By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
As Foghat’s lead guitarist, engineer and producer, Bryan Bassett knows what he wants in the band’s music.
For the act’s forthcoming record, Sonic Mojo, Bassett wanted to continue Foghat’s penchant for authenticity.
“It’s very honest, not overproduced or anything,” said Bassett of the band that scored hits with “Slow Ride” and “Ride, Ride, Ride.”
“I wanted it to translate to the stage. We needed to ensure every part of it could be played live. That was important to me as a producer, to make sure the songs were just us, rocking out and playing.”
Foghat will do just that when it celebrates the release of Sonic Mojo on Nov. 17 at The Coach House. The album hits streaming services on Friday, Nov. 10.
“We’re pretty excited to get out and have the fans hear the new music,” he said. “We have a couple of songs already out there. But Sonic Mojo has six new originals and six covers. We recorded it over the course of the last year.”
Among the tracks on Sonic Mojo are “Let Me Love You Baby” by Willie Dixon; Rodney Crowell’s “Song for the Life”; and “Promised Land” by Chuck Berry.
“It’s Foghat tradition to take an old blues song and rock it up a little bit,” Bassett said.
The London-born Foghat was founded in 1971 when Dave Peverett and Roger Earl left Kim Simmonds-fronted Savoy Brown. Since then, Foghat has earned eight gold records, one platinum record and one double-platinum record.
Founding songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Peverett died in 2000, followed by slide guitarist Rod Price five years later. In 2018, longtime bassist Craig MacGregor passed away.
Despite the losses, founding drummer Roger Earl kept the legacy alive. Besides Bassett and Earl, Foghat includes singer/bassist Rodney O’Quinn and lead vocalist/guitarist Scott Holt, whose credits include performing with Buddy Guy.
For the original tracks on Sonic Mojo, Foghat asked Simmonds if he had any songs he wanted to hear.
“He sent four,” Bassett said of Simmonds. “We recorded three of them. We’re blessed to have three of his last compositions on the record. We dedicated the album to him. That’s an interesting thing about the record.”
Bassett said Sonic Mojo fits in well with the catalog, as each effort features Earl’s drumming.
“What gives Foghat its flavor are the drum tracks,” he said.
“We’re blues rock, and we haven’t gone too far from that, except for a couple songs—‘Promised Land’ and one written by Colin Earl of Mungo Jerry, ‘Wish I’d a Been There’—that leans a little country,” he continued. “Our fans might be a little surprised by that. ‘Wish I’d a Been There’ is his lament about never seeing Hank Williams Sr. in concert.”
Bassett’s career reads like a rock ‘n’ roll encyclopedia. He served as a session guitarist for King Snake Studio and a member of The Midnight Creepers and Blue House. He wielded the ax for Molly Hatchet, and released a slew of records on his own, including “Devil’s Canyon.”
In January 1998, he recorded the CD Silent Reign of Heroes, followed by Kingdom of XII in 2000. A founding member of Wild Cherry, Bassett also performed with Airborne, T-Dice and The Silencers.
In terms of Foghat, Bassett spends 60 to 70 days on the road. This winter, it will reconfigure its concerts to keep it fresh for the band—and its fans.
“We try to change songs every year, add to the set, pull deep album tracks,” he said. “That way, fans who come see us every year get a different show. We get on socials to find out which songs fans would like to hear from the old album tracks.”
Bassett said it’s been easy to stay passionate about his craft, nearly 50 years in.
“There’s nothing more fun to me than plugging my guitar into a loud Marshall amp and making a racket,” he said with a laugh.
“I still feel like a 20-year-old playing in my garage. We’re getting together this afternoon. Playing music with friends—it doesn’t get any better than that.”