JEFF PILSON Reflects On 1988 'Monsters Of Rock' Tour: 'I Wish DOKKEN Would Have Been More Up To The Task At The Time'
February 27, 2020
Bassist Jeff Pilson (FOREIGNER, DOKKEN, DIO) recently spoke with Eric Blair of "The Blairing Out With Eric Blair Show". The full conversation can be seen below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On FOREIGNER's Mick Jones:
Jeff: "He may not do every show [of the band's 2020 tour], but he's doing the whole tour. He's doing great. It's kind of a precaution — 'Let's be cool.' He doesn't absolutely have to do it, so if we can make it easier on him, it's a little better. But he's doing great — he's in wonderful spirits; he's playing great; everything's great."
On the "most comforting" aspect of being in FOREIGNER:
Jeff: "I would say the camaraderie of everybody in the band. We really get along well. We have to, because we tour, I think, more than anybody out there. [Laughs] But we really do get along. We really do love one another. A lot of humor. We joke because practically have our own language now. There's so many inside jokes and terms that we use. I've seen people in the room with us before when we're just talking and we don't realize somebody else is there, and they'll look up and go, 'What the hell are you guys saying?' We have so many crazy expressions and little terminology things. I think that that camaraderie is the reason I've been able to maintain for 16 years. It would drive you crazy without that. It really would. The travel... The shows don't drive you crazy. The shows are great; the fans are wonderful; the band and songs are great; but having that camaraderie keeps you sane. It's a check on the insanity of road life, and having that is very comforting."
On what he considers to be the highlight of his years in DOKKEN:
Jeff: "In some ways, it would have been the Monsters Of Rock tour in '88. It was VAN HALEN, SCORPIONS, us, METALLICA and KINGDOM COME. Everybody was friends. Everybody was crazy partying back then. There would have to be a couple days between shows unless there was two nights in one venue, because you had all these trucks, all this gear. It took that long to get the whole operation to the next city. It was one of the most fun tours you can ever imagine being on. Everybody was a character — just so many fun times. And playing stadiums, that was a really cool thing. I wish DOKKEN would have been more up to the task at the time. That was not our strongest time as a live band. We were better before that. That was the way we went out in the '80s. That's almost a regret. I wish we would have gone out on a more positive note. Playing for all those people and not being at our best, that still kind of hurts, but having said that, it was an amazing experience. You still hear about it today."
On George Lynch:
Jeff: "He's just got so much soul in his playing. When George is in the zone, as I call it — because he's not always in the zone; by his own admission, sometimes he's kind waffling about — but when he gets in the zone, it is pure magic, and it's all coming from his soul. He's not a schooled musician, so he's not thinking about scales and stuff like that. When he connects with that, he's a genius. I don't know if people realize that. He's a musical genius, and just a genius guy. When he's connected and the music is flowing through him with that genius and that much soul, I think he's the greatest guitar player in the world when he's in that zone."
On his work with LAST IN LINE, BLACK SWAN and THE END MACHINE:
Jeff: "What's great is that Frontiers is providing a platform. You have to do a lot of things these days to get music out there. I don't do these records for money — I do them because I love doing them. I have a wonderful day job with FOREIGNER, but we don't record that much. We do some recording, which is great, but I love to record, so having the opportunity to record as much as I can on my off time, I do. It's basically an opportunity to work with really talented people... To work with great, talented people and collaborate and make music, that's what I love to do."
On BLACK SWAN:
Jeff: "Reb [Beach] and I had done a DOKKEN record over 20 years ago, so we knew we had a really strong writing chemistry. We really enjoyed doing that DOKKEN record together, so we knew it was going to be good. He would come for about a week at a time to my place — I have a beautiful studio attached to my house — and we would get up in the morning [and work]. He had some ideas with him, and we'd [say], 'Okay, let's work on that one,' and then we'd build it into a song. By the end of the day, we had the tracks. It was amazing. We'd send Robin [McAuley] the music and he would write a first draft of lyrics. Sometimes we kept it just the way it was; sometimes we changed it a little bit. It was constant collaboration, lots of laughs but very productive. It was amazing — [a] very inspired project [with] amazing playing and singing by everybody. I'm very, very proud of it. [I'm] hoping we can take it to the next step, which would be great... It's mostly really scheduling. We all have other gigs that have to take precedence. That's our priorities, so finding the time where we could do it would be very, very difficult. Not impossible, and we would like to make it work somehow. [It's] probably going to be tough, but we'd like to make it work. If nothing else, I hope we get to make another record, and then maybe the time will open up."
On whether his career turned out the way he expected:
Jeff: "When I was a kid, I imagined more of the pure glamour. What I didn't realize was how much in love with music I would become — how much I would fall in love with music — and it's really the music that sustains me. It's not the sex [or] drugs; it's the rock n' roll. Maybe I'm too old for the other stuff, but honestly, it's the music that really does give you that satisfaction. It's the fix. I don't think I would have guessed that as a kid. As a kid, sure, you love the music, but you saw it in the context of stardom and money and chicks and all that kind of thing. It's not that. It's really not. Yeah, there was a period of that, but you can't do that for 40 or 50 years, but you can do music for 50 years, and that's what I've been able to do."
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