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Glenn Hughes

Interviewed by Rick Damigella
Interview with Glenn Hughes
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 2 at

What was the inspiration to work with Chad Smith and John Frusciante on this particular project?
Chad and I met at the NAMM show four years ago and I was actually gonna air some new songs off my side project. Sort of pop, sort of Americana, like a funky band I was putting together and the guy, the head of the company and he’s a pal of mine, said to Chad, “Glenn is playing around and maybe you guys should hook up and meet.” And Chad came to my house and we just sat around the kit. I looked at him like I’ve never met him before and I looked at him and we just started off and we started playing all these songs and he knew every one of them and he basically played the whole set with me at the NAMM show. And from that night, we’ve been joined at the hip. I’m the godfather of his child. And we go out with our families and we make a lot of great music together. Chad and I are like unstoppable. I mean he’ll tell you the same. And Johnny Frusciante on the album too. It doesn’t suck to have the biggest man on your record.
MSJ: Why now are you getting back to your funk roots?
People remember me from Deep Purple and people remember from the harder stuff, but before Deep Purple there was Trapeze and that was a really funky. It’s a cross between British hard rock and classic American funk. And that’s what Glenn Hughes has really been all about. And you know, I’m making a new record for myself hoping that my audience will go with that. And you know people around the world are understanding the Glenn Hughes funk thing. I mean they really…there aren’t too many white guys that understand funk music. And I’m one of the guys that really understands that musical format. I can’t help myself. I was born to play that kind of music. Traditional classic hard rock is kind of straight and boring. I like to sort of throw some funk in there.
MSJ: And you couldn’t have hooked up with a better pair of guys to do that with than Chad and John.
Johnny and Chad are the two greatest funk rock pioneers on the planet of their generation and we really are a great combination and pretty lethal, I’ll tell you what.
MSJ: Are these songs new creations or are these things you’ve been sitting on waiting for the right time to put them down?
You know, the thing is…if you know your history from 77-91 there wasn't a lot going on. I was mainly more interested in getting high than making music. So I think in ‘91 when I turned my life around and by ‘93 I was touring again and by ‘95 I started to started to write. I started to write and the writing juices started to flow heavily. And I have my faith and in fact my higher power says, “You will write today and you will go upstairs and you will write some music.” And that’s what I do everyday. I write for myself, the artists, the producers, and I’m looking to obviously expand into that world and create new talent and give the gift back.
MSJ: What’s the reaction been like from your fan base?
Pretty strong. I think from Soul Mover to this record I think the reaction has been very big. I don’t think they realize how much of a hard worker I am and how much I’ve put into writing songs. I know that I don’t just throw 12 songs together, shove them on a disc and then shove them out. They know I spend a lot of time manifesting these songs and then really thinking about what to write and I’m really into that sort of it. I have a really great rabid fan base that…I think they are all Glenn Hughes fanatics. I think I’m an artist that people particularly like. I mean you might get a group of guys that like Lenny Kravitz or the Black Crowes, but I have a fan base that’s a Glenn Hughes fan base and it’s really great.
MSJ: We were going through iTunes to get an idea of who’s buying this album and it shows people who bought this album also bought the Chris Daughtrey, Audioslave, and the Chili Peppers and your album Soul Mover, as well. So it seems like it’s a nice cross section of fans.
It’s kind of wacky, but I’m being perceived as a new artist because I haven’t played in America as a solo artist. And so I’m starting to tour in June. I will be playing at the Whiskey by the way, June 2nd for anyone that wants to come out and see me. Chad is playing drums and it’s going to be great. I haven’t played the Whiskey since Trapeze like 30 years ago so it’s gonna be awesome, it’s my homecoming. I’ve traveled all over the world and now I’m gonna travel America.
MSJ: You’re on a break from your tour now. How was the reception in Russia and in the Ukraine?
I got to tell you that is the best reception that I’ve had as a solo artist. I think even in Japan. I do really well in Japan, and South America and in Europe. But I think it’s like with the Russians, it’s like they’ve been waiting for me their whole life. It’s like I have a fan base that is from 10 years old to 50 and we’ve pretty much sold out Russia and the Ukraine. It’s monumental for me. I was almost blown away by it to see men, women, boys, and girls crying. You know, music for me is a great healer. Music for me has healed my soul for these last 17 years. It’s amazing for me what music can do.
MSJ: You’re playing in Serbia soon as well?
I’ll be playing Bulgaria two days before where I will be given the key to the city of as an honorary citizen. But in Serbia, the old Yugoslavia, where I played in Deep Purple and did very well, that city where I am playing is naming a building after me called the Glenn Hughes music hall. So it’s quite an honor in your life when you’re alive to have a building named after you. Some artists are big in America. Some are big in Europe. Some are big in the Far East. I do really well in Europe. All the Baltic states, Greece, Turkey, Russia. You know this area is massive for Glenn Hughes and it’s great to be adored right now. It’s great for people to know who you are. It’s great to be a someone you can depend on as an artist to play to them. A lot of people play there. Not a lot of big bands play there. But you know, I opened the door for those bands a few years ago.
MSJ: You’ve been in this industry for quite some time now. You’ve gone through different genres. What’s more satisfying for you as a musician? Being the big marquee name or doing it for yourself and other players?
I don’t bow down to the god of money. For me, the song is all important. The song is how I bring it and how I create it in the studio and take it to the stage. My fans demand new songs, they don’t want to see me singing Deep Purple songs all night. I love the process of writing a song. I love what it does to me as a human being. So the marquee thing is great. I’m ex-Deep Purple. Can’t get away from it. Kind of happy. And you got to come from somewhere and Deep Purple is a great start. It’s like…a two sided coin. I’m a solo artist and I was once part of a really massive band. I really like the fact that I’m forging my new style back onto people.
MSJ: There have been rumors you might get involved in the remastering of Deep Purple’s Stormbringer.
I’ve done that. I was in the studio at Abbey Road three months ago to do “Holy Man” and I did it really quick. I put the board tape up from the 24 track from ‘74 and it sounded so great that I mixed it. I mixed a few more songs. I mixed “Holy Man,” “You Can’t Do It Right,” “Love Don’t Mean a Thing.” I mixed them in the afternoon. I did a slightly different mix than what you’ve heard already with a little raw vocal, probably more funk on those tracks, more than you probably remember. I’ve added a couple of things on guitar that we didn’t have on the original. And I’ve added a new vocal on “Hold On” so it’s kind of an interesting mix.
MSJ: Getting back to your new album, are there more tracks that didn’t get put down to tape?
Yeah, there are. We recorded 15 tracks and you got to see 11 or 12 on Music for the Divine. We got four or five more cuts that we got kicking around. Those cuts are just as good as Music for the Divine, but we didn’t want to have 16 cuts on the record. We decided to save some of them for the next record and they still stand up to me. So your probably gonna hear some of the stuff of the last recording on the next record because that’s so good. So I’m already writing songs. Chad and I will go in again in October and this time we’re gonna make it at his Malibu house. We’re actually gonna go up there and set the gear up and crank it in Malibu this time.
MSJ: You haven’t written on an acoustic guitar in a long time. Is it tough to go back to that style of composing?
For me it was like, for whatever instrument I’d got at that time. I get a lot of instruments ya know given to me by my endorsement companies or I go buy an old guitar or keyboards. Whatever guitar or gear I’m working on that I normally write on and low an behold, two years ago, I bought a ‘55 Martin acoustic and I have it in my living room and I picked it up and I started writing and low and behold.
MSJ: What does it take to maintain your singing chops after so many years?
Very simple - eight hours of sleep on the road, no cavorting, rule it out. Gig, come off the stage, and wipe down, into the bed and sleep and ya know I’m not young anymore. I can’t go out and do what I used to do and sing every night. Got to really watch what I eat on the road, I can’t be around people who smoke; it’s really like an athletic diet. It’s something that I pride myself on, my voice, and I pride myself on keeping fit. That’s what I do
MSJ: It’s a much different style what you’re doing on Music for the Divine compared to some of the stuff you did with Tony Iommi of late as well. Is there is a different way of preparing to sing different material?
People wanted me to sing in the box. I don’t like to sing in the box. I like to sing out of the box and I like to use my runs and my adlibs and my riffing as I call it into what I do. And the only thing is that there are songs that are straight ahead, great massive songs. I want to sing them appropriately and I kept in that box. And when I sing my own records I sing out of the box and that’s more what I like to do.
MSJ: What was the last album you went out and bought? What are you listening to right now?
I don’t listen to a lot of music because I don’t have time. It’s very strange. I might listen to it in the car, I might listen to it when I’m out on the road. It’s something like that. I do listen to a lot of music before I play on stage. I listen to a lot of funk in addition to my own. I don’t listen to a lot of rock music. I listen to a lot R&B and funk. That kind of music. I did buy a Miles Davis album last year. That’s where I’m at. I mean…I’m sort of obviously…you know that I’m not really a metal guy. So I mean I’m not into that kind of stuff but you know…it’s great that I’ve been called the “Voice of Rock” all these years and it’s great that my peers have looked at me like that. But I’m so multifaceted as far as what I listen to. I listen to everything.
MSJ: And what about the live concert experience? Have you been in the audience of anybody's performance recently?
The Peppers. I mean, they’re like friends. I go to them quite often.
MSJ: Ever had a “Spinal Tap” moment? One of those, “what the hell is going on?” moments?
Yeah I mean with Sabbath in ‘86, I was on tour with them briefly and I wasn’t playing bass I was singing. There was this song called “Seventh Star” and I had to walk down a ramp, like a really tall ramp and I got scared. I couldn’t. I froze. And that was a Spinal Tap moment for me because all the kids were like, “Jump! Jump!” And it…it was all Spinal Tap.
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