Vocalist/bass guitarist/songwriter Glenn Hughes is a true original. No other rock musician has carved such a distinctive style blending the finest elements of hard rock, soul and funk. That astonishing voice is Hughes’ calling card. He’s known as a singer’s singer. Stevie Wonder once called Hughes his favorite white singer.
Hughes, a native of Cannock, England, absorbed all kinds of influences, including early British hard rock, the Beatles and, most importantly, American soul and R&B. The sleek Motown sound from Detroit and the gritty Stax/Volt sound from Memphis left their mark on him.
The first important band Hughes was a member of that achieved notable success was Trapeze. The band’s early ’70s albums included Medusa, Trapeze and You Are The Music… We’re Just The Band. In 1973, Hughes joined Deep Purple. The trailblazing hard-rock legends had just weathered the departure of vocalist Ian Gillan and bass guitarist Roger Glover, but guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, keyboardist Jon Lord and drummer Ian Paice continued with the addition of Hughes and David Coverdale.
Since 1992, Hughes has toured extensively in Europe, Japan and South America in support of solo albums, but more recently has been involved with award winning supergroups’, Black Country Communion with guitar star Joe Bonamassa, keyboard player Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater) and drummer Jason Bonham, son of the late Led Zeppelin legend John Bonham and just last year, California Breed, who also featured both Hughes and drummer Jason Bonham along with newcomer guitarist Andrew Watt.
We caught up with Glenn mid way through the European leg of his current tour and began asking him about the UK leg, which begins in Southampton on October 16, and his latest recording ‘Waterfall’ with Dario Mollo in Voodoo Hill
TCRS: How are you doing Glenn? Looking forward to coming back to tour ol’ Blighty? We’ll catch you in Norwich (The Waterfront, October 19).
GH: I’m doing good man. I’m doing really good. I’ve got to tell you how excited I am to be playing in the country of my origin.
TCRS: Can I offer you a hearty congratulations on the Voodoo Hill album you did with Dario Mollo. Lyrically and musically it’s a solid album. GH: Thank you. I think it was good to do an album after Cali’Breed (California Breed). I needed to. What would I do if I couldn’t speak through my music? I try not to do a lot of talking. I can’t look into my work in the 80’s because it was so bland. The lyrics I write these days are so subliminal and so euphoric, they ring true to me. So some of the lyrics on Voodoo Hill’s Waterfall is better than anything I’ve ever written.
TCRS: It’s a mighty fine sounding album. Everybody on there is really pushing.
GH: You know, Dario sent me those tracks and I went into my studio writing room in my home and I wrote the 10 songs in two days. And I recorded them in two afternoons!
TCRS: Good grief!
GH: What I like to do is, I like to write in the moment. And I write about, you probably know this, I don’t write about Devils and Goblins and what have you. I let other rock singers do that. I write about the human condition. I wrote about stuff that you or your family or we are going to go through. Let’s just say, if you know anything about me, you know that I’ve been through the mill. You’ve heard the stories about me, most of them are true, but I have lived 10 lifetimes. I’m very sensitive, driven by fear, driven by insanity and driven by recovery, hence my lyrical content. It’s not about boy meet girl is it? It’s about boy loses girl. Boy almost dies. It’s pretty, pretty wild.
TCRS: You are without a shadow of a doubt a distinctive sounding musician. And that’s borne out of what just related in the music that you write.
GH: I think the last track on Voodoo Hill which you probably haven’t heard called the last door. I think we when you garnish that and you listen to what I’m saying. It’s pulsating. It’s who I am.
TCRS: Your longevity in performing on records and on stage seem to have continued unabated despite, as you’ve mentioned, the ups and downs. How do you keep going?
GH: Faith. I think you know about what happened. I’ve been in two bands in the past five years, California Breed and Black Country (Communion). As the lead spokesperson for both of those bands, when anything goes wrong, with any company, it’s the CEO they point the fingers at. And that would be me, so I was the one regardless of what happened, who takes the blame. You need to know this, that the people that hear and read this that all I wanted to do was be in a band with Joe and Jason and Derrick and Andrew. But certain people didn’t want to work hence me being scolded for something I wanted to do. So when California Breed broke up in December, I decided I’d go back to my regular Glenn Hughes thing and it just seems to be that the time is right for me now. There’s no coincidence that Robert Plant won 6 Grammys 7 years ago. It was like ‘his time’, you know. I get that. I didn’t expect to get to sell out a complete South American tour. I didn’t expect to sell out Vienna last week with 300 people outside. Its insane. I just think it’s the people I have surrounded myself with new management, new agent. Having them by my side has really helped.
TCRS: Your book ‘Deep Purple and beyond: Scenes from the life of a Rockstar’ was published in 2011 and it shed a bright light on your career.
GH: Yeah it was 2011. I wrote it, and check this out MJ, I wrote that 10 years ago, but it took 4 years for me to talk about my relapses. I didn’t want to tell you that I was a bad boy, when you thought I wasn’t. I got sober in ’91 and let’s just say we had a few slip ups in the mid ’90s. I didn’t think it was important to tell you, but what was made clear to me one evening as I slept was that probably somebody out there that’s gonna know that I’m lying and that would be me. I can’t live a lie, so consequently it took me a year to rewrite few passages and to bear my ass. I’m a man of no secrets. I’ve done some things in my life that have not been spectacular and been unkind, but I’ve never gone out of my way to hurt another human being. So I wanted to do it properly and it took four years to write that book. Well, it’s in seven languages and I’m gonna have to write other books and consequently I’m gonna be doing a film. Not about book, but I’m doing a film in December in the Far East. And I’m stretching the boundaries of what a rock artist should be. It’s not just about the normal anymore it’s about visuals. It’s about stretching the boundaries you know? It’s just being something a lil’ different.
TCRS: Are we likely to see some additional chapters written?
GH: I have been asked to do that. It’s a matter of working it all out. Because since then I’ve done an open heart surgery and I’ve had this happen and that happen and things….I guess three more book there. I could write three more books. You know?
TCRS: You mentioned Black Country Communion and California Breed earlier, bands that have been so popular with fans of all ages. What are the chances of rekindling relationships with some of your former band mates?
GH: If I told you that…let’s just say this every person I’ve played with, especially in my sober years are very very good friends of mine. But being in a band is difficult when everybody’s got hidden agendas or they don’t come. If I’m gonna form a band with you and I’m 64 and I’ve got 7, 8, 9, 10 years left. I’ve got ten years to do what I want to do. I mean, I’m in an arena, on the arena stage. I can’t form another super group with three other dudes that one of them may do this again to me. My management in L.A. say there’s more interest in you now than if you put a super group together. I am with Slash, Matt, Duff and Steven Tyler in Kings of Chaos, we play about 15 shows a year and its fantastic, but it’s a bloody lot of work you know? You got a lot of managers, a lot of coming and going, you’ve got this and that. I love my friends in Kings of Chaos we’ve been friends for 30 years, but the essence of who I am is my work as a solo artist. Still making new music, still working with the orchestras and again making movies. My management company are very much in the movie industry in L.A. and they see Glenn Hughes as vital entity within that genre.
TCRS: It’s great to hear that positivity from you Glenn especially after what you’ve been throug, what you’ve been put through and what’s been written about you…
GH: You know something bro’? ‘Cause this is the world you live in. This is what you do. I can’t read those damn comments. You know, it’s like Ozzy is one of my dear friends, Ozzy Osbourne. If we could be in a room of a hundred people and there’s one guy giving us the fucking finger, right, and we’re only concerned about is that one guy! So what I don’t do is, I don’t go and read comments on news websites because people who have nothing but bad to say people are envious. They have no life, they think that they own what they say and people will go along with that. I’m sensitive and but I don’t give a shit. You cannot buy the success that I’ve had with money. You have to earn it. The world has changed man from 30 years ago. It’s just changed drastically but the music for me it’s healed me it’s kept me alive. It’s given me an amazing lifestyle with family and you know, I think I’m writing the best music I’ve ever written right now.
TCRS: You’ll be heading over to tour the UK again, beginning Saturday October 17 in Southampton. Tell us about the band you’re bringing over Glenn?
GH: I have a guitar player called Shawn Anderson, before BCC he was my guitar play for five years. Great guitar player, but he unfortunately really booked himself out this year. So I said to myself “Christ! Who am I going to get?” So I got on the phone with somebody in Vegas, a friend of mine in Vegas he was best man in my wedding. And he said “You got to call Doug Aldrich.” And I went “Oh my god! Of course I’m gonna call Doug Aldrich!” I called Doug Aldridge and within two minutes he was in! Yeah, ok, we had to change some plans because he was contracted to do some things in Las Vegas. You know? His new wife’s having a baby and I’m going “Oh my god! Is this gonna be happening?” And then you know we went to South America and it was so successful. And I have to say this to you about Doug; not only is he one of the Top 5 guitar players I’ve played with, and I’ve played with them all!, he is one of the nicest men we have in the industry. And not a bad looking guy to have on the stage too. [laughs] He’s a good looking boy. Hey you know something man? Years ago it would have been difficult for me to have these younger dudes on the stage with me, but you know something, we’re just human beings, man. People want to fucking have fun and you know? It’s like I’ve played with all kinds of people. Doug’s just one of those kinds of guys that’s just this great human being. He really is.
TCRS: And you’ve got Pontus Engborg on drums?
GH: Yeah, Pontus is with me before BCC. He was with me from, yeah, 3 years before BCC. He went to school in L.A. and learned drums in L.A. My best friend is Chad Smith, and Pontus is like a mini Chad. You know? So it’s like I get to play with Chad Smith’s brain behind the drum kit.
TCRS: That is one awesome line up and it gets a double thumbs-up from us here in the UK!
GH: That is really cool man. It really means alot to me to have someone from my own country sticking their thumbs up for me.
TCRS: That’s the band, so what can we look forward to hearing on this tour?
GH: Four decades worth and it starts at Trapeze and then it’s gonna go on to (Deep) Purple, Black (Sabbath), you know? Black Country (Communion) then Glenn Hughes’ Songs In The Key Of Rock tracks and Soul Mover. You know? It’s gonna be be dramatic. It’s gonna be sensitive. It’s gonna be aggressive and it’s gonna be a little bit of all of the stuff. But lets be clear, wearing the rock hat, wearing the rock clothes and sounding like a rock guy. This is all rock!
TCRS: What do you have planned going into 2016?
GH: Full year ahead. I don’t even have time to make an album. I’m gonna be in Africa in February, North America in March, Europe etc. Festival season starts in May ends in September. Back to Malaysia in October and I’ll be finishing the tour next November 16th. There’ll be another UK run. We’re building, building, building. I really want to be doing this, it’s something that, if you know my history, I haven’t toured enough. Now it’s all changing; I think I need to be touring more and more and more. When people think of Glenn Hughes, they say you’ve gotta see him sing live to know who he is. So that’s what I’m doing.
TCRS: For the time being, thanks Glenn. We’ll see you out on the road.
GH: Come on. Let’s have some chips! [Laughs]
GLENN HUGHES – OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2015 UK TOUR
Sat 17 Southampton, ENGLAND – Engine Rooms BUY TICKETS
Mon 19 Norwich, Waterfront BUY TICKETS
Tue 20 Newcastle, Tyne Theatre BUY TICKETS
Thu 22 Belfast, Limelight BUY TICKETS
Fri 23 Glasgow, The Garage BUY TICKETS
Sun 25 Holmfirth, Picturedrome BUY TICKETS
Mon 26 Bilston, Robin 2 BUY TICKETS
Wed 28 York, Fibbers BUY TICKETS
Thu 29 Manchester – Club Academy BUY TICKETS
Sun 01 London, Electric Ballroom BUY TICKETS
Special Guest on the tour is Jared James Nichols who will perform songs from his new album “Old Glory & The Wild Revival” and his forthcoming tour EP “Highwayman” featuring the single “We’re An American Band”.
Go check out Glenn Hughes at www.glennhughes.com
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