Black Country Communion is back for a fourth record and we had the pleasure to discuss about it with The Voice, Glenn Hughes!
Hello Glenn how are you?
Glenn Hughes (vocals & bass): I think I’m okay. I think I’m gonna be alright.
So finally it’s here, the new BCC album! What was your first reaction when Joe contacted the rest of the band last year?
Glenn: The story is a nice story. I just have been inducted into the Hall Of Fame, I was in New-York the following morning and having breakfast and Joe calls me to congratulate me. He was the first one. He asked me when I was coming back home I said Tuesday and he asked me if I’d like to have dinner with him on Wednesday “sure!”. So we met but I had no idea what we’re gonna talk about but we got straight to it. He wanted to know if I’d be up to doing an album but not just an album, an album worthy of #4. Something that is just not a quick album, something that was committed and he and I would literraly do together. He asked the other guys and of course they said yes then we made a window up of writing and Joe asked “could we go back to the magic room?” which is in my house. (laughs) He came down to me for 11 sessions, I’d never been that many time in my house. (laughs) Every day at 9.59 he was there always on time and by 2 o’clock a new song was done every day. Before he’d go home every day we would listen to the demos and go “is this worthy?”. All the songs you hear are the songs we wrote. Is this capable of being epic? We wrote about 18 songs, couple of them were worthy but some were strange it didn’t fit the format.
You stated that this album is a “progression” from the previous ones and that you didn’t want to repeat yourselves. Saying that, how did you do? Isn’t it overthinking and dangerous to say that before writing tunes? How did you avoid the “repeat the previous albums” here?
Glenn: See, we sat in a room and before we wrote anything, let’s talk about what we wanted to do. Let’s talk about the first album and I said “well surely we need another Black Country BAM BAM” a call and response kind of thing like “The Crow”. Then there was the Joe-song and wrote this piece of music “The Last Song For My Resting Place” which was very very Joe. So it went like that. We picked something like this, like that to keep it motivated.
You cowrote all the music and lyrics with Joe. What about Jason and Derek during the process? What were their contributions musically speaking?
Glenn: They were not around. Jason lives in Florida and was very busy last year and Derek was forming a new band with Portnoy and doing sessions. We wrote the album in October so we were alone. It wasn’t meant to be that way but we were in the same city and available to write.
You’re making a reference to “One Last Soul” for “Over My Head”. You define it as “mainstream”.
Glenn: I woke up and said “over my head” (Glenn singing) out of a dream, you have to believe me! And just like “hmm that could be a chorus” then I started to think of the groove of and it went into the “One Last Soul” category. We needed to have a song kinda like that and maybe “Over My Head” is that song.
A word about “The Cove”. Looks like this subject is important for you. Can you tell us more about it and the Killing Cove?
Glenn: I work with a company called the Dolphin Project. “The Cove” is about: October to March, every year hunters go 2/3 miles out, find the dolphins, bring them back into the cove and slaughter them. I see footage of things that no one should see. It’s made me a vegan, it’s made me very proactive and I may never go back to Japan. I’m deeply concerned about the way these dolphins are treated and I wanted to write a song about it and there’s gonna be a big video behind this one with real footages.
“Wanderlust” the longest track is so old school with the keyboards and the whole vibe. Isn’t this track a bit “mainstream”? Almost not very rock in some point.
Glenn: You’re the first person today saying “mainstream” for “Wanderlust”. That’s the second song we recorded and the groove has some Fleetwood Mac and Beatles’, a very melodic sense to it. This is typical: Joe comes up with a verse, I take care of the chorus and at the end it’s just… they write themselves those songs. We don’t think what people think we are. We’re not metal, we’re not blues/blues, for God’s sake we are classic rock! Let’s not be frightened of it. Let’s address it. We’re not trying to be new we’re just a classic rock band. I think this song fits on a classic rock album and same for “The Cove”.
“Love Remains” is also a very personal song for you but musically the song is really groovy. How can you explain this difference? Between the music and the theme.
Glenn: I’ve used these chords before and as other artists use, F# to E to G to F# it’s kind of what I’ve been doing for a while and it’s got a intend groove to it and the chorus is so down melodic. I wrote it for my dad. It wrote itself. By the time we wrote “Wanderlust” and “Love Remains”, we knew with Joe that we’re making a great record because he fell in love with that chorus, the melody and he was so behind that like a ballero thing and it’s definitely Black Country Communion.
By the way there are lots of topics here. You wrote tons of songs. Do you usually wait for the music or do you write without? Or both? What make you so creative and productive lyrically speaking?
Glenn: I normally write with. It’s not often that I come up with a poem. I write the music and as I’m writing the music the melody is coming immediately. I don’t know man, it’s just like that and some musicians don’t get it. I don’t understand how to paint but people don’t understand how I can write/create those melodies.
The record feels so simple and smoth. What’s your secret? What do we need to make a great rock album? Knowing that you made tons of during your career.
Glenn: You have to be truthful and fearless. Fearless because fear can stop the flow of anything. Really, it’s faith, not so much God but faith and fear. I got to walk through fear all the time, I’m driven by fear I’m sorry I’m just that kind of guy and into faith, that’s where I always end up. It’s like being in the sea and always coming back to the shore that’s Glenn Hughes. All my songs are about this guy lost out there and kind of finds his way back. It’s always been that way and that’s the theme of most of my songs.
The band is only as good as the drummer. I say that sincerely. I’ve played with the best and when you got a Bonham on the drums we can write as many songs as we want. But it the guy on the drums is not getting into your feeling it’s not gonna work. Jason Bonham is the most incredible musical drummer, he’s astonishingly good. He doesn’t play great guitar or keyboards but he understands the musicality of every single beat. Incredible.
Which 3 tracks make this new album a great rock album?
Glenn: Oh my God. It’s a really hard question because you got “Wanderlust” which is the mainstream, “The Cove”, “Collide” alright and it’s like “wow”. I think “Collide” was the first riff I wrote and I kinda got into a little fight with Kevin (Shirley, the producer) because I didn’t want to have it as the opener, “Sway” is swagger you know. He said “no but “Collide” has this classic rock element, that thing that “ahhhhhhh” ” and he was right.
Joe sings on “The Last Song for my Resting Place”, what do you think of his performance?
Glenn: Oh he’s great. We were coming to the end of the album and I had a song that he haven’t heard called “Over My Head”, I told. I played it to him and, this is true, he liked it so much that he went home and came back the next day with his song. And we both finished the songs. He finished mine and I finished mine. That the Glenn & Joe story, that’s what happens. He wrote a really affecting song beautiful piece of music.
You worked with Kevin Shirley once again. Weren’t you tempted to try new things with someone else, still on this “progression” idea? Did you record live? As the first track suggests.
Glenn: It’s a delicate question and the delicate answer is: there’s never going to be another producer for Black Country Communion. I want to say something very big here. Joe will say this to you. Without Kevin, Joe would still play in bars, as good as he his. Joe needed to someone to come in and direct him. He’s the greatest guitarist of his generation, now we know this. Kevin Shirley has a lot of that. Kevin is the driver of the car and the car never stops and it’s driven really well. Joe is in the back saying “ok sir, whatever!”. That’s the thing with Kevin Shirley, I’ve been knowing him for 25 years.
What are your next plans with BBC? Live shows? Will this be a new cycle of 2/3 records before a new break or is it a one-off album? Or maybe you don’t know?
Glenn: Oh God I’m the only one here doing the interviews so… There’ll be a few announcements. All I know is that I write music in this band and I want to play music live. We just have to find opportunities. If BCC is a real band, with no solo stuff, we’d be in 5 years #1 but that’s not gonna happen because Joe is a solo artist and it’s always gonna be that way. So I’m not going to promise anything apart that this album is a great album and let’s see what happens. Let’s just see.
Finally, we are “RockUrLife” so what rock Glenn Hughes’ life?
Glenn: Really, what rocks my life? To be of service. To give back. I have been given this (pointing to his throat) voice/gift whatever you want to call it. I’m an ordinary guy in an ordinary world and has been given this gift and I want to give it back. People want to hear it, I want to tell stories about coming back from the sea to a safe place. I want to tell stories about don’t be frightened of death, love, faith and being faithless, carrying a message. I want to make people to feel loved. I’m not a hateful person. People hate me for being a lover but I’m not a person that wants to cause any conflicts. I’ve stopped fighting, we got to stop fighting. We got to be calm, we got to be humble and I mean it with so much dignity.
You’re looking at a guy that had no idea what humble and calm meant in the 80s, I was the complete opposite. I don’t remember the 80s. You’re looking at a guy that: survived a heart attack, had open-heart surgery, had two new knees, has been run over by a car, has been stabbed, has been shot out with a gun, brought back to life in the hospital, had overdoses. I’m not being like an ego guy right now but you’re looking at a dead man walking. God wants me… I’m here for a reason and I ask God “You can take me home or You want me to stay here?”. If I need to be of service, I’ll stay here but if You want to go back home, I’ll go home. That’s my story.