Three time’s the charm

Kelly Hansen, lead singer of the English-American rock band Foreigner, is on the road for seven to eight months a year, visiting city after city and country after country – “I stopped counting countries at around 75, but we’ve been to a lot!” he said.

But Hansen knows one thing he’ll be looking forward to when he and the rest of the band touch town in Tel Aviv this week: the food.

Be the first to know –

“I love the whole Mediterranean vibe of the food there,” Hansen, a self-described foodie, told The Jerusalem Post in a recent interview from Oklahoma. “The first time was really quite a shock as to how fresh and vibrant the food was. I look forward to having some more of that.”

This Saturday night will be the band’s third time in Israel in just the past four years as they celebrate their 40th anniversary and kick off several weeks of shows across Europe. And, after 40 years, the band knows just how to deliver the classic hits Foreigner fans are looking for, such as“I Want to Know What Love Is” to “Waiting for a Girl Like You,” “Hot Blooded,” and “Juke Box Hero.”

But only one member of the original lineup – guitarist Mick Jones – is still touring with the band, and Hansen himself came on in 2005, long after the band’s heyday in the 1970s and ‘80s.

While Hansen said he’s still a little bit of a new guy after 13 years, he’s long adjusted to the vibe and groove of Foreigner.

“I think there’ll always be an element of the new guy thing,” Hansen said, “but I really feel like I’m inside these songs, and I really understand what the Foreigner element is, and I think all the guys really work hard at trying to do that.”

Hansen said he walks a fine line between bringing the classic taste of Foreigner – originally fronted by vocalist Lou Gramm – and being true to himself as an artist.

“This is the band that released these songs, and they’re great melodies and great lyrics, and it’s not up to me to change them significantly so I can wave my hand and say ‘Look, it’s me, it’s me, it’s different,’” the singer said.

“On the other hand, just naturally, and just by instinct and by individuality, you’re going to do your own thing in there somewhat. I have a different way that I place words in songs and just a different cadence and a different groove – even without trying, you’re always going to be different; it just happened to be serendipity.”

Hansen said as the band travels around the world, seeing new places, every show still manages to be a little different.

“Every night has a combination of elements that are always different,” he said. “They’re like snowflakes – indoors or outdoors, in the summer or winter, is it a clear night, are the acoustics a certain way, is the band vibing on a certain level?” Of course, some of the more memorable occasions come when things go wrong, which Hansen certainly isn’t hoping to repeat.

Once, he said, while on tour with fellow 1980s legends Def Leppard, heavy winds tore off part of the roof during a show, injuring several fans, and they were forced to postpone. Despite Israel’s recent unseasonably wet weather, the band is likely to be safe at the Menorah Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv on May 5.

Hansen isn’t sure he’ll have too much time to tour the country while he’s in town, though he noted that a few of the band members are hoping to make it to Jerusalem – “but I have to deal with vocal rest,” he said. He personally likes to spend his time in new places “looking at the landscape, especially as we travel along, and it’s a time of introspection for me.”

And Hansen said he doesn’t pay any attention to calls from groups who try to convince artists not to perform in Israel.

“For me personally, I’m a musician, I’m not a political animal,” he said. “So I want to go and play music for people who want to hear it, that’s what I’m about. I’m a lover of all people.”

Foreigner will perform on May 5 at the Menorah Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv.