GLENN HUGHES discusses “Classic Purple” -tour, Black Country Communion and more

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INTERVIEW AND LIVE PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJALA

Glenn Hughes is an English rock bassist and vocalist, best known for his work with the Mk. III and IV line-ups of Deep Purple, Trapeze, Phenomena, Gary Moore, and Tony Iommi. Hughes maintains a notable solo career, and he also fronts the supergroup Black Country Communion with guitarist Joe Bonamassa, drummer Jason Bonham, and keyboardist Derek Sherinian. In 2016, Hughes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a Deep Purple member.

Currently, Hughes is on tour to celebrate his time with the band. The tour, titled “GLENN HUGHES PERFORMS CLASSIC DEEP PURPLE LIVE,” started already in the fall of 2017, and there are shows booked until the end of the year. I met a good-humored Hughes in Kuopio in early March. We discussed the current tour, the state of Black Country Communion, a possible new Hughes solo album, and many other things. Continue reading!

 

THE CLASSIC PURPLE TOUR

This “Classic Deep Purple” tour, you’ve been doing this for a very long time. Didn’t this tour start already in the autumn of 2017?

Glenn Hughes: That’s right.

Do you have plans for how long this tour will continue, or will it just go on as long as there is demand?

Glenn Hughes: No. I mean, it’s going to continue for a little while because I want to play to as many people playing these songs around the world. So, we’ll take it one year at a time. I think it is good for another couple of years, but not forever. I want to go back to doing my own work, of course. Continue making new music.

As you know, I am not an astrologer artist, but I am at the moment. I don’t want to end my career by doing this kind of tour. So, don’t get me wrong. I love the work I did with Deep Purple, but anybody that knows me in music and fans know that I’m an artist that writes new music. Was it a solo or with Black Country Communion? So, I will continue to move on and move forward. Whatever I’m doing, I’m going to enjoy it, and live it and breathe it.

This tour has been a big success on many levels, commercially, and the critics and the fans love it. When did you get the original idea of this tour? Because I remember that I interviewed you, maybe five years ago, and then you said, “I don’t want to do that old stuff anymore, I want to go forward.”

Glenn Hughes: Right, I do. Yeah. And I say ever since Deep Purple was inducted into the Hall of Fame, that’s when things started changing for me because I was a part of the band in the ’70s and made some great music with the guys, and I wanted to have my turn. But it’s not like I was waiting for the moment. I think in 2017, it was very obvious to me that It was time to do it. It wasn’t time to do it five years ago, but it was 18 months ago. So here I am doing it.

But you never thought: “Okay, now this is going to be the last hurrah for me. Now I’m going to make some good money, and then I’m gone”?

Glenn Hughes: No, I don’t do things for money, actually. I’ve never done anything just to make money. I have to believe in the music, and I have to believe in my band. I have to believe in what I’m doing. I never have ever done anything just to grab money. It’s not my thing. I’m not; I mean, I stay out of what other people are doing. If you know what I’m doing– and you know that I enjoy writing music, especially with Black Country with Joe. And my solo albums have been– the last one was great, and I’ll probably make another one next year. But yeah! I’ll probably do this “Purple” thing till December for sure. I’ll be doing this tour till Christmas, around the end of the year. And the next year, we’ll see. I’m not sure what I’m going to do next year at the moment. I’ll know soon. But things are moving quickly, so things are happening.

THE SONGS AND THE SETLIST

Since the tour started, the setlist has been stable. And I understand it. From your point of view, people want to hear certain songs, and when you go to a new country, people haven’t heard these songs performed live for a long time. How did you choose the songs on the setlist?

Glenn Hughes: The songs I’m playing at the moment are songs that are very visualized and heard– the sound and feel live, and they are perfect, I think, for this project. I’m playing tonight, and these particular songs are the staple of what I would consider being great Mark III, Mark IV songs. There are other songs I could play, and I will play as I move forward that I’ll introduce again as we move forward. I will do that.

Some of your era Purple songs are indeed more “Glenn songs,” and some are more “David songs,” like “Lady Luck.” When the band wrote and recorded those songs, how did you decide who would sing this and that part, and in what way?

Glenn Hughes: Okay. Let’s talk about that. When we were making “Burn,” when we were writing the “Burn” album, David had never written a song before, really. And I had done Trapeze for four years. And we were in the castle writing these songs and rehearsing these songs. And as we were doing it, I would look at him, and he would look at me, and I either would go– it was like, “Sir, would you? Would you?” It was never a fight with David. Never. It was very complimentary, “Take this. I’ll take this.”

Like in “Sail Away,” he sings the first. I sing the second verse. And that’s the way we do it, you know? And in “Burn,” we had no arguments. It’s very, very Glenn. And so, we knew what we were doing. It was very obvious. I never really wanted to do something that… Nah, it’d be wrong. Let him feel comfortable in the role of this new singer. Let me do the thing I’ve been doing. Let me play the bass, and let me sing. Let me come and do my thing, and let’s see what happens?” And it worked really well. We are very good friends. We never had a falling out. We never had a problem with “who should sing what, who should sing this?” Never. I never had a problem.

But here’s something you don’t know. I haven’t really spoken about this so much. I never really spoken to the press about this. This is a complete exclusive. It was late one night, and I was alone in the studio with Martin Birch, and we had recorded the music for a song called “Dealer” Okay? “Dealer” I was alone with Martin. And I said, “Put that track on really quick. Put that track on.” And I sang my own version, lyrics, melody before David, before he even– it was private. It was an intimate moment for me. So, I went to the studio, and I wrote and recorded something you hadn’t heard. And it was okay. It was cool. It was okay, but we never used it. But so, I’m thinking, and I might– I may record. I may play that one. I like that song. I like all the songs. I don’t, but yeah. Nobody knows about it. But it’s okay because it’s– there was nothing strange about it. It was something in– I felt spontaneous. I wanted to do something, and it was interesting.

Deep Purple 1974: Jon Lord, Glenn Hughes, Ian Paice, David Coverdale, and Ritchie Blackmore

SOLO AND MUSIC STYLES

You mentioned earlier that you are going to make a new solo album at some point. Do you already know what kind of record the fans can expect this time?

Glenn Hughes: Well, nothing planned. But I think, at some point, I will want to make new music because I do write music all the time. So, I have got songs that I want to record. It’s just a matter of getting the schedule to make music.

Your latest solo album, “Resonate,” was released in 2016. I loved it because, with that album, you returned to your rock roots.

Glenn Hughes: Yeah, yeah. I did, yeah.

So, my question goes like this: if we put together everything you’ve done: Trapeze, Deep Purple, Black Country Communion, the solo albums, and the other stuff, there are many different styles on those records. There are funk albums, rock albums, blues albums, heavy albums, hard rock albums, and the list goes on. So, after all, which musical style do you prefer to do the most?

Glenn Hughes: I like a mixture. I like the heavy groove. I think I’m one of the few people from the ’70s in rock music playing heavy grooves when I was a teenager. I was a white guy playing black grooves. Seriously. I mean, because I grew up listening to Tamara Martell as a 14-year-old. Most of my friends at 14 were listening to Hendrix and the Cream. I kind of was, but I was more interested in what was being made in Detroit. And then I became, obviously, friends with Stevie Wonder, which was great because Stevie is not only my favorite singer, but he’s a really nice man. Really kind and beautiful, but the answer to your question is, I like heavy, heavy grooves [laughter] with soulful rock vocals [laughter].

So, there is not just one answer to my question?

Glenn Hughes: There’s not an actual answer for you [laughter].

OTHER BANDS AND PROJECTS

What is the situation with the Black Country Communion? Is there any news about that band?

Glenn Hughes: No, I mean Joe, and I want to make– well, the band– Joe and I want to make another album. And we will, next year, I would imagine. We spoke about it. Again, people ask me, “Will you tour?” and you know the answer to that. I don’t know? Because I’m busy, Jason’s very busy, and Joe’s very busy. What you do know about me is this, I was the one that was always, “Maybe I should wait for the band to play,” and then I said to myself two years ago, “I’m not going to wait anymore. I love the guys. I love working with them in the studio, but I’ve got to be playing live.”

That kind of situation is certainly challenging for any band, but at least you will all get along again. There was a lot of “bad talk” in the air when Joe left the group in 2013, but everything seems to be okay now?

Glenn Hughes: That was six years ago, but we’re really close now. The reason the band broke up was that Joe couldn’t commit, and it was difficult to do anything. So, the best thing to do was just to leave it alone, and it came back, and it came back lovely.

One project in which you have been involved in recent years is the King of Chaos. 

Glenn Hughes: Yeah, it’s a band that consists of Matt, Duff, myself, Gilby, Joe Elliot, Steven Tyler from time to time, Miles Kennedy, friends.

I just saw that the band announced some new dates.

Glenn Hughes: Kings of Chaos? Oh, good. I’m happy for them.

Yeah, but I was surprised when I saw the line-up because Gilby is there, but there’s no Matt, no Duff, just many other musicians like Dee Snider, Sebastian Bach, and some other guys.

Glenn Hughes: I haven’t heard about that… Because I mean Matt contacts me from time to time about doing things, but I’m so busy, you know? I’m really busy now. I’m so busy, I mean from now all the way through to December 15, it’s full for me, so… You’re talking to a very grateful man! “Laughs.”

How about Tony Iommi. Have you been in touch with him after Black Sabbath stopped touring?

Glenn Hughes: Friendly, yes. He’s now mixing something called…?

He’s mixing Sabbath’s “Forbidden.”

Glenn Hughes: Yeah, yeah. He’s doing that. He is a very dear friend of mine, and our wives are good friends, and he’s such a good, kind man. Tony’s the king of riff rock, the king of metal riffs. He’s the greatest of any metal guitar player would– he’s the greatest. There’s nobody as cool as him. But more importantly, Tony’s a very good man.

Do you have any other projects or bands planned at this time?

Glenn Hughes: No, I mean, I’m just writing music. I’m always writing music. Yeah.

THINGS IN LIFE

This tour has been running for eighteen months. What is your secret? How do you keep yourself physically and mentally so that you can still do such demanding and long tours?

Glenn Hughes: The magic for me is playing the show long. It’s normally for two hours. It’s about 90 minutes tonight, and then I go to sleep. I have to sleep eight hours and then rest my voice and warm my voice up. Because you know I don’t drink, so it’s easier for me, but I have to be very careful about not getting sick. And trust me. The last time I was in Finland, I got so sick [laughter], but I’m good now. I’m grateful. I’m so grateful to be my age, sing the way I do, and be a good person to the audience.

What is the number one motivation to continue recording and performing rather than being more at home and enjoying the fruits of your successful career?

Glenn Hughes: Number one motivation for me is to give back. The motivation for me is to educate people on love. It sounds strange for a guy in rock music to talk about love, but the world needs to be a loving place. There’s a lot of hate in our world. Young children in Finland or anywhere in Scandinavia grow up with a lot of problems and hate and arguments and fighting. I’m an old hippie, and I want to give love. I think you can see– you saw it in Helsinki. I’m a very loving rock dude [laughter]. So, that’s my thing. It’s no Jack Daniel’s drinking, and it’s no women. It’s all love, and it’s all really sincere giving back the love to the people that have followed me and supported me.

I’m a huge music lover, and most of the bands I’m following are from the ’60s or the ’70s. And the funny thing is that everybody, all those bands, is still running in some form, after 40 or 50 years. They still keep ongoing. And if you look at the bands formed later on, especially after the 90’, those bands don’t last more than only a couple of years.

Glenn Hughes: Yeah. I know. It’s crazy. I just think it’s not easy being in a band that’s lasted that long because it is really important. It’s really important. Every year of our lives, we change. This will sound crazy, but the guy you saw walking in about 20 minutes ago, there’s a new guy right here. That guy was 20 minutes ago. I feel at each moment I’m talking to you and your girlfriend, I’m evolving into this guy. I’m always evolving, hopefully working on a new spiritual condition. Spirituality for me is my whole life.

So, do you think that life is a continuous process?

Glenn Hughes: My life is a continuous evolution of who Glenn Hughes and we are as human beings and give back the love that is freely being given to us by the universe.

The last question. I mentioned that the long-term bands I still like most, and many of those
are from the UK. You’re originally from Cannock, Staffordshire. So, do you ever miss the UK?

Glenn Hughes: I am a UK citizen and an American citizen. My mom and dad have passed away in the last couple of years. I’ve been living in America since 1974. So, it’s my pretty much whole life, so. But do I miss the UK? Yeah. I miss it, but America is my home. I was born in the UK, but America is my home.

So, you don’t see any reason why to move back there someday?

Glenn Hughes: No. I will never move back. Never. No. I’ll never do it. But I love the UK. Don’t get me wrong. I love it. But I’ll never move back. I love America!”Laughs”

 

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