A name we are all very familiar with, and a legend of the Rock genre - Glenn Hughes is about to hit the UK with ex-Whitesnake guitarist, Doug Aldrich and rhythm man, Pontus Engborg. From the everlasting sounds of 'Deep Purple', to the more recent 'Black Country Communion' and 'California Breed', Glenn has an astoundingly robust back catalogue of classic tracks. Surely, this tour will be nothing short of superb.
We recently had the opportunity to speak to "The Voice of Rock", regarding his forthcoming tour, current projects, and lifestyle choices.
First and foremost, it's key to delve into the current touring situation. Touching upon the subjects of his touring line-up and general tour progress. Now working in a trio made up of Glenn himself, Doug Aldrich and Pontus Engborg, we question on the subject of the newly emerging musician in the band, Pontus, and his position in the band.
"Let's talk a about time before Black Country Communion; my solo career was sort of put on hold for a while whilst I did Black Country, and then Cali Breed came in and you know, when I left California Breed, it was a matter of "What do I do?" Do I form another super-group or do I go back to playing in my own band? Pontus was a guy I wanted to bring back from eight years ago. A young Swedish guy that studies in America, he's someone I wanted to bring back into my band."
"To be honest with you, what is going on with me right now is, we're doing this tour, and I haven't announced it, but I can start talking about it with press, but I've decided that I'm going to take... not a break, but I'm going to take a minute to tour now. I haven't done a tour like this in forty years. I'm going to do it for the next year, something I haven't done forever. consequently, that tour will mean a lot of hard work, which may mean I may now have enough time to make an album. For me, to make an album is writing it and arranging it. I've wrote an album, but now I'm working with Doug, I may take a different turn in the way I make an album to produce a different music. I don't know where my music takes me, but right now I'm working with Doug, and he's with me and we’re taking it one day at a time, we're getting along really well, the fan interaction is incredible, the interplay is great and more importantly for me, we're very close friends.Something which, for me, after being in two bands where ’is this guy my friend? Is this guy really my friend? I gotta be around people I really, really love and trust, and who are going to show up for me."
With a back catalogue including Deep Purple, Trapeze, Black Sabbath, amongst many, the task of choosing songs for the 'ideal' set-list must be a lengthy process in itself. Would we see any songs featuring on the Black Sabbath hidden treasure, 'Seventh Star', or anything similar? Does the album have any particular personal standing in Glenn's music career? Glenn explained the situation:
"I find it difficult to reproduce anything by Tony if it's not actually with Tony. I have done stuff from Seventh Star, ten...fifteen years ago and it was okay, but I've got to tell you the truth, when Tony's not playing those songs with me, it's not quite... It's easy to play Blackmore without Blackmore, but you play without Iommi and it's a little different."
"I like the album. Tony, and I really loved the album. Don Arden was managing Tony in ‘84 and Tony asked me to feature on his solo album. I'd just done the Gary Moore album, I was in LA and I've known Tony since 1970, so I went down to the studio and sang on the whole record and the last song I sang, Don Arden came down and said "I think we should call it Sabbath" and you can't say no to Don Arden, so..."
The difficult choice of choosing a setlist...
"I'm in a trio right now, so I'm trying to do stuff that is going to enhance the trio's experience. Some people say how can you do 'Burn' without keyboards? Well, you can. It's workable. I've always tried to do stuff that people think impossible. If you challenge me, I will do that. I’m very much a risk-taker. Look man, I've always been one to flow against the tide. I've never been frightened to dip my toe into different waters. I'm always going to be a rebel! I'm not saying I’m someone that's young hearted and wanting to fight, but I'll always have that rebel instinct. that's what David Bowie brought into my life in the 70's. When he lived with me, he threw away all my snake skin boots, he cut my hair and he threw away all my flared pants. I've always sort of gone on from there."
In current years, Glenn has been in numerous super-bands that have made a mighty impact, with a collective of world-class musicians, but unfortunately, they resulted in an early demise, much to fans dismay. At this point, what motivated and inspires GH to produce new music?
"My wife is very important to me in my life, as are my friends. The music is the key element. It's the soul key for me. It is the epicentre of who I am. It is exactly where God wants me to be. ‘I am a messenger, this is my prophecy’.. what is he singing about? What is that guy from the black country singing about? He's singing about love, you know? I'm a bit of a hippy. We live in a world of hate and terrorism, child abuse, kidnapping, drugs and fucking... you know, and the world is going to hell, but the only thing we can really rely on is music."
Following on from the brief mention of Glenn's Faith, he explains exactly why his beliefs play such a big role in his life.
"My religion is personal to me, and I'm really glad you mentioned this, by the way. I'm very deeply, deeply graded to what I believe and don't believe in and I can say this to you... I run on spiritual guidance, really. I really do believe that it's better to give love, receive love and I really do believe in the love aspect of love between our brothers and sisters on the planet. I am a bit of an old hippy and love has saved me, and God has definitely saved me. No disrespect to anyone that doesn't believe in God, but that's what I believe and that's the only thing that matters is the goodness and Godliness of what He created."
With recent band breakups and the rise of a solo tour, it's fair to not truly understand where Glenn plans to head next, but evidently, it's a positive path, both spiritually and musically. Glenn spoke about his current attitude and lifestyle, as well as touching upon the 'pinnacle' moments in his life and career.
"I think that I have an incredible home family life, surrounded by loving and nurturing people. If I'm in a situation somewhere and I hear screaming, shouting or negativity, it's like I'm being burned by a flame. I can't be around negative energy. I like to be calm. Calmness is the complete opposite to someone that is young and wants to live an aggressive lifestyle. I've done all that, died ten times and I'm still here."
"I really think it was putting down the drugs and the drink and turning my back to the things that were killing me, and being able to tell people that it was actually making me crazy. The heart attack, and having done things that were inappropriate. What a dark period of time for me. Having a book and telling the truth in that book, and working my way back and being as honest as I can be."
"The worst and most embarrassing moments for me in my career was when I was with Tony Iommi on those five shows where I had a very bad fight with someone and I had some bones broken in my nose and it consequently stopped me from singing. That was embarrassing for me. The best period for me... I would have to say now. The amount of people coming to see me as a solo artist is astounding because I had no idea that it would happen after my last two bands. I thought maybe I should still form bands but it's looking good these days to continue my solo career."
"I'm not frightened to dream. I've worked with the greatest, and I'll probably work with some more. I just think that I don't try to think too much about what’s coming down the pipeline for me. All I know is that tonight I'm going to have some dinner with my friends. Tomorrow is not here yet. I'm really being serious with that. I don't know what the hell is going to happen. I just need to get some sleep and the rest is history."
Evidently very committed and focused on his career, there is little downtime from touring and creating new music in the world of Glenn Hughes, though there is more to this man than the music.
"I'm an avid book reader and I like to keep my brain busy. My wife runs a book club in LA and we spend a lot of time reading books together. Hardly anyone does talking on the weekend, we usually have our heads in books. I don’t have a lot of time to watch TV so I like to keep my brain occupied with things I need to learn."
Having sat through endless amounts of interviews, who would this legend’s choice of interviewee be?
“Oh, I've got quite a few I'd choose. I'd have to say my friend, Stevie Wonder. We're really, really good friends, and I know he'd give me the best interview. Not only because he's one of the greatest musicians I know, but he's my guru in how to breathe. He's that kind of guy.”
Interviewer: Mark Dean
Editor and Writer: Christiane Robinson