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Hot blooded and cold as ice

author: ethan butterfield | staff writer

Rock legends Foreigner take on the Queen City tonight/ Bill Bernstein

Speaking with rock legends Foreigner

I am very fortunate to present an interview with a wonderful group that has stood the test time, Foreigner. Starting out in 1976, Foreigner rose to fame by solidifying their status with such classics as “Juke Box Hero,” “Hot Blooded,” “Feels Like the First Time,” and many, many more. The group will be performing at the Conexus Art Centre on October 16, but until then, here’s the interview with multi-instrumentalist Tom Gimbel.

What was it like to become a member of Foreigner after the release of Mr. Moonlight?

TG: Well, there was really a great head of steam going there. Lou Gramm was in his prime and that was a sight to behold in and of itself. He was kicking real hard, he was going to the gym everyday and working on kick boxing and stuff, just in super-top shape. And his voice was also in super-top shape. So that was when I first meet him in ’92, and that was when Mick and Lou reunited, during the L.A. riots, strangely enough. They found themselves kind of trapped, you know, they shut down a lot of the city, you couldn’t go anywhere. Mick and Lou were trapped in a hotel room, so they came up with a few songs and put down a new album which was called Foreigner: The Very Best and Beyond. So that was my initial, getting acquainted phase, and I came back in ‘95 and Mr. Moonlight was done, and there was still a really great momentum. Mick and Lou were just kicking ass! So that was a wonderful time for us. I’ll never forget those days, there were shows in Mexico City and all around the world. Now, you can see ‘em on YouTube. So, to answer your question, it was fun and I cherish those memories.

On to more current happenings, what’s the feeling for you guys coming up to Canada and performing here?

TG: We love playing in Canada! Some of our favourite shows have been in Canada. We started our acoustic touring in Canada. It was like a test. People said we should do a whole show of acoustics and we were all going, “Hmm, maybe?” So we tried it in Calgary and Alberta… unless those are the same thing (laughter)

Seriously, it was a fantastic response, the crowd was roaring for this acoustic show, so that’s always going to be near and dear to our hearts. And the shows in Vancouver, we did a huge one with Def Leppard, and that one we’ll never forget, also. The list goes on, you know, all the times we played over on the other side in Canada over the years, it’s a great place, and people enjoy rock music. And that’s my favourite thing, for rock music, we’re on the same page.

What would you say is one of your favourite Foreigner songs to perform?

TG: I’m not sure I have a favourite one, but the saxophone part in “Urgent,” that’s the biggest shot of adrenaline. So, for someone like me, an adrenaline junkie, I’d really have to give the nod there. But I really do enjoy them all, immensely for different reasons. You know, every song has just a special combination of elements, so you could focus on any of those elements and say “Wow!” And I could go down the list and tell you why I love them so much, but the biggest thrill is “Urgent.”

Now I imagine that that saxophone and those dynamic elements translates well live. What is the reaction when performing live?

TG: Yeah, that’s what we’re hoping for, that kind of lift. And I’m so lucky because on that particular song I get to pick the earpieces out of my ears. I actually have to, because if hit those high notes with them in my ears, the air would come out my nose or something like that, I don’t know what would happen. When I do that, I can hear the crowd. One of the biggest parts of the thrill is the fact that we’re all having fun together, and if I can provide a thrill for the audience at that point then that’s the ultimate treat for me. So yeah, hopefully I hear a lift and a roar and we’re just all having a great time together at that point.

After all the time with the band, and with the exception of the upcoming shows here in Canada, what does the future hold for Foreigner?

TG: Well the future looks great, it looks better than ever, really. Like there’s a reunion concert coming up with the original members coming back. The original lineup with Dennis Elliott on drums, Lou Gramm singing, and of course, Mick Jones on guitar, and Ian McDonald returning for the first time in 30 years. So we’re very excited about that and also there is a DVD coming out that we did with the symphony orchestra in Switzerland that was nothing short of stunning. I can’t even describe it! It was like a 60-piece choir and an 80-piece orchestra. Did this really happen? I think I was there (laughter), and it was beyond magnificent, so we’re super excited about that. Should be out before Christmas, and it just goes on from there. We already got bookings for next year, another major summer tour, and so it just keeps looking greater and greater. I think we’re going to start doing more of those symphony shows with the orchestra, around the world, maybe in Australia. But that’s just Foreigner, every year we go around the world and we do a combination of acoustic and electric shows, and now orchestral shows! So, it keeps us really busy and we couldn’t be more excited.

About Ethan Butterfield

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