Jeff Pilson of Dokken, Dio, Holywood Allstars, War n Peace, Foreigner, etc. - Back
Interviewer: Cameron Edney -

Jeff Pilson is one of the most down to earth musicians you will ever meet. Jeff a long time member of Dokken has gone on to play Bass guitar for other greats such as Dio, The Hollywood Allstars and Foreigner to name a few. Jeff is a well respected musician who has also tried his hand at acting, with a starring role as the bass player for Steel Dragon in the movie Rock Star and laying down the bass tracks & backing vocals for the soundtrack. I recently had the pleasure of asking Jeff a series of questions about his time in Dokken, the Freddy Krueger photo shoot, Rock star, The new War n Peace live album, The Hollywood Allstars, Vh1 Metal Mania petition which Jeff has signed and many other things. I hope you all enjoy the interview!

Metal Fanatix: Hi Jeff, First of all thank you for putting some time aside to answer the following questions for all of our readers. I would like to talk to you first about one of the latest projects in your life, War n Peace. Can you tell us how this all came about?

Jeff Pilson:
WNP has kind of been my long time personal outlet for melodic rock, especially now that I'm no longer in Dokken. Well after releasing the last record (The Walls Have Eyes) in Europe on Z Records, the label wanted me to come over and play, which meant forming a Live band. This resulted in me getting together with Mitch Perry (amazing guitarist and long-time friend), Michael Frowein (drummer from the L/P CD and also great friend), and Brad Lang (bassist/background vocalist extraordinaire- and now great friend!). The band clicked so well and the chemistry was so strong that it just became a passion to play more live shows and to eventually write and record a record together.

Metal Fanatix:
I believe the live cd is due to be released soon?

Jeff Pilson: Yes, probably more like September in the real world!

Metal Fanatix:
Are you currently working on any other projects?

Jeff Pilson: I'm also involved in producing a lot of other artists. I'm also playing occasional shows with Foreigner which is a real kick. That and finishing the WNP Live, and getting ready to start writing with the band for another WNP studio CD!

Metal Fanatix:
You have grown up influenced by some of the greatest bands in rock n roll history such as the Beatles & Led Zepplin. Do you feel you have played a large role in influencing many of today’s hard rock acts?

Jeff Pilson: Not a large role, but perhaps a selective small role!

Metal Fanatix:
As a Bass player many people may be surprised to learn that you also play a number of other instruments such as keyboards, cello & acoustic guitars. What was the first instrument you learnt to play?

Jeff Pilson: The cello.

Metal Fanatix:
Over the last twelve months you have also been playing with The Hollywood All-stars. Along side the likes of Carlos Cavazo (Quiet Riot) & Vinny Appice (Sabbath/Dio), I Believe this project started when you all decided to play at the great white fire tragedy, to raise money? A few months back I spoke briefly with Vinny Appice about this but I would like to know if you guys plan on taking the project outside of the U.S.A. & can we expect to see an album released anytime soon?

Jeff Pilson: I've had to cut back on my Allstars work just because time is getting sparse! I do enjoy the gig, but it often conflicts with Foreigner. It was always meant to be a fun jam-type thing, so I'm sure I'll do more stuff with them at some point, but it's hard to predict when or where. Those guys are all great friends of mine so it's hard to envision not doing something with them. Vinny and Carlos have an original band with Chas (vocalist) and Jimmy Bain- one of my all-time favourite bassists! They may do some recording at my studio- I hope so, that'd be fun.

Metal Fanatix:
Over the years you have worked with Dokken, M.S.G. and Dio among others. From all the albums you have appeared on what one would be your favourite to listen to & why?

Jeff Pilson: That's nearly impossible to answer- I'm too close. But if I were to pick something other than the real personal stuff like WNP or Lynch/Pilson, it would probably be the Strange Highways record by Dio. I'm so proud of that record and have such fond memories of making and touring it.

Metal Fanatix:
After all these years of writing and recording how do you constantly come up with new fresh sounding material without falling into the trap a lot of other bands do by repeating themselves?

Jeff Pilson: I'm very picky when it comes to writing, and frankly it takes a lot of time and energy. I love music so much and the art of creating it is my biggest creative fix. You have to allow things to evolve with the inspiration, and sometimes that is tough. Mostly, though, it's trusting your instincts and always staying a fan yourself.

Metal Fanatix: Dokken released the hit single Dream Warriors which was written for the soundtrack to A nightmare on elm st # 3. At the time there was a lot of promotion done for the movie which included photo shoots & video promos with Dokken & featured Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger). Can you tell us what it was like to do that photo shoot with Robert?

Jeff Pilson: Hilarious- that guy was so friggin funny! He's a character and doesn't take himself seriously at all. I think he really enjoyed being Freddy as well.

Metal Fanatix:
Are you a fan of horror movies? If so what are your all-time faves?

Jeff Pilson: Not a big one, no.

Metal Fanatix:
Over the years you have shared the stage with so many great bands. Who have you enjoyed touring with the most & could you share a funny road story with us from the tour?

Jeff Pilson: If you mean with Dokken, I enjoyed the Dio tour we did in 84-85 the best. I also loved the Aerosmith tour of 87-88. The last night with Aerosmith was the funniest last gig with a band I've ever seen. During Aerosmith's set George dressed up like an Angel (wings and all) and on the song Angel he got the Aerosmith lighting crew to suspend him from the lighting truss. He flew out during the song and Steven Tyler couldn't stop laughing- it was great. Then he started serenading George- which was hilarious. Then George, who despite the warnings from the lighting crew, was spinning around in the air which proceeded to get him stuck. It took several songs to get him down- but you should have heard the ovation he got when he finally made it down- it was brilliant. The best stunt I've ever seen a band pull!

Metal Fanatix:
What is the most ridiculous thing you have ever asked for on a tour rider?

Jeff Pilson: Me, nothing. But I remember there was a period where George used to request a dozen hard boiled eggs every night. That was the weight-lifting period, I believe. God that was disgusting. We would all run hiding from the smell- which attacked from several places!

Metal Fanatix:
It has come to my attention that more than 1700 rock/metal fans worldwide have united and signed a petition. Artists such as Judas priest, Don Dokken & yourself to name a few are among those in favour of a Vh1 Metal Mania Channel with no “nu-metal” to be played. Many fans & artists believe that VH1 & MTV will never approve this, not because of ratings, but because of the genre of music which would be featured. Can you share your thoughts on the matter?

Jeff Pilson: Well the main reason it may not fly is that the audience it would attract is older, and advertisers want that young demographic to sell their products. I do think, however, that eventually someone will realize that there is a large ratings share to be gotten by filling the void left for hard rock fans. I just hope it's sooner rather than later.

Metal Fanatix:
In your honest opinion what do you think about the direction that Hard Rock & Heavy Metal music has taken over the last few years?

Jeff Pilson: I think, like always, there's some great stuff out there- and there's some crap! I think there's an undercurrent of new heavy bands that might inject some life into the scene. I think there will be more melodic stuff coming out- even from new heavier bands- which I think is a positive. It's really a question of someone having the creative inspiration and the ability to connect with an audience. If it could come from a young band, all the better. I feel encouraged.

Metal Fanatix:
What do you like the most about touring?

Jeff Pilson: The shows, of course.

Metal Fanatix:
What are you favourite songs to perform live?

Jeff Pilson: With Dokken it was always Too High to Fly and Its Not Love. With WNP it's probably a trilogy we do of Desperate Hearts, The Line in the Sand and Finale (from the Walls Have Eyes CD). With Foreigner it's definitely Urgent- what a groove!

Metal Fanatix:
Do you ever act on suggestions coming from your fans?

Jeff Pilson: Sure, why not?

Metal Fanatix:
What is the strangest question a fan has asked you?

Jeff Pilson: If I'll travel a couple thousand miles to have dinner and a beer with them.

Metal Fanatix:
Using only five words: How would you describe your bass playing?

Jeff Pilson: Groove-oriented, melodic, gritty, songwriter player

Metal Fanatix: Over the past 10 years you have recorded tracks for various albums paying tribute to some of rock & metals greatest acts such as Kiss, Ozzy Osbourne & Ac/dc to name a few. Is there one song that you would like to cover but have not had the chance to do as yet?

Jeff Pilson: I would love to do a Grand Funk song- Paranoid, Foot stomping Music, Inside Looking Out, etc.

Metal Fanatix: When I think of a loud hard n heavy movie soundtrack only one really comes to mind “Rock Star”. How long did it take to record the songs for the soundtrack?

Jeff Pilson: We did most of the work in a few weeks, but some of it lingered into the filming which happened several weeks later. The rehearsals were two weeks, if I remember correctly.

Metal Fanatix:
Are there any funny stories you can share with us about the time you spent with Zakk Wylde, Jason Bonham etc while recording the songs for the soundtrack and/or from the movie set?

Jeff Pilson: Seeing a drunken Jason Bonham make the mistake of attempting to kiss Zakk- which resulted in him being thrown into a garbage can! Pretty funny stuff!

Metal Fanatix:
It’s no secret that the movie Rock star was loosely based around the life of Judas Priest. What did you think of the movie?

Jeff Pilson: I thought it actually came out much better than I was expecting. It's very entertaining, and I thought everyone did a great job. I first screened it nearly a year after filming it, so I was very happy when I saw it.

Metal Fanatix:
If you could put a band together consisting of musicians passed and/or present who would they be and what would you call the band?

Jeff Pilson: Jimi Hendrix, John Bonham, Ronnie Dio and Keith Emerson. It would be called "Clust-her-fukk!!!"

Metal Fanatix:
Jeff thanks again for your time do you have any last words for our readers?

Jeff Pilson: Just thank you for everything, and hope you check out and enjoy the Live War and Peace CD when it comes out.

Thanx and take care.

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© Cameron Edney April 2005 Not to be re-printed in any form without written permission.