The End Machine, the supergroup that features Lynch/Pilson/Mason/Brown has recently released their excellent sophomore record appropriately called “Phase 2”. The album has already received rave reviews and we got in touch via Skype with Jeff Pilson who was more than happy to share with us all the details and latest info about The End Machine, Foreigner, Dokken while he took us on a trip down to memory lane of Los Angeles back in the glorious 80s. Interview: Sakis Nikas
Rockpages.gr: Let’s go straight to the new The End Machine record. From my perspective, so far it’s the best hard rock release of 2021. Are you happy with how it turned out?
Jeff Pilson: Thank you so much….it means a lot. We are extremely happy! We wanted to make a song-oriented record and I feel that we achieved our goal.
Rockpages.gr: It’s definitely a step up compared to the debut which was great, by the way. Quite possibly the main difference is that there are more songs in there that remind of Dokken…do you agree with that?
Jeff Pilson: Of course. That’s what we were thinking of right from the start of the whole thing. I feel like on the first record we might have gotten some soft-indulgent spots in the writing process but this time around we wanted to write more catchy songs. On the last record, we made our statement but on this one we wanted to be…more meat and potatoes, if you know what I mean. That’s why we worked hard on the songs, especially on the choruses…really trying to get the choruses prepared in a way that we felt that they were right and then work on the verses. Robert (Mason) wrote lots of lyrics and all in all came up with some brilliant stuff. So yeah…we really, really worked hard on the songs this time and we enjoyed it.
Rockpages.gr: I have the CD here and I was reading the liner notes on the booklet. You thank your family for listening a million times the album…
Jeff Pilson: (laughs) Yeah!
Rockpages.gr: Well, I gotta tell you that I listened to the album…well, not a million times but many times and my three favorite songs are “Dark Divide”, “Blood and Money”, “Scars” because they have that clear Dokken vibe…
Jeff Pilson: Well…yeah. It’s only natural…together with George (Lynch) we have written a lot of the music for Dokken. So, it should not come as a surprise really. The difference was that when these ideas came up we didn’t stop them. We didn’t say: “Oh, it sounds like Dokken”! After all, it’s part of who we are and in the end it worked out really well. I am glad that people like yourself really enjoy the album.
Rockpages.gr: Speaking of Dokken, how does it feel not to have Wild Mick on board?
Jeff Pilson: We miss him. I mean…Mick’s got quite a personality and he was an integral member of every band he’s ever been with. But I must say that I am really excited with the work that his brother Stevie (Brown) did on the album. He played so much like Mick…at least we have some Brown DNA on the band (laughs)!
Rockpages.gr: What I really love about the new album -apart of course from the songs and the overall performance- is the excellent production which is kinda rare nowadays. Did you spend a lot of time in the studio to work on specific sounds and details?
Jeff Pilson: Absolutely! We had a pretty good idea of how the album should sound like. You know it can be tricky. When you produce something and it has that big sound, you have to be sure that the honesty and the integrity of the band still comes through and you don’t gloss it over with all the big production stuff. Making those two aspects go hand in hand together was a big goal of mine and I am very happy with the results.
Rockpages.gr: Robert Mason absolutely shines on “Phase 2” proving once again that he’s one of the best hard rock singers out there. It seems that he brings out the best of you in regards with his vocal style. What do you think?
Jeff Pilson: Robert is a phenomenal singer. Every time I or we work together with him the results are always great. His voice is great, his writing is great, his attitude is great, he’s funny. The minute this band came together, I knew that we had a world class frontman/songwriter. He’s an important asset to The End Machine and I am very proud that I have Robert as a fellow band-member.
Rockpages.gr: How about George? Does he share the same point of view?
Jeff Pilson: He’s OK! (laughs)
Rockpages.gr: (laughs) I am asking because George can sometimes be happy with a record or a project and then he can change bands if he has a change of heart…you know what I mean.
Jeff Pilson: I know for a fact that George is very happy with The End Machine and especially how the record turned out. After all, he was a big part of the songwriting team. All three of us –George, Robert and myself- worked really hard on the album. Also, he played some of his best guitar solos and melodies on “Phase 2” and naturally the album has George’s stamp all over it which is great, of course!
Rockpages.gr: You know, if I had to point down a negative point of The End Machine is the thing that it’s indicated on the back cover sleeve: “a project by Serafino Perugino”. It’s true but I think it also diminishes the fact that The End Machine is a real band and not just another project…
Jeff Pilson: I know what you mean but you know what…I would imagine that you will see more records by The End Machine. I don’t have any reason to think otherwise. That’s the plan. Obviously, it has to sell enough for Frontiers to pick it up and want another record but all the signs are good so far and my guess is that we will keep on going. Listen…we designed this to be a real, regular band. This is our melodic rock output from me, George, Robert and Steve and the plan is to record and release more records.
Rockpages.gr: But what about your schedule with Foreigner?
Jeff Pilson: Well, that’s the biggest trick I have to deal with. The year is gonna be tricky but we’re gonna do some shows with Foreigner. On the other hand, I’ve been dealing with the balancing of time and projects for many years now and I am just gonna keep on writing, touring and doing what I know best.
Rockpages.gr: Is there any chance of recording a new Foreigner record?
Jeff Pilson: I don’t think that you will see a whole record of new material but as a matter of fact we are working on some songs and Mick (Jones) is doing some writing with Marti Frederiksen. Si I’d imagine that we will record a couple of new songs and have them out on a best-of or live package over the next few years. But that’s only my guess. It’s too difficult to record a new record when we tour as hard as we tour as a band.
Rockpages.gr: Any chance of approaching Don and do a proper Dokken reunion? Not like the one that you did in Japan 5 years ago which was good but kinda hasty…
Jeff Pilson: The honest answer is: “I don’t know”! I gotta be honest with you, Sakis, and I can only speak for myself…there’s a desire to record one last great Dokken record. We did a song together back in 2016 called “It’s Another Day”…
Rockpages.gr: And it was a kick-ass song!
Jeff Pilson: Exactly! The chemistry was there and I think we still have it in us to release a last, great Dokken record. I would love it if it happen but I am not entirely in control and we just have to see how it goes. Don has his own version of Dokken and I know that he’s working on a new Dokken album. But we’re still friends and if it doesn’t happen it would be only a matter of conflicting schedules. I sincerely hope that it will happen…I wish that I could be more definitive but it is what it is.
Rockpages.gr: Jeff, back in the late 70s/early 80s, we had Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, Warren DeMartini, Jake E. Lee and of course George Lynch. This was a great era for music and guitar playing. As a musician, do you think that there will come again a time where we will see another George Lynch or another Eddie Van Halen?
Jeff Pilson: Yes, I believe that it will eventually happen but we may not recognize it as such. It will probably happen with younger people who have a different perspective than us. I do hope that happens. I have seen new bands out now that are playing in that same style and have the ability to distinguish. It’s inevitable to happen in due time…the question is: will you and I recognize it?
Rockpages.gr: Probably not.
Jeff Pilson: My thoughts exactly.
Rockpages.gr: Los Angeles was the place to be in the 80s. Hundreds of bands, cool places like Gazzari’s, Roxy, Troubadour, Whisky…you name it. People lived and breather rock and roll. Do you miss those days?
Jeff Pilson: I miss the scene! A lot of the scene was about decadent activity that I don’t miss…but it was a great era for hard rock music and it was pretty cool to have all those new, exciting bands playing and releasing excellent music. I do wonder if that could happen again. That’s what gave music the spark, you know…
Rockpages.gr: Jeff, I don’t see it coming because quite honestly there’s no industry right now…at least, not in a way that it should be.
Jeff Pilson: You’re right. That’s correct.
Rockpages.gr: What’s your favorite Dokken record? My bet is on Tooth and Nail…
Jeff Pilson: Yeah…I hold the dearest memories from the “Tooth and Nail” era. George and I roomed together during the “Breaking The Chains” tour and we started writing a lot during that period. I am talking here about kids sharing a hotel room, setting up their amps and their 4-track recorder and coming up with songs. It was fun, exciting and inspiring. The writing of the “Tooth and Nail” record was fun but so it was the case with “Under Lock and Key”. By the time we started working on “Under Lock and Key”, I felt like we were a proper band, a team. The writing period of “Tooth and Nail” was kinda a process of reformulating the band in some ways. And we took it a step further with “Under Lock and Key” as it was a collaboration of all four members. On “Tooth and Nail”, George and I wrote the bulk of the music but Don’s contribution was very important. And then by “Back For The Attack” we were kinda falling apart…you know the story. When I listen to “Tooth and Nail” now, I think that it has aged better than “Under Lock and Key”. I would love to remix “Under Lock and Key”…as a matter of fact, I’d love to remix them all (laughs)!
Rockpages.gr: Now that we are talking about Dokken albums, how about “Dysfunctional”? I love that record…
Jeff Pilson: I love “Dysfunctional”, too. I don’t think that it was as Dokken-y as some of the other records partly due to the time that it was written and recorded. I think that there are a couple of songs on “Dysfunctional” that they should be regarded as Dokken classics and they were overlooked. This album is an important addition to the Dokken catalogue and all the true Dokken fans know it. I am very fond of that album.
Rockpages.gr: Last question: what’s the hard rock album of the 80s that you wished you had played on?
Jeff Pilson: Well, the first one that comes to mind is the first Stone Fury record with Lenny Wolf. We were blown away by that record. You know what else…? The first Love/Hate record.
Rockpages.gr: Oh, man. That was a brilliant record. Jizzy Pearl absolutely shines on that one.
Jeff Pilson: I know! “Blackout In The Red Room” was an unbelievable song. I also loved “Seventh Star” by Black Sabbath with Glenn Hughes…“No Stranger To Love” is an 80s rock anthem. Whtesnake’s “Slide It In” was great…too many to mention, really!