An Interview with Rock and Roll Legend Glenn Hughes

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Maine Music News had the pleasure of chatting with Glenn Hughes on Tuesday the 13th of May, 2014. Rock fans know Hughes as a bassist and vocalist for Deep Purple, Black Country Communion, as well as countless other projects and solo work. Around for a few decades and a legend, Hughes is currently hitting the circuit for the May 20th release of the self-titled debut from his latest band, California Breed, with Jason Bonham and Andrew Watt. Hughes shares some insight into the project.

MMN – Glenn, first and foremost, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. We have been long time fans and really enjoyed your work with Black Country Communion. We had the opportunity to review your last album, Afterglow. What an amazing piece of work that never gets old to listen to.

GH – Thank you, Chris, looking back, I wrote the title song “Afterglow” thinking it would be the end. Kevin Shirley asked me, “Do you really want to records this?” and I said, “Absolutely, I want to record this.” When we look back and listen to that song, it’s a great way to end that chapter. Look, it’s a shame that band ended, but we now have California Breed.

MMN – Let’s get our readers up to speed with what they might be missing – your latest project, California Breed.  Can you share a bit about the band and how this trio came together?

GH – Listen bro, the one thing I did successfully forming this band was this – Jason and I knew after Black Country broke up that we were possibly going to reunite together. We had no interest in making Black Country 2 and no interest in making an album with a guitar player that sounded like Joe or a Hammond player. All the bands previous to me, The Who, The Kinks, The Stones, Zeppelin, and Free, were all trio-orientated kind of sounding guitar wise. Trapeze, too, you know. When you throw keyboards into Glenn Hughes music it adds another dimension. We thought about it on California Breed, but when we got Andrew in the band, I didn’t need a keyboard player. In fact, if you listen carefully on the album, Chris, you can hear a little bit of keyboard. I just didn’t want them to be prominent.

MMN – I can understand that, that old sound that you had, and it was defining, but with California Breed you have accomplished a new sound.

GH – When Joe and I were working together a year before we put Black Country together, we were doing it as a trio, and it was going really well. Kevin came in and said, “No, we need a keyboard player,” and I hesitantly went along with it. I mean I played with John Lord, Rick Wakeman, and I played with Keith Emerson. I have played with the top three Hammond guys, and of course, I knew Derrick Sherinian from Dream Theater. I felt ok that he wanted a modern Deep Purple. I have never really wanted to emulate another Deep Purple thing, but it kind of worked. Joe had more space to do his thing.

However, for me and Jason to emulate Black Country on California Breed would have been ridiculous. I play all kinds of keyboards. Did I want another great Hammond player in the band? No. Can you imagine what The Who or Free or Humble Pie would have sounded like with a major Hammond organ? It just wouldn’t work. It would have gone to a whole other level with a Hammond. When you think of the first song on the California Breed album, can you imagine a Hammond organ on it? Can you imagine a Hammond organ on “You Really Got Me?” I wanted a really organic right-handed guitar player, not knowing he was going to be a young man. I wanted an Angus Young, kind of right-handed guy, no trickery from the left hand like Eddie Van Halen, who I love by the way. I didn’t want an 80’s singer. I wanted this to be either a 1968 or 2014 sound.

MMN – We have had a pre-release copy of the debut on repeat here at our house.  It is just mind-blowing, on so many levels.  Can you talk a bit about creating a band’s signature sound, tone?

GH – What I didn’t do is I didn’t write it on keyboards. With Black Country, I wrote everything on keyboards and guitar. For California Breed, I wrote only on a guitar. Nothing from this album, Chris, was written for any other project than California Breed. There were no Andrew Watt or Glenn Hughes solo songs. We started to write “Chemical Rain” and “Solo” at my house the first day we got together, me and Andrew. A month later we started to send each other what you now hear on the album. I wrote “Breathe” and “The Gray” and “Sweet Tea” and “Days They Come” and sent them to Andrew. He helped me finish them, and he sent me “All Falls Down,” “The Way,” and “Scars,” and I finished them. So I wanted it to be collaborative. Black Country Communion was more Glenn Hughes music because Joe did not want to write and didn’t have time to write. He is a great writer, by the way, an amazingly gifted guy. But with this band, I wanted a collaborative effort.

MMN – Reviews and coverage of the album has been very positive, glowing even, and it is yet to be released.  How has the first single been received by radio and fans?

GH – Look man, radio is a different animal to what it used to be. Everybody has a different opinion on what the single should be. We have four or five songs on this album that could go to radio. The next one will be “All Falls Down” in America, and in Europe it will be “The Gray.” Back in the day, people used to write an album and would have 8 great songs and 4 filler songs. I have never really been one to do that, you know – let’s write something really quick. Fuck that. That’s not going to work for me. Every album I do, I come prepared with an arm load of bloody songs. I think ever since I have been clean and sober, which has been a long time, I used to write specifically for a project, like six weeks before I would go in, I would write. Now, I write every bloody day of the year. I write on my birthday, I write on Christmas Eve. I write on all the bloody holidays, so there is never going to be a shortage of material.

MMN – You worked with producer Dave Cobb on this release, and you recorded live to tape.  What can you tell readers about that process?

GH – It is very, very simple. It is going back to 1967 and the way it used to be. I have not recorded to tape in 30 years. We had the choice the morning we started to use digital or analog, and we all said analog, 2 inch tape. It was remarkable. Then Dave said, “How do you feel about singing live? Let Andrew and Jason go out there, and you can add the bass.” And I did just that, not realizing that what I was singing was going to be the end result. I thought after I did the bass that I was going to sing, and he said “Give me a couple hours and let me see what we have.” The next morning I went to the studio, and he said “Listen man, I have good news. We have got the album.” He played me what I sang, we did two tracks of each song, and we pulled the vocals from one part. I sang it twice, and he pulled the vocals from the best parts. I think a couple of songs were completely live all the way through. It was a really wild moment for me as I am a live singer, just like Steve Marriott was a very live singer. All through my career, I have never been one to sing a song more than two or three times. For me, singing more than three times and it becomes a job, and I don’t want to have a job – I have a career here. I want to keep it fresh.

MMN – Two live dates have been announced – The Whiskey a Go Go and Gramercy Theatre – later this month.  Any discussion yet on more dates later in the year?

GH – We are starting this September. This year will be primarily a lot of European dates and a few American dates as well. Primarily we will be playing Europe and America which are our two main places. We have to also go to South America and the Far East as well. I think we have also been invited to go to Africa as well, which is going to be fantastic. Right now, as we speak we have agents working their tales off. So here we go.

MMN – Hopefully you get routed up near Maine.

GH – Absolutely, we love New England. It was great to play up there with Black Country. For me the East Coast is a special place. We want to play everywhere. For me, at my age, I am very healthy, I get a lot of sleep, and I take care of myself and my voice. I don’t smoke, drink, or carry on. For me it’s all about the performance. I can amuse myself for 22 hours in a day and go on stage and hopefully be fearless and do my job, – sorry – do my thing.

MMN – It seems that Glenn Hughes is getting better with every project, with every year.  Your vocals are better than ever, your energy on stage is captivating to watch – what magic pill do you have?   What is your secret?

GH – What I do is I don’t ever try and out do myself. I think on this album people are going to ask how is he going to do this. I’m going to be honest with you – it’s like an athlete if they don’t warm up. Here is some guy who is going to take a penalty kick in a football game or he wants to take a field goal. If he does not think he is going to score, he is not going to do it. So I have to warm myself up, just like an athlete has to do it. Look, I am fearful, but when I am in the studio, I have to be fearless. All the great soccer stars that I love – and I know a lot of them personally – and they are fearless. You have to be fearless.

MMN – There is the title of your next album, Fearless.

GH – I had a song with Black Country called Faithless. I do sing a lot about fear, resentment, acceptance, sloth, gluttany, pride, anger – the seven deadly fucking sins, baby. I am a man that has no expectations. Expectations are a resentment for the construction. I don’t have time for those. I live in the moment, Chris. I am the moment guy.

MNN – Your rock career goes back to the very late 60s, and you appear to be easily rolling through all the changes to the music industry in the last decade or so – you’re on Facebook, Twitter. California Breed relied heavily on YouTube and publishing interviews for publicity. What has technology made possible for musicians today that you wouldn’t have dreamed of being able to do a few decades ago?

GH – Look man, I am kind of old school. These kids like Andrew grew up on the internet. For the past eight to nine months, I have really been connecting with people over the internet. I have a great following. It’s my job, I hate to use that word, but it is. I have to connect with people and tell them the real deal. A lot of my peers do not do this. I don’t know if they think they have to be young or energized. I just think the future is the fucking internet. It’s not TV or radio anymore, it’s the bloody internet. If you don’t embrace it, you wont be able to get any traction. I want to have that availability to speak to people and be available to do that when I can.

MMN – It means a lot to the fans when someone they have looked up to, someone with that legendary status that you have, actually gives a few moments of your time/life to share with them. Fans really dig that.

GH – Music for me runs through the complete center of me, my life. Music has saved my life. When I got sober back in 1991, I started to write and sing more. In my book, I talk about not remembering the 1980s at all. So ever since I have been on this path of sobriety and clean living, I just really think people can be happy if they want to be. They can be positive and be around loving people. It’s kind of a hippy thing to say, but fuck it, I am a fucking hippy. I am not trying to be retro, I am fucking retro.

I am very much a happy, family-orientated dude that really likes to play music.

MMN – That is awesome and one of the many things that we respect about you. Glenn, thank you for taking the time to chat with me today and I greatly look forward to the time when I can see and photograph a California Breed show.

GH – Thank you, bro, it’s always a pleasure. Say hi to your wife for me and thank her for me for the wonderful review she wrote of the Afterglow album, and hopefully we will see you in the fall.

To purchase California Breed’s new album visit

iTunes: http://smarturl.it/CaliforniaBreed
Amazon: CD:http://smarturl.it/CB_AmzCD
Amazon: CD/DVD: http://smarturl.it/CB_AmzCDDVD

For more information on CALIFORNIA BREED, visit:
www.californiabreed.com
www.facebook.com/CaliforniaBreed

http://instagram.com/CaliforniaBreedOfficial/#
http://www.youtube.com/user/CaliBreedBand
https://plus.google.com/+CaliforniabreedOfficial/posts
https://myspace.com/california.breed
#CaliforniaBreed

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