to like. So, to answer your question, I think that they just look down on the band and that's okay, they're critics, that's what they do. But I have a feeling that that has a lot to do with it because the Academy and everything very much reflects on that whole credible side of things and Foreigner was just never included in that. I think over time, I think someday Foreigner will get inducted. I don't think I will, nor necessarily should I, but I think the band will, and I do think the original guys really do deserve their due.  I know bands, like Dokken that I was in in the eighties, used Foreigner as an example. That was what helped us to solidify the idea of hard rock with great songs and big catchy choruses. That comes partly from Foreigner. So Foreigner does deserve it's just due and hopefully, in time, it will get it, 11:04
Dio - "Strange Highways"
On working with Ronnie James Dio - Wow. Really a tremendous experience.  Especially when we made Strange Highways, because when we made Strange Highways, that was done pretty much from scratch, where we just got together and started playing coming up with stuff, and then Ronnie would take it home and write lyrics to it. We'd all sit in a room, Tracy (G, guitar) and Vinnie (Appice, drums), and I would just start jamming and record stuff, and then Ronnie would say, "Yeah, yeah. Okay. Let me get that part right there. Let me take it home.  I like that." We'd all just work on it together. It was tremendously inspired. It was really exciting. And we could feel that we were coming up with something fresh and new.  It's funny, because over the years, at the time, a lot of Dio fans didn't get that record. They really didn't. And I could see where it was different in a lot of ways, it was definitely a more modern approach than they were used to from Dio, especially at the time.  I'm really pleased to see over time a lot of people have warm to that record. And it was done with all the genuine heart that any artist would have. So I'm pleased to see that, but to answer your question, it was just a fabulous experience.  Ronnie's a wonderful person. He was a wonderful musician, an all-around musician, and it was just a great band. You'd walk in the room knowing, "Wow, we're a freaking great band. We're gonna kick ass". That's a great feeling. 13:08

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