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Foreigner’s ‘Soundtrack of Summer’ Road Blog – Week Four

Thom Gimbel
Thom Gimbel (Photo Credit: Tim Hare)

Foreigner is spending this summer thrilling audiences across the country on the ‘Soundtrack of Summer‘ tour alongside fellow rock legends Styx and Don Felder. We’ll be getting weekly updates from the road courtesy of Mick Jones‘ assistant Tim Hare. In this fourth installment, Hare gets tips from the band on surviving the road and plays a practical joke on Styx.

“They let you bring skateboards on airplanes?”

“They sure do.”

“Those things are dangerous weapons. Back in the day we could bring our skates on airplanes, but even Gretz can’t bring his skates on the plane anymore.”

That was my interaction with ESPN analyst and former L.A. Kings coach Barry Melrose on a recent flight as I was heading to Boston to see my family. Even without Mick Jones by my side, my summer of celebrity encounters continues. I have always been a massive hockey fan, so getting to chat it up with “Coach” for a few minutes was pretty fun.

It was a travel day from hell with delays, thunderstorms, equipment problems and frustrated customers. I am sure you have all had one of those days — we have them a lot. I won’t go more than two weeks without sitting on a plane or being in an airport. When you fly that often, things tend to get messy from time-to-time. I will try to sit and meditate if I am in the terminal, or will myself to sleep if I am in my seat. Finding a way to keep a level head and survive is an important part of a touring band’s mental endurance. I recently asked a few of the guys what survival tips they had and here is what they came up with. I think you’ll also get a good insight into what kind of people they are from their suggestions…

Bruce Watson: “I always carry wooden clothes pins, because when you get to your room at 5am, the last thing you want is the sun creepin’ in through the curtains at 6am. You gotta pin those suckers closed TIGHT! NO LIGHT LEAKS!”

Kelly Hansen: “If you carry a ziplock bag, you won’t have to touch that filthy remote. Just slide it in.”

Michael Bluestein: “Try Bluesy’s seven-minute hotel room workout” (that he stole from a N.Y. Times article!)

Thom Gimbel: “1. If there is a bedspread, pull off that bed spread, and store it in the closet. (Those bedspreads usually don’t get washed/laundered often enough.) Often times there is a nicer, cleaner blanket in the closet or in the drawers of the bureau.

“2. Carry some slip-on sandal or flip-flop type footware for hotel room use.

“3. For airline travel. Always have gel cap ibuprofen or other fast-acting anti-inflammatory medicine handy on airplane flights in case your ears are blocked. If the plane is descending and your ears won’t clear and yawning, swallowing, etc. doesn’t work, take two Advils immediately and it can really help.”

Jeff Pilson: “Practical Jokes!!!!!!!”

Speaking of practical jokes, Thom and I conspired to mess with the Styx boys on a recent show in Arkansas. We approached the dressing room to find Lawrence Gowan and Tommy Shaw having a pre-show meal. Thom asked Lawrence if he could fill in for him on saxophone since he had injured his finger. When asked what happened, Thom displayed this horrific fake nail-through-finger appendage complete with faux bloody bandage – and I just burst out laughing. The picture is above. I’m sure we are due for a bit of pay back at some point.

While I have been enjoying my time off immensely, the summer is officially here and it’s time to get back to work. We will be reuniting in Boston soon, hometown of Thom, Michael and my alma mater: Berklee College of Music. I am looking forward to seeing more of you on the road this summer. Thanks for reading and for rocking.

Until next week, Juke Box Heroes.

Next: Read the Third Installment of Foreigner's Road Blog

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