It's almost inevitable, during everyone's lifetime, that some personal events would change the course of our existence, our personality and our attitude towards life in general forever. In these respects, the last 24 months of one of the most iconic Rockstars worldwide, Glenn Hughes, have been indeed full on, both to the artist's personal life and his musical activity too.
Between recovering from health issues such as a double knee's replacement and the loss of both his parents in a short period of time, Hughes, universally known as The Voice of rock'n'roll, has found the way to battle these hard times through music, the art form that comes more natural to the singer/songwriter and bass player. Between the space of 12 months, from the end of 2016 to the end of 2017, Hughes has released two albums, one as a solo artist called Resonate, recognized as one of the finest albums of his whole career and one with the project Black Country Communion called BCCIV, the fourth studio album of the Super-Group made by Hughes himself on bass and vocals, guitar guru Joe Bonamassa on guitars and vocals, drummer extraordinaire Jason Bonham and keyboard master Derek Sherinian.
We had the honor and privilege of talking to Glenn Hughes about the last two years of his life and his latest musical projects few months after the release of the BCCIV album. The Los Angeles based artist sounds so relaxed on the phone, on first impression. For somebody that has been recovering from a double knee's replacement, working between a treadmill and a microphone in his studio at home, while Hughes was recording Resonate, The Voice of rock and roll sounds indeed in great shape, like he has been just sailing the Sea Of Tranquility in recent times. "You know man, I must have done something like 130 interviews for BCCIV and this is the first time I have been asked about how do I feel, so thank you for that. The fact of the matter is, if you know anything about me, then you know that I am essentially a songwriter. That's what I do every day of my life, I write songs all the time. I was very fortunate to have a full album of Resonate songs and, of course, when Joe came over my home, we wrote all the songs for BCCIV. You know, 2017 in its whole, it has been a great year for me, as a songwriter and I sincerely hope that everyone loves BCC IV as much as Joe, Jason, Derek and I all love this album. Talking about Resonate, I have got to be honest with you, It has to be my favorite Glenn Hughes album in a long, long time. It's a very focused rock record and it's a return to a classic Glenn Hughes rock record format. The rock fans seem to love that album and I truly want to thank the fans for standing behind me and support me on this record."
Hughes, of course, is absolutely spot on describing the beauty of an album like Resonate, which is not just one of his best albums as a solo artist to date but it is also the voice of a man that, through the lyrics of the album, expresses a lot of different feelings like loss, isolation, fear and most importantly, the will of healing from some negative karma surrounding him. Among all this intensity, working on Resonate must have been fun but hard at the same time for Hughes and, perhaps, also a sort of therapy to release his feelings from the series of events happening in a particular stage of his life. "It was indeed a difficult time for me, when I wrote Resonate. But I must say to you, without getting too intense on the subject, I have really been driven by spiritual guide while working on that album and spirituality is something that is very important to me and close to my heart. To write the songs for Resonate felt like a necessity for me and I felt almost liberated by writing songs for an album that will surely stand the test of time. I really felt the weight of the world around me, at the time the album was written and it was indeed like therapy, writing those songs. I had lost my father and, rather sadly, after few months Resonate was released, I lost my mom too. I am sure that everyone of your readers that has lost a very close relative will understand the way I felt at that time. It's not an easy feeling, you have got to dig deeper into acceptance about death and the fact that people around you may go in any moment of your life, sooner or later. I was just happy to be there for my mom and my dad at the end and it has fundamentally helped me to realize what life is. They say that a man never becomes a man until his mother dies and, at 65 years old, that boy had become a man."
While Resonate found Hughes facing the reality of what was happening in his personal life on his own, the new Black Country Communion album, BBCIV, saw Hughes sharing the writing duties with guitar maestro Joe Bonamassa, in an album that clearly sees a very welcomed return to form of the band, after the slightly controversial 2012's Afterglow. Among the many potential hits out of the BCC's new album, a song like Over My Head is certainly one of those tunes that shows one of the many sides of this band, able to assemble great rock anthems but also songs, like the latter, packed with great choruses and bridges, suitable for a more commercial airplay. Bluebird Reviews is wondering whether there was any specific reason behind the choice of the first single extracted from the album, Collide, rather than opting for a more radio friendly one like Over My Head. "I don't get to choose the singles out of the album. I know that Over My Head is going to be one of the singles out of the album for sure, that, I can definitely tell you. I don't know if you heard the story behind this song, but I was sleeping in bed and my wife Gab said to me: "Honey, what you are saying? You have just been singing something like "Over My Heeeeead (Hughes sings)" and I'm going: "What?" and Gab said: "Yes, you have been singing this tune", while she was humming it to me. I went quickly to the studio upstairs and recorded what I have been dreaming of and in that song, you kinda hearing my dream. I think that the first single, Collide, it is probably something that may attract our fans appreciation for its sound, while, in my personal opinion, Over My Head would be a more radio-friendly, as you said, kind of tune. Either ways, let's wait and see what happens, with both fans and media."
(Photo by Georgina Cates)
Asking Hughes about the making of the BCCIV album, we are intrigued also to know whether Bonham and Sherinian brought to the table their own ideas about the sounds present on the album. "It was October 2016 when Joe and I got together. We both had a window of opportunity of two weeks open to write the album and he came to my home to do so every day, spot on time. Joe has spent more time at my house making BCCIV more than he spent on any of the previous BCC albums. Joe and I were very serious about the making of this album. We thought that it was pointless to record an album that wasn't as good as the first two, you know. We certainly did our homework, when working on BCCIV. When we went in the studio, Jason and Derek had not heard yet any music at all. What we did was that, we went in the Control Room and, one by one, we played the songs, one at the time, Joe and I together, on acoustic guitars to Jason, Derek and producer Kevin Shirley. After 10 minutes of doing so we went in the studio and we recorded the first song twice. Then we went back again in the Control Room, we listened to the next song and we repeated the same process all over again for the next song in the same way we did for the previous one and that's what happened with all the songs of the album over a period of 5 days."
Another standout song off the BCCIV album is certainly the one called Wanderlust, one of the most melodic songs the band has ever recorded in their career containing some of the best lyrics present in the album, together with songs like Love Remains and Awake. We ask the singer/songwriter whether all the songs of the album been written in a particular time frame or were they written through the years and, perhaps, just slightly re-worked on, when it was time to release BCCIV. "Wanderlust is really a songs about my travels and about my feelings when returning back home. Every time I leave my home in L.A., I look down at the ocean while I am on the plane and I like to wave goodbye to that special place, while I am off on my journey. You know, I have been on this music journey for quite some time and I have many stories to tell and in the Wanderlust's case, that is a story about honesty, about walking through the fear, being real and being easy at the same time. I am increasingly taking life a little bit easier as the days go by, as I get older and I think that the way Wanderlust is recorded, it shows that kind of spiritual settlement I am in right now."
To get the four musicians in a studio at the same time to record BBCIV, given the amount of touring that each artist has on their individual schedule, must have not been an easy task to fulfill. Surely Glenn Hughes must have some fond memories of that time or a particular one that he remembers especially. "Well, on Day 3 I got the news that my mother was very ill so I had to leave on Day 4, because of that. I have got to say to you, going back to the content of one of my previous answers, that the recording of the BCCIV album was done, again, with a strong spiritual approach for me because I knew that there was a problem with my mom. The guys in the band knew that I was having problems but I never let my personal feelings get through the making of the songs or through the music. Perhaps, at times, I let go a little just through the lyrics, when I sang them, like in Love Remains, a song about my parents. The album was made in what it was, certainly, a difficult period for me but I don't want people to feel sorry about me or bad about what happened to me back then. Something I can tell you for sure is that the love I got from Joe, Jason, Derek and Kevin Shirley about those circumstances in that time was absolutely phenomenal and I will never forget that. They stood by me, through the whole thing and despite all that was going on with me and my personal life, I got to finish the album as scheduled. I guess that it is part of the professional man that I am. Maybe I have not been that professional many years ago but these days, for me, it is all about spiritual progression."
Black Country Communion
(from L to R): J. Bonamassa, G. Hughes, J. Bonham, D. Sherinian
Photo courtesy of BCC's Official Website
Perhaps, one of the most frustrating factors for Hughes and the band members is the inability of putting together a proper Black Country Communion Tour, to support the new album. The only dates scheduled so far were the two nights in the United Kingdom, which have been welcomed triumphantly by the fans and the music press plus one in the United States for the Blues Cruise at the end of February 2018. We ask Hughes whether there have been talks among the band members about making a proper, long tour supporting BCCIV so far or whether there is any chance that this might happen at all, at least, later in 2018. "This is something that it is really difficult for me to answer. I know you know what happen 6 years ago, because we didn't tour. This is a band that makes great records and this band certainly needs to tour, the world needs to see this band touring. I love this band. But it is a matter of getting four guys to agree on that. I am one guy, among four, with three other guys that wants to play as well with this band but I have also my own career, as you know. We honestly have to wait and see what happens. I can't answer anymore than that and beside the shows you mentioned, after that, I am still waiting to know what's going on, because 2018 will be a very busy year for my solo career too. I would love to play more shows, I think Joe also would like to play more shows with the band but, as I just told you, at the moment we just have to sit and wait to see what happens in future."
Bluebird Reviews had the opportunity to see Hughes performing live at one of the most famous Blues/Rock festivals in 2017 and it is so impressive to see that, at the age of 66, the power of the artist's voice and the incredible quality of his bass playing style are remarkably superb. Before we part company with this outstanding artist, we ask Hughes what is his secret in finding the right motivations to constantly improve himself as an artist. "Breathing, a lot of sleep, exercising my voice, no dairy products (I'm a vegan). I also do yoga and running. One of the secrets, for me and that is what Stevie Wonder told me years ago about breathing, it is the ability of having a long, slow breathing technique that allows me the pleasure to sing whatever I feel. I am not a technical singer. I am a soul, rock singer and, hopefully it will always be that way."