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Foreigner’s Jeff Pilson: Rock Journeyman by Rick Suchow: Bass Musician Magazine June 2013



06June13-Jeff-Pilson-Bass-Musician-MagazineForeigner’s Jeff Pilson: Rock Journeyman by Rick Suchow: Bass Musician Magazine June 2013…

It’s been nearly a decade since bassist Jeff Pilson joined Mick Jones’ re-tooled incarnation of Foreigner, and here in 2013 the party goes on for the iconic rockers who first delivered mega-hits like “Cold As Ice” and “Feels Like The First Time” back when Jimmy Carter was running America. Being associated with even one classic-rock band would be a dream come true for most bass players, but Pilson’s past runs deeper; he had already claimed his turf in heavy metal history years before teaming up with Jones and Foreigner in 2004.

As a member of Dokken in the mid-eighties, Jeff was onboard during their most creative and successful period over the course of four albums, and again several years later when the band reformed for five more. After Dokken’s initial breakup, Pilson quickly hooked up with metal master Ronnie James Dio for three Dio albums in the nineties, as well as forming his own band War & Peace with drummer Vinny Appice and guitarist Randy Hansen.

A multi-instrumentalist and vocalist who also plays guitar, cello and keyboards (he played rhythm guitar in War & Peace), Jeff’s numerous side projects pepper his discography as well. These days, in addition to his gig with Foreigner, he plays with T&N (comprised of various members of Dokken minus their front man and namesake Don Dokken), and occasionally with the John Bonham tribute extravaganza Bonzo Bash,  founded by drummer Brian Tichy. It was the Bonzo subject that kicked off my interview with Jeff, a true rock journeyman.

Foreigners Jeff Pilson-2



Let’s start with some current stuff… are you part of the upcoming Bonzo Bash?

Actually, I’m unable to do the next Bonzo Bash. My NAMM commitments, plus a last minute Foreigner gig in Vegas made it a little hard to pull off. I’m disappointed ’cause I was gonna play with Ray Luzier doing “Achilles Last Stand”. We did that together at the last Bonzo Bash, and it was a blast. Ray’s a monster. This whole thing is Brian (Tichy’s) idea, he’s such a creative and talented guy– it’s always special. So I am disappointed I won’t be making this one.

Speaking of Bonzo, you’ve played with John’s son Jason at times over the years, including with Foreigner. What’s the musical chemistry you guys have playing together?

Jason is just an incredibly musical guy as well as drummer. I feel so comfortable with his playing because we both really come from the same sources. There’s a great mind reading thing going on. I can’t tell you how many times we would do fills together that were nearly identical. He’s an amazing all around musician, and sings great too.

Foreigners Jeff Pilson-3

There’s a new Black Sabbath album coming out this month with the original guys: Ozzy, Geezer, Tommy. Was Geezer Butler’s bass playing an influence on you? Who were some of the bassists that influenced you most when you were starting out?

Geezer was an influence, how could he not be? I love how fluid he always was while still keeping it heavy. Great creative lines as well. My biggest influence growing up, by far, was Chris Squire. I knew every lick off every Yes album up to Going For the One. His playing really made me want to work at it. His sound still gives me chills. Then I got very into McCartney and John Paul Jones, such amazing dexterity from both with phenomenal bass lines– all so musical and so supportive of the song. I did go through a Jack Bruce phase, and just revisited that recently– I got an old EB3! Then a few years ago I got into a serious Jamerson obsession. I wish I would’ve really studied him sooner. God, I love his feel and note selection!

Jeff Pilson-2Tell me a little bit about your youth, and how did life steer you in the direction of being a musician?

I saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, February 9th, 1964– and I think that may have done it! But I didn’t really start until I was approached by some guys who heard me singing in the schoolyard in sixth grade. They said they needed a bass player, so I saved up from my paper route and bought my first bass (Teisco Del Ray) and amp (Gibson Skylark). Then a year later my family moved to a small town in the state of Washington, and the alienation I felt being a “new kid” in a small, rather redneck, town pushed me into the bedroom and the bass became my refuge.

Then discovering prog– I got very serious quickly. I took up string bass in orchestra, ’cause I do love classical music. And I attempted to take a “legitimate” route by going to the University of Washington, majoring in string bass performance. But rock and roll was in my blood and I soon left school to chase the dream.

You joined Dokken around 1983 when Juan Croucier left. How did you get the gig?

I had been in bands with, and was friends with, Mike Varney, who was kind of the go-to guy for finding musicians at the time. Don Dokken called him when Juan quit and I had just moved to LA. It worked out well.

It seemed like right after you joined Dokken, they hit it big. No coincidence, right?

I was at the right place at the right time. But we actually took a while to hit. Breaking the Chains only sold 125,000 records at the time (it has since gone platinum), and it wasn’t really ’till the next record, Tooth and Nail,  that we started exploding.

Dokken coverDokken was your first major taste of real success. What are your memories of that period of your life?

It was such a great period, all the bands and friends coming into success, somewhat simultaneously. Lots of partying, which I don’t regret, but am very glad is all behind me. I just wish I would’ve started buying vintage gear earlier!

What really caused the band’s breakup?

In a word: egos! Don was frustrated by things which he felt were holding the band back and I think he thought he could walk away with the name and continue our momentum. Of course it didn’t work out that way, but once he announced he was leaving, the morale and consequently our performances went way downhill. We rarely thought like a team and we suffered for it.

Do you stay in touch with Don these days?

Don and I email occasionally,  it’s all friendly. He just sent a photo of his new puppy– very cute!! I like it when we retain our friendships. No need for bitterness anymore.

Tell me about your experience of working with Ronnie James Dio, and your thoughts on his passing.

Ronnie was the best. He’s was an incredible musician (the voice is obvious) and bandleader and he was an amazing friend. Barely a day passes where I don’t think of him. Several of the Foreigner crew also worked for him, so we commiserate a lot!

There seems to be little info available about your equipment. What basses were you primarily playing back in the days of Dokken and Dio? How about your rigs?

On Dokken’s Tooth and Nail record (my first with the band) I played a Jackson bass through a big Randall rig. Then on Under Lock and Key I started renting old P-Basses, which led me to buying my ’58 P-Bass that I still use and have. I also started using SVT’s around then, which I also still use today. I did have my Spector Basses, which I played on some tunes, as well as my Ripley 5-string basses which I recorded with Dokken and Dio through the 90’s. With Dio I primarily used my baby, the ’58 P-Bass, in the studio.

What equipment are you using these days: basses / rigs / strings /effects?

Like I said, I’m still pretty much a P-Bass, SVT guy. In the studio I use my two ’58 P-Basses and I have a ’63 that sounds wonderful as well. Then I use a Warwick 5-string sometimes, and a Dean 10-string bass that I picked up. I used that on the song “Access Denied” off the T&N record. The 10-string that John Paul Jones had at the Zeppelin O2 Arena show in ’07 sounded simply amazing and I’m still trying to chase a sound like that a bit.

I do have a rather large collection of vintage basses these days, so I can pretty much cover the spectrum. But for rock, it’s usually an old P-Bass through an SVT. I have a ’71 SVT that is one of the best SVT’s I’ve ever heard in my life. Also for recording, the SVX plug-in by IK Multimedia is miraculous. Several of the songs on T&N are just that, a DI and some kind of an amp farm distortion setup. It records so amazingly well. And this coming from a guy who thinks he has one of the best SVTs in existence!! I also love my Dean Markley Blue Steel strings. They are my favorites,  hands down. Live with Foreigner, I’m playing ’70s P-Basses with older pick-ups (usually 66’s). I love those 70’s necks for live–also through SVT’s.

Feff-Pilson-ForeignerWhen and how did you come to be a part of Foreigner?

Jason Bonham and I had worked together in the film Rockstar, so when he started working with Mick Jones in 2004, they called me. The chemistry was instant.

You would think that a rock band like Foreigner, who have sold 70 million+ records, would be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but they aren’t. Madonna is. Your thoughts?

Much of the Hall of Fame is a popularity/hipness thing, which Foreigner never really had. Our popularity was with the fans, who don’t actually vote!

What are some of your “guilty pleasures” in the music you listen to? What albums would your fans find in your collection that they’d probably be surprised by?

Well, I like all kinds of music, so I love Muse, Snow Patrol, and the Fray. But my favorite these days are the Black Country Communion records (speaking of Jason Bonham). Glenn Hughes’ singing is like a spiritual experience for me!

You’re also an accomplished guitarist as well as a bassist. Are you a bass player or guitar player at heart?

I think I’m a musician at heart– with a heavy emphasis and love of the bass. I really re-fell in love with bass guitar when I joined Dio in ’93- and I haven’t looked back.

Your band T&N released Slave To The Empire, which got great reviews. Were you happy with how it turned out, and what’s on the horizon for T&N?

Very happy. What we really set out to do was to start to tie in our legacy together with a forum for new music that I could sing. From the response, I think we accomplished that. The horizon is endless for T&N. We’ll do another record sometime next year,  also re-recording Dokken tracks (7 more with Wild Mick Brown are in the can), and new music as well. And we’re really hoping we can do some touring behind the next one. Other than that, the sky’s really the limit, or should I say there are no limits!

Jeff Pilson B&WWhat other projects are you involved in that we can we look forward to, and what’s coming up with Foreigner?

I produced the Adler CD Back From the Dead and I’m sure there will be more with those guys. Then there’s a Kill Devil Hill CD I’m doing featuring Rex Brown from Pantera and Vinny Appice from Dio, Sabbath and Heaven and Hell. That’s turning out phenomenally and should be out in the fall. Plus a Starship record that we’re hoping is out by summer–Mickey Thomas’ singing will put chills up your spine! Then lots of touring with Foreigner this year, much of it overseas. Hey, I can sleep when I retire!

What was your worst on-stage experience ever?

In Germany a few years ago we (Foreigner) were playing a club and I got RF in my in-ears, which nearly caused me to go insane. It was the longest, loudest several moments of my life and it was actually traumatic. I hope no one ever experiences something that severe with their in-ears.

There are legions of heavy metal bassists who would be happy with even a drop of the success you’ve had in your career. What advice can you give them? How does a rock bass player make it these days, in these times?

I think it really comes down to passion and feel. You have to love what you do in order to convey that to audiences, and even your fellow musicians. And feel, for bass, is everything. The music has to flow and pulse, to create an energy. That’s the “X” factor that people want and even need out of music. Just keep at it, it will come. It’s in all our DNA, everyone’s, you just have to let go and let it happen. That’s where the magic is!

Visit Jeff online at The Official Jeff Pilson Online Blog.

Follow at

Foreigner Official Site:
T&N Website:


Bass Videos

Ricky Phillips, STYX Bass And More – February 2024



Ricky Phillips, STYX Bass And More, January 2024

Ricky Phillips, STYX Bass And More…

This Week’s Top 10 Basses on Instagram

I have always been a huge Styx fan. Their music kept me awake during countless nights studying and gave my imagination a place to escape when I had a moment to take a break. 

I had the immense opportunity to chat with STYX bassist Ricky Phillips for our August Cover in 2017 and follow his projects as time passed. Now, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to catch up with Ricky as he has been super-busy over the past six years. 

Join me as we take a deep dive into the band’s most recent album “Crash the Crown” and EP “The Same Stardust”. Ricky shares some insights into the herculean team effort behind the scenes and the musical process that keeps them ever so busy and how he has updated his sound. 

Without further ado… Here is Ricky Phillips!

Photo: Jason Powell

“Crash of the Crown” lyric video

“Reveries” lyric video

“Save Us From Ourselves” lyric video

“Sound the Alarm” lyric video

“Too Much Time On My Hands” Zoom video 2020

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FB & IG @styxtheband

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Bass Videos

Jeff Pilson, Foreigner Low End – January 2024



Jeff Pilson - Bass Musician Magazine - January 2024

Jeff Pilson, Foreigner Low End – January 2024…

Those of us who were around back in the 70’s remember how certain songs on the radio resonated with us. It turns out that many of these iconic melodies came from Foreigner and they were part of our personal soundtracks! 

After all these years, the band is going as strong as ever with Jeff Pilson firing away on bass midstream into a 2-year farewell tour. 

I am excited to be able to bring you all the details about Jeff’s musical Journey, the farewell tour in progress, how he gets his sound and his plans for the future.

Cover Photo: Krishta Abruzziini / Video Photos: Krishta Abruzzini, Karsten Staiger, Gina Hyams

For more news on FOREIGNER and upcoming Farewell Tour dates, fans can visit:
Also on FB @officialjeffpilson

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Bass Videos

Rodney O’Quinn, Rockin’ Hard Through the Years – December 2023



Rodney O'Quinn, Rockin’ Hard Through the Years – December 2023

Interview With Foghat Bassist Rodney O’Quinn…

Rodney O'Quinn - Bass Musician Magazine - December 2023-v2

Many rock fans have enjoyed music by Foghat, who originally formed in London back in 1971.

Over the many decades of playing, the band members have changed, leaving behind only Roger Earl as the only original member. Bassist Rodney O’Quinn left the Pat Travers Band and joined the group in 2015 and has been laying down the low end for this iconic quartet keeping the Foghat legacy alive. With a new album titled “Sonic Mojo” which dropped on November 10th, the band is as busy as ever and there is lots of very tasty music to come.

Join me as we learn of Rodney O’Quinn’s musical journey, how he gets his sound, and his plans for the future.

Jake Coughlin
Video Thumbnail, Tom Apathy
Photos used in the video: Kerry Quinn, Chuck Lanza, Kim Granger, Kenneth Strohm, Jake Coughlin, Jay Jylika

1st Single from Sonic Mojo – Official “Drivin’ On” 

2nd Single from Sonic Mojo – “She’s a Little Bit of Everything Official Video

 “Road Fever”- California Mid State Fair – Paso Robles, CA – 7-27-22

“Stone Blue” – Rodney O’Quinn Bass/Lead Vocals – Don Odell’s Legends – Woonsocket, R.I – 10/15/22 – The Stadium Theater

The Earl’s Court – Season 2, Episode 7: Funny Guys 

“I Just Want to Make Love to You” – CasinoRama – 6-9-23 

FOGHAT “Somebody’s Been Sleepin’ in My Bed” – Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, CT – 1/28/22

“I Just Want to Make Love to You” – California Mid State Fair – Paso Robles, CA – 7-27-22

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Bass Videos

Suzi Quatro, Eternal Powerhouse – November 2023



Suzi Quatro, Eternal Powerhouse – November 2023

Interview With Bassist Suzi Quatro…


It is always exciting to have the opportunity to talk to an artist who has been prolific for decades.

Suzi Quatro has been rocking our world since the sixties and has been super-creative as a bassist, musician, actress, singer, songwriter, author, radio show host and so much more. Most recently, Suzi released a new album titled “Face to Face” where she joined forces with KT Tunstall and together they are a force of nature. (See our video with Suzi about the album release)

Join me as we hear about Suzi’s musical journey, her many projects, how she gets her sound and her plans for the future.

Here is Suzi Quatro…

Suzi Quatro & KT Tunstall – “Truth As My Weapon” (Official Music Video)

“Shine A Light” music video (from the upcoming album)

“Bad Moon Rising” music video (from 2022):

Bass-Solo / Live in Prah? 1979

Glyserine Queen / Bass solo – Tampere Finland

Follow Online:
IG @suziquatroreal
FB @Suziquatrorocks
TW @Suzi_Quatro

Video – Andrew Whitton
Cover and Header Photo – Courtesy of Suzi Quatro

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Bass Videos

Zach Fowler, Not Just Laying Down the Low End – October 2023



Zach Fowler, Not Just Laying Down the Low End - October 2023

Zach Fowler, Not Just Laying Down the Low End – October 2023

I have been hearing about Zach Fowler’s bass playing since he was in New Mexico. Now, based out of Nashville, Zach is very busy laying down the low end, acting as musical director, writing songs and producing music. He has been very active doing studio work as well as touring with LoCash.

Join me as we hear about Zach’s journey, how he gets his sound, all the details about his new Lakland bass and his plans for the future.

Here is Zach Fowler!

Photos Credits  – Cover, Allee Visuals / In Video –  Matthew Allen, Max Muehlhausen

Typical, run-of-the-mill, slap happy bass solo taken during LOCASH’s performance at the Suwannee River Jam in Live Oak, Florida on May 4, 2018.  Video was shot by David Lehr.

This was part of a series of acoustic performances filmed at the famous Blackbird Studios in Nashville.

LOCASH performs a song from “The Fighters” album called “Shipwrecked.”  This was filmed not long after I joined LOCASH, and I’m using a Carvin PB5 plugged straight into the board via a Countryman DI.

LOCASH performs “One Big Country Song” at the Grand Ole Opry in May 2022.  

We performed the song along with Opry House Band, and the performance was in conjunction with The Beach Boys’ first performance at the Opry (which explains why we’re wearing leis around our necks). I used one of my two PRS Grainger 5-strings plugged directly into the Opry’s house rig, which is made by Aguilar.

One of only two times that I’ve recorded myself playing bass.  

I arranged John Legend’s “Ordinary People” for solo bass, and used my PRS Gary Grainger 5-string plugged into a Gallien-Krueger PLEX preamp.  I added a little reverb in Logic to give it a little ambience.  I recorded this right after the COVID shutdown happened.  I’m not too big on recording myself playing bass, so this was somewhat of a rarity, but considering my job had shut down, it felt like a good outlet to keep my name on the radar.  There’s a little gratuitous slapping in there, but mostly because I didn’t have an arrangement for the bridge section that I liked, so I just let loose.

During my time in Albuquerque, I was blessed to perform on two albums by a progressive rock trio by the name of Illustrated Man.  

This song is off of their second album, “Zebra Hotel,” and is coincidentally called “Zebra.”  I recorded this song using a Fender 5-string Precision Bass plugged into an Avalon U5 direct box.

I was with a band called The James Douglas Show for eleven years.  

We put out four studio albums, and this track is off the final album we put out called “9.”  The track, called “Can’t Stop,” was written by our guitar player, Jesse Martinez, and produced by Mike Cee.  As is typical with a lot of R&B tracks, I overdubbed a bass track over an already-existing synth bass line.  I used a Carvin JB5 run into an Avalon U5 direct box.

“Kissing a Girl” is a track off of LOCASH’s album, “Brothers.”  

We recorded a live version of the song at a venue in Minnesota during soundcheck.  The video was shot by David Lehr, and the sound was edited and mixed by our production manager at the time, Evan (“Turbo”) Owen.  It was negative 12 degrees outside in February, which explains why most of the people in the band are wearing beanies on their heads.  I used my main road bass on this track, my white PRS Gary Grainger 5-string, plugged into my Gallien-Krueger PLEX preamp, then into a Radial FireFly direct box.  I used a little bit of compression from my Origin Effects Cali76 compressor pedal, as well as a little bit of added chorus effect from an EBS UniChorus pedal to give it a little bit of a fretless sound.

Follow Online:
IG @zachfowlerbass
FB @ groovemaster82

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