Songs In The Key Of Rock, Hughes Turner Project II (HTP2)
Frontiers, MTM Records
Interview by Todd K Smith
Its all about learning. I feel I havent achieved anything yet. Im a total workaholic.
Considered by many to be the Voice of Rock Glenn Hughes has returned to his former glory with exceptional grace and blue-collar polish. Releasing both Songs In The Key Of Rock (his ninth solo effort) and the second Hughes Turner Project with Rainbow/Deep Purple vocalist Joe Lynn Turner in 2003 Hughes roars back to reclaim his rightful crown. For his fans, Hughes has never really left his chosen profession remaining just under the radar creating stellar celebrations in Funk, Hard Rock and Melodic AOR.
As a teenager Hughes teamed with vocalist John Jones and guitarist/keyboardist Terry Rowley of the Montanas to form Trapeze, a band which also featured guitarist Mel Galley and drummer Dave Holland. After their self-titled debut they trimmed the fat to become a relentless power trio bringing the magnitude of Holland, Galley and Hughes together to create one of the greatest record released in 1970, Medusa. The group toured extensively both at home and abroad, and although their fusion of rock and funk was cited as a prime influence on bands like ZZ Top, their commercial success was minimal. In the wake of their third opus You Are The Music Were Just The Band Hughes was invited to replace Rodger Glover in Deep Purple.
In 1974 Deep Purple was going through a number of personal changes bringing in David Coverdale to share vocals with Hughes and mapping out a harder edge with songs like Burn, Lay Down, Stay Down and the blues grinder Mistreated. Hughes remained an integral part of the band even helping to break in Blackmore replacement guitarist Tommy Bolin through the transitional Come Taste The Band (1975). After Bolins tragic overdose, Hughes started to drift. He left Purple to pursue a solo career but battling his own demons became a full time job. The funky Play Me Out surfaced in 1978 to little flair while 1983 saw Hughes paired with Pat Travers guitarist Pat Thrall for a return to his rock roots.
A series of guest spots kept the bass player working through the 80s. There was Gary Moores Run For Cover and the one off supergroup Phenomena which raised Hughes profile enough to land him a gig on Tony Iommis solo record The Seventh Star (1986), the record was later changed to a Black Sabbath title and a tour ensued. Tragically this saw Glenn Hughes consumed by his disease. Bloated and unfit to tour, he bowed out only days into a world-wide sweep. The only headline for five years was his appearance with the electronic house group KLF on the single America - What Time Is Love?.
It was the extended hand of Shrapnel Records President Mike Varney that finally helped pull Hughes from his own road to ruin. Recognizing Varney developmental deal as his one chance to gain back some elements of legitimacy, Hughes stripped his music down to its fundamental roots and released Blues. Sales began to build especially in Japan where Deep Purple was still king. A live record Burning Japan followed with several revamped Purple classics. Then, with renewed confidence, the singer/bassist focused on an open dialog with his fans in the form of 1997s Addcition. The record broke new ground for Hughes and saw him musically comfortable with a myriad of styles and personal purging.
As a recovering alcoholic, Hughes maintains his creative passion through meditation and a focus on spiritual well-being. His remarkable comeback is stunning as is his prolific music output. Releasing and/or guesting on multiple of albums a year Hughes is one of the most sought after singers and bass players within the Hard Rock genre. We were honored to speak with him from his Southern California home. Heres how it went.
The Cutting Edge: As you approach your most prolific time as a singer, songwriter, producer and musician how have you seen your music develop through Songs In The Key Of Rock to the Hughes Turner Project?
Glenn Hughes: For me the music has to come from a place of love. Im at this point in my life where I can chose the people I work with and I want it to be in a loving nurturing environment. Joe (Turner) and I have had a really long friendship. We are really honest people, and are in a place in our lives where we can bring something to the table that is an honest evaluation of where were at. We make records for a market place that would like to hear those kinds of records and Im excited by that.
TCE: On the HTP records there are times the two of you sound so close that its difficult to tell you apart.
GH: When I produced the records I wanted some parts to sound separate, like this is Glenn and this part is Joe, but I also wanted the harmonies to be seamless. There are a couple songs, especially on the first album where you cant tell whos who. That comes down to our vibrato and the way we breathe which is kind of the same - and we both have the same influences.
TCE: When I spoke to Joe, he mentioned you as one of his influences. He watches you and listens to you sing and trys to immolate that.
GH: Thats very nice of him to say. There have been a lot of discussions lately about HTP and where we want to go with it. We are doing a nine-week touring starting at the end of January. When we first got together a lot of people thought this would be a one-album deal. But there was never a question between Joe and I. We wanted to form a project that would at least last five years. Then we would take a look at it after that. You see were both in a good place in our lives spiritually and thats really important to us and how we communicate with each other musically and professionally.
TCE: The response to both Songs In The Key Of Rock and HTP has been enthusiastic to say the least. It must be very exciting for you to build on the old Deep Purple/Rainbow sound and have the fans clamoring for it.
GH: When I was first writing the song for these records it was for that market. I wanted to make records that Deep Purple, today, are not making. I wanted to return to the classic rock market. Joe and I want to make records that are very melodic with big vocals - dramatic as well as classic rock moments. Sort of like late Seventies early Eighties if you will.
TCE: Then you hit a grand slam with the HTP records.
GH: Thank you, but I still dont want to go too far into a vintage sound. On the other hand, I dont want to go too modern either. Im not competing with new bands. I just want to make classic rock albums.
TCE: Do you consider Songs In The Key Of Rock a classic rock album?
GH: What I wanted to do with Songs is write about stuff Ive been through. So in that way the record does go back to a more emotional root. Occasionally Ill write a song that is more cinematic. Get You Stoned was one of those. I go into a video in my head and let the story unfold like Im watching a movie. The scenario in that song is about a girl who likes to get high and this guy meets her on the road kind of a storybook thing. Classic rock records have those elements in them a story everyone can relate to. Then there is Standing On The Rock which was more for a big stage song. Big number grand anthem.
When I was writing Songs In The Key Of Rock I was coming off Building The Machine. I loved Building The Machine and consider it a great record. I wanted to make my next record similar to it but with more focused on hard rock. Songs to me is one in a trilogy of albums in the hard rock genre. The next record, which Im almost done writing, is even more nastier especially in the groove.
The whole thing about Glenn Hughes is that I really love to sing in many colors. Its been sort of a blessing and a curse for me. Most rock fans only want to hear the full turbo screaming guy and then there is a large number of fans that like the groovier more subdued style. It comes to a point where I have to go one way or another. I mean Ive tried making records where I have it all in there and it really confuses the mainstream listener.
Songs In The Key Of Rock, although its got a couple songs like The Truth and Courageous which are more radio friendly, is pretty much a tip of the hat to 1973. It was an era where I did my last album with Trapeze and latter joined Deep Purple. It is a time I feel very comfortable writing about. My records right now have one step in the past and two in the future. I dont feel its nostalgic I feel its more vintage. If the records are performed and produced correctly they sound fantastic even in todays market.
TCE: There is a whole new set of younger bands that try to look and sound vintage.
GH: Yeah, but Im not sure they capture the spirit of it because they didnt live through it. They maybe jumping on the bandwagon but Im the one driving the bandwagon. My newer, younger fans respond to it because their parent introduced them to it. So they associate the name with the older sound.
TCE: There are parts of SITKOR like Standing On The Rock that remind me of Burn, but then you go to Lost In The Zone and it has this early Rainbow Greensleves feel to it.
GH: I do try to have an element in the song that will take you back. Maybe its a familiar chord, maybe its a verse. At the moment Im writing in just that way. I can write something extremely funky - which is personally what I love. Or I can make records that are melodically in tuned to the fans ear more importantly their soul. By nature Im very rebellious and you can hear that in my music. Joes actually trying to get me to be more so on the next HTP - which is about a year away.
TCE: What was it like working with Jeff Kollman, the guitarist behind Phil Moggs last solo venture?
GH: About 18 months ago I was going to do a couple shows with Paul Rogers. I was going to play bass for him and I got Jeff Kollman to play guitar and Gary Ferguson to play drums. Paul said, Why would you want to do that? Why would you just want to play bass for me? What I wanted him to understand is that Im a student of music. I want to hear other people play, other people sing. I always want to be working with people who I can learn from. I really respected Jeff as a guitar player so we started writing and I felt he was a good fit for the record. He comes from and appreciates my style of music.
There was one funny story in writing with Jeff. Ive never done a Led Zeppelin-esque song on any of my records. I was never a huge fan. Im a big John Bonham fan but when Jeff came up with that groove Higher Places I thought it fit. At first I thought it might be sacrilegious but it was so undeniably Bono that I had to do it as a tribute to him.
TCE: Other influences seep into the recording as well. At the end of Written All Over Your Face you slip in a Beatle reference.
GH: Absolutely. I am a massive Beatle fan. I love Ringo. If youre from the 60s and if your English and a musician the Beatles were it man. You got to tip your hat to the Beatles. It just felt comfortable for me to sing How does it fell to be at the end of the song. It gave it the foundation surprise I was looking for.
Im doing a DVD performance in January to capture some of these songs live. On the DVD will be In My Blood, Higher Places, Written All Over Yours Face, Wherever You Go mixed with songs spanning my thirty-years in this game.
This report of that DVD shoot just in from MelodicRock.com
GLENN HUGHES ROCKS SPECIAL SHOW:
Reports are in from the Glenn Hughes live show / DVD & CD shoot in LA. Melodicrock regular and writer for www.the-fuze.com, Todd Seely sent me this report: "I just returned from the very intimate Glenn Hughes DVD shoot in LA! The shoot was held at Sound Image studio (run by Jim Crichton of Saga), which was host to about seventy-five lucky Hughes fans. Glenn's band included guitarists JJ Marsh and George Nastos, Impellitteri/Montrose keyboardist Ed Roth and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith. Lending a hand on backing vocals were Santana vocalist Alex Ligertwood and Quiet Riot's Kevin Dubrow. The band blazed through all eras of the Voice of Rock with the following set list: In My Blood . First Step of Love . Medusa . Seafull . Higher Places . Written All Over Your Face . Can't Stop the Flood . Coast to Coast . Wherever You Go . Mistreated . Blue Jade . Getting Tighter . You Keep On Moving
Also in attendance Jeff Scott Soto, guitarist Howie Simon, guitarist Alex Masi, former teen singing sensation Tiffany and Hughes-Thrall/Quiet Riot/WASP drummer Frankie Banali. Glenn also announced another US date - April 12, when he is tentatively scheduled to appear at the Palms in Las Vegas."
Pictures from the event can be viewed via this link: fanforum.ghpg.net
GH: When I played with John Frusciante and Chad Smith at the house of Blues a month ago it was sold out and we played to a very young crowd. Chad and John wanted to play the entire Burn CD so we rehearsed Mistreated, Whats Going On, Lay Down, Stay Down, Sail Away and Burn but 90% of the people had never even heard any of these songs. They were yelling play something we know and Chad and John were laughing. I realized that the younger crowds need to hear these songs live all over again to appreciate them.
To be honest I havent really pursued touring in about ten years, not since Ive been sober. When Joe and I initially got together it was to take our trade to the people. People who wanted to hear more of what we had to offer. I love singing with another singer. I loved it when David and I sang together in Deep Purple that two lead singer thing is fantastic in my opinion. And it really is something nobody does anymore at least not since Temple of the Dog. With Joe it just feels natural.
Were not chasing a double platinum dream. Weve done that. Were making records for people who love that kind of music. Im going to do this for 500 or 15,000. Im still going to play. I write every day of my life. I cant stop. I get a lot of offers to guest with other people and be on their albums and though its a lot of fun, Im out of time and have to keep it to just the ones Im most interested in.
TCE: Would you still be interested in working with David Coverdale?
GH: Id like to think that David and I have something left in the tank. I dont know if it would ever happen. I love singing with soulful rock singers. It makes us both good. There was talk about David and I doing a debut on his next solo record but nothing has come of it so far. I wouldnt be surprised if something came about in the next few years.
Im at the point in my career that I only work with people that are on my same spiritual plain. Im not talking about religious level but one of peace and harmony. We can leave our egos at the door and have a relaxing writing session of shared ideas total love and nurturing. The reason Joe and I work well together is that we can talk openly and honestly with each other.
Im at the point in my sobriety (11 years) that Im on a creative surge right now. The last two years, Ive been in the studio every day and I mean everyday. While most people are smoking whatever and having meetings, Im writing music. A lot of people are talking about music and Im making music. That maybe arrogant but I could probably make four or five albums a year. And feel confident that they are good pieces of work. You have to remember back in the day bands wrote and toured two records a year.
Im almost done with the next record and after the HTP European tour Ill be finishing it up. Im going further back as if Trapeze were still playing today. It will be a nasty, groove-filled record.
TCE: What was it about the early 70s that you think is worth digging back up?
GH: When I was playing in my band Trapeze in 1969 or 70 at the Wolverhampton Tech College. I guess I was about 17 or so and we were opening for a band called Free. This was before All Right Now. It was my hometown and we had just done a killer set. I really didnt know who the band was. These three little geezers walked on to the stage with Simon behind them and blew the place apart. Im telling you I was blown away. Every single one of those guys was unfuckingbelivable. Together they were the best band Ive ever seen to this day. As a band they knew exactly what to do and, more important, what not to do.
I never forgot that feeling. I want people to feel that at our show.
The HTP tour will start the end of January in Russia then go to Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Sweden.
Website: Glenn Hughes, Joe Lynn Turner