By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa Correspondent
Photography by Joel Barrios, Rock At Night Miami Correspondent
Rock At Night had the opportunity to chat with “The Voice of Rock” Glenn Hughes. His new album Resonate (Frontiers Music Srl) was released on November 4th and you can read Rock At Night’s review HERE. “Resonate” is Hughes’ first solo album in eight years as he has been very busy with side projects Black Country Communion and California Breed. On this album he is returning to his hard rock roots and even long-time friend Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) contributed drums on the tracks “Heavy” and “Long Time Gone”. The touring band consists of Glenn Hughes (vocals, bass, acoustic guitar), Soren Andersen (guitars), Pontus Enborg (drums, percussion) and Lachy Doley (keys).
I started the interview by discussing the new album Resonate saying, “I have listened to your new CD and I have to say, it is very heavy!”
Glenn Hughes gave a hearty laugh in agreement.
I continued, “It definitely has kind of the Deep Purple blues-rock groove. Between the bass lines and drum beats, I’d call it ‘sexy’. Was it supposed to be that way?”
Hughes noted, “For me, I don’t know if it is because I wrote it all and produced it. I wanted to give it a ‘real Glenn moment’ on this album where it was a very groove-oriented rock album. Yeah, we know as a rock album it is dim and dark but there are elements of big grooves [in this album] and it is definitely an album that is an exciting album. It’s got a lot of emotion in there….walking through fear or space. I think I’m letting my real feelings go but I’ve always been the kind of writer and player that puts groove in the music. And, the sexual connotation as you will…”
I confessed, “Well, it came across with me! I’m a girl from the 70s and I grew up with the music back then. I felt like I was time-traveling back to the 70s [with just the feel of the music and vibe].”
I continued describing the moment with gusto, “And it has kind of that heavy feel (like in the beginning of the album with ‘My Town’)….it has kind of that sexy…nasty sound, I guess you’d call it.”
“You know, I can’t hide the fact that I am from that era . You can picture in 1973 that this album would have been a big record.”
Hughes explained sincerely, “I am making music completely in the realms of who I am. I’m also not trying to be anyone else. I think my footprint is definitely on this album and this album is very, very obviously a ‘Glenn’ album. I’ve never felt more comfortable on a record than I do on this one.”
I started to think about how Hughes collaborates with a lot of musicians in bands. He really is a “musician’s musician” and seems to play with the best of the best. Each of the musicians sets the bar high so the resulting collaboration is superb. I noted, “I find it intriguing that you collaborate with a lot of different people. You are in Black Country Communion and California Breed. With making this album do you feel you almost had a split personality? Is this album the real you?”
Hughes responded, “I do write a lot of the music in the bands you mentioned but as a writer—I think I’ve been clean and sober for such a long time now. When I came back from the brink of hell, I’ve always been able to use my voice. When I became clear…when the fog was lifted from my brain I really became a writer. I really was interested in writing. I don’t think it’s possible to write when you are stoned. For me it was important to get the reality of who I am and I think this album rings true about how far I’ve come in my career. Let’s just say a lot of my peer groups are either retiring or they just stopped playing or they don’t have the vibe that they used to have.
“I have been so blessed to do what I do and just have the ability to go out and play. I’m healthy. I’m in good shape—physically, mentally, and spiritually—and my God, long live that I may continue.”
I remember reading that Glenn Hughes had surgery this year and asked, “Didn’t you have double knee replacement surgery earlier this year? Yet, I’ve seen videos of you on Youtube where you are jumping around. It’s amazing!”
Hughes confided, “What you don’t realize is I had the first surgery on the left knee on December 11th  and the right knee was January 11th . What I didn’t realize going into it was I’d have to re-learn how to walk.—like an infant, a 14-month child. I had to learn how to place my heel down and then the ball of my foot. It was something I kind of captured on video. It’s kind of hilarious really.
“So, when I went into the Hall of Fame in April I still really wasn’t able to walk appropriately. You really didn’t see it on the TV. By the time I went over to Europe and started to play [you’ve probably seen footage of me over there] I was fully flexible due to the fact I was in physical therapy.”
Thinking to myself and then confessing, “Listening to the album I thought some of the songs were almost autobiographical because of the knee surgery. For example, the song “Steady” and “Stumble and Go”.
Hughes responded, “This record in general, as most of my albums are—they are very autobiographical. In a way, because, I always sing about the human condition. I don’t sing about fictional [characters]. If I’m singing about ‘I need some help here’ or ‘I’m healing here’, that’s something on my mind.
“I know that you, the listener, is going through or has been through the same thing. So, it hits a lot of boxes with people when they get the lyric they follow what I’m doing. All I’m doing is telling you what’s going on, really, in my life, and what’s going on, maybe, in yours. So in “Steady” I’m ‘spinning the dial, I’m steady again’ and in “Stumble and Go”, yeah I ‘fall and get up and go’…It’s all autobiographical about life in general, and I’m very blessed to do that.”
I wondered in my mind and declared, “ ‘Stumble and Go’ had almost a church organ part in it. It is kind of spiritual.”
Hughes pointed , “In the album, it happens two or three times. As you know, I like to stop the band . I like to have my voice and acoustic guitar. I like to break it down so people can actually hear my breathing, exactly the way I’m singing the melody. It then breaks down and goes into that monster sound—that wall of sound. I think it’s important to have drama in music, especially in rock music today.”
I mentioned to Glenn Hughes that I noticed exactly this with the song “Steady”. It slows down, builds, and slows again. It’s almost like the movements in classical music.
Hughes agreed, saying, “That’s the way I like to write songs. I like different movements. I did an album with Tony Iommi where there was a song with four different movements in the song called ‘I Go Insane’. It was deliberately done with four different time signatures and four different riffs. I like this. It’s almost like moments of air. It takes you on a journey. That’s what I love about the arts, whether it’s acting or singing.
I said, “It’s almost like exercise. There’s a build-up part and a cool down. It’s almost like life.”
Hughes agreed and confessed, “It really is. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point. I wouldn’t have been able to do this interview with you back in the 70s. When I looked at my lyrics in the 70s they were very, very simple. Now as a lyricist and a book writer… I have had such a long life of crazy, indifferent, weird, beautiful, strange dynamic things happen to me.”
I continued discussing the new album saying, “All of your life experiences definitely come through in the music. I like the ballad ‘When I Fall’ a lot. It has a pretty melody—and you talk about life, love, and friends. I really felt a lot of positive energy with the slow ballad. The beginning of the album consists of heavy rock but then starts to mellow out toward the end of the album—but in a good way.”
“ ‘When I Fall’ was the only song on the album I wanted to write—let’s call it ‘the slow song’. On my albums I normally have like three of them but I did set out to make a mark in the rock genre with this record. I wanted to signify where I’ve been and where I am right now. I really don’t know where I’m going because I never write the same song twice. But…this album has been so received by fans and media I think I realize what I’ve been missing and what people have been waiting for. There’s a silly part of me that says ‘I’m not gonna’ give you that if you keep asking for ‘ and I know that’s immature. But, I figure if I’m the artist that people want a certain vibe from then they are going to get it from this record. This is the album that rock fans have been asking for.”
I noted, “And even blues-rock fans, like the song “Landmines” for example. It’s kind of a funk rock.”
Hughes continued, “It is absolutely. I almost left it off the album. I mean, I like so many songs like ‘Landmines’. It’s funny, songs like blues-rock. This isn’t going to sound bizarre to you because I know you like blues-rock but those songs…..I can write those in my sleep.
“I was sitting there on my bed with my guitar and I said ‘My God, this is an interesting lick.’ And then the song just pops out. I’m so blessed to [be able to] write that kind of music and then do something as dark as “God of Money”.
I had noticed a definite soul flair with some of the songs at the latter part of the album, saying “I’ve always read and heard that you like Motown and it came through with “When I Fall”. The song is very soulful, kind of Motown-like.”
Glenn Hughes paused and continued, offering his philosophical insight, “I am the way I am (you know I would never lie to you in an interview)…you know, there are rock people from my generation that have a thing about fictional things. You believe them because they make you believe them (the Tolkien aspect or dwarfs and elves)…and you believe them because you are on a journey with them. You’ll never believe me because I don’t sing about those things. It’s not what I do or what is important to me. What is important to me is the human spirit and condition. I am never trying to suggest how people should live their lives. I’m just trying to tell people how I live mine and all the things that I’ve done that have been the right thing to do—but I’m never suggesting that I do the same. I’m just letting you know how life has been for me and try to be a service in some way.”
I agreed and confirmed saying, “The fact a lot of your music is autobiographical, you talk about yourself and we can empathize because a lot of your experiences are universal.”
“Yeah, they really are. I mean a heart attack, open heart surgery, double knee surgery…I can go on and on…I’ve been stabbed, I’ve been shot up.”
“I mean, this happened when I was out of my mind! This was years ago…I’ve lived this life and I’m able to tell.”
During the phone interview, my cockerpoo and Chihuahua-mix began barking to announce somebody was at the door. I apologized, of course, and Glenn Hughes indicated he has a few dogs of his own. This is real life afterall…and Hughes is probably the most down-to-earth “rock star” I’ve spoken to in a long time.
We continued talking about the new album Resonate. Hughes said, “I’m letting you know who I am. I was told by someone special that ‘you can never tell the world everything. You can never be completely open.’ But, I kind of disagree with that. I’m not a secret. I don’t have anything to hide from you.”
I replied, “That’s actually the feeling I got from listening to the album. It’s autobiographical and you wear your heart on your sleeve. I think you let everybody know through your music who you are. That’s the impression I got.”
Hughes explained, “When I step up to the microphone and I’ve got the lyrics in front of me, I don’t sing the song more than twice. So it’s the first or second take. Then after I had sung a couple of tracks on the album I said ‘Oh my God! I sound a bit angry!’
“I’ve been known to get real emotional in the studio. You know, my music will live on [after I am gone] so I just want people to know how it is for me right at this moment.”
There was a question that I had been pondering and decided to ask, “Everybody considers you to be “The Voice of Rock” and my God, your voice, it gets better with age! One thing that people forget is you are a really good bass player. Do you think of yourself first as a vocalist or a musician?”
Hughes replied, “I am absolutely a musician! I play a lot of instruments but when people talk about me in general, whether it is media or fans, they know about the voice. That’s the first thing that rings out to people. I’m very lucky to have been given that gift to sing. But, I love my bass guitar. It’s just part of who I am. It’s part of the ‘Glenn Hughes Story’.”
I confessed, “The way you play the bass is very soulful and funky (I’m from Detroit). It’s almost like YOU are from Detroit!”
Hughes agreed wholeheartedly, “It does. I’m very into James Jamerson and he’s the greatest player that ever lived (of course, we lost him a long time ago) but he put out more number one songs (from that era) than any other player. I think he had like 48 Number One songs.
“I have met his wife and child. I did a tribute for James with Stevie Wonder four years ago. I was very, very fortunate to me James’ family.”
I mentioned to Glenn that I knew he had played at The Token Lounge, Westland (near where I grew up) not long ago. He explained that evening was his birthday and it was a special night due to the love of the fans. The evening was sold out.
“I love Detroit. That was my first ever show in Deep Purple. It brings it all on to me. I am really into black American music. I grew up listening to all the greats when I grew up in England. My partner Joe Bonamassa is really the blues guy. We’ve been so influenced by so many black artists.
And finally, as we were winding down the interview, I asked, “What is something you’d like people to know about the album? Is there an interesting story about a song?”
Hughes replied, “The story of this album is there was no fear from me. I was alone at my home recovering from surgery…and I was going into the studio. So I knew going in [to the studio] I had no one to answer to and as I was producing the album I knew what I was going to do…there would be nobody telling me ‘Can we try it another way?” When we were at the studio I just played the band songs and they recorded it.
“I think every track has its moments. The last track for me “Long Time Gone” tells a story about a guy that comes back. He finds himself washed up on the beach again and he’s walking along the shoreline. That’s the way I am. I feel I have been at the sea and I have come back different. I am a changed man. I’ll always keep changing. I always speak spiritual progression and I will always look for help and will always be a student of life and most definitely be a student of music…so learn and sometimes be silent and listen to the world that is going on around me. And of course, jump in with both feet when I need to.”
I exclaimed, “Wow! That’s pretty deep, Glenn! That’s a sign that you have really progressed as a person and as a musician—that you have gone with the ebb and flow. You’ve been down and you’ve been up.”
There was a true mark of sincerity as Hughes explained, “I have been very, very blessed. I don’t think you’ll speak with a more grateful person this year.
I explained to Hughes that when Joel Barrios, Rock At Night’s Miami Correspondent met him in Massachusetts (you can see the article here) he said “Glenn Hughes is the nicest rock musician he had ever met.” That is really high praise since Barrios meets and interviews a lot of musicians on a regular basis.
Hughes said, “I think that’s because I am a different guy than I was in the 80s. I was wrapped up in things that was not me and when I got free of the shackles of bondage. When I broke away from all the things that were killing me I opened myself up to the universe—and never looked back. I’ve never regretted anything I’ve done because it made me the person I am today and I‘ll keep growing and learning.”
“Thank you for speaking w/me. It’s been an honor and a privilege.”
Glenn Hughes: All Vocals, Bass Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
Soren Andersen: Guitars
Pontus Enborg: Drums & Percussion
Lachy Doley: Keyboards
Chad Smith: Drums on “Heavy” & “Long Time Gone”
Produced by Glenn Hughes & Soren Andersen.
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