INTERVIEW AND PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJALA
Glenn “The Voice Of Rock” Hughes is an English rock bassist and vocalist, best known from his work with Deep Purple, Tony Iommi and funk rock pioneers Trapeze. Hughes also maintains a notable solo career including 12 studio albums and he’s been an active session musician and a member in various projects. Between 2009 and 2014 he fronted the supergroup Black Country Communion which also featured guitarist Joe Bonamassa, drummer Jason Bonhan and keyboardist Derek Sherinian. On April 2016, Hughes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Deep Purple. Currently Hughes is working his first solo album in 8 years. He’s also working Black Country Communion re-union which is going to happen next year. I met a good humoured Hughes in Swedenrock in early June and here is a summary of our discussion which includes a new album, Black Country reunion and many other interesting topics. Read on!
NEW SOLO ALBUM
It’s been 8 years when you last time released a solo album (FIRST UNDERGROUND NUCLEAR KITCHEN, 2008). But now you’re working on the next Glenn Hughes album. Tell us about the album-making process and its release schedule?
Glenn Hughes: Yeah. We’re going to start rehearsals in Copenhagen on the 20th of June, we start recording on the 25th. I’m going to give you the road map, because I have a schedule of… Around July the 5th I’m going to mix and I’ll be done around the 13th, 14th. I’ll go back to L.A, make some videos. Do some photographs, do the booklet. I’ll hand it into the record company. Then we will release it the first week of November. Probably? Because in August I do American tour, in September I go to South America. October I do promo for the new album and we do a six-week tour of Europe, Living Color are coming with me. After my last solo album, I have been with Black Country Communion and I’ve been in California Breed. I think that I have never really toured enough. I’m one of the artists you’ll speak to that hasn’t toured enough, simply because; let’s just say that I think every man and girl has a moment in their life when things start to happen. It could be young, like in Deep Purple and then… Let’s just say I have a great management, great agency, great staff. It’s like different, now I can tour anywhere, anywhere. It’s insane. So I’m going to be on the road for a year. Isn’t that great?
It sounds great!
Glenn Hughes: I think it’s great for me personally for my health to be playing.
Who plays on the album besides you?
Glenn Hughes: Soren Andersen from Denmark, my guitar player. If you know anything about my band before Black Country, they’re the same guys. Soren and Pontus Engborg from Gothenburg. I have a keyboard player on the album who is Australian, he’s the number one keyboard player in Australia and for me this is really important. One of the greatest keyboard players on the planet is an Australian guy, Lachlan Doley. He has played with Jimmy Barnes. He’s young but he’s the most insane keyboard player I’ve ever played with. And I have played with everybody.
I’m sure that keyboards are warmly welcomed back by the fans. I find it interesting that you work now with Soren and Pontus because you’ve a long history working with Scandinavian people. Do you think that you have a special connection with the Scandinavian people?
Glenn Hughes: Yes, a long history man. I must say that when I came here in ’92, late ’92, early ’93 to start playing again. I met the guys in Europe, they’re fans of mine. Mick and John came and then Ian came in next. I also worked with John Norum and I got a place, I lived in Stockholm for two years. I was really sober and I was around friends, I felt a great warmth. I was in Helsinki and I was in Norway, I went everywhere. I felt a connection with Scandinavian people, a really strong connection. It was the start of the comeback for me. It was really a beautiful thing.
DOUG ALDRICH AND DAVID COVERDALE
I think it’s great that you have this band now but whatever happened with Doug Aldrich who played with you last year?
Glenn Hughes: How do I say this to you? Soren, last year had a contract to do a tour in Denmark. He’s quite famous in Denmark and he couldn’t get out of it so I had to find somebody. Doug was only going to be a replacement for that tour, because Doug is very busy. He likes to work with other people and he’s fantastic player. He’s now with Dead Daisies. But Soren was busy and Doug came in and did a great job and now Soren is back, he is my guy. I got to be honest with you, Doug is like a family member to me. But he had a new baby and he’s got these things in Vegas and he’s like flying all the time. I needed somebody that is completely going to be with Glenn. Because I don’t want to keep changing guitar players.
Yeah, you want to have a stable band.
Glenn Hughes: I need stable band, yeah. Doug is very stable, but he’s got a new kid. He’s got a new wife. He’s got three kids now and it’s like… it’s different, you know?
I was really waiting for you two to collaborate something together because I’m such a big fan of Doug and interestingly enough you both a have a strong connection with David (Coverdale).
Glenn Hughes: David and I are brothers, I’m not saying that Doug and I won’t do anything again. I love Doug, he’s like a family member.
Speaking about David, it seems that you have remained quite close after all these years but now he’s going to retire. How does that feel for you?
Glenn Hughes: That is apparently really true, he announced that at the Rock Hall. It’s 30 years next year that he released the big album. David feels it’s time to stop. I think he’s really positive about that, we have spoken about… I said to him six months ago; forget about Deep Purple, Mark III. Because Jon is not there and Ritchie is crazy. I said, it would be great to do some shows together. He said; Glenn I’m tired, I’m so busy. I said, I am too. So we’re like the best of friends. I said, let’s just leave it like that. Maybe you can guest a song with me and maybe I can come up there and sing with you maybe. I said, let’s not tell everybody we’re going to do something if we don’t do it. I think when he retires, I think he will retire.
In fact, he has retired a couple times already but always returned after a few years. But you think that it really is a permanent decision this time?
Glenn Hughes: I don’t know. Ozzy is a good friend of mine and he’s not going to retire, I don’t think Ozzy will retire. I don’t think it’s money that makes people retire. I think I can’t retire; I would never want to. Why would you want to retire? I had a conversation with Ringo about that. He said; why do people retire? If you’re a musician you’re a musician. Here is the thing, when you become 60. My brain is very active and I read a lot of books and I’m an athlete. When people kind of stop working and they sit at home and they look through the window, and it’s like it’s not good for the brain. So I am looking at the next year as a very productive year for me, it’s a big year. I’ve got so many other things going on to manage, it’s such a big year for me.
I have one more question about David. In 2014 Whitesnake released THE PURPLE ALBUM which includes re-recordings of Deep Purple material from the era when you both were in the band. Did you ever have a discussion with David about your participating on the album? That could have been a phenomenal thing for the fans and for you too?
Glenn Hughes: Check this out. 2014, December I played on tour with Slash, with California Breed. Jimmy Page came down to Wembley and he said; did you hear David’s Purple album. I said; excuse me? You haven’t heard his record? Excuse me? I didn’t know about it. David didn’t tell me about it. So the promo came out. He said; I’m so sorry about this. I thought that would have been an opportune moment. To do “You Keep On Moving” or something. I wasn’t angry at all with him, at all. Because we’re so good friends. I think he wanted to do something a little different. It’s just kind of stuff that Jimmy told me. It’s like… “Laughs”
It must have been strange to hear that from somebody else but David “Laughs”
Glenn Hughes: Yeah. It was weird.
BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION RE-UNION
I have learned that one thing which is going to happen next year is the Black Country Communion re-union, or am I wrong?
Glenn Hughes: That’s going to happen, it’s happening.
I think it’s great if the band has now settled its differences and you’re going to start working together again. There was a lot of negative talk when the band split and honestly I wasn’t expecting this to happen ever again.
Glenn Hughes: Let me tell you, let’s clear this up. You understand this, Black Country Communion. Every album was promoted by Glenn, because Joe is too busy. He’s on the road, you know that right and Jason doesn’t like to this press very much, unless he gets the cover. So the press will need to talk to me. So I was the one that did every interview, every interview. I mean hundreds of interviews. So if you’re the one doing interviews, at some point people are going to want to… When things start to go wrong. Like let’s just say when Joe didn’t want to tour on AFTERGLOW, the press came to me and wanted to know why. It’s like, they could see that I was upset. Joe and I, and I cross my heart. We never ever fell out, had a bad word to say about. When we got together in dinner in Santa Monica in March. We both said; hey. We acted like kids, we were silly. We were, let’s forget about that. I just need the world to know there was never ever a bad word between Joe and I. I think the press thought Glenn is angry and Glenn is blah, blah. Glenn was just upset. I think fans wanted to see Black Country, Joe has got an amazing fan base. But Black Country would have had a bigger, bigger fan base if we would have toured more. Am I angry? No, not at all.
What will be different now compared to the first attempt. Have you agreed to do some things different way compared to the past times?
Glenn Hughes: This is what’s going to happen. We’re going to make the album in January and for the first time, because this is the first time I talk about this in interview, I can’t say when any shows will happen. I would imagine, not telling you, next summer I would imagine there will be some shows. Will it be a long tour? I don’t think so. I think it will be a selection of shows, then again I could be completely wrong. All I can say to you, but definite between January the third and January the 12th we will be in Los Angeles with Kevin Shirley making Black Country four, it’s going to happen. I’m writing with Joe July 20th to July 27th.
So it means that you’re going to be extremely busy on this summer. You’re working a solo album and upcoming Black Country album at the same time.
Glenn Hughes: I’m going to be really busy. But I did an interview with Gary Graff, the editor of Billboard Magazine in February and he asked me about the bands I’ve been and I said, I don’t think I’d ever be in another band after Black Country Communion. Then all over sudden, a month later Joe and I decided to get the band back together. So it was kind of a really cool thing. I said I would never be in another band except Black Country, and all over sudden we are getting back together. I think the fans are excited. I think rock fans, classic rock fans, ’70s rock fans are very excited about Black Country.
If we go again back to the time when AFTERGLOW came out. In your opinion, what things went wrong because not only the band split up but also some of the band members disliked the album and it wasn’t as successful as the first two Black County releases?
Glenn Hughes: AFTERGLOW came out, September or October of 2012. So you got to remember. I’m on European tour talking about AFTERGLOW, and we were supposed to tour on AFTERGLOW. But we didn’t. So the reason the album… The album sold more in America than Europe, it got in the top 40 in Billboard. The actual album sales were not poor, but when the band broke up kind of around October of 2012. That’s when we really broke up, kind of things went slow. Like I said, Joe was a solo artist. We knew that from the start, he was honest. He kept his word. We all have to act like gentlemen and go, okay. I don’t know if you know, but AFTERGLOW was going to be a Glenn album. Kevin Shirley came to me and said, very nicely by the way. How about we make these new songs, Black Country songs. I said to Kevin, Sure. Why not? I was thinking we would maybe do some shows, but we didn’t. What I didn’t do is I didn’t talk about how upset I was, but people thought I was upset or angry. But it was not the case. I formed California Breed.
Which unfortunately didn’t last too long…
Glenn Hughes: Jason didn’t want to tour, and the guy that replaced Jason was a wrong choice…
HALL OF FAME AND BLACKMORE TALK
One big and important thing what happened earlier this year was Deep Purple’s Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in April.
Glenn Hughes: That’s correct.
We don’t have to go to details regarding who attended to the ceremony and who didn’t but everyone knows that Richie Blackmore didn’t show up. How is your relationship with him now and what do you think of his decision to return to the world of rock with his new Rainbow band?
Glenn Hughes: I have to be careful, because Joe Lynn Turner spoke about it. Ritchie and I, again you got to believe this. I haven’t seen him in 41 years, I haven’t seen him in eye to eye. I haven’t seen him. Ritchie doesn’t use the phone, he really doesn’t use the phone and doesn’t use the computer. But I speak to his mother-in-law, Candice’s mother. Ritchie wanted me to be in the band with him, but I chose not to be. Because this year for me it’s very busy and it was only two shows and it was a lot of work, a lot of preparation. I wished him the very, very best. I wish we could have done something with Mark III. David and I decided the only way we could do something with Ritchie, is if it was called Mark III or something. But Ritchie is a very, very unique character. He’s a very funny guy, very nice guy. But he has a mystical, mythical character. So he’s weird. Weird being good, not like angry weird. Just weird “Laughs”
He lives in his own world…
Glenn Hughes: He lives in his own weird world but I have nothing bad to say about Ritchie, he’s a uniquely gifted man. He’s a very, very gifted human being.
…and he always does what he wants.
Glenn Hughes: He does. Like the Hall of Fame, he said; I don’t want to go. I spoke to Candice and he said, you should have come to me to ask me. I said; why? I said, I heard from an insider that Ritchie was going to go. He said; no, he’s not going. I said, okay. Sorry. Why wouldn’t you want to be inducted into the Hall of Fame? Because the Hall of Fame if you like it or you don’t like it, it’s a huge, huge promotional vehicle. Ritchie, I thought maybe would have wanted that promotional vehicle to do…
… some promotion for upcoming Rainbow shows?
Glenn Hughes: The shows would be sold out in Germany and Birmingham is sold out. It would be sold out, but it would have been… Look, Ritchie does everything backwards, he does it wonderfully. He dances backwards, he does everything different. If you say that’s a black cat, no it’s a little bit grey. You know what I’m saying?
WORKING WITH TONY IOMMI
How about one question about Tony Iommi?
Glenn Hughes: Yeah.
Do you have any plans to work with him in the future after the Sabbath tour is done?
Glenn Hughes: With Tony, we talk yearly about doing more work. But Tony right now is going to end with Sabbath in the next six months, and then I’m sure he’s going to take a little time off. I think he’s going to work with Tony Martin, because they live right next in the same area. Tony and I speak about doing more work, every time I see Tony we talk about it. I wouldn’t be surprised, but then again Tony’s health is so important. He’s beating the cancer and he’s doing the treatments. He has to be in Birmingham…
… every six weeks…
Glenn Hughes: Yes, you know that story. I did Heaven & Hell tribute for Ronnie with Tony and it was great in London, it was great. With Geezer, Geezer is one of my closest friends in L.A. I’m all over… I’m not in Sabbath but I’m kind of part of the family. But I have a deep respect for Tony, we’ve done three albums together.
I think that our time is now spent. Thank you for this interview, Glenn!
Glenn Hughes: Thank you man. Good stuff.
GLENN HUGHES BAND LIVE AT SWEDENROCK 2016