Opening for Kid Rock all summer long is not exactly a, well, foreign concept for Foreigner.
Group founder and guitarist Mick Jones says he and the Clarkston-based Rock are longtime acquaintances, having been introduced by the late Atlantic Records chief Ahmet Ertegun during the late 90s. "I was always fascinated a bit by that cheeky kind of charm that he has," Jones, 70, says by phone from ??. "And, of course he's traveled through a few different musical spheres, but everything he does is good, so that's interesting.
"He's really dedicated to what he does, and he's a great stage performer, too. And it's been really close during this (tour) to get a closer look at all that."
The tour hook-up, according to Jones, came via Foreigner's manager, Phil Carson, who's also a friend of Rock's. And the opportunity dovetailed with the veteran band's own plans "to expand our public a little bit" and also connect a band identity to a string of enduring hits that includes "Feels Like the First Time," "Cold As Ice," "Hot Blooded," "Urgent," "Juke Box Hero" and "I Want to Know What Love Is."
"We have some great fans, but it's that syndrome when people hear the music on the radio they don't always think or realize who it is," explains Jones, a onetime member of the band Spooky Tooth who's also produced albums for Van Halen and Billy Joel. "We suffer a little bit from that, as I'm sure several bands of our era do. We stuffer a little bit from that anonymity type of thing.
"So this felt like a really good way to get exposure to a wider audience and some people who didn't know or had forgotten that was us. YOu can actually see them mouthing in the audience every night -- 'Was that them, too? That one, too?' They're mildly shocked when they hear the hour we do."
Because of that, Jones reports, "the reaction every night is fantastic. We're not suffering much of the opening act syndrome where people are still fling in or not paying attention."
But Jones and company are, for the most part, not trying to keep up with Rock and his Twisted Brown Trucker band on the after-party front.
"I"ve been laying law a bit, you could say -- not that I don't enjoy seeing and hearing about a few things," he says with a laugh. "But there's nothing that crazy that's happened that I can really think is really out of the ordinary. He's a really good artist and he puts on a great show and I guess he likes to let a little steam off afterwards.
"But we're having fun. They're good people and it's a great atmosphere on tour, so we're happy."
Meanwhile, Jones is hoping Foreigner will have some new music to add to its legacy soon. The group will be using down time during the Rock tour's upcoming residency at the DTE Energy Music Theatre to prepare for an Aug. 24 filming and recording of an acoustic concert at the Ford Motor Company Conference and Event Center that will also benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The session, which will lead to an album for early 2016, will primarily focus on hits, but Jones would like to see something new in the mix, took, if the band can manage it.
"I'd say there's probably about six or seven main ideas, and they're in various stages of development," says Jones, who will also be getting together with original Foreigner singer and fellow Soongwriters Hall of Fame inductee Lou Gramm after the tour to do some of their first songwriting together in nearly 15 years. "Being in the same place for two weeks together gives us an opportunity to get these things moving. We haven't released a new track for quite awhile, so perhaps we can finish a couple to spice it up a bit. That would be nice."
Kid Rock, Foreigner and the Packway Handle Band
6:45 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 7-8, and Aug. 11-12, 14-15, 18-19 and 21-22.
DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township.
$20 tickets are sold out, but promoters say some may be released over the course of the run.
Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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