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The Band: Interviews: "Thom Gimbel talking"09.23.02

This interview was conducted by César Pineda Dosal from the Mexican magazine, Códice Rock, on Wednesday, June 7th, 1995, during Foreigner's visit to México. It was made in English and published in Spanish, and appeared in issue #7 of the referred publication.

Index
(i) Introduction
(1) Thom, first off I want to thank you for conceding to give us this interview. Since we know you don't like interviews, what's the reason?
(2) Could you tell us a little about your beginnings?
(3) Well, how did you get involved with Aerosmith?
(4) Talking about music, what's the difference between playing with Aerosmith and playing with Foreigner?
(5) So you also...
(6) Are you a musician who plays only for the money?
(7) Do you have you a manager or a representative office where you can be contacted?
(8) What do you like more, playing in small places or in large arenas?
(9) Thom, you have already been in México with Aerosmith. What do you think about Mexican fans?
(10) When you were here then, you played for an audience of 22,000 fans. Did you know that the place where you will play with Foreigner is only a half of that size?
(11) Alright, let's see... So you have played with Miguel Mateos...
(12) Thom, do you have any plans to play with any other band when this tour ends?
(13) Finally, is there any kind of music you like these days?
(14) Well, I thank you again for your time, and I want to reiterate to you that everyone here will soon know who you are.

(Introduction)

Very few times, when we attend our favorite band's concerts, we realize that there are invited musicians on stage. Many consider them as "stuff to fill up", but when one talks about a guy like Thomas Gimbel, it's impossible to refer to him as a musical masquerade... that is a completely wrong idea. He is, without any doubt, one of the most highly sought-after backup musicians and his work with acts like The Butcher Band, Aerosmith and most recently with Foreigner, guarantees his future work.

And it was during his most recent visit with the great band Foreigner that we were able to approach him for an exclusive interview for the readers of Códice Rock.

[ Interviews ] [ Index ]

(1) César Pineda Dosal: Thom, first off I want to thank you for conceding to give us this interview. Since we know you don't like interviews, what's the reason?

Thom Gimbel: Simply because I like to stay anonymous, I don't know... I like the role of being a musician who stands in the rear part of the stage doing what he does better, playing, although I don't refuse the idea of forming my own band in the future and being the main man there.

[ Interviews ] [ Index ]

(2) César Pineda Dosal: Could you tell us a little about your beginnings?

Thom Gimbel: Well, I'm from Boston and started to play drums with my own band. Subsequently, hearing musicians like Grover Washington Jr. I got interested in saxophone, I think that was around 1978. Later I met guitarist John Butcher, who had a band named Axis... I played with him for a couple of years and before he fired me, I could record a couple of albums too (laughs)!

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(3) César Pineda Dosal: Well, how did you get involved with Aerosmith?

Thom Gimbel: As I said, I'm from Boston, I studied in Berkley College. Somehow, someone gave my phone number to the guys of Aerosmith and they called me. It was very didactic being a part of a band in a world tour. I learned a lot from all of them. The most important thing is that I learned to live with my mates like in a family, which is very hard to accomplish with a so famous rock band.

[ Interviews ] [ Index ]

(4) César Pineda Dosal: Talking about music, what's the difference between playing with Aerosmith and playing with Foreigner?

Thom Gimbel: With Aerosmith I played sax, keyboards and background vocals, and with Foreigner I play guitar too.

[ Interviews ] [ Index ]

(5) César Pineda Dosal: So you also...

Thom Gimbel: Oh yeah! With Foreigner I play rhythm guitar too, I'm not Steve Val but I like a lot playing guitar. In that aspect I don't have a very bruising influence, I like blues, jazz, speed and trash metal, well, everything I hear I like to pour it into my own playing.

[ Interviews ] [ Index ]

(6) César Pineda Dosal: Are you a musician who plays only for the money?

Thom Gimbel: No, definitely no. I wouldn't join a long tour with guys whom I wouldn't devote respect and admiration. That's why I've very much enjoyed sharing the stage with guys like Steve Tyler and Lou Gramm. They were my idols when I started on this. So just imagine what I feel when I'm in the same place with these guys. It's incredible. But answering your question, I want people to know that I'd never play with someone who only gave me economical satisfaction. I'm still looking for someone who gives me that satisfaction (laughs)!

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(7) César Pineda Dosal: Do you have you a manager or a representative office where you can be contacted?

Thom Gimbel: No, I manage myself, I've been fortunate in that aspect because I've met a lot of people, and they'd recommend me with different people. So I have to admit that I've had a lot of luck.

[ Interviews ] [ Index ]

(8) César Pineda Dosal: What do you like more, playing in small places or in large arenas?

Thom Gimbel: The feeling is exactly the same, the only matter is the energy that people send you with their attitude. If you're giving a bad concert, you'll get the same answer from the audience. It doesn't matter about the size of the venue, although in small places there's a little more intimacy. You can do jams and take all the drinks you have at hand (laughs).

[ Interviews ] [ Index ]

(9) César Pineda Dosal: Thom, you have already been in México with Aerosmith. What do you think about Mexican fans?

Thom Gimbel: They're extraordinary, magnificent, amazing. When Joey Kramer (Aerosmith's drummer) played his bombo, the fans kept the rhythm with their kindles. They electrified my skin. They're very awake, have a lot of energy and they're very respectful.

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(10) César Pineda Dosal: When you were here then, you played for an audience of 22,000 fans. Did you know that the place where you will play with Foreigner is only a half of that size?

Thom Gimbel: Of course I do. I have already played in the National Auditorium a couple of years ago. I came with the Miguel Mateos' band, and I can say that the venue is magnificent. It has great acoustics. I loved it!

Note: Miguel Mateos is a kind of Bruce Springsteen in Argentina and all around Latin America: a living rock icon of the 80s and 90s in Spanish.

[ Interviews ] [ Index ]

(11) César Pineda Dosal: Alright, let's see... So you have played with Miguel Mateos...

Thom Gimbel: Hey, don't forget I'm free-lance, I met Miguel in California when he was promoting his album "Kryptonita". He invited me to play during his whole tour and that's how I played with him here in México and around all Latin America. With that trip I reached a conclusion: Mexican girls are the most beautiful in the world! I think I'll get married with one of them.

[ Interviews ] [ Index ]

(12) César Pineda Dosal: Thom, do you have any plans to play with any other band when this tour ends?

Thom Gimbel: I don't know yet, I think I will play on the next album of Aerosmith and with an assembly of an acid-jazz band. But I have the option of becoming a permanent member of Foreigner, which I'd like a lot. They respect me and appreciate my work. That's why Mick, Lou and Bruce have asked me to join them in upcoming works (you know, albums, tours, promotions) with me in the pictures of the band... I'm going to think about it for a while, and I'll make up my mind. The relationship I have with them (for more than three years) will allow me to take a favorable decision.

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(13) César Pineda Dosal: Finally, is there any kind of music you like these days?

Thom Gimbel: Well, I'm a lover of classic rock. But I'm interested too in what other people do, like Enigma, Deep Forest, Nine Inch Nails and others... I like to vary my musical taste. That way I learn more things and tricks. The Woodstock festival, for example. I heard things that never in my life I had the chance to hear. I loved that, and that's why I hope to take with me a lot of music from México. Not only rock. I'd like to buy albums of jazz, folklore and other stuff.

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(14) César Pineda Dosal: Well, I thank you again for your time and I want to reiterate to you that everyone here will soon know who you are.

Tom Gimbel: Oh well, thank you very much, amigo. I have a surprise for you tonight. See you next time.

Notes: As indicated at the top of this document, this interview was made in English and published in Spanish. The last word of the first sentence in the last paragraph is written in Spanish because Thom said it in Spanish during the interview, and its translation is: "friend". The surprise was given, the sax solo on "Urgent" was the cheeriest moment of the concert.

[ Interviews ] [ Index ]

Interview Credits
Special thanks to Santiago Corona who provided the interview, and to special collaborator Ben Quon who reviewed my translation to English.

The Band: Interviews: "Thom Gimbel talking"09.23.02
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