Lou-Gramm.com In the 1970s and 80s, his was one of the most dominant voices on…
- Posted on Aug 10th 2011 12:00PM by Chris Epting
Bobby Bank, WireImage
Since then, the lead singer on such evergreen FM-radio staples as 'Cold as Ice,' 'Waiting for a Girl Like You' and 'Hot Blooded' has toured and recorded steadily with his own group, the Lou Gramm Band.
In 1997, Gramm was diagnosed with a rare type of brain tumor called a craniopharyngioma. It was benign, and the complex surgery to remove it threatened not just the singer's career, but his life, as well. He survived, regained hold of his career and recently shared some of his feelings about what he went through, along with how strange it is to know that that Foreigner still tours with a lead singer that seems trained to simply to nail the parts that he created.
What was it like to come back after the brain tumor? How did it affect you creatively?
Well, it affected me creatively, but beyond that, it affected how I live in general. When you go through something like that and you survive, you look at life differently. You appreciate every moment in new ways; you don't anything for granted. But relatively, what was interesting was that they weren't sure I'd even be able to create. They really didn't know what the after-effects would be until I sat down and tried to do something. They thought that even though I had survived that maybe the part of the brain that allows for creativity was destroyed. But thankfully, that wasn't the case. When I realized that I could, in fact, still make music, then I started approaching life from a whole new place as an artist. There was meaning in what I created that wasn't there before.
Your first full album of new music after the surgery, the self-titled Lou Gramm Band, came out in 2009. Response was solid, but it's harder to get a classic rock album played today.
Definitely. It's a longer process. We still consider it a "new" album basically because it seems to take a lot longer these days to get a record heard [laughs]. The industry has changed so much since the 1970s. I know people like to bash what was called "corporate rock" back then but I will say this for the corporations: They knew how to get records out there and heard. They also gave many acts the time they needed to develop properly. These days, plenty of good bands are cut loose after one record if it underperforms. Back then, you'd get a couple of more records to find your sound. So we treat the last record as a new release, we blend in a few songs to the current show and we believe in it. We think the songs are really strong and worth the time.
What songs from the past do you enjoy playing the most? Do you ever get tired of any the hits?
I never get tired of any of them. As far as favorites, two of my solo songs, 'Midnight Blue' and 'Just Between You and Me' are very special to me. As far as Foreigner songs, 'Juke Box Hero' and 'I Want to Know What Love Is' are always fun. Even 'Hot Blooded,' which I've done thousands of times I think, is still fun because we find new ways to freshen it up each night.
Lots of memories for your audience each night.
You meet people at all the shows and everyone has a story about how certain songs factored into their lives. Proms, weddings, first dates -- it's just incredible how songs become the soundtrack for people's lives.
As you tour the country, there's another version of Foreigner out there with another lead singer, just like Journey, Styx and several other big bands from that era. Is that a strange thing to know that you're being "replicated," in a sense?
It is. It totally is. But what's stranger to me is that, as I've learned talking to people who see those shows, is that in many cases the audience, especially if they're younger, don't even know it's not the original lead singer. In Foreigner's case, as I understand it, the singer was actually trained to deliver pretty much exactly everything as I did it, note for note. If I were in the audience and learned that while I was there, I'd get up and leave. I think when the band name remains the exact same, but something as important as the lead vocal is different, it's misleading. It's like false advertising.
Foreigner, along with several other hugely successful bands, including Rush, Heart and Kiss, among others, are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There are many fan petitions in support of Foreigner getting inducted. Do you feel slighted?
I don't think about it too much but when I do, to be honest, it seems a little silly. It makes you wonder if there's anything personal going on because come on, nothing against some of the artists that get inducted, but I think that Foreigner made a huge impact on music, whether you like it or not. And I'll always be very proud of what we accomplished.