Glenn Hughes | Interview
By Chantelle Frampton
Glenn Hughes is known for being a bassist and vocalist for one of the biggest rock bands of all time, Deep Purple. He also briefly fronted Black Sabbath and currently fronts the rock supergroup Black Country Communion.
His musical achievements are immeasurable and have earned him a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. After four decades he has not slowed down, embarking on a worldwide Deep Purple Live tour, playing Belfast Waterfront Hall on 29 September.
You’ve been writing and recording songs for decades on a multitude of different projects. Is there any significance with the timing of performing the Deep Purple tracks with this latest tour?
I knew years ago there would be a time in my life where I would want to go back. I think a lot of people would like to go back. It’s not something I want to live in forever, but I just felt about a year ago when I started putting this together the timing seemed to be right. I had just recorded BCCIV, I’d done Satriani’s album; both massive albums. I said to myself ‘Do I do another Glenn Hughes solo album, or do I do something majestic and something regal?’ It’s something the fans have been waiting for, for a long time and I said to myself ‘I’m going to listen to my fans.’ I just thought the timing for me could not have been more perfect.
How have you found performing these songs in 2018 compares to the seventies?
What I’ve done, I haven’t taken the classic studio versions of the songs. I’ve had a look at videos and movies I have and looked at elements of sound from Deep Purple decades ago and I listened to what we were doing live. What I am doing with this particular show is I’m giving the fans live performances from that era like Live at Long Beach and Live at Paris. I’m giving the real classic Deep Purple fans something they will appreciate by going back and digging into these songs the way they were done in the live format in the mid-seventies.
It’s incredible how much you have achieved in the music industry with so many different artistic outlets including albums, an autobiography and multiple tours. How do you find time to do it all and how did you get to this stage of your life?
That’s a really good question. If people were talking to me thirty years ago I would have been different because I was in a different headspace back then. What I did as I have become older, and I think a lot of people would say the same, is you just seem to get calm. I think I’ve lived a lot of lives, I’ve lived the life of ten men and I’ve been very fortunate. I think you know the story of Rock n Roll and a lot of us didn’t make it, they’re either dead or disappeared. I have walked through a lot of fire and a lot of heartache and hospital visits to get to where I am today.
For me, I do all this by meditation, a lot of sleep, a lot of water, exercise and the key thing is a lot of laughter. I just love to be around laughing, smiling people and trust me when I tell you this that when you get older you just think ‘I’ll have some of that please.’ For me back in my day I was hanging out with all these gloomy people and drinking and whatever. Now I live at the beach at Los Angeles and I’m looking around at my life thinking ‘My God I did ok didn’t I’. The seventies was like fire and brimstone; it was like no other decade. I am one of the guys from that generation that has lived through the fire and come through it and I’m on my knees with gratitude. When I bring this show to Belfast, or any city I go to, there’s a lot of love and gratitude shown from me to the people that have supported me for decades.
Well, there’s two Glenn’s you’re talking to. The one before I got clean and sober in 1991 and this is quite a famous quote, but I don’t remember the 1980s. I know I did big albums in the 1980s, but I don’t remember because I’m not in that headspace anymore. After spending a year coming into sobriety I started to write again. I have a guitar in every room in my house so there is no escaping it. I wanted the guitar and the writing process to save me.
Before the War, I call it The War, of me getting clean and sober I didn’t write about the reality of life. I wrote about fiction. Since I’ve become sober in 1991 I write about the human condition and about reality, love, death, anger, fear, hope, fate and all the buzzwords you can imagine. The writing process for me is simply picking a guitar up, playing a note, or a chord or beat and a song will appear in within about half an hour. I write 365 days a year, I write all the time and I’ve never been so in that space as I am in this moment.
I have worked with other writers that are very stiff and stern with writing. They sit at a desk and they bounce a pen and inside I’m going ‘what the f*** are you doing?’ It’s like a machine. For me, that’s why I’ve got the guitars everywhere because I can walk through my house and I’ll just stop and sit down. I record everything I write so I just write and record and at the end of every day I listen to what I’ve recorded. In the morning I listen again then I’ll keep things – I never erase anything, I’ve got hours upon hours of stuff recorded. You may be talking to the most grateful man in the world right now.
You’ve worked and performed with the biggest names in music that it feels like there’s nobody left to work with. Is there anyone that you can think of that you’d love to collaborate with either writing or recording?
You can imagine that my management get calls all the time asking for work with other artists. The real deal is I’ve got a window here so I’m doing the Deep Purple Live show which will be a couple of years. Then I’m thinking what will I do? Will I go back to making solo albums; I am going to do a tour with an orchestra for sure, the Albert Hall kind of venue. My difficulty is that when I’m working with another professional, iconic musician we have difficulties getting windows together because we’re so busy doing what we do. What I can’t do anymore is wait for people. I say that with respect. I can’t wait any longer for things to align. Yes, I’d love to work with this guy or that girl, but it is damn difficult when everybody’s windows are very small. If something happened where a window opened for both me and someone else, I’d gladly do it but it’s really damn difficult.
The Classic Deep Purple Live tour is scheduled all over the world and by the time you get to Belfast in September you will be well settled in. For such a big, worldwide tour it’s always great to see Belfast as one of the stops. Are you looking forward to your time in Belfast?
Let me tell you why I’m visiting Belfast. Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland were the places I came to as a teenager, I mean like seventeen years old. I fell in love with Belfast and Dublin and Cork. I fell in love with your country. I had not spent a lot of time over the last four decades. I have been a few times. When the English, Welsh and Scottish tour was booked I said hey what about Ireland. We got Ireland sorted out after the UK and I was adamant to come to Belfast. How could I play Glasgow and not play Belfast? What I’m doing is I’m coming to see you. Trust me you’re not coming to see me because I’m coming to see you.
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