The Making of Acoustique
With the release of 'Acoustique' coming to you in two weeks, ForeignerOnline is proud to share with you the story of the making of Foreigner's newest, unique album. We will be sharing never-before seen content from the studio and interviews with the band right here leading up to the release on September 13th.
'Acoustique' is the featured disc of the 'Feels Like The First Time' 3 Disc Box Set available at Wal-mart and digitally at iTunes and Amazon.com. More details here and can be ordered here. For fans in Europe and abroad, 'Acoustique & More' comes to you September 23rd and 26th. More details here with order links at the article.
August 30, 2011
The acoustic idea originated when Jeff Pilson proposed a new arrangement of 'Say You Will', from the 1987 'Inside Information' album. And what emerged made a twenty year old song new again. The road to 'Acoustique' was paved!
September 1, 2011
In early April 2011, Foreigner heads to the studio to record 'Acoustique.' Kelly takes video of the sessions and creates this montage himself! A man of many talents!
September 2, 2011
Interviews with Kelly Hansen, Jeff Pilson, and Tom Gimbel about the making of 'Acoustique'! Video shot by the band and compiled by earMusic, the label for the European release 'Acoustique and More'!
September 8, 2011
Foreigner takes advantage of the studio & calls in reinforcements!
Jeff works with the string quartet for the new album. Check back here tomorrow to listen to the result! We will be streaming one of the tracks in its entirety! The New Album comes out on 9.13.11 as the featured disc on 'Feels Like the First Time' available in the U.S. at Wal-Mart.
September 9, 2011
And with the addition of strings, for your listening pleasure, here is 'The Flame Still Burns'!
September 12, 2011Mick talks about Acoustique from an interview in Acoustic Magazine. Here is the transcribed article:
The Stadium Rocker Reveals All About the New Acoustic Album.
Interview by Andy Hughes.
To be honest, when you think of acoustic musicians, Mick Jones from Foreigner doesn't usually leap to the front of the mind. Foreigner virtually defined the term 'adult-oriented rock' with their massive album sales, equally massive sell-out stadium shows, and their ever popular radio-friendly power ballads. Not the sort of outfit you'd expect to turn up to your local theatre and play you a nice low-key acoustic set with proper acoustic guitars. The odd song for a `breather moment' in a full-on rock gig for the band and audience to get their breath back is fully to be expected, but that's just a change in atmosphere before heading into the next lighters-in-the-air roof-raiser. We're not talking an acoustic set-up and maybe a small keyboard and that's it. Well actually ...
... we are, because that's exactly what they are going to do. The 65-million-and-counting album-selling stadium stars that are Mick Jones and the core members of Foreigner are going to be taking their hits on the road in a scaled-down format to get back to the very core of their music. The band's new release will be called Acoustique and the name says it all — it's all the band's classic hit songs re-recorded in acoustic format. For serious fans there will be a deluxe three-CD version which will comprise the acoustic album, a full-band set of the hits re-recorded for this album, and a `live' concert disc, just to underline how popular Foreigner still are today.
Backstage at one of their (as normal) sell-out shows, Mick Jones ponders the notion behind the back to basics' idea behind the new release. `To be honest, I'm just amazed that we never did it before advises Mick with a wide smile, his English accent utterly untouched by years of living and working in America. It started a couple of years ago — we were doing odd promo things and we decided to play a few songs in an acoustic format. It all started off with radio station competition winners. The winner or winners would be able to come into the radio studio and meet us, and we would play a little acoustic set just for them — that was their prize. So we enjoyed doing that and explored it a little further, and finished up actually playing some shows just in that acoustic set-up. I had never thought that the songs I'd written could be performed that way for a full audience.'
Regular readers will know that this 'stripping back' notion has been discussed previously and stands as the hallmark of a good song. A good song will stand a genre shift, a slow-down, a speed-up, and of course — as demonstrated by Mick and his colleagues — a new instrumental approach. Mick is in full agreement: 'I think it's true, and it took me back to what Clive Davis said to me when he was head of Arista Records, when we first got signed. He told me that he liked the demo we had made but what he really wanted was for us to come up to his office with a couple of acoustic guitars and sing the songs to him live, right there. And I think he was looking to see if the songs were good enough, because that is the test: when there is nothing else there but a voice and an acoustic guitar a good song will shine through, and a bad song will fall down:
Although this project was never designed as a trip down memory lane, there is no doubt that taking the songs back to their original state invoked a degree of nostalgia for Mick. 'It did, because it took me back to the way in which they were written in the first place, so that did give some flashbacks to times and places from a while ago, which was nice. I think you can play your songs for a long time, and Foreigner have done, and you can change the set list around and do some rearranging of the material to keep it fresh for the band and for the fans, but actually going back to the original writing and demo sound, that's something I haven't done, and I did enjoy that.'
Another discussion point raised in these pages is the knowledge that acoustic music gives you nowhere to hide. You need to be on your game every time, with no band to provide emotional or musical support. Mick himself is modest about his own studio contribution to the new acoustic sound — and onwards to the live performances: `Well, it also comes down to the arrangements as well, which were done by Thom Gimbel [sax and flute player for Foreigner] and Jeff Pilson [bass player] and they did lot of really good work. We got together and threw some ideas around, and I was very happy to accept their ideas — they were very into it, very keen on the project and it worked well. Jeff arranged some of the background vocal parts for the acoustic versions, which are interesting.'
So let's nail this once and for all — are you a good acoustic player? `Well .. I get the job done" decides Mick laughing. 'I have had the good fortune to play with a lot of great guitar players in my time and I'd have to say that I follow the George Harrison approach to playing. George was never the guitar hero type of musician, he played for what enhanced the song, and that's been my approach to all my playing in Foreigner. I started out with an acoustic when I first learnt to play. I had a Saturday job in a music store in Woking where I lived. I worked in the record section of the store and they had this cheap Spanish acoustic — I think it was a Hofner, something like that — and I got it with my Saturday wages and went on from there. I play a Gibson J-200 now, which is pretty standard, but it is an excellent guitar. I also use a Babicz Identity Dreadnought which is a nice guitar.'
At the time of writing, plans are being discussed to take the nucleus of Foreigner out into the world's theatres rather than its stadiums, for a chance for fans to get nice and close. Some low-key try-outs in America have proved so successful that Mick is confident that an acoustic tour will do very well 'We are looking at putting together a tour of smaller theatres, where the sound is good. It would just be me, Kelly [Hansen, Foreigner vocalist], Thom and Jeff. That's the nucleus of the band, so it's moving towards being a definite tour.
`It's all because of the amazing response we got in America, which we never expected. We put a couple of low-key shows together and 4,000 people showed up! We were worried in case they thought it was a full-scale Foreigner show and not the acoustic set we were doing, but no, they were ready for that and they loved it, so we are looking to take the whole acoustic sound out on a world tour. It is a very different vibe, very different, and very refreshing. I think there is something special about an acoustic show the audience can hear themselves laughing and singing along, it's far more intimate, and we get to hear them singing along We can hear them in the arena shows with the full band, but this is different, because they are not getting the full-on electric sound; this is more delicate and gentle.'
So which of the band's impressively large collection of hit singles sounds best back in its original style? No surprises for guessing Mick s choice. 'They all sound pretty good, I am pleased to say, but I really like the way "Waiting For A Girl Like You" sounds on acoustic guitars, rather than the piano and synths and guitars on the record. It was a song that came together really quickly; I wrote the whole thing in about half an hour. It's one of those occasions where a song comes together really quickly, and you try and think back and work out how it all happened so easily — and you never can!'
So hopefully, by the time you read this, the Foreigner `unplugged' set-up will be planning to visit an intimate and comfortable theatre venue near you. And what's next for Mr Jones?Perhaps a step even further back — busking outside the train station or shopping mall? He smiles at the thought. 'I had a few friends who used to busk — I never actually did but I was quite interested. If I walk past a guy playing in the street I usually drop some money in the hat: it's a musician earning his money. I always think that could have been me.'