JEFF PILSON: 'There Is A Part Of Me That Would Love To Do One Last DOKKEN Record And Really Do It Right'

February 6, 2024

In a new interview with Jay Scott of "The Hook Rocks" podcast, Jeff Pilson was asked if he thinks there is still a chance of the classic lineup of DOKKEN reuniting for a new album or possibly even some live shows. The 66-year-old bassist, who has been a member of FOREIGNER since 2004, responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Yeah, I kind of detach from it. I know [singer Don Dokken and guitarist George Lynch] have done shows together [where George joins the current lineup of DOKKEN on stage for a few songs at the end of the set], and I don't think there's gonna be a whole lot more of those, for some reason. But I don't think it's animosity, really; it's not that. It's just… I mean, Don has his [new DOKKEN] record ['Heaven Comes Down'] out and he wants to promote that. And I think Don wants to retire soon; I mean, he's 70.

"My attitude is I leave the door open only because there is a part of me, I will be honest, that would love to do one last DOKKEN record and really do it right," Jeff explained. "But the logistics of that, I recognize, are very difficult. Don lives in New Mexico now. I can't see either one of us traveling to work together long enough to collaborate. And my interest would be in us collaborating to do it. But having said that, who knows? I mean, I know that if George and I got in a room to write a DOKKEN record musically that we would have no problem with that. And I think George kind of feels the same way — if it can happen, great, but it looks logistically difficult. And if it doesn't happen, I'm not disappointed either. But like I say, I would love to do one last record. If we did shows, that'd be great, but it just doesn't seem like it's on the plate. So, my answer is I'm open, but I don't see it happening. So we'll see."

Asked if he is comfortable with DOKKEN's legacy that he is a part of, Jeff said: "Oh, well, yeah. I mean, I'm very proud of our legacy. But that's why if we did one more record or if we played [together again], I would want it to be good and up to the standards of our legacy, which I think would happen, because when we did a song ['It's Another Day'] in 2016 together [for the 'Return To The East Live 2016' album], the chemistry was instantaneous and it worked great and we collaborated just like we did [in the old days]; I mean, the chemistry was there. So I believe we could do it; I believe we could come up with something great. But like I say, the logistics, I think, get in the way. So, yeah, I'm very comfortable with our legacy. And if it didn't happen, yes, I'm comfortable. I mean, we stood the test of time. Here it's 40 years later and people still love the songs. So that's an accomplishment that I'm very proud of and, yeah, I'm very happy with. But as far as any kind of a reunion, I would want it to be up to the standards of our legacy. And like I say, I just don't know if that could happen."

For much of the past few years, Lynch has been rejoining DOKKEN on stage at various shows to perform three of the band's classic songs: "Kiss Of Death", "When Heaven Comes Down" and "Tooth And Nail". Asked in a March 2023 interview with TotalRock's Neil Jones what the experience has been like for him, George said: "For one thing, I can do it with one arm tied behind my back in my sleep. It's songs I wrote — what? — 40, 45 years ago, whatever, and I played them thousands of times. So it's easy, in a sense, but it also feels like going back home. So that's nice. And the best thing about it is Don and I get along great. The band's great. Everybody's happy. Our band is opening up, so I'm playing twice that night. We do a lot of that. These are packed houses, and everybody loves it. The whole audience is with us, and this is kind of what they're waiting for, and it's just a beautiful moment. Not a self-congratulatory moment, but just kind of an acknowledgement of the history and the power of the songs and good songwriting. It's songs that people — it marks time for them, and it's meaningful for them. And so it is a beautiful moment for all of us that we all get to share."

As for the possibility of a "full-blown reunion" of DOKKEN's classic lineup, George said: "I pretty much doubt it. Mick [Brown, former DOKKEN drummer] has quit playing drums, sold his kit. He's not a drummer anymore. His brother Steve, who's very similar to him, does play with [me and Jeff Pilson] in THE END MACHINE. Mick played on the first THE END MACHINE record. We [use] Steve Brown now. So Steve Brown would be a natural fit for a DOKKEN reunion. But Jeff's been in FOREIGNER for 14 years. I've got nine different bands. We're all older guys. And, really, to put a DOKKEN reunion together would be very, very difficult — politically, personally. And then we have to ask ourselves the honest question: would it just be a money grab or would it be a great record; would it be a great book end? We've got 'Breaking The Chains' and 'Tooth And Nail' and 'Under Lock And Key' and 'Back For The Attack'. Is it gonna hold up to that, or are we just too far past that? And the answer is I think that ship has sort of already left the harbor."

In October 2016, the classic lineup of DOKKENDon, George, Jeff and Mick — reunited to play the Loud Park festival in Japan. Fortunately for fans outside of Japan, cameras were there to capture the performance and Frontiers Music Srl issued "Return To The East Live 2016" in April 2018. In addition to the Japanese performance, the set featured footage from the classic lineup's only U.S. show in September 2016 at Badlands in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The package also included a new song called "It's Another Day", the first DOKKEN track featuring the group's classic lineup since 1997's "Shadowlife", and two acoustic re-workings of classic tracks.

Since completing the Japanese reunion dates, DOKKEN has continued to perform with the group's current lineup — including bassist Chris McCarvill, guitarist Jon Levin and drummer BJ Zampa (HOUSE OF LORDS).

In January 2022 interview with SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk", George was asked why he only performs three songs with DOKKEN as opposed to playing the entire set. George said: "Well, that's probably an economic issue on Don's side. I mean, Don owns the name of the band. It works on me on all levels at this point, and obviously it works for Don, so if it's not broken, why fix it? And I don't know… I would just be speculating that he's concerned maybe that something could pop up if he gets in bed with me and then now he doesn't have what he's built over all these years. So there's that. And maybe financially it would be not as — I don't know — not as [much of] a positive outcome for him. I'm not sure; we haven't talked about it. But what we're doing now works. Obviously, what you just brought up is something that everybody's thinking about, but, hey, it's not up to me to decide. But I certainly feel that would probably make sense [for me to play the whole set]; I could see that making sense. I'm already there — why don't I just go out and finish playing the rest of the songs that are part of my legacy? People would like that. There's a lot of different ways to think about that. There's what we do as a business, and I'm not ashamed of that. I don't think it's a bad thing to talk about the business side of music. It doesn't take away from the art; it doesn't take away from the creative part of it. Those are two different sides of the same coin. We all need to make a living. But you have to have that balance of appreciating and producing music that you love and that people enjoy, and at the same time, it has to make sense financially. So I'm not sure which one that is, as to why we're not back together on a more complete basis, where I'm playing the whole set, but I've got a feeling it's probably financial."

DOKKEN's 13th studio album, "Heaven Comes Down", was released last October via Silver Lining Music. The follow-up to 2012's "Broken Bones" was produced by Bill Palmer and Don Dokken and was mixed by Kevin Shirley (AEROSMITH, IRON MAIDEN).

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