Bassist Jeff Pilson (DOKKEN, FOREIGNER, THE END MACHINE) recently spoke with Peter Harris of the “10?” podcast. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the origins of THE END MACHINE, his new project with former DOKKEN bandmates George Lynch and “Wild” Mick Brown, as well as WARRANT and occasional LYNCH MOB vocalist Robert Mason:
Jeff: “George was contracted from Frontiers, the label, to work on a Jack Russell solo record. For some reason, and I honestly don’t know the details, that ended up falling through, and George was still kind of tasked with doing a record. He had already asked me if I wanted to be involved when it [was going to be] a Jack Russell thing, which I’d said yes, of course, because George and I love any opportunity to write together. We decided we were just going to start writing and do our own project of some sort. We didn’t really know what it was going to be, and then Frontiers said, ‘Hey, why don’t you get Mick Brown involved?’ We said, ‘That sounds great,’ so then Mick decided to do it. I don’t remember if it was Frontiers or us who came up with Robert Mason as the singer, but once we did and Robert decided to do it, we had it all cemented. We knew we had a really good thing at that point. The genesis was a little bit slow, but once it got started, everything went very, very quickly.”
On producing albums on which he performs:
Jeff: “I’ve kind of been either the musical director or something in many of the bands I’ve been in, especially over the last several years, so I’ve always had to have the kind of ear that a producer has anyways in almost everything I do. I think I’m used to combining that with bass playing. I love the bass guitar, but I love it as something that enhances a song. I’m not the kind of player that necessarily needs to go crazy and show off on it or anything. I mean, I love to at moments — there’s times for that — but I’m really all about the song anyways, so bass playing and producing sort of go hand-in-hand for me. It’s not difficult at all. I think I kind of think of everything somewhat through the lens of the producer anyways.”
On recording THE END MACHINE‘s self-titled debut album:
Jeff: “All the tracks were done here at my studio, but they were done separately. It started off with George and I writing, so George‘s rhythm tracks kind of came first, really, as we were writing. We were writing to a drum machine. Then I would do a bass part, and George wasn’t there for all the bass parts, but I liked it when he was, because he’s got great ideas too. It’s nice to have somebody help me in that department when I’m doing that, so he was there and very helpful on some of the bass parts. Then the rhythm guitars and the bass were done. The rhythm guitars and a lot of the layered guitars were also done while we were writing, just to get a very accurate picture of what we were going for. On most of the songs, Robert came in, and he and I would work on the vocals, the lyrics [and] the melodies together. He came in with a lot of lyrics, and we wrote to a lot of the stuff still with the drum machine so that when Mick came in, he knew exactly what the songs were, and he was able to lay down drums knowing what the songs were in most cases. There were a couple where he did the drums before we did vocals, but most of them were done knowing the vocals, which is a great way to do it. Then you really know where to put the drum fills and everything that you need from the drums. It was done independently, but not remotely… it was great to have that luxury, and it made for what really feels like a ‘band record’ to me. The good thing about having a rhythm section of George, Mick and I, who have played together a million times, we know how to make it feel like we’re playing live even when we’re not, just because we’ve done it so many times. [There’s] a lot of mind-reading going on.”
Jeff: “There’s no ego between us when we’re working… He’s got a real soulful way of playing, and it is totally his own. Even though he’s influenced by other people, he didn’t actually sit down and learn a lot of songs by people — he just kind of listened to their styles and then went and emulated it, and kind of formed his own. One of the things that’s always cracking me up about George is the way he practices guitar. He’ll put on a set of headphones. He’ll have one side on, and in it will be, like, Jeff Beck or something. He just jams along with it. He’s not really learning it; he’s just using it to inspire him to play. That’s one of the ways how he created such a unique style.”
On his approach to performing FOREIGNER classics:
Jeff: “I’m actually pretty true, especially on parts that I think are really critical. I was a FOREIGNER fan before I joined the band, and one of the things I loved about them is the way they made the records. I loved the way the bass tracks were. I thought the bass tracks were great, and Rick Wills is one of my favorite bass players on record. He’s just incredible, so I try [to] stay pretty true as much as I can. There are times live when we do things and stretch things out and add sections or whatever, and of course, I do something different there, but when it’s important… like, ‘Waiting For A Girl Like You’, I would venture to say I play that absolutely note-for-note off the record, because I think it was absolute perfection, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Pilson — one-fourth of the classic DOKKEN lineup — joined FOREIGNER in 2004. In recent years, he has also produced albums by LAST IN LINE, KILL DEVIL HILL, STARSHIP and WARRANT.
THE END MACHINE‘s self-titled, Pilson-produced debut album will be released on March 22 via Frontiers Music Srl. The group will play its first set of shows in April, albeit without Brown, who is unable to make the dates and will be temporarily replaced by EVANESCENCE‘s Will Hunt.