It has been a landmark year for “The Voice of Rock.” In 2016, Glenn Hughes was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of fame, thrilled audiences across the nation on a solo tour and hit the studio to create one of his most powerful albums to date. “Resonate,” which will be released via Frontiers Music Srl on November 4th, is the 8th studio album from the rock legend and serves another incredible milestone from his storied career. “Resonate” is a lyrically rich album that blends the finest elements of hard rock, soul and funk with his astonishing voice. From album opener, “Heavy” to the last chords of the closer “Long Time Gone,” the new release promises to be a contender for numerous Album of the Year lists. It features his live solo band members, Soren Andersen (guitars and co-producer), Pontus Engborg (drums) and newcomer Lachy Doley (keyboards), in addition to long-time friend and drummer Chad Smith (of Red Hot Chili Peppers), who joined them in the studio for opening and closing numbers. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Glenn Hughes to discuss his whirlwind year, the creative inspirations behind “Resonate” and what the future holds for him as an artist.
It’s great to speak with you, Glenn. Last time we spoke you were days away from being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. What was that experience like?
The induction was incredible! To be up there with my dear friend, David Coverdale, was a great moment for both of us. To have been recognized into the institution where other members weren’t was very strange. However, we don’t get to choose who gets inducted. That is the Hall of Fame’s job to do that. It was a grand and glorious event for everyone! I have known the guys in Chicago for a long time and Steve Miller is an old friend from back in 1972, so I pretty much knew everybody who was getting inducted! It was a great, great evening and for the Hall of Fame to extend the love for me to become an ambassador and to be of service to those coming into the Hall of Fame is a true honor for me.
You followed that incredible night up with a tour of the United States. How was the trip?
It’s always an honor for me to play anywhere in America because it has been so long since I had done a tour. To play up in the northeast was a great way to start the summer. It is so, so beautiful up there! My god, it’s incredible! It was really hot but the fans turned out and we had great audiences and everyone was very receptive throughout the tour, all the way from the East Coast through the Midwest, all the way up the North and then back into LA. Every place we visited was incredible and the good news is that we’re making plans to tour again in the spring!
That’s terrific! It’s been an incredible year for you and you followed up the tour by heading back into the studio for a brand-new solo album! What drew you back to your musical roots for this one?
It was like going home for me because the way I originally started out writing as a teenager was in my mother’s house. With this album, as you know, I was recovering from double knee transplants in the spring. I was writing the whole time in my studio. I wrote all the songs on “Resonate” in my studio and then took them to be recorded with my band. It was a really beautiful experience. It is probably one of the easiest albums I have ever written, simply because I had so much time to write. I write every day, even on Christmas Day I am in my studio! I just can’t help myself! [laughs] I’m in love with the art form of writing music and it is really the key center point of who I am.
Is “Resonate” an album you could have written as a younger man?
I think everything I do in my older years is something I couldn’t do when I was younger. I think I’ve become more of a studious musician, as both a player and a writer. I think as I get older the channel is still open for me. I know a lot of my peer group, when they are in their 60s, sort of retire or just don’t feel it anymore. Perhaps maybe they just want to do something else? For me, I am in fine tune to what I should do. I know that I’ve been given a gift to write songs and share those songs with people across the planet, so it’s my pleasure to keep making music and keep it fresh!
It has been a few years since your previous solo album. That’s not to say you haven’t been busy in the meantime! What made this the right time to release a solo record?
It was definitely time for a new solo album. With Black Country Communion doing three albums and a DVD and then California Breed doing an album, it took about five years out of my life. With the surgery on my knees and the heart surgery, I was down for two years in recovery, so it was time for me to come back with this album. This is an album, like you said, where I’m going back to my roots. This is a rock record for rock fans. I think people are excited by the fact that I’ve returned to that element. It’s very dangerous, lyrically dense and heavy in lyrical content as well. I wasn’t frightened. I worked through some fears to do this album. You know, when I write, I can tell if a song I am doing is going to be completed. I don’t finish some songs if I feel it may not be right for a particular album. Every song you hear on this album was written in the spring in my studio and I knew that I was onto something. I knew I could take the songs into the Copenhagen and record this album with my band.
While the writing may have come easy, I’m sure you faced challenges along the way. What can you tell us about those?
As far as the recovery aspect of it, it took six months for my legs to become functional. I think we may have talked about this before but I had to learn how to walk again. Anything to do with my physicality was a little bit difficult. When you have two knees put in, it’s like a child learning to walk for the first time and it was difficult. It was not easy and I had to be in physical therapy for 10 weeks, which is pretty grueling and you’re being told you’re not walking correctly. I have videos of me trying to walk and it was pretty gruesome. The onslaught of the problem was all physicality. My mind and my spiritual condition was always there. I was always ready for the challenge! Being in recovery, whether it’s from drugs and alcohol, heart surgery or knee transplants, has always been a part of who I am. I’ve always maintained following recovery and here I am on the other side of that and feeling on top of the world!
The name of the album is “Resonate.” Which of the songs on this record resonate the most with you? Pardon the pun!
They’re all special to me and they are like mini movies to me. They are all visual. It’s like an actor reading the script. When I sing a song, I go into a certain role of where I am in this particular song. For example, “Heavy” has a heavy chorus and “Let It Shine” has a very light ingredient in the verse. There is also the denseness of “Flow” and “God of Money” is a really dark song, which is about the dangers of putting anything before your art. Be it sex or drugs or whatever, you can’t do that! I wanted to sing about the fears of doing things inappropriately. There are so many things I’ve learned in the course of these last 50 years about what I can and cannot do! One thing I wasn’t when I was 22 was wise but I am now because wisdom comes with age. I have learned from some great doctors, meditational readers and therapists. I really do believe in spiritual progression and believe we can be kinder, calmer and more considerate if we use the spiritual condition.
I’m sure some songs come easier and others are harder to nail down. Which ones came easiest and which were the harder to wrangle onto the record?
Wow! That’s a good question. I have to be careful the way I answer this question. All of the songs wrote themselves. I would go into the studio and play a certain chord and out of that chord would come a verse, a title or a riff. Each song would kind of write itself right in front of my very eyes! It would sort of just appear! I have really been blessed with not having writer’s block in the last 20 years. I’ve been very fortunate to have a huge stockpile of songs. There was not a song that was difficult on this album. There are songs with two or three different arrangements like “Long Time Gone” or “When I Fall,” which is a little bit different. They all came pretty easily. I’m actually kind of laughing while I’m telling you this because it has never been so easy for me to write something!
I also wanted to focus on the people who work with you on this album. What can you tell us about them and what they brought to the table?
These guys are my band! Soren Andersen [guitars and co-producer] and Pontus Engborg [drums] have been with me for 10 years. Lachy Doley is an Australian guy who plays with my friend Jimmy Barnes. He played with me in Australia a few times when I played over there and I brought him into play keyboards. He’s just an amazing keyboard player! Of course, we also have Chad Smith from Red Hot Chili Peppers, who is my best friend. He has been on my last six albums. We have an unwritten law where whatever I record he is always there, so I’m very fortunate to have my best friend on my album. These guys are very much in tune with what I’m doing. What I did was bring each song to them on a different day and play the songs to them one at a time. From there, we recorded each song and focused on the album track by track. We didn’t rehearse the entire album. We would rehearse one song and then another song and that is the way I wanted to do it. I feel it worked out really well that way.
How did you and Chad Smith cross paths and forge a friendship?
In 2003 at the NAMM show, a friend of mine who was an endorser at the LA show in January, asked me if I would like to play with Chad. I was doing a show the following evening. My friend said that Chad was going to be with him and asked if I would like Chad to come up and play some songs with me. I asked him if he knew my material and he said, “He knows all of your material!” I thought that was hilarious! I met Chad in the afternoon on the show day and he was going to play on two songs but he ended up playing on eight songs of a 12 song set! From that moment, we have kind of been inseparable. We are best friends, our wives are best friends and I am the Godfather to one of his kids. He’s such a very, very cool man. He’s a funny guy, very musically intelligent and an insanely good drummer. He is a very musical drummer. When he plays with me he gets to go off and gets to be Keith Moon and Bonzo and gets to do what he wants to do. I think it’s really cool that he gets to do that!
Earlier this year, it was revealed Black Country Communion will make its return in 2017. How did you guys get back on the same page after the past few years apart?
One thing I want to make clear to everybody across air nation is that Joe Bonamassa and I never fell out. It just happened that after “Afterglow” was recorded and released in the fall of 2012, there was no touring schedule set. Being that there was no touring schedule set, I decided to leave the band simply because I needed to go back to my solo career. There was never falling out. Joe was continuing with his solo career and it just never worked out that we could do a lot of touring. Over the course of the years, we have spoken to each other and we had lunch the spring. We said, “Wouldn’t it be great to make another record? Maybe the time is right to do that.” There’s certain times when people get back together for reunions and if they have their material, they have a good insight. We are actually writing now and we have written half of the album. Joe is coming next week to finish up the songs and we will be headed back into the studio in January.
While it is early in the process, what’s the direction you see yourself moving sonically?
You know, it’s a combination of all three albums. It will sound like Black Country Communion. When you hear the first few bars of the song, you will know it’s us! We are not making any severe left turns or opening up any new doors of trying to do something that is different from the way we started. We are very focused on what we should do. We are making a rock album for rock fans. We’re not making anything different than pure rock music in the tradition of what Black Country Communion set out to do in 2010!
I know you have an autobiography but the past few years have been an amazingly productive time for you. Any plans to do another book of some sort in the future?
Oh, I think so. A few people have come to me about doing another book. I think when I have the time, maybe sometime in the next five years, I will do that. I’m happy to tell you that I’ve never been this busy! I’m writing the new Black Country Communion album, “Resonate” comes out in the next two weeks and my tour starts in Europe on the eighth of November, so I’ve never been this bloody busy! Thank God I’m in good health, good shape and good state of mind! Long may that continue!
As I mentioned, I love you’re such a force for positivity in all you do. It is a strange time here in America right before this election. Seeing as you do have such a positive world outlook, I wanted to get your thoughts on America at this point in time.
Obviously, we are in a position right now where we have two candidates that may not be the ideal view for Americans. We are facing reality. We are less than two weeks away from the election. I’m not going to talk to much about who I think should be president because everybody’s got their own opinion and I think artists and actors should stay out of it. With that said, we are in a bit of a mess here. We have to hope that Congress and the things we move forward on, the stability of our economy, protecting our borders and keeping Americans free in all four corners of the world, is very important to our nation. We stand at the abyss right now where we have to be very, very positive. It’s very, very clear to me what’s going on in the political race. It’s just a nightmare with what we’re facing. We have to stay positive. America is the greatest country in the world! I only hope and pray that in the next couple of weeks, when it comes down to the election day, that we have guile and some insight on how we can move our country forward. I have been living here for 43 years and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else!
You’ve seen changes in the music industry throughout the years. What excites you most about being an artist in this day and age?
As I am a songwriter, that keeps me busy. I have always been a songwriter and in the last 20 years I’ve written more than I’ve ever done. I think that’s because of my sobriety years. It’s songwriting that keeps me focused. As you know, I tour a lot and travel all the time. It’s always the songs that center me! It’s these songs on “Resonate” that I carefully write knowing they will be recorded and listened to by a lot of people. Look, I have been freely given this gift to carry the message. The message is all about love and healing. I say again, music is simply the greatest healer in this dark time. Music is something that we can all relate to. It will help you, save you and keep you warm, safe and cuddly. Music will never change the world but it sure can heal a lot of people!