Glenn Hughes, bassist, vocalist and songwriter chats with Kevin Cooper about being inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, his relationship with David Coverdale, working with Joe Bonamassa, and his latest album Resonate.
Glenn Hughes is an English rock bassist, vocalist and songwriter, who played bass with funk rock pioneers Trapeze, was a member of Deep Purple as well as briefly fronting Black Sabbath in the mid-1980s.
He was recruited to replace Roger Glover as bassist in Deep Purple in 1973, although he easily stepped up to the role of vocalist. With David Coverdale later being hired to be the lead vocalist, the two shared the role until the band broke up in 1976.
In 2009 he fronted the super group Black Country Communion, with Joe Bonamassa, Jason Bonham and Derick Sherinian. He also formed and performed in California Breed from late 2013 to early 2015. Hughes also maintains a notable solo career.
In 2011 he published his autobiography, Deep Purple And Beyond: Scenes From The Life Of A Rock Star, which was co-written with author Joel Mclver. An extended edition was published in late 2011 titled Glenn Hughes: The Autobiography.
On 8 April 2016, Hughes was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame as a member of Deep Purple Mk III.
About to release his latest album, Resonate, he took some time to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.
Hi Glenn how are you today?
Hi Kevin I’m good and yourself?
I’m very well thank you and let me thank you for taking the time to speak to me today?
Sure thing, it’s my pleasure.
And just how is life treating Glenn Hughes today?
Never better. It’s been a strange year because I had a knee replacement last December of the left knee and knee replacement of the right knee this January so I have been in recovery for about six months. Then I got inducted into The Hall Of Fame and my dad died that very same day. So it’s been a strangely sad but beautiful year because I made my new album Resonate because I just knew that going into the studio had to be done, because I had something special to put down. I had been constantly writing from February until May and I had all of these songs that no one except my wife had heard and I knew that I had something focused and I just knew that it was going to be a rock album. A lot of people may have thought that I would never make another album of pure organic rock but I have done just that. So I am very excited by it.
I was going to congratulate you on being inducted into The Hall Of Fame but was going to add that it would have been even better if it had happened whilst Jon Lord was still with us.
I have to tell you that it’s not like I knew the guys who are in the committee but I now do and we have spoken about that very point in question. It’s a strange dynamic at The Hall Of Fame because a lot of bands just never get in; bands like Yes have never even been nominated. I could go on with Thin Lizzy, Judas priest, Iron Maiden, it’s just such a strange dynamic with Deep Purple being inducted twenty years after they could have been inducted. Deep Purple have sold over one hundred and forty million albums worldwide. If you have sold that many albums and you are not in The Hall Of fame then something is bloody wrong. In America, being in The Hall Of Fame gives you a huge opportunity, it’s like winning an Oscar or it’s like winning a BAFTA over there in the UK.
Its huge you know it’s fucking huge. It’s a huge thing for me because I live in America. The Hall Of Fame is like The Football Hall Of Fame, The Baseball Hall Of Fame, Basketball Hall Of Fame, the Oscars, and then you have got The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. To the Americans it really is a huge thing. I have just played a sold-out tour of America and it really, really helped my profile over here.
At the induction was it nice to be back with the boys again?
You have asked me the question so I am not going to lie to you. It was weird. I don’t have any relationship with (Ian) Paice, (Ian) Gillan and (Roger) Glover and I mean zero. The only one that I have a relationship with in a really, really good way and have done since August 1973 is (David) Coverdale. We are joined at the hip but I have no relationship with Deep Purple Mk III at all. We don’t speak, we don’t talk, and we have no friendship at all. It is a very strange scenario. I think that everybody can see that and read between the lines.
I have been playing Resonate for the past few weeks and I have to say that I think that it is an excellent piece of work.
Thank you man. We are all excited by it. I have had new management for the past three years together with a new agent and it is a team of people who are working tirelessly to make sure that this album gets promoted and played and is placed in the right places. I am doing a massive promotion campaign for this album; I’m even talking on Sundays, how about that (laughter). This album for me is the first of a few rock albums where I have gone back to my roots as being a lad that grew up in the West Midlands playing rock music. Bonzo (John Bonham) was my best friend and having come from the Black Country area a lot of great musicians came from that part of the world, Robert (Plant) and Bonzo, Judas Priest, ELO, Trapeze, Slade so it is like a great area to come from.
I really do like the track Steady and personally feel that it would have made a great Deep Purple track.
(Laughter) well, when I wrote that song I didn’t at that time know that I was going to have a keyboard player on the album. Steady was the first song that I wrote for the album and when I had Lachy (Doley) come in from Sydney, Lachy plays with Jimmy Barnes over in Australia, and he is a really well known keyboard player over there. I have to say to you that I think that right now Lachy Doley is simply the best keyboard player that we have alive on the planet. He is just insane (laughter). So when we started to record Steady I asked Lachy to play an intro. I suggested that he play a D chord on his left hand and just go for it with his right hand and he did and it is just great. Perfect.
Are you happy with the album?
Extraordinarily happy because I got to make an uncompromised album of what I consider to be Glenn Hughes music. There are certain chords that I play and when I play them heavy they are chords that you won’t hear in rock music but when I play them heavy then the only other band that can pull it off is Stone Temple Pilots. They are the Minor 9th and Major 7th but when you play them heavy they sound really great. The Beatles did it too. They are chords that are not used in the normal rock way but I have placed them all over the album because they are happy and quite dramatic chords. They speak to me and because I produced this album I got to choose what I wanted to do.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like because I wrote it, produced it and I love it, it’s because I got the chance to do something that I considered to be a complete Glenn album, because I wrote it and arranged it. Look, it is difficult for me to tell you how I feel about it simply because it is not for me to say. However, everybody who I have spoken to who has heard the album they all say that it is the greatest Glenn album that they have heard. I am so close to the album because I have only recently written it so it is nice when people make comments like that.
Lots of the comments are already saying that it is the best work that you have ever done.
If I were speaking to you in the third person here, then I would have to say that I think that this album is the greatest Glenn Hughes rock album ever and when I say rock I mean pure rock. In the rock genre Addiction was a rock album, Soul Mover was a rock album too but this album is definitively a rock album. If you open up an encyclopaedia and look at the definition of rock it will simply say Glenn Hughes. For me this is the greatest piece of work that I have done as a rock artist throughout my entire career. This album engulfs everything that I have ever done. It really makes everything else seem lacklustre. This new album is so full of life and so vibrant.
There was an eight year gap between First Underground Nuclear Kitchen and Resonate. Was that simply down to your work with Black Country Communion?
That’s exactly right. In 2009 I was primarily getting myself ready for Black Country Communion coming out of 2010. I did write a lot of songs in Black Country Communion and as you know I was primarily the lead writer. At that time I really didn’t know if I wanted to actually play outside of Black Country Communion as I was enjoying some free time whilst enjoying myself and spending some time away from home travelling, and low and behold, here I am this year and back in January I said to myself that I really did need to make an album. Back then I had absolutely no idea that Black Country Communion were going to get back together plus I was and still am playing with Kings Of Chaos who you will know are Slash, Chester Bennington, Billy Gibbons, Myles Kennedy, Steven Tyler amongst other guys.
Having said that, it simply wasn’t enough for me, I needed to be playing all of the time. I can play anywhere in the world now, whereas probably ten years ago that wouldn’t have been possible because I didn’t have the right representation, but now I do. So I am really grateful and thankful that I have all of those things.
Are you going out on tour with the new album in the future and will it include a visit to the UK?
I very much am looking forward to touring the UK. It is important for me to come back to the UK as often as I can because I am an American now and I have been living in America for the last forty-three years now. England now is not a place that is home for me; it is where I was born but it is always nice to come back and play to the fans over there. I have a great fan base in the UK so it will be fun.
Does touring still excite you?
I most definitely still get the buzz out of touring. There is no question about it. To put it simply, if I didn’t get the buzz I wouldn’t do it. I’m lucky in that I have a great business model because for me being solo is a great business opportunity for me because where the business used to concentrate on selling records it is now concentrating more on the merchandise together with meet and greets, blah blah blah. I get to meet the fans, and more importantly I get to promote my work. I own everything so it is a case of understanding it all. My wife is a great financial wizard and so I am learning about the business side of things now. I never used to do that but now I have no choice (laughter). I want to know all about the business side of music.
I interviewed Joe (Bonamassa) a few weeks ago now and he said that you and he are writing some really great songs together.
To be honest with you we have just spent five days doing just that. In fact Joe is coming over this afternoon. This will blow your mind when I tell you that Joe has been at my house more this week than he has ever been on any of the first three albums. We are both so in love with this new album that, I have to be careful because I am only supposed to be promoting Resonate, but I will be having two really big albums out next year. Joseph and I have rekindled a love affair; we never really broke away from each other, we have always loved each other but we found ourselves making some amazing music here so the next album should be a really great moment.
Do you still regard Black Country Communion as a living thing, a growing thing?
I don’t know, let’s just see what happens because Kevin, it’s a thing where what I don’t want to do this time is when the next Black Country Communion album comes out, I am the only one who does any talking. If anything goes wrong or something doesn’t happen then I am the one who gets shot down in flames. All of these people have so many ridiculous comments about me being some sort of crazed weirdo. So all that I can say to you Kevin, is that we will be making an album and lets just see what happens. Joe and I would love to play some shows. Are we going to tour extensively, I doubt that because as you know Joe is a solo performer.
I, on the other hand am going to be out all next year playing as well. I will be playing all through the summer both in America and Europe, as Joe is but will we play some shows together, you will just have to wait and see. I would imagine so but only because we feel that the album is going to be a really great album. If this album wasn’t going to be a killer and all filler we really wouldn’t be doing this. We wouldn’t be going into the studio. Joe and I would have known on Tuesday or Wednesday of last week if we weren’t firing on all cylinders. What I can tell you is that we came in strong and we really feel it on this album.
I think that Black Country Communion 4 and Resonate will be two great albums from me and I personally feel that Joe’s last album was his best work for quite some time. It is my favourite Joe album and I think that it did really well for him.
So when will you be looking to release Black Country Communion 4?
What I can tell you at this moment in time is that recording will begin in January 2017 for a scheduled May release.
I know that there have been many but if I had to push you for just one, what would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?
As you have said there have been many but for me being inducted into The Hall Of Fame was epic. However, because my dad died that day it was a pretty grim affair. We all know that the California Jam was great and so I don’t want to keep going on about that. I am honestly not being goaded into saying this to you but for me, being able to write all of these songs for Resonate knowing that this album is the first complete Glenn Hughes rock album is probably the highlight of my career so far. It is better than anything that I ever did in Deep Purple and in fact this album really does dwarf anything that I have ever done in the rock genre.
So I am really behind this record, I am really promoting it and you have to remember that it is really difficult for an artist to come out and say “I really hate my latest album” (laughter). I really do love what we have done on this album. Everybody has put so much soul into it and long may that continue because we are going to be touring this album and this is almost like a new beginning for me, a new chapter in my life.
Are you always writing?
Every day for three hundred and sixty-five days per year. I don’t tend to write when I am on a plane for twenty hours but I have guitars waiting for me and I have recording devices everywhere. I even write on Christmas day. I started to write daily round about Christmas 1993. I had got myself some new recording equipment in my basement and I remember that my Mum and Dad came over from England, it was Christmas Eve and I was down in my studio and I couldn’t come up, I was lost in song. And that is the way that it has been for twenty-two years.
You released Glenn Hughes: The Autobiography back in 2011. Were you happy with just how well it was received?
Yes I was, I really was and I am really happy with the book. It is a book of truths because it is the secrets that will kill me. What I did Kevin was that I wrote the book eight years ago and seven years ago I reread it and realised that I wasn’t really telling the whole story. So it took me a year to tell the truth about my slips, when I went out and drank again, and when I found myself in Amsterdam with let me say strange bedfellows. I wanted to tell the truth because as a member of a Twelve Step Programme if you don’t tell the truth then there is a real chance that you may go out again. I wanted to bare my ass if you will.
So I went and dug deep and told people just how ugly it was. I never ever glamorised cocaine addiction. I never made it look glamourous, it was never glamorised. There are no winners in drug addiction. There are no winners, there are no great looking people on drugs. What happened to me was that I had a heart attack and everything that was associated with that and the story just needed to be told. I needed to tell the truth. It saved my life.
You mentioned earlier that you and David (Coverdale) are really getting on well together. Is there any chance of you and him working together again in the future?
To be honest we have spoken about it and it would appear that David was going to retire next year but somehow I don’t think that is going to happen now (laughter). We talk about it but we have never pencilled in any time. We really are the best of mates and I think that we are really good friends because we love each other very, very much. What you also have to remember is that we are business partners too in the Deep Purple thing so we are constantly talking business. I got back onstage with him last year in Beverly Hills which was great. If you spoke to David he would probably say the same thing, we are so close we are like blood. It really is incredible.
If you could have written one song in the world, what would it have been?
That would have to be It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World by James Brown. You wouldn’t know this but that song which was written in 1966 triggered me to write a song in 1972 called What Is A Woman’s Role with Trapeze. It’s my answer to what James Brown was talking about. It kind of helped me write that song which was a pivotal song for me with Trapeze. It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s is such an anthemic song, the orchestration, James Brown’s words, his melodies and his screaming. If Prince was alive he would tell you the same thing, that song was a life changing song for a lot of people. I could list you ten songs right now but that’s the song that did it for me. James Brown was such an incredible performer.
On that note Glenn let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me. It’s been a pleasure.