Foghat fans will receive a special treat with the group’s performance at the Missouri State Fair Aug. 13. The band will perform three songs from their new 12-track album “Under the Influence” that was released June 24.
The new album was three years in the making with the first recording produced in 2013 at Foghat’s Florida studio, Boogie Motel South. “Under the Influence” was then moved to Dark Horse Studios in Nashville. As the project progressed the group invited a collection of friends and former band members to help contribute to the album, making it a well-rounded album of music featuring a mix of blues, R&B and funk.
Foghat guitarist Bryan Bassett, who has been with the band for 20 years, spoke with the Democrat by phone from Edgewater, Florida, Thursday morning. He discussed the band’s journey while making the album and their upcoming concert with John Kay & Steppenwolf and Molly Hatchet on Aug 13.
Bassett, the engineer and producer for the band, said the group tours nine months out of the year, so they usually take January and February to rehearse and write music.
“We were sort of taking our time, we weren’t in a big hurry,” he said of making the album. “After we assembled about six or seven songs, we moved into high gear and figured we were getting pretty close to a completed project.”
The group set a schedule, a release date and asked producer/songwriter and Grammy winner Tom Hambridge to help with the album. Adding to the mix, Foghat members Roger Earl, Craig MacGregor, Charlie Huhn and Bassett along with songwriter Hambridge, added Scott Holt who helped write for the project and provided vocals and guitar to several tracks.
Dana Fuchs was also included in the mix adding “bluesy/sultry vocals” to two tracks, and it was only logical, since Foghat originated, or morphed, from a British blues band Savory Brown in 1971, to include Savoy founder and guitarist Kim Simmons.
The majority of the songs are new material with the exception of the band’s 1975 signature song “Slow Ride” and a recreation of Marvin Gaye’s 1968 “Heard it Through the Grapevine.”
“We play that song every once in a while when we’re doing sound checks at concerts, ” Bassett said of “Grapevine.” “When we started playing that one, Roger and Charlie started jamming on it and we said ‘hey that sounds pretty good.’ It really fit with the theme of the album ‘Under the Influence,’ which we meant under the influence of the different styles of music that we’ve liked over the years. Certainly R&B and the Motown thing, that was a big influence for all of us.”
The remake of “Slow Ride” on the album is in celebration of the song’s 40th anniversary. Foghat asked Nick Jameson, the original bass player and producer of the song, to play for the remake.
“It was, of course, our biggest hit,” Bassett noted. “So, we though just as a tribute to the anniversary of the song and the fact that Nick was with us in the studio in Nashville, that we’d redo the version. In fact, there’s two bass players on there.
“Craig MacGregor, our bass player for many years, he also did the live version of it on the live record, he’s on there as well,” he added. “So we have two bass guitars on that track … and we did it in one take.”
Bassett added that two of the songs on the album are old Savoy Brown songs, “She’s Got a Ring in His Nose” and “Made Up My Mind.”
“Those are songs that we really liked,” Bassett said. “Charlie and I were particularly big Savoy Brown fans, so we just actually played them and that really brought that early blues-roots back to the record.”
During their performance at the Missouri State Fair, Foghat will play three songs from the new album, title track “Under the Influence,” “Hot Mama” and “Knock it Off.”
Bassett said they have been getting a good fan response on the three songs.
“That’s how we judge if the songs will work with our older hits,” he noted. “These have fit right into the set, so we are really pleased with that.”
Over the years the fan base for Foghat has changed to reflect the faces of a younger generation.
“We actually have about three generations of fans now,” Bassett said. “Of course, our original set of fans from the ’70s have thankfully hung with us all these years, and then their children sort of grew up on their record collection. With the addition of ‘Slow Ride’ in the ‘Guitar Hero’ game a few years back, we’ve got a whole new generation of kids who are interested in classic rock music.”
Bassett, a former Molly Hatchet member, said it will be a pleasure to play with John Kay & Steppenwolf and Molly Hatchet at the MSF.
“We’ll have our album for sale and I hope everybody enjoys the songs we perform,” he said. “We can’t wait to get there. In fact, that’s my birthday week. The fair starts on Aug. 11 which is my birthday, so I’ll be in birthday mode.
“We’re really excited to be playing with John Kay and Molly Hatchet,” he added. “They are old friends of ours. It will be a great evening of music for everyone who attends. We are in very good form, we’re playing a lot this summer. So, the band and, I’m sure everybody on the bill, will be in high gear and playing at their best.”
Foghat will perform Saturday, Aug. 13 with John Kay & Steppenwolf and Molly Hatchet at the Pepsi Grandstand during the Missouri State Fair. The concert line-up begins at 7:30 p.m.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.