© Arnie Goodman
Interviewed by Robert Cavuoto (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
Bryan Bassett: – Foghat is best served up live!
Due to such anthems as “Slow Ride” and “Fool for the City,” Foghat has remained a classic rock radio staple since first appearing on the scene in the 1970’s. And the band continues to rock on today, as evidenced by their aforementioned latest album, Last Train Home comprised of originals and re-worked blues classics.
So it’s not often that fans get the opportunity to collaborate on a song with such a successful band. But that was exactly what happened to a gentleman by the name of Phil Dessinger, when he won a contest asking fans to add lyrics to the originally all-instrumental tune, “495 Boogie,” from Foghat’s latest CD, Last Train Home. Earlier this July, the winning version, dubbed “The Word of Rock n’ Roll,” was issued via the band’s own label, Foghat Records.
I caught up with guitarist Bryan Bassett about the contest and to discuss the longevity of the band.
MyGlobalMind: You have a unique story regarding your instrumental song “495 Boogie” and how it was converted by a contest winner into “The Word of Rock n’ Roll” by adding lyrics. Who came up with the contest idea?
Bryan Bassett: Roger Earl’s wife Linda, who is our manager, had the idea. Originally “495 Boogie” was a jam at the end of a recording session. A DJ friend of hers wrote lyrics to the song just for fun and called it “Big American Blonde”. The DJ has since passed away and thinking back on the situation, Linda thought it would be a nice idea to open it up to our fans with a contest. We announced the contest on our website and over the course of several months’ fans posted songs. Our fans narrowed the list down to half a dozen, and then the band and some DJ friends of ours picked our favorites. “The Word of Rock n Roll” won. It was a lot of fun that was out of the ordinary.
MyGlobalMind: Did people submit audio with the song phrased out?
Bryan Bassett: A lot of submissions were MP3s with the fans singing over it so we could get a grasp of the phrasing. It’s an up tempo Chuck Berry type of song and has a natural flow to it. Charlie Huhn did some editing by removing a word or two here and there. For the most part it was pretty well phrased. The songs that rose to the top were the ones that had good phrasing. Quite a lot of the submissions were professionally written!
MyGlobalMind: Does the winning lyricist get royalties?
Bryan Bassett: They do, they get full writer royalties. It was part of the deal when it gets released?
MyGlobalMind: When will it be released on a CD?
© Steve Sirois
Bryan Bassett: We are not sure what to do it with next as it has taken off pretty good. It will be available as a digital download in the digital universe. It may get included the next time we do a CD; it could be a bonus track.
MyGlobalMind: When can we expect a new Foghat CD?
Bryan Bassett: We are getting ready to do some recording. We had an extensive writing session about a month ago and tossed around some new song idea. I think we will do an old cover song for a Christmas release. Something to have up before we get into recording this winter. That’s when we all go down to Florida and hang out for a couple of weeks. The tour tapers off the end of October, early November and we are going to take those winter months to write. We hope to have something out next year.
MyGlobalMind: What the writing process like for you and the band?
Bryan Bassett: In can be done different ways. For the most part it’s a collaboration. Charlie comes in with the most fully formed songs. I come in with idea but I’m not a lyricist. Then we pound them out in rehearsal. A lot of songs start out as a guitar groove. Other times ideas come up at sound check when Roger is checking his drums and he comes up with a beat. We join in and jam. The soundman captures those moments all year long.
MyGlobalMind: Are you content with the public’s perception of Foghat’s place as a blues based classic rock band?
© Steve Sirois
Bryan Bassett: Yeah, I’m proud of that. The band was always rooted in the blues. The three principle guys came from Savoy Brown which was a very influential British based blues band. Lonesome Dave, who was my best friend, got me into the band was a complete historian of the blue and had a massive collection of 78s. He loved American blues.
What got me started was when British bands invaded America with our own rooted music in the 60s and 70s. I’m very proud to carry on that tradition and it’s my natural playing style. From the old Fleetwood Mac and Peter Green records. Of course Page, and Beck were the originators. I studied-up on playing slide listening to Rod Price’s tracks and try and get his feel down for the materials. That’s my biggest challenge in Foghat that it’s still is a natural blues style.
MyGlobalMind: The band really seems to have a tumultuous past. Maybe a little harder than most long standing bands. What do you attribute the longevity too?
Bryan Bassett: I really think the love of playing music. All of the current and previous band members loved playing music for music sake. Money was probably not even a major ingredient in the beginning and now we still enjoy playing music live. Foghat is best served live. We are a live band and love to rock out. Straight forward blues rock with two guitars, bass and drums. Playing music is the band’s own reward and to still be making a living at it and have a fan base is just a bonus. What gets us though it all is the love of playing music and having fun at it.
MyGlobalMind: I think that simplicity of guitars, bass, and drums have lent itself well to Foghat’s success as well as the importance of writing great riffs.
Bryan Bassett: That pretty much how we think of it. To keep it plain. If it gets too complicated it really goes away from our natural style. Charlie and I are newest members and that’s our natural writing style – guitar riff rock. In the early days that was the bands style too, writers of great hooks.
MyGlobalMind: You have been with Foghat for almost 20 years, how have you seen the band evolve since you joined?
Bryan Bassett: What I’ve seen more than anything is the maturity and it’s not necessarily musically, it’s more personally. We are fathers and Roger is a grandfather. We have become more mature people and we get along like a family. That releases tons of tension that a lot of bands go through early on, like dealing with traveling and instant success. The big blast of fame when it hits you at first off and throws a lot or people for a loop as it should. We are all relaxed and professional and we know what to do on stage as well as off stage because we are more experienced.