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DailyBoom Your Old School Music Authority

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Exclusive Interview: Foreigner's Jeff Pilson on Reuniting with the Original Band While Working on 'Black Swan' Project with Robin McAuley & Reb Beach

(All Photos: Cate Meighan)

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Foreigner's bass guitarist, Jeff Pilson,  is undoubtedly one of the busiest guys in the business. Aside from traveling 200+ days a year with that classic rock powerhouse machine, he also juggles a few side projects at a time. If you think that supergroups are a thing of the past then you need to pay closer attention because Jeff has a knack for not only combining established rockers but also bringing them to a higher musical level. 

He is currently working on a few "side projects", The End Machine with ex-Dokken bandmates George Lynch and Mick Brown  (Warrant's Robert Mason on vocals), and another endeavor with Robin McAuley (Schenkerfest; The Rock Vault)  and Reb Beach (Winger; Whitesnake)

His plate is always overflowing and this year has been exhausting, yet Jeff was bursting with excitement when he spoke about the great things to come in an interview that occurred about an hour before Foreigner's Double Vision Then & Now reunion show in Atlantic City. Check it out!

Jeff Pilson on Foreigner's journey this year:

"It has been so good! I've been going with the flow and we've done about 110ish dates this year so it has been really busy. We have had to cut back on some dates though because we're not just driving 50 miles to get to a show, we're all over the place (laughing).

When Mick Jones was choosing people to play in the current lineup I know that work ethic was important to him, but also important was how well you fit into the vision. There's a certain chemistry about how we all fit together and Mick is really good at finding and figuring out what works. We all have some sayso in things but Mick is the final arbiter and he understands the importance of chemistry, both in playing and personality. We spend a lot of time in this big tube together and so you have to be able to hang (laughing) and I think he has always been cognizant of that. You have to be at a certain level to be able to play in the band, but after that, it's about how well you fit in and adapt to the overall sound. It really is very much a group effort and we've got it now so that everyone really listens and pays attention. At the end of the night, it's pretty amazing to have everyone on stage and realize that we really are all listening to each other. We've all grown to be great friends and I love these guys- plus we're having so much fun."

Jeff on reuniting with the original members of Foreigner:

"This kind of night is fun, it's just so great. We're all sad that Lou (Gramm) is not here, of course, and we really do miss him. I spoke with his wife this morning and I'm really glad he's taking care of his health. He is going to be fine, it's nothing long term thank god.  We miss him though and it's not quite the same without him. Having said that, these shows are going to be great. The energy is there and the cool thing about Foreigner is that it's really about the music. We miss Lou and I'm sure the audience will too, but the music is so strong that it really has a way of overcoming adversity.

There's something about these reunion shows that connects everyone to the roots of this whole band and that's such a healthy thing for us to be able to do. The fact that we can even pull this off is incredible. No other band has ever been able to meld their past with their current and so I'm genuinely, incredibly proud that we can do it. In the process, we've gained friendships and insight, plus we've come up with a product that allows us to bring these guys in and tour a bit with them too. What an amazing thing that is."

Jeff on what's next for The End Machine, his project with George Lynch, Robert Mason, and Mick Brown:

"There is more coming! I was hoping we would be able to write during the upcoming break from touring but scheduling is difficult. There's definitely more coming but I'm just not sure when. Hopefully, we'll be able to start writing again soon, it has just been hard because there's so much going on. The reaction to The End Machine has been so positive and one of the things that has been really special to us is the depth of the band and our first record. We know not to rush it. Writing with George doesn't feel like work. It's a flowing and fun thing that we love to do.

George (Lynch) and I did a record together in 2003 called Lynch Pilson and we finally got the rights back to that record. In turn, we then sold it to Cleopatra who is going to re-release it. We just wrote a song a few weeks ago called "Top of the World" and that's going to come out soon. I'm so excited about the record being released again and having a new song to go with it."

Jeff on that other side project with Robin McAuley and Reb Beach:

"We just had conference calls about everything this morning! That's coming out in March and I think the first single will be out in December. We're filming two videos for it on Nov. 1-2 and so either sometime in December or January the first video will come out, followed by the second video. Then on Valentine's Day, we'll be releasing the third song, it's a ballad that came out incredible. I'm really excited about it and just wait until you hear Robin's voice on this project. He's such a dear friend and boy does he really shine here."

Jeff on being busier than ever:

"Well, with all of the creative stuff happening and the offers there I feel like you kind of have to strike while the iron is hot. I'm not in a rush about certain things, but who knows what's going to be there in ten years. I'm not that old, I mean I'm kind of old (laughing), but I'm not dead yet. Musically I still haven't written the greatest song of all time yet (laughing). I'll leave the term "greatest" open to interpretation, but that's still on my bucket list of things to do (laughing)."

Jeff on juggling a family while being on the road:

"Honestly, I need to take a little bit of a break. I feel like when I finally go home I need to just be able to stay home for a while. Being a father is really tough with this job and luckily we have a daughter that's just angelic (laughing). She's really smart, really into her school and she does a great job with her schoolwork. If we had a troubled kid I don't know how we would deal with it. She went to her first Foreigner show at 6 weeks old (laughing) and I've had to reconcile myself with not being home very much. It puts a real undue burden on my wife because she has to be like a single parent a lot and that's not fair. I do what I can and my wife understands but she's a human being. She gets tired and stressed out, so it's tricky. When I'm home, I'm dad and I'm all in. We're going to go away for six days on vacation in November and I'm really looking forward to that."

Jeff on what's next for Foreigner:

"More touring forever (laughing), more dates are on the books for after our Las Vegas residency. I'm sure they'll be making an announcement about it soon. We've been trying to stay out of the major American markets and doing secondary markets because we'll be doing a big 2020 shed tour in the summer. I can't say who's on that but an announcement is coming. We're also going to South America and we're headed back to Europe again to do some festivals. Musically it's very satisfying to play somewhere like Germany because those audiences really listen. We are working on some new music and it's strictly on the creative level. There is no time frame involved but it's starting to happen and there could be a new song or two coming."

I want people to know that Foreigner is a very viable, relevant band right now. Yes, we deal with the nostalgia of this great catalog, but we're out there hitting the pavement pretty damn hard and there's no sign of that letting up for the next couple of years.  We're very committed to taking Foreigner, with both its' catalog and its' fans, and making the very best of it. We want the chapter of Mick Jones' life about Foreigner to be perfect and complete. That really is our goal to do that and to make it that way for him".

Head over to Foreigner's official site to check out tour dates, band merch and more