Interview with the Legendary Glenn Hughes

By Andrew Catania

With his signature singing and playing style, the way he intensifies the frequency and fluctuates through extreme ascents and descents, hovering from soothing pitches to earsplitting uproars – Glenn Hughes is the funk rock sensation with an immense capability to mesmerize and enthrall the listeners through his voice and instruments alike.

Born on 21st August 1951 and raised in Staffordshire County, England, Glenn Hughes is a renowned English name in the global music sphere. He is highly acclaimed for his triple-dimensional mastery; having proven his mettle as a bassist, vocalist, and lyricist. Glenn had it in him and that is what convinced him in his younger years; that he was made for the world of music.

It was a firm belief in oneself, coupled with the naturally gifted talent he had, that he took a risky start by bidding farewell to his academics, even before joining high school. He first landed in for The Hooker Lees and The News in 1966-67 to incubate and nurture his in-born talents. However, a better opportunity didn’t take much time to arrive and he joined Finders Keepers, a better band, in 1967. By then, he had become well-versed with the intricacies of hard, funk and progressive rock, pop, blues, and heavy metal.

Not looking back since, he paved ahead to excel at his game. The very next year, he teamed up with Dave Holland on Drums and Mel Galley on guitars to co-found his very own franchise. Impressed by Glenn’s innate talents and convinced that he was definitely going places, Birmingham’s famous music duo, ‘The Moody Blues’, expressed their interest in joining hands with Glenn’s Franchise.

The collaboration had, by then, become a group of 5 ‘stars in the making’ who named themselves as Trapeze. Trapeze released their record hit labels called “Trapeze” (debut label), “Medusa” and “You Are the Music… We’re Just the Band”.

By then, Trapeze had established credibility in the UK and USA. In one of the concert shows promoting their 3rd label, Glen Hughes caught the eye of Ritchie Blackmore and Ian Pace, who offered him to join the reformatted Deep Purple in 1973.

The association turned more promising than anticipated and he managed to influence the Deep Purple legacy through his infusion of funk and accelerated momentum. However, producing Burn, The Starship, Stormbringer, and ‘Come Taste the Band’, the relationship started to turn sour and eventually, in 1976, Glenn parted ways with them. The split came as a shock to many, but Glenn had other plans ready at hand. He reverted to the Trapeze and also worked on his solos on parallel, releasing ‘Play Me Out’ in 1977.

His next big was collaboration was teaming up with Pat Thrall to release their self-titled album ‘Hughes-thrall’ in 1982. The 80s and 90s are marred with numerous guest appearances that polished his forte as a bassist, lyricist, and vocalist. Aside from that, he also partnered with Gary Moore and later, with Black Sabbath, to produce joint records and stage concerts.

Having been in multiple temporary partnerships, he mustered up the courage and formed a brand new band called the California Breed with Andrew Watt and Jason Bonham. Together, they headed on a touring spree to the UK, USA, Russia, and other European countries.

In 2015, Deep Purple was added into the US Rock and Roll’s Hall of Fame, making another cynosure on Glenn Hughes profile.

Since 2015, Glenn Hughes has directed his focus towards making more stints in his solo profile through solo releases, house-full shows, and time-packed rosters of his upcoming concerts. His recently released  solo album is one which is highly anticipated in the music sphere.

Glenn sat in the shred lounge and spoke about his new record Deep Purple, and the HOF.

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I listened to your album.  Wow!  Chad Smith on the drums for two songs. That is really a heavier album than what I’ve heard from you.

Yeah, I think what’s going on Andrew, you know if you know anything about my heritage you know that I was raised in rock.  I am absolutely a big fan of well what was coming out of Detroit as a teenager a lot of people were listening to blues, the Beatles you know from my generation a few people listen to soul music and of course you know I became friends with Stevie Wonder he was kind of like my dream although I am a very much an established rock artist I understand the template that he’s created with the mo-town and soul music.  So, what I did on this album was it’s a rock album absolutely for sure but it has that swagger and soulfulness of who I am.  But this album was written in general the rock fan base of Glenn Hughes.  It’s a return to that home that a lot of people have been waiting for.

I think if I was going to describe it I would describe it as heavy album but it’s got your touch on it.
I think so.  I had to be very focused when I was doing this not to slip back to too much funk.  Look man if I’m making records for a label for Frontiers and their out of Italy and their focused on classic rock and they are serving their worth to magazines that are metal or rock or classic it would be foolish of me not to as a business model to incorporate what I do into that.  Am I upset that I couldn’t make a real funk rock album?  Not at all.  It was time for me to come back.  I say come back home to where it all started

And rightfully you did it sounds very good. You produced this album with your guitarist?  

I did.  I was at his studio and I wrote all the songs and I needed help getting over the line, over the punch line we didn’t have a lot of time and I needed his help to make that happen for me so I chose Soren simply because he’s my right-hand man.  It would be good for him to have his name on this album for him because it’s business for him.  He did a great job he worked hard.  But I knew these songs I wrote them and I knew what needed to be done.  So, all and all it was a great effort from everybody.

Did you do anything differently with this album that you have done with the others?

You know, for the first time on this album Andrew I wanted it to be, because I was writing this album and I was under duress of my double knee replacement.  I was in my home studio for 2 or 3 months in the spring and I was alone because my band were in Europe I said I’m going to write some music here.  After about twelve songs I’m going wait a minute I think I’ve got enough for an album.  So, finished them.  I went to in to Copenhagen and the band had not heard anything. One song at a time I played them everything I had wrote and finished each track until we had twelve tracks and then I said we’re good to go

How did you get Chad Smith on there?  Did he ask you or did you ask him?  Did it just sort of come about?  

Chad’s been on every album I’ve made since 2003.  He’s my best mate and dearest friend and it just so happens Chad was available that weekend and you know he’s been on every record and he loves playing my music and we love having him on my album.  You know all about Chad he’s not only a great drummer he’s a great man funny as all hell

Yes he is a great drummer.

He’s a great drummer but he’s a good kind considerate man in a world where someone has that much profile.  It can get a little bit weird but Chad doesn’t have the traits of someone that has garnished all this material and stuff he’s very much a home bodied father; good husband, you know.  A good guy and I love having him on my work

So considering going back you’ve worked with some of the biggest names you’ve worked with Tony Iommi, Gary Moore, is there anything different working with them working years past than working here producing an album for Frontiers?  

No, I mean it was easy for me because it was what I wanted.  When I’d wrote the songs, I knew what I wanted to do with them.  What I was going to put on each track.  I knew what kind of backing vocals.  I knew it was going to be an organ or a meletron, a paino or a piano, or a cabinet. I knew it was going be a Fender Strat or it was going to be some sort of guitar.  I knew where we were going with this.  As I was writing the songs I could hear the acoustics they were begging for me to do these things.  As a producer for the first time, and I produced many of my albums I had a definitive idea of how it should sound. Obviously, there’s more bass on this album than you heard before, I wanted to ride the level of the bass on the runs.  I wanted those runs to be very prolific.  You know my friendyou could always hear his runs because it’s a challenge sometimes to play those thick cords. With all due respect he’s wasn’t a virtuoso lead guitar player he’s talented and he’s a chunky incredible rhythm Star Wars guitar player and that leaves the bass player to become extrovert and that’s what this album was for me to be able to stretch

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The band that you were in back in 2012 with Joe Bonomassa and Jason Bonham, did you guys disband over creative differences? 

In Black Country?  No what happened was Joe has, I’m not sure if you know much about Joe? Joe has a career that took exactly one year in advance so you know it’s like he’s out there.  So, on the first record we didn’t have enough songs so we tour on the back of the second album and then on the third album this is when it went kind of strange.  On the third album Afterglow, which was going to be a Glenn solo album, there was no shows booked.  There was only one in my hometown Roehampton in the back country in England and I said to myself and my manager very graciously I said I can’t be at a career that is just CD or all music related recording.  As you know Andrew, an artist I don’t care if you’re young or old you can’t have a career unless you play live.

I understand.

Joe understood this so I said I’m going to back away from this car and go back to something else that’s when Jason and I formed California Breed.  Which leads me to now Resonate was recorded behind the duress of me having these double knee replacements having the ability to write all this music in the spring to go into the studio and record this album.  It was never a falling out with Joe and I it was just people thinking that was the case.  We got together over the years had lunches and dinners and had many laughs and after we got together after the Hall of Fame in April we said wow maybe it’s time for another one and we were done.

Speaking of the Hall of Fame with Deep Purple where you asked to stay away for the Hall of Fame induction?  How did that all happen? 

We were inducted as you saw but let’s be clear and I’m going to open a can of worms here with all due respect to Gillan, Glover and Paice with all due respect to them they did not invite David Coverdale and I to sing with them on anything.  It could have been a cover song and I knew going into it that we weren’t going to be asked.  I don’t have a relationship with Ian Gillan.  I don’t know him or talk to him.  He runs that show whatever Deep Purple is called these days Mark 10 or whatever it is.  I said to David let’s go out arm and arm accept our awards and we’ll get to do something with Cheap Trick because Robin’s one of my best friends.  At the end of the show, which they asked us to come on, Cheryl Crow and Chicago and my friend Grace Potter so we closed the show.  It was a bit uncomfortable to be honest with you. We weren’t invited but I didn’t give a shit.  You know I was up there, my father had died four hours before I took the stage

I’m sorry to hear that.
It was very , very, very sad.  I didn’t know which end was up.  I was solemn as I walked on the stage.  You could see that I was a little troubled but I was not going to talk about it on the microphone or I was not going to talk about it behind stage.  Only my wife knew about it.  I told David the day after.  It was a difficult – difficult induction but the good news for me I guess is that I struck up a friendship with Shelby Morrison and Greg Harrison the CEO of the Hall of Fame and they asked me to become an ambassador for The Hall of Fame.

Oh, wow!

Yes, I’m the only one that’s been asked to be an ambassador.  I don’t know how that came about but it’s been a nice thing to do you know.

Yes, because I knew you and David Coverdale and they told Joe Lynn Turner to stay away too, I do believe that 

I know it’s like honestly Andrew, I don’t know what Gillan’s thing was.  I doubt he even wanted to show up.  All I can say to you is this it is common knowledge and I don’t say this to be disrespectful because people are going to read this.  I don’t know who Gillan, Glover and Paice are because we’re not friends. I haven’t spent any time with any of those guys except Paice and it’s been 40 something years ago when we were children.  And now I’ve been sober so long my whole life has changed dramatically that I knew going into this, even before my dad was diagnosed he was going to die, it was going to be a difficult evening and everybody knew it going into it.  I’m sure Lars Ulrich would have like to have seen all the members playing.  It was never meant to be.  I have no resentment.  I have no remorse.  I have no nothing but love for the fact David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes were inducted and it was a nice gesture from the committee, it was.  Now you know the Hall of Fame could upset a lot of people.  This guy was inducted; this guy doesn’t play.  You know my friend Matt Sorum, he didn’t get to play when Guns played everybody gets upset but the band members themselves don’t get to call the shots and that’s probably what pisses some people off but it didn’t affect me and David.

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Your autobiography came out in 2011.  Were you asked to do it, or did you want to do it yourself?  

I did some of it myself.  That’s funny enough, I did the intro, the first chapter and I did the last chapter and the other part was co-written with Joel McIver who’s done books for Metallica and a lot of people that you know of.  He’s a great guy to have on board.  So, he was with me travelling with me.  I wrote the first edition.  We got talking about my relapses and my father was dying on his death bed and said you must tell people about your relapses which I did.  So, that took about another year to do.  They were so devastatingly awful. You know the hearts attacks and blah blah.  So, I got down to the nitty gritty and I think that saved my life.  Telling people, the real deal about Glenn Hughes about how I wasn’t going to glamorize the grandiosity of cocaine addiction.  There’s no such thing as a winner.    “And the winner of the cocaine award is.”  No! There’s no such thing as winner.  What I don’t want to do is I want to take my foot off the gas of promoting that has anything to do with hard narcotics.   That’s what I did

Right.  Now going back, the Trapeze song, Seafull, was that written for someone specifically?
 
Oh my God Andrew! How smart are you?   

(laughter)

Oh my God!!  Yes, it was.  It was for a girlfriend back in the day you know.  A girl I was dating so but you’re the first person in 46 years to ever ask that question

Well I’ve been listening to you for a long time. 

It’s like yes it’s a love song.  Yes, it’s for a girl and my heart was broken prior this gal.  I was 17 for God’s sake and it’s like nobody ever asked me that.  You know people wrote a love song and it’s drenched in dramatic there’s so much night and shade in that.  It’s so dense and dark and beautiful but it’s a love song

It is! 

I’ll be damned!

Go back in time with you on that one.

I’m kind of blown away by that  

(laughter)

If you had a chance to say something to Tommy Bolan tomorrow face to face what would you tell him?

God it’s quite simple,” Why didn’t you call me that night?  Why didn’t you or somebody call me?”  You know what happened Andrew? Seven people stood around watched him go down and they put him in the fucking tub, they put him in the bed and they left him.  Now as much as back in 1976 I was out of my mind I believe in my heart of heart I don’t think I could have let him walk out of that room.  I would have called 911.  I’m not saying I’m better than anybody else but I can’t believe.  I had words with some people at the funeral about that.  It’s very difficult for me to understand.  They all knew that he’d OD’d and the guy that shot him up he was there too so.  Tommy Bolan, I would say wasn’t deliberately murdered but he was being shot up by some guy from Denver.  That’s the story behind that

Wow!
Do you still get stage freight before you make any appearances or go on stage after all this time?

Yes, only occasionally.  It will come at any given moment whether it’s a small venue or large.  It’s like OK it’s happening again, it sometimes happens that way.

I can’t lie to you and go oh no, I would never get stage freight.  You can’t say that.  Especially when I tell you this everybody I know gets stage freight whether I want to tell you about it, I’m not sure
Your new bass line you’ve got coming out, the new GH basses when are they coming out?

Yes, Yes! It’s all done.  I’ve got a few you can call them prototypes I guess.  I have three Yamaha Glenn Hughes signature it’s like a new shaped VB.  It’s 8 pounds, super thin neck, two knobs instead of three it’s got like a vintage P base and J sound and bass sound so it’s the beauty of between what a J & P sound like.  We’ve gone to great lengths to make sure this bass is the bass and it should be out  when we announce it.

Why did you decide after so long to have a signature bass released? Did Yamaha approach you or did you approach them?

No.  Yamaha approached me 10 years ago.  They made me two basses and they were good.  They were good, they were really good and then I was approached by Bill Nash who was an old friend of mine from the 80’s.  I don’t know if you know anything about Nash guitars and bass but my God the guy can make some serious basses and he made me a half dozen basses and I just fell in love with the feeling of not actually they are Fender basses you know but he puts his spin on it and I just fell in love with the J & P of the Nash you know.  And then Yamaha came back to me and it was another idea of creating a new shape VB body and I could choose whatever was appropriate for me for my own bass.  So, that’s what we did and that’s what we got. We’re still kinking out some of it, it’s almost ready to go

Great! I can’t wait to look forward to it
What does your rig consist of these days when you’re out touring?

It’s Orange amps. It’s been orange for 4 years. AD 200 Bass MKIII, AD200B MK Head 4x10x15 cabs 1X810.  I’ve got an amazing pedal board it’s got a pretty insane overdrive pedal.  Man, I don’t know if you’ve heard my sound or seen it on YouTube
it’s a pretty insane sound.  It’s just insane.  You know and I’ve been looking for that sound since I had that huge fucking rig in deep purple, the rig was 10 feet tall it drags.  This rig is exactly where I should be in this frame of mind playing this kind of music so I’m kind of back where I started.  I wanted to go back to that organicness.  You know when I first started with my friends back in the day when oh God, whatever that is, I’m having some of that and that’s when I went with Aiwa.  Yes, Yamaha is for me right now.

Alright! Sounds good.  Any of the up and coming music these days, what kind of advice would you give to anybody that is up and coming to this music scene

Stay by your instruments.  Live it, breathe it, sleep with your instruments, don’t believe what anybody else tells you.  It’s a gift! Stay where you’re supposed to be. Believe in your art!

You can check Glenn Hughes out on his website, www.glennhughes.com

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