Founded in 1976 by guitarist Mick Jones (Spooky Tooth) and multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald (King Crimson), UK/American hybrid Foreigner dominated FM radio throughout the late '70s and early to mid-'80s with a high-gloss sound evident on both energetic hard rockers ("Hot Blooded," "Head Games," "Dirty White Boy") and mushy ballads ("Waiting for a Girl Like You," "I Want to Know What Love Is").
After more lineup changes than the average Astros season, Jones reconvened Foreigner in 2004 and enlisted Kelly Hansen, formerly of the '80s L.A. heavy-metal band Hurricane, to sing lead. Hansen, now 48, spoke with Chatter last week from New York, where Foreigner is recording a new album.
Houston Press: How did you come to be in Foreigner?
8 p.m. Saturday, April 4, at the Arena Theatre, 7322 Southwest Fwy., 713-772-5900 or www.arenahouston.com.
Kelly Hansen: I was on the Internet, and I read about a charity show in Santa Barbara, Calif., with Mick and Jason [drummer Bonham] and [bassist] Jeff Pilson. The article made it sound like it was some kind of Mick Jones solo project, and I thought, "That might be interesting to inquire about."
Once I did, after some back and forth, it became clear that it was a revamping of Foreigner. They sent me five original classic Foreigner tracks without vocals on them, and said, "Put your voice on these." So I did, and Mick was coming out to New York to do some rehearsals. I went down and sat in with them for an hour and a half or so. I went home, and got a call about an hour later saying, "Listen, can you start rehearsing tomorrow?"
HP: When you joined, how did you click with the rest of the band?
KH: I think it was pretty evident when I sat in with them at the rehearsal that it felt pretty good. It took a little while to make the adjustment, but everybody was very open and gracious to me, and really helpful about making me feel welcome.
HP: Were you nervous at all about stepping in for such a distinctive rock voice like [original lead singer] Lou Gramm?
KH: People say I have big shoes to fill, but I always say I bring my own shoes. That's really what you have to do — you have to try to be yourself and not be anybody else. If you don't have the confidence to at least do that, you shouldn't be doing it.
HP: Why do you think Foreigner's songs have held up so well all these years?
KH: Well, you have great songs, first of all. And unique songs. There was something about that era where bands were allowed to have very unique and different styles. Plus you have great performances, great production — there really was no lacking element in the material.
Music fans on the Northwest side have a brand-new venue close to home — the all-ages, smoke- and alcohol-free Satellite Room, located at 11124 Cypress North Houston Rd. in Cypress. Bands interested in booking a show at the Satellite, which also features a cafe and arcade, should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Houston "vatobilly" pachucos the Flamin' Hellcats have recruited several high-caliber guests for the trio's first album in several years, 45 Revolver. The Hellcats' old buddy Scarface, ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons and Augie Meyers, Flaco Jimenez and Max Baca of Tex-Mex titans the Texas Tornados will all appear on the album, which the band says should be finished in a few weeks.
88 E. Crosstimbers, 713-694-6800
1. Slim Thug, Boss of all Bosses
2. The-Dream, Love vs. Money
3. Keri Hilson, In a Perfect World
4. J. Paul Jr., Stronger
5. Slim Thug, I Represent This Part 2
6. Jim Jones, Pray for Reign
7. Case, The Rose Experience
8. Trae & Rob G, Both Sides of the Fence
9. Various Artists, Swisha House: 90% Grindin',10% Sleep
10. DJ Storm, Drank Epidemic: I Don't Need No Host 9
KPFT (90.1 FM), Sundays 4-6 p.m.
Selections from Chris Hirsch's March 22 playlist
1. Flatt & Scruggs, "Pastures of Plenty"
2. Livewire, "Everything I Used to Do"
3. Merle Haggard, "I Wonder Where to Find You"
4. Nashville Bluegrass Band, "Open Pit Mine"
5. Country Gentlemen, "Two Little Boys"
6. Alison Krauss, "Wild Bill Jones"
7. Bob Murphey, "Inflation's Killing Us"
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8. Doc Watson, "Make Me a Pallet"
9. Seldom Scene, "110 in the Shade"
10. Don Rigsby, "These Gambler's Blues"
(lists compiled by Chris Gray)