Foreigner has been enjoying a bit of a renaissance lately—thanks to being featured in the soundtrack of Rock of Ages and, they’ve seen a 400% increase in downloads. You’ve definitely heard two of their most iconic songs, ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’ and ‘Jukebox Hero’ in one of the hundred-something movies or TV shows they’ve been featured in, proving that classics are classics are classics, no matter how beepy and blippy mainstream music gets.
Stereotude was lucky enough to talk to the founder and guitarist of Foreigner, Mick Jones, about what he thinks of Tom Cruise belting out his hits, selling out shows on a new world tour and who he’d like to collaborate with next (hint: step-kids Mark and Samantha Ronson).
What was it like having Tom Cruise sing your songs?
It was initially a surprise – we knew there was a “Rock of Ages” film in the works after the success of the Broadway Show, but didn’t know anything about the casting. When I found out Tom Cruise would be playing the lead role, I was surprised as I always knew he was a great, versatile actor, but couldn’t imagine him as a vocalist. That said, when Tom Cruise sets his mind to something, he’s 100% committed and he really did it. I thought he was fantastic.
You are selling out shows during your tour, is this something you would have believe if someone told you years ago?
We have always taken things one day at a time – we never had long term projections – and this is not the kind of business where you can. We’ve had ups and downs – we were hot in 1977 and then suddenly punk came along, and we weren’t. Whether it was disco or new wave or grunge, hair bands, we were always up against something – I thought in the 90s things were winding down. But suddenly there was renewed interest in our music, and that was wonderful. When I put the band back together in 2003, it was with the aim of bringing it back to a level of recognition, and luckily we have excelled - we have a really dedicated bunch of guys in the band, everybody is committed playing our best.
Bands develop over time, what are your thoughts on current bands on the radio?
There are some really talented people out there – my tastes vary – I like The Black Keyes, who are carrying on the message of rock n roll. I really like Jack White and what he does with The Raconteurs in particular. Bruno Mars is also very talented – I try and keep up.
What is your biggest accomplishment so far in the music industry?
The whole thing– from the word go. I was sitting in a small apartment in my 20’s in New York City wondering what I was going to do – I had almost thrown in the towel – but somehow I got the strength and guidance and direction to take a shot at it. That I can do what I love doing and get paid for it is truly beyond my wildest dreams.
Who is your dream collaboration? Is there an artist on the radio that you would want to collaborate with?
I’d like to do more work with my children. I’ve so enjoyed working with Mark (Ronson) and Samantha (Ronson) – we did a song together for Samantha’s last album which was a blast. And I look forward to working with my other sons Chris and Alexander, who are both working in the music industry as well. Of course I can’t talk about my children without mentioning my son Roman, who owns some of the top nightclubs in Miami (Mansion, SET, Cameo, Mokai) – he knows more about house music than I ever will. And I want to mention my daughters Samantha and Annabelle who are both wildly talented – I’m a proud Dad!
The '80s were tough for Foreigner when bandmates started to develop different musical tastes (Lou Gramm favored a more hard-edged rock...Jones' was interested in synthesisers - Gramm left but returned in '91) but you guys managed to pull it together and create some great music...What advice do you have for young bands who may find themselves in a similar situation?
It’s a personal call. We certainly had our ups and downs and disagreements, and at one point it became impossible. So I took it easy for a little while, took a few years off. But then it got to the point when I was hungry and decided to put the band together with the right people, and the response has been great, and the support of our fans speaks for itself. Dedication is most important.