Glenn Hughes Talks New Black Country Communion Album & Honoring Deep Purple's Legacy
Black Country Communion, the Anglo-American rock group comprised of vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Trapeze), drummer Jason Bonham (Led Zeppelin, Foreigner), Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Alice Cooper, Billy Idol) and blues-rock guitarist/vocalist Joe Bonamassa will release their highly anticipated (and long overdue) fourth album, BCCIV on September 22.
Like its three predecessors, BCCIV was overseen by producer Kevin Shirley, (Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Journey, The Black Crowes) and expands upon the progression that took place between the first three album with an abundance of heavy riffs, hook-laden grooves and of course, the spiritual, soulful sound of Hughes’ powerful vocals.
I recently spoke with Hughes about BCCIV, his upcoming tour honoring the music of Deep Purple, gear and more.
It’s been nearly five years since the last Black Country Communion album. How did this reunion all come about?
This is the way I remember it. I was in New York being inducted with Deep Purple into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2016 when I got a call from Joe congratulating me. He was full of love for the fact that I was inducted and asked if I’d like to get together for dinner when I got back to L.A., which we did.
During dinner Joe said, “How would you feel about getting the band back together to make a great record?” I said that would be fantastic, but we had to make an epic record that was capable and worthy.
What was the writing process like?
On the first three records, Joe had come to my home a total of maybe eight times. On this one, he came eleven days and I had never seen him so committed to writing. It was a glorious moment for both of us. We literally sat a yard apart in my studio facing each other and these songs just came right out one after the other.
By the time we got to song three, “Wanderlust,” and took off on that chorus, I said “Oh my god! We’re touching on a little bit of Abbey Road here! We’ve got this amazing groove and guitar thing!” I was in heaven and that’s when I knew that everything was going to be ok.
Let’s discuss a few tracks from BCCIV starting with “Collide.”
Joe’s always on time and we always started off early in the day. One morning, I saw him pulling in and I was in the studio writing the riff. I remember he walked in and said, “What’s that?” I looked at him and said, “I don’t know”. He just plugged in and we started rocking.
“Over My Head”?
There were two songs that were born before Joe and I got up in the room. “Over My Head” was a song that I wrote in a dream. My wife woke me up one night and said “Honey, you’re singing ‘over my head’.” I said, “Oh, God. I have to go in the studio and put it down”.
The other, “The Last Song for My Resting Place” was Joe’s. He came in with his mandolin and already had the idea for it. He was very psyched about it because it was something completely different.
I’m deeply involved with The Dolphin Project with Rick O’Barry. What happens with the dolphins really affects me and I wanted to write about it and what we came up with was something that was very dark. When we first started writing, I didn’t really know I was going to write about the dolphins, but when I heard that riff I could visualize it.
What was the recording process like?
We didn’t really have a lot of time with Kevin beforehand and Jason and Derek hadn’t even heard one note from these songs. It’s not that we didn’t want them to hear it, it’s just that Joe and I do most of our demos on our phones. I will say that the arrangements you hear on BCCIV have been recorded like demos. It’s the first time we’ve ever done it.
We don’t follow the code of radio with our band. We’re not trying to do everything in 2:26 to get it on the radio. We want to connect with a fan base who wants an ethereal, spiritual, groovy rock and roll record, and I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to deliver it.
What can you tell me about your upcoming tour performing the music of Deep Purple?
What I’m doing is honoring the Mark III / IV era with Stormbringer and Come Taste The Band. Years ago, Jon Lord, David Coverdale and myself tried to organize a Mark III reunion but no one could get ahold of Ritchie [Blackmore]. I’m not even sure if he knew anyone was trying to find him but we were never able to get him on the phone, and then of course, Jon was diagnosed.
David eventually did a Purple album to honor the legacy and now with the band coming to an end I figured the window was open for me to get a fantastic band around me and go out and honor the band I was part of in the Seventies. I’ve always played Deep Purple songs as part of my show but have never done a complete Deep Purple set. It’s going to be fantastic!
What’s your current setup like for your new tour?
I’ve got a big pile of Orange and have gone back to playing Bill Nash basses. I just adore them. More than likely, I’m also going to be playing my Seventies Rickenbacker again and an early Sixties P-bass like I had in Purple.
What excites you the most about this next phase of your career?
I’m 66 years old, and the question now becomes how long can you believe this guy behind the microphone, and how long can he push it over the line? Only God knows the answer. All I know is that I suit up and try to connect with as many people—both soulfully and spiritually—as possible. We live on a dangerous planet and my thing is to bring some love into people’s heart and soul.
Until God says to me, “You don’t have to do this anymore” I’m here to tell you that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m here for a purpose, and that purpose is to give it back.
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.