Foreigner no stranger to lineup changes
For a band that has sold 80 million records — and has many, many songs that you probably know by heart (whether you want to or not) — Foreigner has kind of a peculiar problem.
“There was a time when Foreigner was kind of a faceless band,” says singer Kelly Hansen, the third singer for the band since its inception in 1976.
The fluidity of the lineup was part of the problem. Aside from founder Mick Jones, lots of musicians have come and gone, including the band's best-known vocalist, Lou Gramm, and drummer Jason Bonham, son of Led Zeppelin's legendary percussion master John Bonham.
That means it gets tricky putting specific faces with their many hits — “Hot Blooded,” “Feels Like the First Time,” “Cold as Ice,” “Waiting for a Girl Like You,” and so on.
“When someone comes to a Foreigner show, they'll say ‘I didn't know Foreigner did all those songs.' People know the songs, but didn't always know it was us,” Hansen says.
Foreigner will be performing at the Carnegie Library Music Hall in Munhall on May 24. Hansen joined the band in 2005, and is still much less well-known than his predecessors. But he had the pipes, the pedigree and the presence of mind to apply for the job before he even knew it was open.
Hansen had been frontman for the moderately successful hard-rock band Hurricane, which disbanded in 1991. Then, he worked as a studio musician/session singer for acts like Slash's Snakepit and Don Dokken, among others.
“At the time (2004-05), I was not happy with where my career was going,” Hansen says. “I felt like ... I needed to take the initiative.”
After reading about a charity event that Mick Jones had done near in California, Hansen got in touch with Jones' management.
“It became clear that they were getting ready for something. ... We kept the dialogue going. They sent me a CD of their five biggest hits without vocals. I wisely asked to go in the first day. That's a good idea — when (bands doing auditions) see someone they like, they sometimes stop looking. They called me when I got home — ‘We start rehearsing tomorrow.' Getting off the phone, I realized my life was going to change a lot.”
Hansen says he isn't trying to fill the shoes of Lou Gramm, or anyone else.
“I brought my own shoes,” he says.
“You can't predict what the fans want. Some fans don't want anything but the classic set. Others will want something new. We did do a new album in 2009, ‘Can't Slow Down.' It made the Top 30. I'm very proud of the work we did on that. I think it makes people see the validity (of adding me).”
Michael Machosky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7901.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ed Sheeran coming to Pittsburgh in May
- James Carter Organ Trio brings new energy, new metrics, new swagger
- Microtonal music festival goes off the beaten scale in Pittsburgh
- Music in the Hill was a way of life until ‘progress’ silenced venues
- Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to move in step with ballet music
- PSO presents superb Beethoven
- Aretha Franklin plans April show at Heinz Hall
- Pittsburgh native Evancho’s musical maturation keeps pace with life
- Drummer Gadd delivers birthday present to fans
- Review: Pittsburgh Opera gives new composer a strong production of ‘Sumeida’s Song’
- Mayfield’s New Orleans Jazz Orchestra shows plenty of range