Foreigner Featured in Windsor Star

Q and A: Foreigner's still waiting for a girl like you

After 40 years of arena rock, the members of Foreigner arenít quite as hot blooded as they used to be. But guitarist, keyboardist, saxophonist, and flautist Thom Gimbel still gets excited when he talks about music and his own juke box heroes.

We had a chat with Gimbel in advance of the bandís Thursday concert at Caesars Windsor.

Q. People know the big hits: Hot Blooded, Juke Box Hero, Cold as Ice. But whatís one song in the Foreigner discography that you wish people were more familiar with?

A. Iíd say That Was Yesterday (from the 1984 album Agent Provocateur). Itís a huge favourite of mine. A lot of people know it, actually ó itís not an unknown song or anything. I love the harmonies, the chords ó what they call hybrid chord structures. And also the lyrics, the message: You have to move forward, but you never forget the past.

Kelly Hansen (left) and Jeff Pilson (right) of Foreigner performing at Caesars Windsor in 2012.

Kelly Hansen (left) and Jeff Pilson (right) of Foreigner performing at Caesars Windsor in 2012. Nick Brancaccio /  Windsor Star

Q. Itís been a while since the heyday of power ballads, but they used to be a surefire formula for chart toppers. What is the key to a great power ballad?

A. Itís a lyric that people can picture themselves saying. Like something that would come out during a conversation in your relationship. Thatís a big part of it. Of course, that doesnít apply to Stairway to Heaven! But if you look at the other big power balladsÖ In fact, I think people find themselves quoting songs.

Q. Youíve handled saxophone and flute duties for Foreigner. Do you think woodwind instruments will ever make a comeback in popular music?

A. I would certainly hope so. I still listen to a lot of Motown, and the saxophone was really the king of the solo break for so long. That trend did continue into the í80s. And the saxophone is still around ó itís not like itís gone from the modern sonic landscape. Dave Matthews Band, Bruno Mars. Itís like that girlfriend whoís lurking in the corner. ĎYou havenít forgotten about me, have you?í I still love the sax.

Q. Over the years, Foreigner songs have been used in many ways. Commercials, TV shows, movies ó from Toyota to The Simpsons to Rock of Ages. Whatís your favourite non-musical thing that featured a Foreigner song?

A. I did like the movie Rock of Ages! I thought it was kind of cute. I like stuff thatís sort of over the top. Tom Cruise, his performance ó everything was over the top. Thatís part of rock ní roll attitude. I got a kick out of it.

Bruce Watson of Foreigner performing at Caesars Windsor in 2012.

Bruce Watson of Foreigner performing at Caesars Windsor in 2012. Nick Brancaccio / Windsor Star

Q. Who are your current jukebox heroes? You mentioned youíre on a Motown kick?

A. Yeah, thatís permanent. Ever since I was a kid. I still listen to Marvin Gaye and Al Green almost every day. I just canít get enough ó I absolutely love it.

But as far as other heroes, I bought Keith Richardsí (1988 solo album) Talk is Cheap on vinyl. Itís one of my favourite all-time albums. Iím still a huge fan.

And I have some jazz records, too. Joe Pass (virtuoso jazz guitarist) has an album called Intercontinental (1970), which I have been listening to for 40 years. Still not tired of it. I actually listened to both sides today!

Q. Are the members of Foreigner still waiting for a girl like the one in that song?

A. Ha! I canít speak for anyone else, but the other guys are married. So that takes care of that. But Iíve been on my own for so long, Iím starting to think that I might be the one guy waiting!

Foreigner play Caesars Windsor this Thursday. Concert begins 8 p.m. Ticket prices start at $20, available via caesarswindsor.comwww.ticketmaster.ca, or the casinoís box office. 19 and older.