Tag: Foreigner

Interview: Lou Gramm discusses Foreigner reunion at Sturgis to celebrate 40th anniversary of ‘Double Vision’

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of Foreigner’s multi-platinum album, Double Vision, the band behind such iconic songs as “I Wanna Know What Love Is,” “Cold As Ice” and “Juke Box Hero” has announced the first ever ticketed event that will reunite all original members of Foreigner at this year’s Sturgis Buffalo Chip Rally in Sturgis, SD on Saturday, Aug. 4.

For one night, Lou Gramm, Dennis Elliott, Al Greenwood, Ian McDonald and Rick Wills will join Mick Jones and the current line-up of Foreigner to rock through some of the songs from Double Vision as well as other material from the band’s arsenal of hits that spans more than four decades.

Double Vision (released in 1978) is the band’s sophomore album and features such classic rock staples as “Hot Blooded” and “Blue Morning, Blue Day,” as well as the equally as infectious title track. Fans of this legendary band will not want to miss this once in a lifetime event.

AXS recently spoke with Lou Gramm about the Foreigner reunion, the Double Vision album, career highlights and more in this exclusive interview.

AXS: What prompted this all-original member reunion concert?

Lou Gramm: For a number of years, whenever the current band came to town, a few of us would sit in and play a song or two. But as the idea of putting the original band back together started to gain momentum, we wanted to tie it into something special, and you couldn’t ask for a better tie-in than the 40th anniversary of the Double Vision album.

Because it honors the album, the original band will play songs from that album as well as a few other ones. Then the current Foreigner will play a cross-section of hits and, toward the end of the show, everyone will take the stage and play. There’s even a short, acoustic segment.

AXS: What goes through your mind when you think about this reunion?

LG: When I think about doing those songs and realizing it’ll be the guys on stage with me, it makes me think back to those old times and how wild and fun it was to perform in front of thousands of people and know they just loved the music.

AXS: Let’s talk a little about the Double Vision album. Where does that rank in terms of your favorite Foreigner albums?

LG: For me, Double Vision ranks #2.  is my favorite album with Double Vision right behind it.

YouTube video courtesy: trinchera 86

AXS: Foreigner’s debut album was so monumental. When you think back to those sessions working on Double Vision, was there any sense of pressure from the record label about having to deliver the goods again? 

LG: They didn’t put as much pressure on us as we put on ourselves. Because we didn’t just want to deliver, we wanted to do better than we did the first time, and that first album set the bar pretty high. We recorded with Keith Olsen, and he had just come from doing Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors. He was great helping us produce and making the songs sound the way they should sonically. We had good ideas. It just took a little time to craft them into the songs they became. It was fun and exciting all the way through.

AXS: Let’s discuss a few tracks from the album. What do you remember most about “Hot Blooded”?

LG: We used to work at Mick’s apartment and he would just keep playing one guitar riff after another. Just playing whatever came into his mind. When he started playing that riff, I remember saying, “Wait! Stop! What’s that?” Mick said it was just another riff. So, I started singing along to it. We eventually got the idea of what the chorus would be and then started working on the verse lyrics. Once they were put together it naturally led to the “Hot Blooded” verbal line. I remember we were jumping off the walls when we cracked the title of the song.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Lou Gramm by Clicking Here!

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Lou Gramm and Michael Staertow Talk Foreigner, Touring and Memorable Moments

Photo courtesy: Michael Staertow

It’s hard to believe it’s been 40 years since Foreigner’s eponymous debut album.

The record—fueled by the hits “Long, Long Way From Home,” “Cold As Ice” and “Feels Like the First Time”—launched the band into worldwide stardom. It would be the first in a string of consecutive multi-platinum monster releases that included Double Vision, Head Games and 4.

Much of the credit for the band’s success can be attributed to Lou Gramm, whose songwriting skills and emphatic vocal performances played a monumental role in the band’s hook-laden formula. In fact, he and Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame by none other than Billy Joel.

Although he’s been out of the band for more than a decade, Gramm continues to write, record and tour the arsenal of Foreigner hits with his Lou Gramm band. And as Foreigner prepares to celebrate their 40th anniversary with a new tour this summer, there’s word that Gramm will once again be joining Jones at a yet-to-be-determined Foreigner show.

I recently spoke with Gramm and his guitarist, Michael Staertow, about Foreigner, Lou’s solo career, music, gear and more.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the first Foreigner album. When you look back at that album now with so much perspective what thoughts come to mind?

GRAMM: Working with Mick [Jones] was a very creative situation, and I remember how much fun it was to write those songs and record them. Even when we weren’t at our most imaginative; instead of just putting everything away, we plugged along, putting down different ideas. Before long, we were right back swinging again. It was a very positive time.

Can you tell me the origin of the song, “Long, Long Way From Home”?

GRAMM: That was the very first song Mick and I wrote together. He would always play me cassette tapes with guitar riffs and told me that if one of them tweaked my ear to let him know and we’d work on it. I heard that great guitar riff that started the song and we began working on the verse and B section. The chorus was a little tough to crack but we did. Lyrically, it’s the story of me coming to New York City.

There’s been talk of you joining Foreigner for their 40th anniversary tour this summer for at least one show. Can you confirm this?

GRAMM: Yes. It’s being planned. Right now, we’re trying to pick the best night and venue. I’m not at liberty to say where it could be, but I can say it’s going to be a ton of fun.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Lou Gramm & Michael Staertow Here!

Foreigner at 40: Mick Jones Talks New Compilation Album, Gear and Autobiography

Photo by: Bill Bernstein

Following the success of their self-titled 1977 debut album, Foreigner went on to record some of rock’s most enduring anthems, including “Hot Blooded,” “Juke Box Hero” and “Urgent,” not to mention the Number 1 hit, “I Want to Know What Love Is.”

Since then, they’ve become one of the best-selling bands of all time, with 10 multi-platinum albums and worldwide sales exceeding 75 million.

On May 19, Foreigner will celebrate their 40th anniversary with a new career-spanning compilation, 40, which features 40 hits from 40 years. The band also will embark on an extensive U.S. tour with Cheap Trick and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience.

These days, Foreigner is Mick Jones (lead guitar), Kelly Hansen (lead vocals), Jeff Pilson (bass), Tom Gimbel (rhythm guitar/flute/saxophone), Michael Bluestein (keyboards), Bruce Watson (lead guitar) and Chris Frazier (drums).

I recently spoke with Jones about the band’s 40th-anniversary plans, his upcoming autobiography, gear and more.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Foreigner. When you look back now—with so much perspective—what thoughts come to mind?

It’s a real gift and has basically been two-thirds of my life. It’s been a passion for me and I’ve stuck with it through thick or thin. I’m very grateful for having the opportunity to have an experience like this and to be doing something that I really love. It’s outlasted any expectations.

What does the band have planned to celebrate the occasion?

It’s the 40th anniversary, so we have the Foreigner 40 album that’s coming May 19. We’ve also got my book coming out, which is my first autobiography where you’ll find out a bit more about me. Then we’ve got a huge American tour where we’re bringing along Cheap Trick and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience. We have a couple of the guys coming out to play with the band, including Rick Wills and Dennis Elliot. There’s also plans for Lou Gramm to come out and do a few shows. We hope to make it a celebration.

Kelly Hansen has been with the band on lead vocals for more than a decade. What’s it like having him with the band?
Kelly was the reason I felt confident to go ahead with this in the first place. Obviously, those were big shoes to fill, but Kelly is a go-getting front man and performer who carries the songs incredibly well and gives 150 percent every night. But that’s really the thing about the whole band—everyone is totally dedicated to what we’re doing. It’s a rare thing to find something where everyone is on the same page. There’s good feeling all around.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Mick Jones by Clicking Here!

Foreigner Guitarist Tom Gimbel Discusses Soundtrack of Summer Album, Tour With Styx & Don Felder

SOSClassic rock giants Foreigner may be responsible for some of rock’s most enduring anthems, with an arsenal of hits that include songs like “Cold As Ice” and “Juke Box Hero.” But on May 6th, the band will join forces with another legendary group, Styx to release the ultimate seasonal package— appropriately called “The Soundtrack of Summer”.

This new album collection features sixteen classic songs by both Foreigner and Styx as well as a brand new interpretation of one of classic rock’s most successful songs ever, “Hotel California”. Original songwriter and former Eagles guitarist Don Felder teams up with Foreigner and Styx for this very special collaboration as well as for a stunning new version of Foreigner’s massive hit, “I Want To Know What Love Is” (which will only be available as a limited edition vinyl disc and on iTunes).

The Soundtrack of Summer album will also coincide with a highly anticipated tour of the same name – featuring Foreigner and Styx with special guest Felder as the opening act!

I spoke with Foreigner guitarist and mult-instrumentalist Tom Gimbel about the Soundtrack of Summer, his early years touring with Aerosmith and how he got hooked up with Mick Jones and Foreigner!

What started this tour project idea and album?

Sometimes, management teams brainstorm about which combination of bands would work best during the summer. This one makes perfect sense – Foreigner, Styx and The Eagles [Don Felder] all go together so well. It’s something we like to call “traditional” rock music. Once we all decided that we were going to tour we thought, why not do a little bit of recording together to have something that would set the tone.

Tom Gimbel (Photo: Patrick Hughes)
Tom Gimbel (Photo: Patrick Hughes)

Tell me a little about the new version of Hotel California and the recording process.

The idea was to have each band involved on the song give their own little segment and then have everyone harmonize together. It’s all one big musical family. We were able to recreate so much by using a lot of the modern techniques of recording. Not having to wait for the tape to rewind was a really cool advantage! [laughs].

What are some of your own best summer memories?

When I was growing up I was a big fan of The Who. I remember listening to Quadrophenia and albums like that and just thinking “Wow! This is the kind of rock music that I want to get involved with!” Hearing it now really take me back to memories of being a kid. It was such a cool era of music.

 

Tell me a little about your days at Berklee College of Music.

When I went to Berklee it was primarily a jazz school. So it was a little too late for me to start learning jazz guitar. But I was more than happy to stay a rock guitarist while I was there and instead played the flute and saxophone. One of the things I learned while I was there was that if you wanted to get really good on your instrument, you had to spend a lot of hours practicing.

How did you get hooked up with Aerosmith?

While I was in Boston going to Berklee I was also performing in bands and hooked up with a guy named John Butcher. We made a few records on Capitol together and a lot of the people we worked with knew the guys in Aerosmith. That’s how I was recommended. It was a completely different world back in those days because someone had to actually give you their phone number. There was no Facebook or Internet back then.

Tell me how you got the gig with Foreigner.

That was another situation where someone recommended me. Kevin Williamson was a guy who worked at Atlantic Records and he was playing golf with Ricky Phillips, the bassist for Styx. Ricky’s a friend of mine and while the two of them were playing Kevin mentioned that Foreigner had an odd situation. They were in need of a guitar player who also played sax. That’s when Ricky said, “Hey, I know a guy who does that!” and he gave him my number. A few days later, Mick’s brother Kevin called me up and said “Let’s talk about Foreigner”; and I said “Yeah, let’s talk!” [laughs]! Playing guitar and sax was my dream come true.

Tom Gimbel & Mick Jones (Foreigner)
Tom Gimbel & Mick Jones (Foreigner)

Has there been any thought given on another new Foreigner album?

We did an album of all new material back in 2010 called “Can’t Slow Down”. Mick continues to write and is always collaborating with different people. I’m sure at some point there will be some new material. I’m not sure if it will be a whole album though. Maybe a two or three song package. We’ll have to wait and see but there will definitely be some new music.

You’ve been with the band for more than twenty years. What’s the experience like?

It’s been marvelous every step of the way. It’s a real pleasure to work with every one of these guys. This is one of those bands where everyone really respects and admires each others musicianship. We have monsters on every instrument. Mick sets a great example as our leader. He sets the tone. I look forward to playing with these guys every night.

Soundtrack of Summer Tour Dates:

Wed 5/14          Wichita, KS                   Intrust Bank Arena
Fri 5/16             Oklahoma City, OK        Zoo Amphitheatre                                
Sat 5/17            Grand Prairie, TX           Verizon Theatre                                   
Sun 5/18           Houston, TX                  Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
Tue 5/20            Clearwater, FL               Ruth Eckerd Hall                                
Thu 5/22            Estero, FL                     Germain Arena
Fri 5/23             St. Augustine, FL          St. Augustine Amphitheatre
Sat 5/24            Atlanta, GA                   Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
Sun 5/25           Orange Beach, AL         The Wharf                                           
Thu 5/29            Tuscaloosa, AL             Tuscaloosa Amphitheatre
Fri 5/30             Simpsonville, SC           Charter Amphitheatre                           
Sat 5/31            Charlotte, NC                PNC Music Pavilion                             
Sun 6/1             Virginia Beach, VA        Farm Bureau Amphitheatre
Thu 6/5             Cincinnati, OH               Horseshoe Casino
Fri 6/6               Chicago, IL                   FirstMerit Bank Pavilion
Sat 6/7              Maryland Hts., MO        Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
Sun 6/8             Kansas City, MO           Starlight Theatre
Thu 6/19            Boston, MA                  Blue Hills Bank Pavilion                         
Fri 6/20             Bristow, VA                   Jiffy Lube Live                                       
Sat 6/21            Big Flats, NY                Summer Stage                                     
Mon 6/23          Verona, NY                   Turning Stone Casino
Thu 6/26            Newark, NJ                   Prudential Center
Sat 6/28            Wantagh, NY                 Nikon Jones Beach Theater                  
Sun 6/29           Mashantucket, CT          Foxwoods Resort Casino
Thu 7/3             Camden, NJ                  Susquehanna Bank Center                    
Fri 7/4               Scranton, PA                Toyota Pavilion                                     
Sat 7/5              Bangor, ME                  Darlings Waterfront
Sun 7/6             Gilford, NH                   Bank of NH Pavilion
Wed 7/9            Canandaigua, NY          Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center     
Thu 7/10            Detroit, MI                     Freedom Hill Amphitheater                    
Thu 7/17            Minneapolis, MN           Target Center                                        
Fri 7/18             Walker, MN                   Moondance Jam
Sat 7/19            Sloan, IA                       Winnavegas Casino
Tue 7/22            Denver, CO                   Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre             
Wed 7/23          Salt Lake City, UT          USANA Amphitheatre
Fri 7/25             Las Vegas, NV              Orleans Arena
Sat 7/26            Los Angeles, CA           Greek Theatre                                   
Sun 7/27           Santa Barbara, CA         Santa Barbara Bowl                            
Fri 8/1               Redmond, WA              Marymoor Park Concerts                        
Sat 8/2              Goldendale, WA            Maryhill Winery
Fri 8/15             Louisville, KY                Kentucky State Fair
Sun 8/17           Des Moines, IA             Iowa State Fair

Foreigner Bassist Jeff Pilson Talks New Starship Album, T&N and Dokken

Me and Jeff Pilson
Me and Foreigner bassist Jeff Pilson

Jeff Pilson is a busy man. In addition to his regular role as Foreigner’s bassist, he’s also been dividing his time with a host of other projects.

He’s working with other former Dokken members George Lynch and Mick Brown on the next T&N album, and he’s just finished producing the upcoming Kill Devil Hill album and Loveless Fascination, the first new Starship album featuring Mickey Thomas in almost 25 years.

Below, we discuss all the projects mentioned above and a whole lot more.

GUITAR WORLD: How did you get involved with Mickey Thomas’ new Starship project?

It started off from a songwriting angle. I was working with another producer on a project, and he ended up hearing a bunch of my songs. He also was working with Mickey Thomas at the time and said, “What would you think if I worked these songs with Mickey Thomas, who’s planning on doing another Starship record?” I loved Mickey and already had the songs available, so I said, “Sure, why not?” He started working with Mickey on the album, but things just didn’t work out. That’s when I got involved as the producer as well.

Hear the new Starship track “It’s Not The Same As Love” here

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Read the rest of my interview with Jeff Pilson by Clicking Here

Juke Box Hero: Lou Gramm Discusses New Autobiography and Foreigner

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Former Foreigner vocalist Lou Gramm pulls no punches in his new autobiography, Juke Box Hero.

In the book, which was co-written with Scott Pitoniak, Gramm leads readers on a journey from his humble beginnings in Rochester, New York, to the biggest stages in the world. He recounts his stint with Black Sheep, plus the ups and downs of working with guitarist Mick Jones in the band that made him famous.

From the diagnosis that nearly took his life to his solo career success and fascination for muscle cars, Gramm’s book is an honest portrayal of self-reflection from one of the greatest voices in rock history.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Gramm to discuss Juke Box Hero and get his thoughts on being inducted with Jones into the Songwriters Hall of Fame on June 13th.

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You Can read my complete Guitar World interview with Lou by Clicking Here!

Some Final Thoughts on The Grammy’s

I’ve got some final words to say about this years Grammy Awards. Truth be told, I haven’t had much interest in watching them anymore.

Now you would think that as a musician The Grammy Awards would be something always on my agenda of things to watch. To see the best of the best get their due. But sadly, the ceremony, much like the AMA’s, CMA’s and any other “MA’s” I may have missed, seems to have become nothing more than just a lackluster showcase for the music industry to pat itself on the back instead of awarding real talent.

Don’t get me wrong, this year Adele easily deserved to sweep everything. She is a true diamond in a sea of the same old same. But outside of her obvious and most deserving win, every year the awards seems to turn more and more into something that can’t be taken seriously.

Consider the way Chris Brown was graciously accepted back onto the stage again and won a pair of awards after his most recent shenanigans. Or the way Dave Grohl of The Foo Fighters was blatantly cut off during his acceptance speech when he started telling the truth about how music should come from the heart and not a computer. And lets not forget the fact that a group of “old men” (The Beach Boys) schooled everyone who hit the stage before them with true vocal harmony.

But I’d really like to focus the meat of this blog on the list of artists from the “Rock Performance” and “Metal” categories. Because, you know me, it’s all about the Rock and Metal.

First, here’s a list of winners from thirty years ago:

Record of the Year: Rosanna: Toto
Album of the Year: Toto IV
Song of the Year: Always on My Mind: Willie Nelson
Best New Artist: Men at Work
Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female: Pat Benatar-“Shadows of the Night ”
Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male: John Cougar Mellencamp -“Hurts So Good”
Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal: Survivor-“Eye of the Tiger”
Best Rock Instrumental Performance
: A Flock of Seagulls – “D.N.A.”

And now, here is a list of Grammy winners for 2012:

Record of the Year: “Rolling in the Deep,” Adele
Album of the Year: “21,” Adele
Song of the Year: “Rolling in the Deep,” Adele Adkins & Paul Epworth
New Artist: Bon Iver
Pop Solo Performance: “Someone Like You,” Adele
Rock Song: “Walk,” Foo Fighters
Rock Album: “Wasting Light,” Foo Fighters
Rock Performance: “Walk,” Foo Fighters
Hard Rock/Metal Performance: “White Limo,” Foo Fighters

Look at the variety of artists from three decades ago. All with hit songs and all deserving. Where is that variety today?

Please don’t misunderstand me, I love the Foo Fighters. Really, I do. But three different songs winning Grammy awards? And one Grammy for Best “Metal” performance? The Foo Fighters aren’t “Metal”.

It really upsets me that there seems to be a lack of true nominees in these categories whether by accident or deliberate intention. Every time you see the list of nominations you pretty much know who is going to win. And why is it that groups you’ve never heard of always seem to get a nod and bands that have Grammy history and new albums get ignored?

Consider artists like Journey, Foreigner and Night Ranger for example. Ok, I agree that it’s been years since any of them had songs that topped the charts. But all of these bands have released albums of brand new music, most of it very good and all within the time frame of nomination, but their body of work wasn’t even acknowledged by the academy.

Now I’m not saying any of these artists should win. Hardly. All I’m saying is that wouldn’t it be nice to at least recognize the efforts of bands that have stood the test of time and continue to deliver music for their fans? But instead, true musicianship gets over shadowed by the need for computer generated beats and auto-tuned vocal performances.

I guess I shouldn’t really be surprised though. I mean lets face it, this is the same awards show that gave the very first Grammy in the Hard Rock/Metal category to Jethro Tull instead of Metallica.

And don’t get me started on that whole Milli Vanilli incident.