Glenn Hughes – Interview – October 2016

Glenn Hughes (c) Georgina Cates
Glenn Hughes (c) Georgina Cates

Okay, how exactly do you start an interview with a guy who has done just about everything there is to do in rock? A man who has played with some of the biggest bands and finest musicians around to become a recent inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? A man who’s managed to overcome the almost ubiquitous drug addictions that have left their mark until this day and still lived to tell the tale? More to the point, how do you cover all this in twenty minutes? Simple really. Just let the interviewee talk which, fortunately, is something Glenn Hughes is not disinclined to do.

“Firstly I want to say thanks very, very much to you and the guys from PlanetMosh for the review of Resonate. It was very, very cool,” Glenn says right off the bat. “I never really think about reviews or what people might think of what an album is going to be like when I’m working on it. I’m just committed to doing the best work I can.”

“I couldn’t have made Resonate ten years ago because I wasn’t that guy back then, so to read that review – coupled with how fulfilling it was to do what we did with Black Country Communion – it was really very cool indeed. Resonate is a very special album for me and what you guys have touched on is that it’s a once in a lifetime thing. It sort of confirms how comfortable I am in my own skin these days. There are no mistakes in God’s world, but we have to learn from those things which have happened to us.”

“I wrote and arranged everything, with everybody else kind of staying out of the way. It was big thing for me to do that and to feel free enough to carry it out and what happened, in being that free, was that I found it probably the easiest record I’ve ever made. It took quite a bit of having to walk through a fear factor to get it made.”

“Another thing the review picked up on was that it has a very deliberate live sound going on with it. The whole thing was done in seventeen days so what we have now is the rawest album I’ve recorded; it is very organic and that was deliberate. When we got in the studio, we were all in a circle as though standing on stage. I was in front of the drums, with the amplification coming from behind, standing around three or four meters from the other guys. I felt it was really important we could all visually connect with each other and kind of like you see on the video for Heavy. That fresh approach really helped with the end product, I think.”

The writing and recording process was also one that became somewhat different in the way Hughes usually works. “Resonate was written at home while I was recovering from replacement knee surgery. As an incentive, I said to myself that whatever I started on a particular day would be completely finished musically.  I’d eat then go back and write the lyrics. I’ve never done that before. In twelve days I had twelve tracks done and dusted. When we got into the studio all I had to do was play the songs acoustically to the guys in the band one at a time.”

“As a band we would then learn one song at a time and record one song at a time. The process was incredibly refreshing for all of us. I think it gives the album a vibrancy which stems from the fact nobody had heard the entire album in a single sitting before it was completed. I wanted each band member to hear each song as an individual composition so that when it came to recording they were only thinking about one song.”

Resonate is the first Glenn Hughes album in eight years and is the latest chapter in a career spanning 40+ years. A journey which has seen Hughes leave his indelible mark on bands including Trapeze and Deep Purple and in collaborations with the likes of Gary Moore, Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi.  More recently Hughes has been an integral part of both Black Country Communion and the seemingly short-lived California Breed. Now he’s back, with his band comprising of Soren Andersen on guitars, Pontus Enborg on drums and Lachy Doley on keyboards.

“We did three albums and a DVD as Black Country Communion between 2010 and 2013 and then I had my heart surgery to repair an enlarged aorta. That took me off the road for nine months. In 2014 California Breed released their album then last year I was out touring Europe and South America. Then in January of 2016 I had these knee replacements done, which left me at home with nothing much to do other than get better.”

“So I started writing these songs in the spring of this year, but really had no idea what any album was going to be called until I’d written the seventh or eighth track. I didn’t want it to be a title track, but instead something that was personal to me and what I felt the songs did on a personal level. That’s where Resonate came from: as an album that has a particular meaning or importance or to affect or appeal in a personal or emotional way. A passage of notes that is somehow overwhelming.”

There are many notable things to say about the album, many of which are in the review, but one of the more worthy of mention is that no two songs are the same. “I’ve always said that, throughout my career, I have never repeated anything. I never, ever try to rewrite songs I’ve already been a part of or copy a vocal. What’s the point? I don’t get it.”

“I have a lot of friends who do that though and so become part of a genre rather than individual artists. I’m lucky in that I’m capable of making something that’s either really aggressive or really laid back and all points in between. That’s what I’ve done with Resonate. I’ve tried to encompass everything. There’s push and there’s pull, light and shade throughout this entire album. If you want dark, there’s God Of Money. If you want the other side of the coin there’s When I Fall.  A Long Time Gone is about finding myself again after the heart surgery. It’s eclectic in its make-up and listeners have to second guess what’s coming next, which is sort of a metaphor for my career.”

Glenn Hughes is probably best known for fronting versions III and IV of Deep Purple following the departure of Ian Gillan back in 1973. Despite many successful – and, undeniably not so successful – collaborations in between it is with the collaborative Black Country Communion that the bassist / vocalist has arguably found his greatest success since the heady days of Burn, Stormbringer and Come Taste The Band.

Black Country Communion for those who don’t know consists of Hughes, Jason Bonham, Derek Sherinian and Joe Bonamassa. There are, to date,three albums – Black Country Communion, Black Country Communion 2 and Afterglow – all of which received fantastic reviews, saw the band secure headily high spots in the UK album charts and spawned a hugely popular live DVD release into the bargain.

“What a lot of people don’t know is that Joe and I had been working together for something like six months before the band got together.  Just writing songs, without really knowing what we were headed towards; maybe an album of songs or a couple of gigs. Nothing concrete. That was until Kevin Shirley saw us playing at The House of Blues.”

“It was Kevin who suggested Jason and Derek join us. It was another one of those moments. One where Joe and I got out of the way and let Kevin steer the ship. It was his recognition of the fact that four very different parts could make one great whole and that’s what Black Country Communion turned in to being. We just let it roll.”

So is there anything new in the offing with BCC? “Seriously, man, I’ve never been as busy as I am right now in my entire career. It was a great run with Black Country Communion and we made three great albums. The mood within the band is strong, though. In fact I don’t think it has ever been as strong as it is right now. So, as it happens, later on today, Joe is coming over to my house and we’ll be completing what will be Black Country Communion IV, which I think will be recorded in January. It’s all we talk about whenever we see each other and we feel that just maybe it is the right time to release another one.”

Resonate is released by Frontiers Music Srl on November 4th

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