Foghat’s biggest hits were 50 years ago, but founding drummer Roger Earl says their new music is good, too.
There are just so many more artists now than back then that it’s hard to get play time on the radio. “Getting played on the radio is an issue for a lot of bands,” said Earl, of Long Island N.Y.
Listening to Foghat’s latest album released in November called Sonic Mojo, Earl may be right. Songs like “Drivin’ On, She’s a Little Bit of Everything and I Don’t Appreciate You” might have been just as popular as “Slow Ride, I Just Want to Make Love to You and Fool for the City” if done back in the 1970s.
Foghat will be performing at the Admiral Theatre in Bremerton Feb. 2.
Earl said Sonic Mojo was No. 1 for many weeks on the Billboard Blues Charts and is played on smaller radio stations. Their long-awaited 17th studio album—their first in seven years—has received positive reviews, just like all of their albums since 2000, Earl said.
But this is a group that sold 2 million copies of Foghat Live in 1977 and 1 million of Fool For the City in 1975, along with 500,000 copies of six other albums. They have eight gold records, one platinum and one double platinum record.
Foghat, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2021, has been a mainstay on the music scene since forming in London in 1971. Earl grew up in London, started playing drums at age 12 and performed with Savoy Brown on five albums before starting Foghat with Dave Peverett.
The band still plays a unique mix of blues, hard rock, boogie and its signature use of slide guitar and plays 80 or so live dates a year around the world.
Playing live in front of a crowd is what Earl enjoys most. “That’s when the magic happens. How many jobs do people stand up and clap for you?”
Earl said when you go to a Foghat concert, you might not hear a song exactly how you remember it being recorded. “Foghat’s always been a jam band,” he said, adding that “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” originally was four minutes and now it’s 8 1/2. “Slow Ride” used to be seven and now it’s nine minutes.
“It’s all about playing,” he said, adding while each song has its basic structure when you’re on stage, “You put your ears on and pay attention.”
Earl said he likes the spontaneity of music. “There’s no strict formula for making music, certainly not for us. You have to keep an open mind to it.”
Recording music is different. On the new album each song is three or four minutes. “That was deliberate on our part.”
He said some songs start with the music, or even just a riff, while others start with lyrics, such as “I Don’t Appreciate You,” about a former manager.
Earl said they all write songs, and from the very beginning it was about the band and not any one person. That might be one of the reasons different members have stayed with the band so long. “Everybody has their say. One of the hardest parts is keeping a band together. But we plan to play together until we’re pushing up daisies.”
When he first started out, Earl was influenced by Buddy Rich and the drummers for Little Richard and Muddy Waters. He said Foghat did a number of tours with Rush and called Neil Peart an “intense drummer with incredible skill. It doesn’t just happen,” Earl said, adding Peart was always practicing.
Earl said he also practices every day, exercises with light weights and, “I take care of myself.”
He doesn’t do much outside of music, but he does like to fish, and he and his wife Linda have a winery in California named “Foghat Cellars.”
He said his favorite concerts have been in places like Detroit, New Orleans and Los Angeles, but his favorite gig of all time was back in 1977 in New York. They played with legends like Waters, John Lee Hooker and Johnny Winters. “Our musical heroes. They were fantastic.” But Willie Dixon, who wrote “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” was his favorite. “Without Dixon and Chuck Berry, there would be no rock and roll.”
While some members of the band have died over the years, “The Good Lord has not seen to take me yet, and I’m very pleased about that. I was born to do this and travel the world.”
As for their new album, Earl was glad to hear that even if you don’t know the song the lyrics are easy to follow and the musicians have a clean sound and don’t get in each other’s way. “I guess we got it right then,” he said.