Article By: Sara Liberte
hen I was told I would be interviewing Glenn Hughes for Full Throttle Rock, I was immediately intimidated. I’m not gonna lie, I felt I had no place interviewing this music legend whose career has spanned well over 30 years.
I don’t know much about music technically, I never studied it, I don’t know how to read it and I don’t know all specific terms used for it. I just know what I like. I happen to think I have pretty amazing taste in music, ranging from classical to heavy hitting rock, jazz to funk, but it’s all good; I know good music. I also know Glenn Hughes and how amazing he is. Glenn is the cream of the crop as far as musicians go.
Nervous as hell, I call him on his cell like he asked of me. I was so gracious of his time as he is currently recording his 3rd album with Black Country Communion . This is his band now, which consists of Glenn on bass and vocals, Jason Bonham on drums, Joe Bonamassa on guitar and Derek Sherinian on keyboards. When I first started to talk with Glenn I was all worried and feeling, I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy, and had no clue where to begin our conversation.
Right off the bat, Glenn was extremely down to earth and very welcoming. I warmed up immediately and the conversation just began to flow real smooth from there. We started with his career and where he is at today spiritually and musically. We really got into some great heavy stuff at times and he was so open.
As we started to get into our conversation, Glenn was clueing me in on his real early days as a “young lad,” learning the trombone in school. Now, this was a little ironic as he told me he was actually named after Glenn Miller, the American jazz musician (more specifically trombone player), arranger, composer, and bandleader of the swing era. You might already be familiar with the Glenn Miller Orchestra; I am because my grandfather would listen to him all the time. As we talked, he told me how he was introduced to music and it all started with the trombone. It wasn’t long after that he found his feet with the piano, soon enough he was playing guitar and then moved onto bass. Growing up in England, he found much influence in the rock scene there, but would soon start to pull inspiration from the American jazz/ Motown sound that was introduced to him by his girlfriend’s older brother.
Glenn explained, “I don’t see things in color; I love all people, and to me I loved the stuff I was hearing like Ottis Redding and the Temptations. America was calling me and
I wanted to go. This mix I was hearing between rock and soul was mapping out the blueprint of my life.”
Early on, Glenn was in the very successful British band, Trapeze. He told me, “We were performing to some big crowds and eventually made our way to LA. It was here that Deep Purple saw me play, and came to see me again, then they asked me to join the band. We had great years making music together and enjoyed the success. I’ve seen many friends over the years get wrapped up in that success. It can do crazy things, and maybe at times I was brazen, but I never forgot where I came from: a blue collar family in the back country. It can be easy to let egos and money get in the way and cloud things up, but you always must remember where you came from.”
Glenn mentioned that, “It was going to be music,” his life was going to be music, because that is where he fit. “I’m not technical, I’m not mechanical, I don’t work well with wood, but boy can I write. I write a song pretty much everyday, and I absolutely sing everyday. Your voice is a muscle and it needs to stay in shape, so I sing everyday.”
We talked about how he feels so fortunate for the gift he has been given and is so appreciative to be here alive and enjoying it still. He said, “I have many friends that we enjoyed the ups and downs together. Some are still here with me and unfortunately some didn’t make it; could be car crashes, drugs, poor health, etc. I’m very grateful to be here. I’m just a rock-n- roller enjoying what I do. I appreciate that I have an ability to share a message. I feel that we all have a message or a gift to share, each and every one of us. It’s important to do so. It’s important to share something if you can. We are all teachers. I can learn from you, just as you can learn from me. Love is the answer. In life you have two roles: a giver and a taker. You can be a taker if someone is offering to give you something, but make sure you take time to be a giver also. Share what you have, as others share with you.”
I asked Glenn how he felt about the fact that so many musicians look up to him and he responded by saying, “If I can pass something on, I want to. If I can encourage an artist, I want to. If I can champion a new talent, I want to. We can all say things, we can say we are going to do something, a ‘program of actions’ if you will, but you have to actually get out there and do it. You have to live it and experience it.”
We talked about his new band, Black Country Communion, and how his time in the studio could be related to that of a “garage” band of guys just getting together and actually playing the instruments and feeding off one another.
Glenn commented, “Music today has gotten so unemotional. It’s so digital, with these weird auto-tune vocals and computer created beats. I don’t like that, that doesn’t feel right to me. Maybe I’m a hippy, but I like to actually play the instrument. I like to have an organic sound and feel.
Don’t get me wrong, the digital age has been good in some a s p e c t s and you need to embrace it or get left b e h i n d , but you still need that soul connection to have something worth sharing with people to help them feel connected to the music. In 20 years this is all going to change again, and then what? I’ve seen it change many times already in my life.”
Glenn actually fronted Black Sabbath for a few years with Tony Iommi so I had to bring the question up about Bill Ward (the original drummer for Sabbath) not being the drummer on the Sabbath tour this year. I asked if it were something he would be comfortable commenting on. He told me, “Sure I’ll comment on that. I’m with the fans, it should have been Bill on that tour, and I know he is Tony’s favorite drummer. You see, the problem consists of this, you don’t have one manager for a band, you have 4 different managers for the artists, and lawyers, etc. You bring that into the mix and that is where things get complicated. There will always be one guy out there who has to make a dollar more than the other guy. I don’t buy into that. On this, I’m with the fans. I really wanted to see Bill Ward on the drums.”
You might be wondering how we came to interview Glenn for Full Throttle Rock and that would be thanks to Doug from Sick Boy clothing. Doug is good friends with Glenn and had him out at the Boston Kev-Marv show to do a book signing of his book: Glenn Hughes: The Autobiography – from Deep Purple to Black Country Communion.
I asked Glenn how he had come to know such a character as Doug and he said, “Well, I was introduced to him from a good friend of mine, Kevin DuBrow of Quiet Riot. Kevin passed away back in 2007, but he knew Doug pretty well and introduced me. We spoke for years over the phone and email, but didn’t actually meet until Kevin’s funeral. Ever since then we have been great friends. I admire Doug’s work ethic. That is a trait I really admire about people and Doug is a really hard worker. He and
Misty are great people and I consider them to be like family.”
The new album Glenn is currently recording is due out around October 30th and I am really excited to hear this. If you are not familiar with Black Country Communion, I suggest you check ‘em out. You will no doubt hear that blend of rock, and I mean heavy bass driven rock, mixed with jazz, soul and blues, and not in a way you have heard before. This sound is unique, tight and carefully dressed with Glenn’s perfected vocals.
I thanked Glenn for his time and for being so genuine with me. He ended our conversation by saying, “Life is about passing something on to someone else, Sara. That is what I want my music to do. My message, through my lyrics and my music: love and harmony.”
Hey Glenn, I received your message loud and clear, and I hope to share your message with our readers. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Cycle Source August 2012 Issue