By Andrew Bansal
Hard rock singer/bassist extraordinaire Glenn Hughes is no stranger to fans of the genre andthrough the past nearly five decades, as a solo artist and in various bands including Trapeze and Deep Purple, collaborations with the likes of Tony Iommi and Gary Moore, and projects such as Black Country Communion and California Breed, he has established himself as a living legend. On November 4th 2016, Glenn Hughes released ‘Resonate’,his thirteenth full-length solo album and first in eight years. Claiming it to be the first ever album he made all by himself, and calling it a very personal set of songs in their lyrical content, Hughes spoke to Metal Assault on the release date to dicuss ‘Resonate’ in detail, along with his personal battles, future plans and more. Read the conversation below.
Glenn, it’s a pleasure to have you again. Recently, you did a round of US headline solo dates. How did that go?
Oh, it was incredible! There was a period in my life where I was not doing much work at all in America. When I got sober in ’91, I got out of treatment and I had big success overseas with a big song, and it sort of continued, and I kept working overseas. But I’ve been living in America for 43 years. It is my home. This is really where I need to be. So, we decided last year that I would concentrate working North America as much as possible. We did a tour in August and we’ll do one in April, and may be another one towards the end of next summer!
That’s great to hear. Talking of your new album, ‘Resonate’, it came out today on Frontiers, and it’s been a while since you put out a solo album. How did this one come together and what made you decide to do it at this point?
It’s quite simple. I had both my knees replaced, I had my left knee done in December and the right knee in January, and I obviously had to have time at home to recover and have physical therapy. So, that sort of laid me off for six months. Around the time of the Hall Of Fame thing in April, I started to feel better. But I stayed home and I found myself in my studio in my house everyday, writing the songs that would become ‘Resonate’. I had no idea I was going to make a solo album this year, but I had some free time and being in the studio writing songs everyday as I have been doing for quite some time, I had enough songs by the end of May to record. So, I went to record in Copenhagen for the first time, and we had the new album. For me, it’s a very focussed Glenn album, it’s obviously a very hard rock record, the first hard rock record I’ve put out in quite some time. My fans really wanted this kind of record, so I did this for them.
In some cases, when people like you that have been around for so long put out new albums, sometimes new albums have songs that have been kind of lying around forever. That’s not the case with this album though, right? It’s all brand new material?
No no, these are all brand new songs. When I make a record, whether it’s for myself or Black Country Communion or California Breed, it’s always songs I’ve written in that period. I have a huge amount of songs I’ve stockpiled in my vault, but I like to release songs I’ve just been working on fresh. It’s always vibrant new material, and that’s why I got all these songs for ‘Resonate’, because they’re all from that same window of writing. All the songs are written about life, about healing, about discovery, about saying goodbye to my dad who died the same day as the Hall Of Fame ceremony, and it’s a very celebratory album, but it’s also an album of life and death. It’s a very real album.
Yeah, and in terms of the actual sound on the album, it’s definitely your own stamp and signature in that sense, but going into it, did you have any idea of what you were going to do with it?
When I write songs I always have a good idea of how they should sound, and this time I wanted to produce it, so I had no fear about the chords I was writing. Some of these chords you wouldn’t hear on another album. They’re not really hard rock chords. Some of them are quite adventitious chords but when they’re played loud and played with drama, they come across very strong. So I wanted to mix the style of Glenn Hughes, which is very much hard rock, and that very groove-orientated thing, and the soulful aspect. When you mix it all together, it’s who I am.
You’ve had other people recording various instruments on this album, but in terms of the creative process, it was all just you 100 per cent?
It was me, and I can say this is the first complete Glenn album. This is the first album where I wrote and arranged everything from start to finish. I knew exactly what needed to be done with melatrons, keyboards and acoustics, and how many background vocals and tracks I’m going to need. I just had this very definitive idea of what I needed for this particular album, and it makes me question myself, “How come I didn’t do this 20 years ago?” (Laughs) I’m laughing because may be I should have done that. But it doesn’t matter. I don’t think of life in terms of time. I think of life in terms of the way you are at that moment, you know. May be I wasn’t ready to make this record last year, may be I didn’t have the time and I was too busy. This album needed a nurturing, loving window. It needed some time for me to sit and write, and that’s what I did. And I think, from the general opinion, now that the album is out, everybody can hear it in the songs. You know, I always like to give as much as I can, but this album is a real special record for me, and I think it’s a special record for rock fans.
You said you asked yourself why you didn’t do it 20 years earlier. What if I were to ask you that question now? Was it just a matter of mindset that you were in back then?
It’s because I write songs about the human condition. I write about life, death, being born, what happens in the middle, fear, faith and no faith. I don’t write about hobbits, elves, goblins, witches and sorcerers. Other people do that really well, but I write about the human condition. Three years ago I had open-heart surgery, I’ve had these surgeries with my knees, my father dying, and I almost died three years ago on a table in a hospital from really complicated heart surgery, something that I haven’t spoken a lot about. So I wanted to talk about this on my album. Other people that have been going through things like these with their family and fathers and mothers, I like of think of myself as someone who can help them and my music is some kind of healing. I just wanted to be of service to people, so hopefully they will get the message.
Right, and having gone through the kind of things you did, as you just mentioned, first of all I’m sure you feel fortunte to survive, and secondly it’s a blessing for you to be able to channel it into music and express yourself and kind of relieve yourself, in a way.
It really is. I can’t think about the other albums I’ve made. I’ve done things I’m really happy about. I’ve made some albums that are different. But if you’re a hard rock fan, this is the album for you. This is the album you’ve waited for from me. If you’re a hard rock/classic rock/metal fan, a fan of pushing riffs and dark, brooding lyrics, this is the album for you. This is what I wanted to give to people that like this kind of music, and it’s also the music of Glenn Hughes. It’s not me trying to be anybody other than what I am. I have this thing where I can be a soulful writer as well as technical, emotional, heavy, dark and melodic. It’s all within me to do these things (laughs). I’m laughing because it can get in my way. I didn’t think it was getting in my way on this album. I let myself be free. I’ve been reading the reviews this week, and this, Andrew, has been the greatest reviewed album of my entire career. I’m talking, entire career, all the way from Trapeze, Purple, Iommi, Black Country Communion to California Breed, this has been the best reviewed album I’ve ever made, and I’m so, so happy and grateful for that.
I’m sure that’s a great feeling. The other thing I wanted to ask you is, you’re known as a great performer, specially around here in the LA area where you’ve played solo and with a lot of different people. But how do you compare getting on stage and performing, to recording in a studio where nobody is really watching you?
It’s all connected to me. I’ve been doing this for almost five decades. Whether it’s on stage or in the studio, when I’m at the microphone in the studio, I have my lyrics. You have to imagine, it’s like an actor reading a script. He or she is about to shoot a scene and they get into a role. On this album, there’s many roles. The voice I have on ‘Landmines’ is different to that on ‘God Of Money’, and the voice I have on ‘When I Fall’ is different from what I’m doing on ‘My Town’. It’s like different role plays for me. So, I like to think of myself as an actor when I’m singing in the studio, but when I’m on stage, it’s just who I am, Glenn. I don’t think of anything, I don’t know what the hell is going on. I’m just in the moment, singing. When I’m recording, I get into a specific role play. I’ve never been so angry on an album as I was on this one. I was really pissed off because my dad had died and I was in a grieving process. I mean, he had just died a few weeks before I made the album, and I was really upset. You can hear it. I wanted to keep the feeling on the album. I didn’t want to hide the real Glenn. I’m a person that has no secrets. I’ve written a book about my life, I’ve told you everything, I’ve told you the good and the bad and the freaky and the weird and the wonderful.
Absolutely. So, it’s fair to say it’s easier for you to perform live, because you’re not having to be an actor.
I love it. I think everybody that has seen me live knows that I’m a lead-singing bass player who really thrives on the live connection with his audience. This album is begging to be played live, and it will be played live across the world. It’s something that needs to be done. I’m getting older but I also have a vision, and I don’t get in the way of my higher power. I let it run the show. I don’t run the show anymore. When I start running the show, things can go wrong. So I stay out of the way and let other people do things for me that make sure it all happens. But I think with this album, I’ve laid the foundation for what is to become. When an artist makes an album and it’s a game-changer for them, which is what people are saying about this album, I think it needs to be promoted. It will be, by my record company and myself. That’s what I plan.
Before any tour, there’s always various kinds of preparation involved, including in some cases, things like finding a dogsitter while you’re away. You were supposed to do a UK and Europe tour very soon, but it got canceled. How are you dealing with this unexpected down time?
Now, I’m actually writing the lyrics for Black Country Communion. Joe (Bonamassa) and I finished the music last week, so now I have the rest of this year to finish the songs. The lyrics needs to be written and I want to take some time doing that. So, that’s what I’m going to be doing. We go in the studio January 3rd, so I have six weeks to prepare the lyrics. Listen, I write lyrics all day long but I want to make sure I got the right lyrics for the band. And then I have another thing happening in March which I can’t say at the moment, but something really special. And then in April I will tour America, and in May, June and July I’ll be doing festivals in America and Europe.
I was going to ask you what you have coming up but it seems like you’re going to pretty much booked almost for the whole of the next year.
I think so, and there’s also stuff with other artists that I’m going to do. I get to choose now what I want to do and I’m so grateful I get that choice. A lot of people don’t have choices, and I’m just thankful that I’ve been given this gift to sing and write. I have no business doing anything else. I like to think of myself as a messenger. People ask, “What is that message, Glenn?” That message is to heal and help people that are going through things that they need help with. I’m not like some agony aunt giving you this suggestion on what’s wrong, I just want people to know that I like to be of service to them if they need it.