'Urgent': Foreigner to perform at the Great Frederick Fair

September 17, 2009|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

FREDERICK, Md. -- Let's just put it out there: Guitarist Mick Jones is the only original member left in Foreigner.

This is a moot point, says Jeff Pilson, 51, bassist in the latest iteration of the Foreigner lineup. Pilson says regardless of whether a concert features the original band, "it's great to see a great band."

"I defy anyone to walk away from the show really unhappy," Pilson says.

Pilson chatted with The Herald-Mail before Foreigner's upcoming performance Thursday, Sept. 24, at the 2009 Great Frederick Fair. The band has been touring in promotion of its latest album "Can't Slow Down," which is set for release Sept. 29.

Rock band Foreigner is best known for its plethora of platinum hits in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s. But the band's lead singer Lou Gramm parted ways with the band for good a few years ago. Vocalist Kelly Hansen sings in Gramm's place.


Pilson said he joined Foreigner as the new bass player after being offered the spot in 2004. Pilson earned his rock cred from being in a slew of other bands, including '80s rockers Dokken. In Foreigner, Pilson says, the guys try to stay true to the music without being posers.

"I would say as a rule we try to respect the original music," Pilson says. "On 'Juke Box Hero,' we do some jamming. When that happens, we're just playing what's in our hearts."

Today, Pilson describes himself as "older than dirt" and a dad enjoying the family life in Santa Clarita, Calif.

If you go ...

WHAT: Foreigner performs at the 2009 Great Frederick Fair

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24

WHERE: Bandstand at the Great Frederick Fair grounds, 797 E. Patrick St., Frederick, Md.

COST: Reserved Grandstand tickets cost $35, track seats cost $40. Show tickets purchased in advance include admission to the fair, but do not include parking costs.

For ticket information, call 301-695-3928

MORE: For the full schedule, go to .

Q&A with Mick Jones, guitarist and original member of Foreigner

What was it like being a young person in a rock band in the '80s?

Well, the way I look at it is, we were having our fun - and that we certainly did. We didn't know any different. That was just what we did. Actually, life feels busier now. It was hectic then, but it feels busier now.

What do you mean busier?

Well, I have a family, as well, so I have to work that in. There's just so much going on. We have to be on the road all the time now. We don't have a lot of time for much else. It becomes very much all about trying to make the best of the time we have now and it's great.

Any regrets?

Well, yeah. I'm not wild about the way I performed all the time. I was a rogue just like the guys were back then. So it's not always something to be proud of, but, you know, thinking back on it, it was all I knew. I just sort of had to take the bad with the good.

What was it made you come out of that?

Well, I will say - not to sound like I'm preaching - I haven't had a drink or drug in 20 years. That helps. I fell in love with music again.

How authentic is it if there is only one original person in the band?

You know it boils down to the chemistry. Yes, it's a different band and we certainly acknowledge that, and we say, 'Hey, there's only one original member.'

But having said that, if you watch us live, we've never had any complaints. People love what they see. I think it's a testament to the fact that we're all Foreigner fans and we play the music with as much respect as we can, because we know, as fans, what people want to hear. So, I think we do it justice from that aspect.

Do you have a favorite Foreigner song?

I do love it when we jam on things like 'Juke Box Hero,' but I wouldn't say there's a specific favorite.

Any side projects?

I do other things, but I've been so busy with Foreigner that I haven't had much time for other things. It is a very full-time job.

How many months out a year do you spend touring?

We are pretty much on tour all year long. There were a couple months where we were working on the record earlier this year, but then we had to finish working on the record on the road. With technology, you can do that. I did my bass tracks on a laptop in a hotel room. That's how crazy it was.

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