banner ad
banner ad
banner ad


| 4 March 2022 | Reply

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photo

According to a recent press release: “FOREIGNER is pleased to join multi-platinum award-winning American rock ’n roll icon, Kid Rock, as a special guest for a run of shows across America this summer. With 10 multi-platinum albums and 16 Top 30 hits, FOREIGNER is universally hailed as one of the most popular rock acts in the world with a formidable musical arsenal that continues to propel sold-out tours and album sales, now exceeding 80 million. The rockers will join Kid Rock’s “Bad Reputation” Tour in select cities across the United States, including Houston, Cincinnati and Kid Rock’s hometown, Detroit. Foreigner and Kid Rock have toured together before, starting with Rock’s “First Kiss” Tour in 2015. In 2021, FOREIGNER emerged from the worst of the Covid era with a run of sold-out shows across America culminating with an appearance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in front of 50 million viewers. In March, the band will embark on an extensive touring schedule which will include over 50 headline shows in the U.S. including a two-week residency at the Venetian in Las Vegas (March 25-April 9), and 30 on the worldwide stage. The band’s international touring includes a sold-out show at London’s O2 Arena and appearances at major festivals across Europe as well as shows in South Africa and Israel. Responsible for some of rock and roll’s most enduring anthems including “Juke Box Hero,” “Cold As Ice,” “Hot Blooded,” “Waiting For A Girl Like You,” “Feels Like The First Time,” “Urgent,” “Head Games,” “Say You Will,” “Dirty White Boy,” “Long, Long Way From Home” and the worldwide #1 hit, “I Want To Know What Love Is,” FOREIGNER still rocks the charts more than 40 years into the game with massive airplay and continued Billboard Top 200 album success. Audio and video streams of FOREIGNER’s hits are over 15 million per week.” We get singer Kelly Hansen on the phone to discuss touring, longevity, and much more…

Toddstar: Kelly, thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule. I appreciate it. Been a longtime fan, not only of Foreigner, but I’m one of those guys that ran out and bought the first Hurricane album. So I’ve been a huge fan of yours forever.

Kelly: Thank you.

Toddstar: Foreigner is getting ready to hit the road down, including a show here in Clearwater, FL at Ruth Eckerd Hall. What can you tell us about this tour? What’s unique and special and fun about this upcoming tour or run of dates that you guys have going on?

Kelly: Well, for us, we did a fair amount of shows last year during COVID and it was positive and negative in different ways. Like it was really positive after a year of not touring to be able to go out. I could see people exhaling and finally being able to relax and go to a show, even though we had really heavy COVID protocols that we had to follow. I’m looking forward to doing these shows this year, hopefully as we move forward, starting to free up some of these precautions and being able to be a little bit freer. We haven’t even allowed anybody even backstage – none of our personal guests or anybody could come backstage. It was very isolating to be on the road like that. Although you have your band mates with you 24 hours a day. So, I think it’s going to bring a new feeling of freedom, not only for everyone is coming to shows, but also for us. I think the year off really kind of made me understand and appreciate, even more, because I already was very aware of how fortunate I am and how great it is to do what we do. And so I have a renewed of positivity and freshness about playing live. So, that’s great. And I think those kinds of things come across, for sure.

Toddstar: Absolutely. And to get really cheesy, you mentioned it feeling new. So it’s going to ‘Feel Like The First Time…’

Kelly laughs mockingly

Toddstar: Now you know I’m old. I’m telling dad jokes to Kelly Hansen. I know what you mean about the backstage thing. I was able to go backstage last time, pre-COVID, that you guys played at Caesars, in Windsor, and just you guys are into meeting your fans. It just really had to be kind of mind blowing and almost knock you guys down a little bit that you were out on the road, not to be able to really connect with your them.

Kelly: It’s a very odd and, difficult to describe, aura that it creates. Some things were really good. To finally be able to be back out again last year was really good and seeing audiences going to shows for the first time was extra good because you could really feel it, but there were the weird, awkward situations where you had to not stand next to this person or you have to wash your hands after you touch everything. Because if I get sick, a lot of people have to go home and that kind of puts a pressure on you that’s kind of unconscious, but it does affect you.

Toddstar: I can imagine. You talked about the year off. Everybody in the industry looked around and thought what the hell are we doing now? It’s been a few years since there’s been a ton of new material. Did that give you guys the opportunity to sit back and maybe consider another album? It’s been over a decade since Can’t Slow Down. Is there new material waiting to be unleashed?

Kelly: There’s always new material in different states of completion. I’m supposed to do a vocal on a track here in the next couple of days, but I don’t think that we’re going to be ending up releasing a full album again. I’ll give you an example. We spent a year making Can’t Slow Down; a year, while being on the road in the US and in Europe. Every day off, I was either flying to New York or Mick was flying to LA. I was also in the middle of editing a video… 12 months – it almost broke me. It was so much work. The day that the album was released, you could get it for free on the internet. If that doesn’t just kill your energy, I don’t know what does. So I don’t think that it’s a viable way to release music anymore. I think it’s better to do one or two tracks at a time, to kind of do a mini campaign on it. I just think that’s kind of where it is now. No one’s really making any money from physical sales anymore anyway.

Toddstar: The days of guys like you or I who run out and buy the vinyl or the CD that day, those days are kind of gone.

Kelly: Yeah. For the last more than 15 years, album sales have been dropping annually by double digits. So it’s just gone away.

Toddstar: I like the smell of the plastic and I love reading a liner note. I don’t care how much you talk about downloads, you miss so much when you can’t read a liner note.

Kelly: That is so true. Well, you can’t lament, you have to look forward and find the good and the new.

Toddstar: Thank you for the segue… the word new. I love when I see things on the internet that discuss Foreigner’s new lead singer Kelly Hanson. I’m thinking, Kelly’s been the band 15+ years. That takes you out of the new category.

Kelly: Maybe newish.

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photo

Toddstar: I don’t even know that you’re newish. There are bands that haven’t been around as long as you’ve been in Foreigner and they’re not called new. What’s it like to you when you hear things like that? Does it strike you funny at all or do you just kind of laugh off and move along?

Kelly: Well there’s many things over the years that have been said to, or about me and, if you’re going to be in this business, or just like politics, you got to have a thick skin. And so, I recognize what everybody’s saying. I get where everyone’s coming from. But it’s really kind of, I just kind of have to kind of look at that with a grain of salt and just do what I’m doing. And the same thing with songwriting or making a record, you have to do it for yourself. You can’t try to predict what people are going to want or like about what you do. So you just do what you do. And that’s how I see it.

Toddstar: That’s the best way to look at it. Looking at this run of dates and near the end of the summer. Foreigner is playing a string of dates with Kid Rock. This is not your first go around with Kid Rock. What’s it about Kid Rock and that kind of lineup of you two paired up that just makes it right for Foreigner?

Kelly: You know, I realized before we ever toured with Kid Rock, I realized something I hadn’t really thought too much about, but when we started playing NASCAR events, it really kind of got a grasp of understanding that NASCAR fans are Foreigner fans. There’s a certain segment of people in America who are your fans and there’s people who aren’t. And unless you meet them all, you don’t really know who they are. But I saw this huge part of America represented at NASCAR. And I saw that they were really big fans of the band. And I think the same goes for Kid Rock. I think that we have a similar kind of audience. You know, Kid Rock, a lot of his stuff is coming out of, or hooked into stuff from the 70’s or whatever, and that’s where Foreigner started. So a lot of that, the basis for songs were on the radio at the same time and appealed to the same part of America. I think that’s a really important thing. And I think that the songs and the show go really well together.

Toddstar: I’d agree with you on that. In that same vein, I’ve seen Foreigner play arenas and sheds. You are coming to Ruth Eckerd Hall. Is this an area that just gets it and comes out time and time again? What is it about this area that draws you guys back seemingly every tour?

Kelly: But see it is and it isn’t; we’ve done tours where we haven’t even gone to Florida at all. I’m looking at the schedule and right now I don’t even see us really playing in California at all. Sometimes it’s for a purpose and sometimes it’s just happenstance, but I think that we’ve always experienced a great response in Florida, Texas in the Midwest and all those places. And then you have to go look at other parts of the world, like Germany, and it goes on and on. So sometimes you can’t explain it, you just embrace it.

Toddstar: You guys seem to be huge on a lot of the European festivals. You could call them borderline heavy metal and hard rock festivals over there. Yet here in the US, people would be crucified to label you guys as hard rock or heavy metal.

Kelly: Well, that’s true. But you know, on some of those festival dates and things like that over in Europe, they feel you a bigger freedom to mix up the acts together. They’re not so pigeonholed into putting subcategories on a show together. They’re allowing more of wide spectrum of groups to play together, which I think is very, very cool.

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photo

Toddstar: I do too. There are days, trust me when I see lineups come up I wish I lived over in Europe because some of those festivals are amazing. Kelly, if you went back 37 years to when you first kicked off your professional recording career, when you released Take What You Want with Hurricane, would you have ever thought you’d be where you are?

Kelly: But my first recording experience was in 1977 or 1978, I think.

Toddstar: Well then, I’m not as big a fan as I thought I was.

Kelly: I did. I made a single back then. But to your question, no. There were different wishes, thoughts, and dreams at that time. There’s one thing that you learn as you get older and its that those wishes, thoughts, and dreams change. Sometimes you’re forced into them. Sometimes they’re choices that you make. But there’s no way I could have specifically thought this is where I’m going to be. I remember once thinking, where am I going to be in 2001? I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey, and we’re long past that now. So I didn’t really think too far past that.

Toddstar: That’s true. It’s no secret Jeff [Pilson, Foreigner’s bassist] does so much side work, especially in the production end of it. What else do you do Kelly, other than some really cool commercials once in a while?

Kelly: Well, Jeff is really drawn to the studio and to working and I like to enjoy my time off to live life. I like riding motorcycles, being with my wife, being home, and cooking. I’m a big cooking fan. So there’s a lot of things that I like to do because it’s difficult to do any of those things when I’m on the road. So when I come home, I don’t want to go on a vacation. I don’t want to get in another plane or stay in another hotel. I want to be home and doing the things that I don’t get to do on the road. So, that’s what I do.

Toddstar: Fair enough. In that same vein, there are always reunions and other stuff. Within the structure of Foreigner, the members are able to do side projects or do their own thing. Has there ever been that inkling to go back and revisit a project like Hurricane, Unruly Child, or any of that?

Kelly: I don’t think there’s enough of an audience to validate that for me. Musically, there’s no need for me to go back to the eighties, although we made Liquifury in 2001. I don’t need to go back. I have so much to do every day with Foreigner that I’m not looking for more things to do. You know what I mean?

Toddstar: Everything said and done Kelly, with the huge catalog Foreigner has, what’s the one track that you’d love to do that you guys just don’t seem to find yourself performing live?

Kelly: Well, there’s lots of things that we’ve done that we don’t always do. Like we used to do, “At War With The World.” We’ve done “Break It Up.” We do. We’ve never done “Heart Turns To Stone.” That one might be cool to do.

Toddstar: Anything from Inside Information is a good track in my mind.

Kelly: Right.

Toddstar: I appreciate the time Kelly and can’t wait to see you guys on March 14th at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater.

Kelly: Thanks so much.







Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

Leave a Reply

Please verify you\'re a real person: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

banner ad
banner ad