I recently got the chance to interview Glenn Hughes about Black Country Communion and working with Joe Bonamassa.
– Bill Twomey: Glenn thanks so much for taking time to speak with me. Let’s see here, all these questions, were submitted from the fans.
– Glenn Hughes: K.
– B.T: First question is: how did you and Joe first meet?- I know you were both were involved with the Guitar Center competition a while back in November?
– G.H: Well, it was quite simple really. I was at the NAMM show about 3 years ago. Actually through Bogie Bowles, Joe’s drummer. Joe was at an event for James Brown’s band, after James had passed away. Joe was backstage and Bogie introduced me to Joe. Of course, I knew about Joe and he knew my work with Trapeze and Deep Purple, he’s such a classic rock fan. I found Joe to be very personable and a very likeable fella and was very fascinated with how he was working. Bogie’s one of my dear friends, so we became friends through Bogie, and over the course of the last 3 years, Joe and I and Bogie we sort of were jamming and playing and what have you, and it got to the point where, you know, we became really good friends. As you know, as history now knows, Joe was playing in the House of Blues last November and he asked me come down to sit in on a couple of songs. Joe asked me if we could play two of my songs; one was Mistreated from Deep Purple, the other being Medusa from Trapeze. And the rest is rock and roll history!
– B.T: That’s awesome. And have you previously worked with Jason and Derek before?
– G.H: You know, I’ve known Jason since he was 2 years old. He didn’t know his uncle Glenn back then, but I was at John Bonham’s home in the early 70’s. I watched John tutor Jason while he was 3 or 4 years old. But Jason doesn’t remember that. Funny enough, I’ve known Jason pretty much a long time, but I’ve never actually played with him before. So it’s great to have him come in with Derek and Joe to be in this band.
– B.T: Wow. How do you guys think the chemistry is between all of you guys and how did you go about picking the songs?
– G.H: It’s a case of when Joe played the House of Blues, Kevin (Kevin Shirley) was there. Kevin after we played, pulled me aside and said: “You know, we gotta make some music”. Joe and I figured we were gonna make a record together at some point, we haven’t got any specific plans, but we were getting ready to do something. And Kevin came up with the idea of “Let’s just not do a Hughes & Bonamassa album, let’s form a band!” And within 10 minutes the idea of bringing Jason Bonham and then Derek Sherinian. Of course I’ve known Derek as well for 20 years.
– B.T: Wow!
– G.H: Those two names along with Joe and I. Pretty quickly I thought, it’s pretty much what it says on the tale, you’ve got these four guys who haven’t played together before, and Joe had never met Derek, and Derek had never met Jason, so it was kind of brand new. I like a little danger, so I thought “You know, yeah, let’s go with it” and of course Joe said yes. And Joe and I came up with the songs before January the 3rd (the sessions in Malibu). I had a little bit more time on my hands than Joe and Joe asked me to come up with a couple of songs for foundation reasons. So I was down in South America in Brazil last December and I took my guitar down there. I came up with 3 or 4 songs and crossed my fingers hoping that this would be the foundation that would spare the band in January. Joe came up with the first part of the song Black Country which is insane and we went in (to the studio) and recorded the songs and actually came up with One Last Soul, Beggarman, No Time, and Stand. And we cut Medusa and it was fun. And like I said, the rest of it, Joe and I got together at my home and we wrote pretty much the rest of the album in that format.
– B.T: Do you have a favorite song off the album?
– G.H: Oh dear… it’s crazy because you know, I’ve been doing this quite a while. Every album I do, I’m always really into what I do and I work really hard at what I do and I love the process of writing songs. This album, it’s just one of those things where, in your life, certain things come up, come along and you just feel so real good about. And this is this band. It’s such a great combination of guys, because it got together very very quickly. And before you know it there’s a band called Black Country Communion out of nowhere. These songs were put together rather quickly, but with a lot of love and nurturing. I loved it when Joe and I work. It was a magical, magical moment. It was around, I think it was last Valentine’s day, yes it was. For that reason alone I think it was a really good reason, it was a great day, Joe and I sitting in his North Hollywood studio. Also really loved the album track Black Country because it’s old, it is a classic kind of British American rock music. It’s a big big song for us. Actually it is really all the guys in the band and what was brought to the table, and I think these songs on this album are very strong.
– B.T: Not to mention, your voice sounds so good. How do you keep it in shape?
– G.H: Well, for those that want to know, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke. Pretty boring stuff, I know. I don’t do a lot of dairy products. I get a lot of sleep and I do some breathing exercises, I warm my voice up. I really love the art form of singing. As Joe is a great great guitar player, I love to sing. It is just one of those things you know, like I said, I guess I’m one of those guys who was born to sing. Grateful and humble, by the gift has been freely given to me. I’m a student of music, a student of voice, a student of guitar basically, and what have you. All I’ve been doing is being a student till the very end. I presume that Joe is the same way. He’s younger than I am, he’s got his whole life in front of him. But he’s the kind of guy, we’re both the kind of guys that really love the fact that we’ve been given this gift freely.
– B.T: Wow, I can’t believe your voice on One Last Soul. I mean your voice is amazing!
– G.H: Well I think though a lot of that and I know, it’s the same with Joe really. We are first take guys. I’m pretty sure that Joe with Kevin on his albums, I think it’s one or two takes and then we move on. I sang in fact, what people probably don’t know, they’ll know now is part of One Last Soul, especially the last choruses, the line where I’m playing the bass, we actually kept the live vocals, and what you’re hearing when it sort of goes up there in intensity it’s actually how we recorded the track. Joe plays live all the time and it was really great to actually sing live on some of this album. I hadn’t really had the chance to finish some of the lyrics so I couldn’t really sing all of it live. I do really love all the live experience while I was doing vocals.
– B.T: Speaking of live, I heard there’s a tour that’s in the plans, or in the works?
– G.H: We are all excited about our band. I think it’s very obvious that this is an album that needs to be toured, it needs to be played live. I love playing live, and as everybody else does in the band. We’re all doing different things at the moment, but we’re all getting ready to go to phase two, which is a Black Country Communion tour, which will be announced when it’s appropriate. We’re working behind the scenes on acquiring the rights shows and right events, some will be festivals. But, we’re also keeping time until we can announce properly when that will be, but like I said, all four of us are very very excited.
– B.T: Great. Do you know if the band will allow the shows to be recorded, Like Gov’t Mule for example, they allow people to either buy the shows or to either tape em’ themselves?
– G.H: I don’t know how shows internally work out or how they would do it. Maybe you can tell me or maybe Joe’s fans can tell me. I love the fact that they’re recording live every night and allowing the fans to download or have something in their hands they can get. This is something I’m a real firm believer in, so it’s a big two thumbs up for me if that’s appropriate.
– B.T: I mean, you know it’s great too because the fan can go home with the show they attended and it’s just a great way to remember a great concert.
– G.H: I actually did it in one of my shows last year in England. And it really was great, and it was really accepted by the fans, and they loved it. I think everyone likes you know to be there at the show and know that they recorded it. I think they want to be part of that so, I’m all for that, by the way.
– B.T: Where did the “Communion” part of the name come into place?
– G.H: When Joe , Jason, Derek and I got together on January the 3rd. I looked around the room, I was on my microphone and I said “guys…” Because Kevin and Joe you know trying to come up with this name. All the bloody great names are gone. I spoke to John Paul Jones about “Crooked Vultures” thing, it’s a real tough one to get that name. So here you are now with four guys, five guys with Kevin. Trying to figure out a name, and I look around the room, and I’m thinking “You know guys, two of us are from the Black Country”, and Jason said, before I could say it, he said “Well why don’t we call ourselves Black Country?” Well of course! I mean, I think you know and Joe loves the fact that the whole, Zeppelin thing from the Black Countries are part of the English Western Midlands. Sort of the birthplace of British Rock: Zeppelin, Sabbath, Trapeze, Judas Priest, Steve Winwood. They all hail from this area, sort of like the Detroit of America. So when we sat out, I googled “is there a band called Black Country?” and no! There was a Black Country brass band and a place called The Black Country. So Jason that week was down at the NAMM show and he was in an interview and someone in YouTube said “We’re called Black Country”. Little did we know there’s a band in Baltimore, Maryland called “Black Country”. Of course they contacted our lawyer and explained “you can’t use the name”. We had no intention of stealing anybody’s name, we’re not that kind of people. So I came up with the idea of adding a name (a word) at the end of Black Country rather than “band”, or “group”, or “combo”; “communion” was a pretty nice word. When I looked in the dictionary; I knew what It meant to me, and Joe, Derek, Kevin all gave thumbs up on that. So we have Black Country Communion. But people will call us BCC, or they’ll call us Black Country, but officially and legally we are Black Country Communion.
– B.T: The “Communion” part of the name, you don’t hear it that often, so it’s a great name for a band to add into the existing “Black Country” part.
– G.H: Once again, this is not a slam on, this is not a religious term, you know. It’s not Glenn being all kind of you know, God-like or what have you, it’s a spiritual thing, but it’s definitely not religious like. I just like the word “Communion”, it’s has a great vibe, BCC, it looks good. We love the logo, we worked really hard on the logo. I like the name of the band, I think it’s a good statement, and it’s cool.
– B.T: Cool. Glenn I’d like to thank you for your time, for the interview.
– G.H: You’re welcome.
– B.T: Thank you so much!
– G.H: Yeah, you know, it’s cool .I look forward to seeing Joe’s fans at our shows.
– B.T: Great. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the album, I’ve heard One Last Soul so far and it sounds amazing, I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of it.
– G.H: I can say this to you, as a fan of music in general, this is a great, great rock album for rock fans. And I really firmly believe that Joe’s fans will really love this album because Joe’s wonderful on the album. He sings and plays wonderfully as normal. It’s just another avenue for Joe to explore and it’s all beautiful.
– B.T: I’m so looking forward to it. Everything from the live videos that were shown from the Riverside, California show..
– G.H: right…
– B.T: Just the connection between everybody too. Everybody just plays because they love to play.
– G.H: And that’s four guys that have never been onstage ever before. You know, that’s four guys that are brand new to each other. In a world of when a band comes together, it’s normally a band that you see in a garage playing for six months. Or having the availability to write, hang out with each other, lunch, go out, etc. This is four guys that have insane schedules that came together very quickly and trusted one another individually as a unit to come together and make an honest rock album.
– B.T: right.
– G.H: And I believe that’s exactly what want. I’m also a firm believer in faith, karma, look, vibe, and you know it’s a beautiful thing.
– B.T: Thanks again Glenn.
– G.H: Thank you Bill. God bless.