Mick Jones still leading the way for classic rockers, with new album and Worcester concert on Tuesday.
Mick Jones, the British writer, guitarist, keyboardist and founding member of Foreigner, sums up what his band is all about in a simple sentence, stated with purpose, excitement and pride: "It's really good driving music."
Yeah, that and the fact that the band, through many personnel changes, but with Jones always at the helm, has been around for 3-1/2 decades, and has half a dozen multiplatinum records to its name, lots of them staples on classic rock stations around the world.
Their newest album, with the revealing title "Can't Slow Down," features the familiar Foreigner sound -- a forceful, often mid-tempo beat, propelled by soaringly high vocals -- and the usual tales of relationships, both good and bad. A second disc includes all of those hits, from "Cold as Ice" and "Hot Blooded," to "Juke Box Hero" and "Urgent," remixed to perfection, giving them a second life but still feeling like the first time.
Jones, the only remaining original member, is bubbling with enthusiasm about the album and the tour that brings Foreigner to the Hanover Theatre in Worcester on Tuesday.
"With this band I found a second breath," says the 65-year-old rocker. "I feel very blessed to have been able to do this at this point in my life. The band that is currently Foreigner has really inspired me."
Part of that inspiration came from finding vocalist Kelly Hansen five years ago as a replacement for original singer Lou Gramm.
"Kelly really knows how to get inside a song and bring it out," says Jones.
"And the other guys in the band are great musicians who really kick my ass on the stage," he adds, laughing. "Towards the end of the '90s, with the old lineup, some nights I dreaded going onstage, but now every night I look forward to it. It's the highlight of my day."
Although Jones got his start well before Foreigner -- playing guitar and singing in the progressive rock band Spooky Tooth -- Foreigner was literally an overnight success, at least after a year and a half of rehearsing.
Once their first album, "Foreigner," was released in 1977, there was no looking back. They were immediately selling out stadium concerts.
"I must say, it was a bit of a whirlwind," recalls Jones of that time. "I was hanging on for dear life at one point, just getting mowed along by what had become this big sort of monster. I had modest aspirations for the first album. I thought it would be a good start and that we had assembled a good band, and that it would take a while to get a foothold."
He stops talking, thinks back on that memory, then softly says, "I had no idea."
Since that time, Jones admits to easing off from being a perfectionist in the studio, but insists that his approach to songwriting hasn't changed much.
"A lot of it is from personal experience, or experiences that I've seen people and friends go through," he explains. "I have an idea book that I jot down phrases or titles in, maybe something I'll hear when I'm walking down the street or in conversation. But I really don't have any agenda when I sit down to write a song. It's whatever comes out."
When the decision was made to remix 10 old songs as part of the new package, Jones, who produced the tunes on the original releases, decided to hand over those chores to Anthony Focx and Marti Frederiksen this time around.
"I've known Marti for a long time," he says. "He had mentioned to me several times that it would be great to revisit the songs, really clean them up and get them back to how they sounded originally, then give them some extra dynamics that you can do with the kind of equipment out there these days."
But why didn't Jones want to be involved?
"I've done those songs before," he says, again laughing. "And I wanted a bit of an objective outside approach for it. So I took it easy and concentrated on writing the rest of the (new) songs."
Jones promises that the band will play at least three of those new tunes at the Worcester concert, interspersed with the hits.
"People look forward to hearing those hits," he says. "I don't like going to a show where suddenly the band stops and does half the new album. I get a little impatient with that. So we pepper them in just right and they go down very well."
Ed Symkus can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feb. 23 at 8 p.m.
At the Hanover Theatre, Worcester