Interviews Galore with Kelly Hansen and Tom Gimbel!
Before heading to the U.S. Cellular Coliseum on Saturday to headline with .38 Special, Kelly Hansen and Tom Gimbel had the opportunity to do some excellent in-depth interviews.
Kelly talks with Doc Watson from 95.5 WGLO in Peoria via podcast:
Tom Gimbel was joined by University High Choir Director Chris Corpus to talk with Susan Saunders from 101.5 WBNQ in Bloomington-Normal:
Tom was also able to give an great interview with Pantagraph.com. As Foreigner’s No. 2 man in terms of seniority, he discusses the 'ever-evolving' line-up of Foreigner.
Rock of Ageless: Foreigner Endures as Jukebox Heroes to a New Generation
September 19, 2013 10:53 am • By Dan Craft firstname.lastname@example.org
Drummers. Can’t rock with ’em, can’t rock without ’em.
Heaven knows Thom Gimbel knows that.
As Foreigner’s No. 2 man in seniority, even he can’t help but chuckle when it comes to discussing the band’s swinging door policy over the past 37-odd years.
“Long and varied… ever-evolving… with a lot of coming and going,” he muses of that history. “It really is the old stereotype, isn’t it?”
Indeed, most of the comings and goings have been, a la Spinal Tap, from the percussion end.
Exhibit A: Since the most recent Foreigner show here six years ago — summer 2007 — the guard has changed again.
Last time through, the beat went on courtesy Jason Bonham. There have been several more in the interim.
None, Gimbel is happy to report, has spontaneously combusted.
As the hit-laden band prepares for its return to Bloomington’s U.S. Cellular Coliseum (7:30 p.m. Saturday), Gimbel reflects on the short-lived Bonham era (2004-8).
“Jason wanted to be home with his family, and we wanted him to stay home with his family. We’re all happy for him … but we do miss him, he was such a character, and we had great fun together.”
For Gimbel, the real loss is on the tennis court.
“He was my tennis partner, and to have someone as good as he was was very rare,” Gimbel sighs.
End of tennis game, but beginning of golf game.
“My knees and my elbow thank you, Jason,” he concludes.
Bonham’s successor, Chris Frazier, is celebrating his first anniversary this month and is, says Gimbel, “terrific — a perfect fit.”
Once upon a time, Gimbel was that new guy on the block, the “foreigner,” so to speak, looking to fit in.
The year was 1993, when the Boston native was summoned from his touring duties with another legendary rock band, Aerosmith.
Gimbel stepped in to briefly fill in for Scott Gilman (1992-5) on rhythm guitar, then took over the role completely in 1995.
He’s never looked back.
Comparing his experience with Aerosmith — a six-year run — with his Foreigner tenure, Gimbel equates them via “the level of professionalism, which is very similar … in fact, it seems to be a common thread among the top-name bands, the big-time iconic rock musicians.”
Gimbel remembers the first time he and his sax pulled duty on one of the great Foreigner anthems, “Urgent,” and was allowed to cut loose on his own terms, followed by chiming in on the two-part vocal harmonies.
“Is this really happening?” he asked himself.
Drummers aside, the most legendary of the Foreigner partings came in 1990 when lead founding fathers Mick Jones and Lou Gramm had their infamous falling out, with Gramm departing for a solo career.
He returned in 1992 and stayed for another decade before his second exodus.
When he opened for Boston at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum within a year of Foreigner’s 2007 show, Gramm was still smarting from a painful past.
In a GO! interview, he confessed: “When I was in Foreigner, the thought of going out on tour was really, really something I dreaded … not only for being away from home but because of the dances you have to do in the clash of personalities.
“It’s really hard to put into words, but I think the resentment and deterioration began because, in my case, I respected Mick as a musician, but there was no communication. Everything was heavy-handed, and done without consultation.”
That was then, this is now.
Three months ago, Gramm and Jones were reunited on stage at the 2013 Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony, all smiles and good karma.
“When Lou left in 2002, we understood why, and we were sad,” Gimbel says from his perspective. “We love him, and we miss him. He’d been through a rough time physically, surviving an operation (removal of a brain tumor) that a lot of people don’t. We understood that he wanted to leave and live life wholly on his terms, which he’s been doing ever since.”
To see Gramm and Jones standing side by side and performing together again was almost too much for Gimbel to bear.
“It was like being a kid seeing his divorced parents getting back together again,” he recalls. “At the rehearsal, they were laughing, reminiscing and joking around with each other. Both were incredibly gracious … class acts … kind to each other.”
“It was a very emotional thing for me,” Gimbel confesses. “I was a wreck. I’m really glad I don’t drink, or I would have headed to the nearest bar.”
Life beyond halls of fame goes on, of course, as does Foreigner — sans Gramm, with Jones still the last original member standing and Kelly Hansen handling Gramm’s old vocal chores, as he has since 2005.
“Kelly is from Mars,” insists Gimbel. “He’s definitely not from Earth. Anyone who’s able to do what he does on a nightly basis is just not worldly.”
Gimbel also marvels over another phenomenon.
“A lot of kids seem to like what I call ‘traditional rock,’ whether it’s through their parents or friends playing the music. I don’t what it is, but it seems to sustain itself through multiple generations,” observes.
“I find it incredible to think that kids like this music. It’s natural that one generation will not want to embrace the music of the generation before it … so it’s not supposed to happen this way.”
Speaking of not-supposed-to-happen … does Gimbel hold out any hope for a more lasting Jones-Gramm reunion than the brief one last June?
There’s a cryptic pause.
Then: “Let’s wait and see …”
At a glance
What: Foreigner and 38 Special, with Matthew Curry & The Fury
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: U.S. Cellular Coliseum, 101 S. Madison St., Bloomington
Tickets: $35.50 to $55.50
Box office: 800-745-3000
How up on Foreigner affairs, past and current, are you? Take this pop quiz and find out:
1. Who were the “foreigners” in the original Foreigner lineup?
2. The first Top 10 hit for Foreigner was … what?
3. Who became the first of many Foreigner defections over 37 years?
4. What was Foreigner’s original band name?
5. Which is the biggest-selling Foreigner album of all time?
6. Which Foreigner album produced the most Top 20 radio hits?
7. What was the first Foreigner album to tank?
8. Name this tune: “Emergency … emer … emer … emer …”
9. What famous rock son was Foreigner’s drummer their last time through Bloomington-Normal, circa 2007?
10. Which Foreigner single set a Billboard chart record?
Answers: 1. Brits Mick Jones, Ian McDonald and Dennis Elliott (Lou Gramm, Al Greenwood and Ed Gagliardi were New Yorkers); 2. “Feels Like the First Time,” 1977 (No. 4); 3. bass player Ed Gagliardi, 1979; 4. Foreigner (gotcha; trick question); 5. 1981’s “4”; 6. tie, 1977’s “Foreigner” and 1978’s “Double Vision,” with three apiece (“Feels Like the First Time,” “Cold As Ice,” “Long, Long Way From Home”; and “Hot Blooded,” “Double Vision,” “Blue Morning, Blue Day”); 7. 1991’s “Unusual Heat,” peaking at No. 117 on U.S. charts; 8. “Urgent”; 9. Jason Bonham, son of Led Zeppelin’s late John Bonham; he left the band in 2008; 10. 1981’s “Waiting for a Girl Like You,” 14 weeks at No. 2; still a Billboard record.