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Jeff Pilson on Foreigner in quarantine. Heavy Hitters project: 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Monday, December 21, 2020

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Foreigner's Jeff Pilson is one musician who's not been quiet during quarantine.

The bassist -- who also co-founded Dokken and has been part of Dio, War & Peace, Lynch Mob and other bands -- has spearheaded a fundraising drive for Foreigner's crew, which includes merchandise and other items, including an autographed guitar. Meanwhile he's launched two new bands, the End Machine and Heavy Hitters, both with Dokken guitarist George Lynch.

Not surprisingly, Pilson, 61, says he "can't complain" about his current lot, although he's more than ready to get back on stage during, he hopes, 2021...

Pilson says by phone that launching a fund for the Foreigner crew, first suggested by the band's production manager, was a no-brainer for he and the other band members. "It's gonna be a year without work for these guys, and it's not like they can jump into something else. All the tours are gone, and that's what these guys do. It just became clear to us we had to do something, and this seemed like the most logical and easy to pull off situation, and it could be really helpful." Pilson says the drive has raised more than $30,000 so far. Items -- including T-shirts, strings, microphones and a signed Breedlove guitar -- can be found at foreigneronline.com.

Foreigner has announced one show for 2021 -- headlining the socially distanced Frontyard Festival March 23-24 in Orlando, Fla. -- and Pilson is hopeful a return to full-scale touring won't be far behind. "Hopefully we'll be back on the road by summer. Hopefully the vaccine will have worked out. We had a whole tour planned for 2020 with Kansas and Europe, and we were really looking forward to that, and we were gonna go to Europe with Whitesnake. That all got canceled and it's disappointing, but my disappointment is pretty small in terms of what's going on. We carry on, and I think when we come back everybody's gonna be ready to go back to work."

Pilson and Lynch have just released their "Heavy Hitters" album, an outgrowth of Pilson's work with the guitarist on a reissue of his 2011 solo album "Kill All Control." The 11-song set features an unlikely set of covers of songs by Prince, Duran Duran, Madonna, Joan Osborne, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, Rufus & Chaka Khan, Carole King and others. "It wasn't meant to be a rock covers record. The 'hit' of 'Heavy Hitters' is the key. These were all hit songs. We wanted to cover great quality songs we could sink our teeth into and do in a way we feel good about. It was kind of that simple, and there's various degrees of getting your ya-ya's in there, too, when you're getting to do things you wouldn't ordinarily get to do."

As for more Heavy Hitters, Pilson says that, "if there was the demand, we would absolutely love to do more. It was great fun and it was satisfying. Even though we didn't write the songs...it's always good when you're performing, playing or interpreting great material. I consider myself a student of music, and there's no better education than dealing with great songs. So I'd love to do it again."

Pilson says "there's been some writing going on" with Foreigner as well, although he's not sure we'll see a full album of new material from the band. "What I can see id doing a couple new songs and including them in some kind of re-release. A whole record of new material just doesn't seem realistic at this point, especially once we start to tour again. We're not going to want to stop that to sit down again and (record). So I think it'll be a few songs at a time and we'll put them out when we can."

Foreigner's Michael Bluestein and Bruce Watson will host a Holiday Livestream performance at 9 p.m. on the group's Facebook page. Foreigner's fundraising drive for its road crew is ongoing via foreigneronline.com.

Web Site: www.foreigneronline.com

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