Foreigner: 'A fortunate place to be'

WABASH — It may feel like the first time, but the gang from Foreigner has done it over and over again.
... have record-breaking albums, that is. The band’s latest, Feels Like The First Time, hit the Top 50 as the band wrapped up a wildly successful tour with classic rock friends Journey and Night Ranger late last year.
After embarking on a shortened acoustic tour, Foreigner is back to its electric rock roots and will be at the Honeywell Center in Wabash Thursday, Feb. 23.
Promoting its three-disc set (which includes CDs Acoustique —  acoustic versions of the hits — and Juke Box Heroes — newly recorded studio versions of the hits —  as well as the DVD Live in Chicago), the band also is boasting at least three songs in this summer’s big screen debut of Rock of Ages, more than any other act in the film.
The June movie release, based on the Broadway hair band musical, features Tom Cruise singing I Wanna Know What Love Is and Alec Baldwin on Juke Box Hero. Teaming up with Diego Boneta, the film’s leading lady, Julianne Hough, sings Waiting for a Girl Like You.
“This is just reflective of how people are rediscovering the band,” said Kelly Hansen, Foreigner’s lead singer, who replaced Lou Gramm in 2005.
Hansen, who sounds much like the original singer, said he doesn’t have a favorite from the hits collection. “I’m not a ‘favorites’ type of person,” he said. “It’s really apples and oranges, they’re all individual. I don’t compare the songs, I give each one an individual approach and the technique is different for each one. It gives them each their own individual charm.”
He said being with a band as well-known as Foreigner has been a blessing.
“I’m lucky to be the guy that sings for them,” he said. “They have so many great songs — it’s a fortunate place to be.”
The three-disc set, released in September, debuted in the Billboard Top 200 chart at #43, selling more than 10,000 units.
For the past year or two, Foreigner has had its songs featured in movies and TV shows from Happy Feet 2 to Valentines Day, and Hot Tub Time Machine to Dancing With The Stars. They band has also been featured in TV commercials such as Coors Lite, Volkswagen and Motorola and video games like the obvious: Guitar Hero and Rock Band.
Like Don’t Stop Believin’ for the band’s last tour-mate Journey, Hansen says Foreigner’s songs have also withstood the test of time. “That song was a real game changer for Journey,” he said. “The Sopranos helped to kick that off,” adding that the new resurgence of rock songs in movies and videos and shows like Glee have helped bring “a lot of teenagers into the show.”
Also helping Foreigner stick around on the rock scene is the band’s lack of egos. “We’re really lucky everybody has been around the block a few times, we’ve all run out our issues and egos, and I’m grateful to be in a band that I truly enjoy. When you’re standing next to someone you don’t really like, it compromises you. Of course there’s a little bit of rub here and there, but we get along predominantly good and that’s rare.”
Hansen and the others, Mick Jones, Tom Gimbel, Jeff Pilson, Michael Bluestein and Mark Schulman, have invited Pilot News readers to take part in a contest to win meet-and-greet passes for the band’s show at the Honeywell Center.
To enter, submit your favorite Foreigner memory online at www.thepilot (search Foreigner in the upper right corner search engine or look on the local news page).
“I hear so many stories from fans about how certain songs affected them, either break up songs, someone’s wedding, or someone will come to the show and say, ‘I’m dying of cancer and your music gets me through,’” Hansen said. “This music had an impact on people and still continues to.”
Foreigner Facts
•Twitter: @ForeignerMusic
•16 Top 30 hits:
#1. I Want To Know What Love Is
#2. Waiting For A Girl Like You
#2. Double Vision
#3. Hot Blooded
#4. Urgent
#4. Feels Like The First Time
#5. I Don’t Want To Live Without You
#6. Say You Will
#6. Cold As Ice
#12. That Was Yesterday
#12. Dirty White Boy
#14. Head Games
#15. Blue Morning, Blue Day
#20. Long, Long Way From Home
#26. Juke Box Hero
#26. Break It Up
Foreigner’s leader/founder, Mick Jones wrote the band’s #1 worldwide hit I Want To Know What Love Is and wrote or co-wrote every Foreigner song and produced or co-produced every album. He produced Billy Joel’s Storm Front and Van Halen’s 5150, the career best selling albums of both artists, and he has written songs with artists as diverse as Ozzy Osbourne and Eric Clapton, with whom he wrote grammy-winning Bad Love.