The vast majority of bands break up within one year of being formed, so lasting even just 12 months is something of a win for any musical collective. Remaining together beyond that typically depends on how well things are going, but even the most successful acts usually come to an end at some point, and it’s very rare for a band to stick it out until there aren’t any original members left.
Pop-rock act Foreigner is one such band that through it all, has remained together. This year, the band is celebrating forty years of music, and while some things have changed throughout the decades (lineups, styles, and so on), the fans are still turning out to see what they can do all these years in. Sure, everyone wants to hear the massive hits and the chart-toppers, but the truest fans are also into what they have coming up.
I recently spoke with the legendary rockers about what they have coming up to celebrate four decades in the business and what keeps them going after all this time.
CEEK VR: Forty years! Did you guys ever think it's going to come to this?
Mick Jones: I hadn't had a clue at that point. I mean, I don't even remember what was going on that long ago. I mean, it's crazy. It's a wonderful gift that I was given, the inspiration to start writing the songs and the care and the time you put into it at the beginning, and it paid off. It paid off. It’s so much larger than life. Within six months we'd sold four million albums. That had never been done. We were on the label with The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Genesis, you name it.
Jeff Pilson: Suddenly we're in this rarefied air and went, "Whoa, I guess we better do another album too, and see what happens." We managed to confirm that, we came through and was that ... what do they call that syndrome?
CEEK VR: Sophomore slump.
Jeff Pilson: Sophomore slump, there you go.
Mick Jones: Exactly, so we were able to avoid that, which a lot of bands fell into, unfortunately.
CEEK VR: Yeah.
Mick Jones: We had staying power and the songs have just entered into the flow of things, I think, you know? They get handed down. We get a lot of young people at the shows now. It's great.
CEEK VR: When you look out into the crowd, is it people who have been with you guys for thirty or forty years, or is it people who just discovered you?
Jeff Pilson: It's a mix. It's a mix. I've noticed in the last eight years or so, there's always been the longtime fans that are coming to the shows, but now I see different generations of people coming to the shows. I know they're not being dragged there by their parents because they're singing the words, they know the songs. That's really great to see and I think maybe it has to do with placements in commercials and TV shows and movies, like Orange is the New Black or Glee, or whatever it has been, has added to that.
CEEK VR: You think it’s all thanks to syncs?
Mick Jones: Yeah, yeah.
Jeff Pilson: I think it's that and then what happens is now, because of social media, now they hear that song and they go, "Well, what else did that band do?" They can go online and get deep into the catalog and I think that's a great way for people to discover the band.
CEEK VR: So what are you guys doing to celebrate forty years? We were just chatting, but in your words?
Mick Jones: Well, I mean, it's just been a celebration all year. It keeps popping up! A forty year tour. We're also going to record and film with an orchestra in Switzerland.
CEEK VR: Really?
Jeff Pilson: We're going to do this big summer tour, the Fortieth Anniversary tour with Cheap Trick and Jason Bonham of the Led Zeppelin Experience. I didn't know this, but the first headlining tour for Foreigner took out Cheap Trick and here we are forty years later doing it again. That's really, really cool. We're releasing a forty hits double CD. It's a chronology of the band from the very beginning to now, actually, all into the future. It's got new stuff on there too.
There's a lot of celebrating going on. I can really feel the buzz and people are really excited about it. I'm telling everyone, "If you hadn't seen this band in a while, or ever at all, this it'd be the year to do it." Because it's really... There's a lot of energy this year.
CEEK VR: New songs? What keeps you guys going creatively?
Mick Jones: I think it's good to... Obviously, the record business and all that has changed these days. I think, occasionally, it's good to put something new out just to pep things up a little bit, to have something that we can promote a little bit, and give the fans a little taste of what we're doing now. To put some fresh grease on the wheels. You know what I'm saying?
CEEK VR: That's a way to say it, yeah.