Glenn hughes is one of those legendary vocalists that others measure themselves by. I have been a fan since several years ago, I was introduced to him by my bud Peter, who joins me in this fairly open conversation with the man himself. I had zero questions written out, instead opting for an open chat which hopefully you will find equally as open and honest. Glenn Hughes it seems...is on a mission!
Now what's going on man?
Well have you got some time to chat?
Great that'd be awesome.
My best buddy here, like I said is a 20 year fan, he's just popped out and hopefully he'll be here before I get off the phone because if he doesn't get a chance to talk to you he's gonna absolutely bloody kill me!
So how's things?
Man they're never better for me. Things right now in my life are possibly
well I guess you've heard people say this before 'oh man things are going great', but you know it's like when everything is good, it's not just like the music's good, or your relationship with this person is good, for me right now it's a most spiritual time for me and that's very important.
I'm not about religion. It's the inner peaceful feeling we get when we come to grips with life I guess.
You know philosophically speaking, some of us in life don't get to benefit from the rewards in life of crossing over that big hurdle. You know a lot of rock and rollers live that excessive lifestyle.
You see we are given this fucking gift in life and the gift is to actually live a design to life, you know a special way of living, which we all have to figure out as we get older. Some of us never get it, some of us live in fear all our fucking lives and what I am trying to tell you is you asked me a question yes I feel great.
Well I was going to say you have had one of the most colourful, not only careers but lifestyles in over 20 years.
Yeah I have. I've lived life to the excesses. Some of us don't get to make it but you know I'm writing right now, probably the most amazing music I've ever written, so it's
. I'm just really really grateful to be alive.
Obviously in the last half a dozen years you're health has been great, but is there points in darker days, were there times when you thought you may not get out alive?
Well I always said you know, there was a cut off point for me when I said I would stop partying
you know I'll stop this year or I'll stop next year.
You know I never could stop and I never could quit because you know what, you're taking about that part of the lifestyle that is a disease. You know alcoholism and drug addiction is a disease. We don't grow up saying 'Hey mom I wanna be a fucking drug addict when I get older'.
You know we are born with the addiction
you now whether it be fucking chocolate or fucking pussy or whatever, I don't know.
But for me I had to go down that road
take a fucking beating
you know, a good fucking beating until I had enough of it. I'm talking about a real surrender.
You know poor old Michael Hutchence. Bless him, he was crying out for fucking help that poor guy. Now I understand why, how Michael died
he was untreated addict and alcoholic
untreated. I really feel for him and his family, and anybody that dies in the guise of that addiction you know or whatever it was.
Was there a single event that made you think shit this is it, this is my last chance?
Yeah well many events, but I think for me, it was the humiliation of not being able to go to England to visit my family. I was living in America, like I do and I was too fucked up and I couldn't tour either, because Number 1- I was incapable of doing a show, a concert because I couldn't leave LA, and 2 - I wasn't in shape. I was 50 pounds heavier and you know I was just not in shape. And you fucking gotta be in shape to do what you do. A lot of great creative people that live on the edge you know, but I didn't want to be a statistic and die. I'm gonna be doing this forever - like fucking Frank Sinatra. I'm doing this when I'm 80 years old. You know so it's like I'm writing music right now that is so cool.
Tell us about what you're writing.....
What I'm doing now is like an addiction. I've been writing for two years what I consider to be like a quest for my next record. It's not gonna be just another record, it's a big part of my history. So I didn't wanna make just another rock album. I wanted to make an album, which says something from my heart. Some of the albums I've done in the last 5 or 6 years have been for record companies that wanted that specific record. You know pigeon holed in to say doing a blues album, then we'll do like a variety of stuff then we'll do a rock album then we'll do an AOR album and you know, the real Glenn Hughes has now been transformed. Now everybody that knows me has been trying to tell me to make an album that I really really wanna make myself.
Sorry Glenn to interrupt you, but my buddy Peter has just picked up the line and is going to listen in if that's alright.
G'day Glenn, how are you?
So you were saying?
So yeah, I'm writing, I'm making music now that will be on my next record which I consider to be closer to the real Glenn that we've had in a long time. You know I just can't compromise anymore. I gotta live in my own skin.
I don't wanna have to please some suit anymore. I've been lucky to have made enough money or money coming in to take care of the bills, so it's not like I'm saying it with an egocentric attitude. I've come to a point in my life where I gotta please myself first musically. So that's where I'm at today. I'm gonna start actually going in to the studio next Tuesday.
Oh I've been in the studio the last two years doing this shit.
Oh OK. Who's it for, are you recording it for a label?
Nope, I am doing it on my own money and I'm gonna
well of course I'll eventually shop it. But I'm not gonna start shopping it till I know what I have is the right thing. I mean a lot of people go in and do a 3 song demo and they start shopping it You know for me I've wrote maybe 30 or 40 songs so I'm going through the songs going this is good, maybe this one's not so good.
You know I'm using my touring band rather that using like a producer coming in. I'm using my own band now to make my records, rather like I normally use a producer.
And who's in the band at the moment?
Well the drummer is Gary Ferguson, he played with me in Gary Moore and he also played with John Hiatt for like 3 years and he's very very very good...very funky. And my guitar player played with me on an album called 'Feel' and his name is George Nastos, he's from New York. Extremly funky which is a big word with me. The keyboard players' name is Hans Zum
whatever. A German American guy! (Glenn can't spell it and I can't pronounce it!)
I could describe it as
if you could imagine
before I joined it you'd probably heard a band called 'Trapeze' from a long time ago.
This music I'm making now is what 'Trapeze' probably would've been doing in 1998. It's totally uncompromised - all the stuff that's from my soul
and my gut.
So you're not going to rush it Do you know when it might be out
I would imagine next year. I told people it would be out this year but, you know I did some work at Stevie Salas' house and I've catalogued that
and that's very very interesting.
What's happening with that project?
Here's the deal
you gotta understand this
when I make my albums I find it difficult to reproduce some of it on stage unless I have the same cats playing with me. And Matt and Stevie don't wanna tour the world doing this project with me. They wanna do a few one off shows.
And most of the promoters who wanna book me next year, want me to do them with the band I play on the record with so
I took a look at that and I said you know, the guys I have in my band right now are the most fluent players I have ever worked with and they understand the big picture of Glenn Hughes. They understand funk, they understand pop rock and jazz, and those are the four elements that make the music. So when I say jazz don't let it frighten you, it's just my voice that goes into jazz territory, but its not like there's a lot of jazz going on
it's just that's some of the stuff I like. You can't really describe it, it's music that, it's extremely funky but its not white man trying to be black funky. We don't like that
it's not really appropriate.
Was 'Feel' an indication of it?
'Feel ' definitely is on the right road to it.
And the future of the Matt Sorum and Stevie Salas project?
It's on ice. that album will be made. It could be made in the same month I make my other record, but right now the priority is to make the album with my band and go out and play live behind that album.
So this other album won't come out in the meantime?
No. Stevie, Matt and me have just recorded 3 songs. The rest of the album has been written and I've got it all at my house on demo form.
What's your address we'll be around to steal it!
No no (laughs). I'm also doing another project in Switzerland, which is another thing I'm doing with another guy which is very good. It's more of a dance album.
A man called Manfred Ehlert.
Oh you've done stuff with him before right?
but it's not like anything you've heard before. We've got some really hip programmers and its more club orientated music. It's more for the disco thing. Not like disco disco, it's for the club thing.
Does it touch back on the KLF thing you did?
Yeah it's sorta like that but it's very trip hop, hip-hop, jazzy, pop music.
But you know for the real Glenn Hughes fan. What I get from people that write to me is that they like what I do vocally, and I'm never gonna do anything like the Partridge Family you know, or something.
Hey Glenn, it's Peter here. You don't sorta have to justify to us what you're doing and what you've done you know, we've sort of been following your career...you know what, I've got a 'Medusa' still in a plastic cover.
Oh lovely. Some people that haven't met me before I get a little bit defensive cause I have only a few really heavy hard rock fans that don't get the real Glenn. And I'm losing those fans because you know, I noticed on my last tour in Europe in April that a lot of guys that would come and they'd bring their girlfriends and their girlfriend's were a lot younger and they were, saying to themselves 'Oh my God I'm gonna have to listen to this heavy metal shit
and half way through the show the guy's shaking his head going what is this and the girls were dancing. They just can't believe it. My band is so funky. Even the songs like 'Stormbringer' and 'Muscle And Blood'
they've turned into extreme funky songs.
I was over there with a label called MTM in Germany and I just missed your tour by 2 weeks. I was really disappointed. I wish I could've seen it.
Some guys that saw it said it was pretty amazing vocally.
Well it wasn't heavily promoted, which is a bit of a bummer, but you know it was ok because I was just trying out new stuff and old songs but new arrangements. And the guy that promoted the tour was so blown away that he's going to book a whole European tour by the end of the year. You know I really would love to come play over there.
We were both thinking earlier actually that are there any plans for Australia?
Well there's always been talk but here's the deal
the last 5 or 6 years in sobriety, my recovery, I've actually just been taking care of my health. And I've been making these albums that you've probably heard and you know I've been quite comfortable, but now - and I've never said this before now - this year 1998 I decided, not just overnight, I decided that I am now taking this shit serious.
You know this is not just make an album, put it out and see what happens.
Let's find the right label, let's find the right manager, the right agent, and the right everything to go with the package.
That was something you said a couple of years ago after the release of 'Addiction'.
Yeah but that's been a 2 year absence cause I have been really toying with the idea of shall I make another rock album for the money, or should I take a couple of years to write the real record. Yeah so that's what I've been doing, I haven't, I didn't want to rush out and make an 'Addiction' album again. Now you see those albums might sound good to you guys but for me 'Addiction' was an album that was very very square and dark and it was ok.|
But its not really breaking any new ground. I've gotta break new ground, I gotta keep my old audience, most of the audience I wanna keep but I wanna have 80% new audience of people that are into different things.
Well I can tell you something, I used to work in a hi-fi store and when 'Feel' came out the song we used to demo speakers and what have you off was 'Coffee and Vanilla'. We sold 10 discs on that alone. I mean obviously not huge numbers but there were people who had never heard of Glenn Hughes. We demoed the sax intro on 'Coffee and Vanilla' and they brought!
Well that's great. the next record that I'm doing, actually the album ready right now has got a song like 'Coffee and Vanilla'. That kind of vibe. |
It's very very funky. I mean I'm writing it as we speak. Actually it was in the car 20 minutes ago, I was just fucking with it. It's my lifes work. I think if you guys have read anything I've done, I always sorta say, because my publisicst says I have to say this is the best stuff I've ever done, but 'Feel' was a fucking great album. The one I'm making now really is the follow up to 'Feel'. I mean I had to get away from my record company because they just couldn't fucking stand 'Feel'!
What happened to the Zero label?
Look those guys are really super guys but they're absolute idiots. They can see the Japanese market's falling in heavy metal. I mean heavy metal pur se is dying now and you know, the thing is the market was pretty big in Japan and now it's losing that ground. And I said to them 2 years ago, this heavy metal thing is really dying here and
don't get me wrong
you know for me I'm a rock singer and I can't keep making those albums. If you can understand it doesn't allow me to grow as a human being.
You know I am actually a real soulful person who sings and loves just to fucking sing. you know I do this because I love it
but when I made 'Feel ' I said this is the closest I've been since ' play me out' to where I want to be. So when the record company heard it they went 'Oh my God there's not enough rock'. I said well fuck you. I mean, what about my feelings. The last 2 years I had to take a cut financially. It's not been the best couple of years for me but I am so happy cause I'm making the music I wanna put out.
On the production side of things, I mean all your albums especially, probably the one I like the most from a production point of view would be 'From Now On'.|
I reckon that's just awesome. With this new project and I don't know if this has been suggested to you before or not, I'm sure it has but have you ever thought of approaching or hopping on the greyhound to Minneapolis and camp out on Prince's doorstep?
Where Im going right now musically is somewhere he would be really familiar with.
Maybe as a producer or engineer?
I'm producing the demos right now. I'm sure when I get them signed to a label they will come up with a producer for me. I need a co-producer in the dance pop format.
He is in my opinion someone who would understand your crossover.
The crossover between funk and rock. I mean you listen to Prince and you could do that sitting on your head.
I heard that last record a while ago. my band the one I'm touring with at the moment and in the studio is so fucking awesome and we can play funk and that kind of groove all night and I said when I got home off the German tour we gotta get together and start rehearsing and jamming. And that's what we've doing the last couple of weeks. You know I've come up with some fucking incredible stuff. It's just beginning right now.
Andrew spoke to Ian Gillan recently and he was saying that the way the current Purple works, when it comes to recording, they go into the studio with absolutley nothing and just jam until something comes up, is that how you work?
The answer to that is no. With this particular project, this new Glenn record I said to the guys in the band it would be really nice for us to get together every afternoon or every other day and I'd give them an idea of the type of song I want to write and then we actually start talking about it and we start making it. Rather than me come in with an idea on the bass and that we'd get a groove and I'd put the bass down and then we start layering it. It's pretty much like how Purple do it but the there's more pre production.
I'm not relying on record company funds anymore that's the old-fashioned way. If you've got the money for what you want to do I think you should just do it.
The internet offers a way for people to view their opinions and it seems there is always a comment "Glenn Hughes should do this...." Do you think it's time for you to do just what you want?
When I was cutting 'Addiction' I had a pretty bad flu so I gave Mark the ball
and the album smacks very heavily of Mark and hIs writing and playing, as I gave him the ball after writing the music and lyrics. It was a dark album.
On this particular album I'm writing right now and even with Stevie Salas,
it's stuff I really want to do. It's stuff I can't slip through the cracks. You know I'm going over each persons part, like the drums and the guitars and
I'm deciding is that appropriate for Glenn Hughes right now.
Like when Trapeze on 'You're The Music' all the stuff that Mel played is stuff I wrote for him to play. And with Pat you know we had a team so on this particular project this is the most, this album will be produced either by me or someone who understands me.
That's where the Prince question came from.
Yeah and that would be great. Yeah there's a possibility of me getting something to him. I'm actually going to play something to his old manager and so we'll have to wait and see.
That would be huge Glenn. Something pretty different.
Well you know I am getting real adventurous with my career now. I'm not going to sit on the fence anymore. There's just no point in cutting a record and giving it to a Japanese label who sit on it and then license it through the rest of the world and nobody gets to hear it except the die-hard fans.
Yeah it is so hard to find some of them.
Yeah I know and to be honest with you, can I tell you it's a little bit embarrasing and insulting. You say that I have the greatest voice
All I can tell you guys is that I love to sing and I know God sings through me. I don' t say that I have the greatest voice in the world I just have a gift that God has given me. And I tell you something when I go in the studio I just open my mouth and shit comes out that I have no idea whats happening.
I was going to talk to you about that. I'm a Christian and I know you had a pretty amazing conversion here 6 or 7 years ago. I just want to encourage you with it that's all.
You know for me I get up in the morning and I ask God's will, you know whatever your will is for me to do I will do. I don't ask for money prestige
or all that other stuff. I am happy in my own skin. Now don't get me wrong
I'm living in a lovely house, I'm just so fucking happy.
You know if I can't be at one with my creator and that would offend a lot of people and I don't care. I know where I am and if someone says oh Glenn Hughes is religious. It's not religious I'm just really into my higher power.
There's someone bigger than me and someone who creates and controls my life.
The only people that would say that would be people that don't understand.
All I do is get up in the morning, take a shower and let God do the rest.
You gotta get out the way and let him run the show. I don't run the show anymore. I do is go play with my band, do the best work that I can, I'm nice to the people around me, good to my fans, I'm accessible and you know there are good guys that finnish first. I've got a 5-year plan now. I'm looking at the next 5 years being the fruitful ones.
It sounds like you're going around things the right way Glenn.
A lot of fans are saying 'God we won't to see Glenn play, we want a new record'. I'm going you gotta be patient here cause I won't you people to understand the next record I put out is something really special from me. They are all special but you know the last one from me 'Addiction' was made under the gun a little bit, because the company wanted an AOR record and I was not happy about that.
Well what happened with that? I know Magnus who signed you and I know it was an AOR label.
Magnus is a big AOR fan. But Magnus would tell you there is so much more to Glenn Hughes than AOR.
Yeah Magnus said that was the kind of record they wanted you to make at that time. I certaintly love the record.
Well, hey if somebody plays it and I'm in the car I'll go along with it and say that sounds good. Eeverything I do I'm really in to, I never do a bad performance, it's just I have to be really selective where I go directional wise.
You've made plenty of guest spots over the last few years?
What's the go there Glenn?
Oh i'm not too happy about that (laughs).
Simply because I do favours for people and I get caught up in the session mill and the thing is if I'm gonna do sessions it should be with more higher profile people. Don't get me wrong I love Stuart Smith, he's a good friend of mine, the track with him I did is ok, but it's nothing groundbreaking for me. It's not things that are going to bring me into your household.
Do you think prospective record companies look upon that as maybe not good?
No, don't give a shit.
Most of the labels my friends don't even know its out. The deal is the stuff I do for my friends, you know I charge them or do favours for it. It's basically
something tongue in cheek. None of the major labels even know that shit is out. It's not fucking with my career. It just upsets my die-hard fans saying why is Glenn doing that? Between you and I don't dig doing em. It's not like there's a lot of dough doing it, I get coerced in to doing it cause I'm such a bloody idiot.
What's it like Glenn then for yourself when people are saying we need you on a record to sell it? For your pride?
I get great reviews, everyone picks up one of those tribute albums and goes the best thing on there was Glenn Hughes. It's really nice to read that. And I say to these mother fuckers that hire me why don't you give me the best song you got on the record instead of giving me the last song. Why don't you start of giving me the top song, it makes sense. Like the fucking Alice Cooper tribute they wanted Meatloaf to sing the lead song which is 'Only Women Bleed' right. I said why don't you give me lead cut and they said no - we want Meatloaf to sing it. They've been waiting 2 fucking years for him to sing it. I don't need to sing that fucking song. Don't get me wrong I love everybody, I'm one of these guys that aint got a bad word to say about anybody even that band 'Men At Work'.
Ah come on...! Now you've got on to Australia again. Remember Sunbury Pop Festival, 1974? I wasn't there but my brother was.
Just recently there was an article in a local newspaper down here that area, the actual paddock you guys played in, they are going to turn it in to like a national monument for Australian rock n roll.
You know I don't remember much of that show cause it was raining.
AC/DC were on it I believe?
That's right but I don't remember too much about it
I don't get in to fracases you know but I was in a nice hotel in Sunbury somewhere. I was playing pool with this Western Australian guy and I was beating him and he took a pool cue to me.
He hit you on the head with it?
He fucking did, and it really upset me. My bodyguards weren't happy about that.
Please don't take offence with Australians!
I was sick to my stomach, cause I retaliated and I must have punched the guy or something and I got so sick to my stomach that I'd actually hurt another human being, one of God's children that it affected my performance and I was very bitterly dissapointed with that trip. You know because if you give English, American, anyone too much to drink and we're gonna get stupid. A few of us anyway. We're all God's children for God's sake. I think Australia is a fabulous country.
You know something my friend I'm gonna make a commitment to myself that I'm gonna get there. I did South America last year, so now Australia and Africa are the only 2 continents I haven't been. So I think I should get over there Here's the deal - it's going to be difficult. So you know if I come do maybe 5 or 6 shows in Australia and do maybe 2 big markets and maybe 2 or 3 small markets I know the people will get excited if I keep coming back.
I'm gonna leave this up to you guys I need more guys like you turning on people's doors to say why don't you get Glenn Hughes.
You know it must be horrendus for you, it's frustrating enough for us, for people who want to hear your stuff.
I have to swallow my pride and realise that you know whatever you guys think and my fans I know I'm blessed with talent. I've got to be very very selective of who I go with now. you know I actually do have a record company that is taking care of me at the moment but between you and me I am actually gonna go and find a new one. I'm gonna take a while, it may take six months to find that. I've had a few offers coming in. one american and one european who are a lot better than what I have had but you know the old Glenn last year would have said let's take the first one that comes along. I really want to make it right. there are artists that you know that don't come out with records between 3 and 4 years you know. I've been making a record every year for the last 5 or 6 years. I'm due for a little break. I want to make a record that is totally glenn. or as near as I can.
We want you out here, but obviously there's no sense coming out here unless you've got a deal and you've got records in the shop, because you'll know what they'll do, the same thing they did with Gillan when he tours with his projects. It's like the 'voice of Deep Purple' or the 'voice of Black Sabbath'.
To come out to Australia and I'm understanding more of what's going on out there, the hard rock thing is dead anyway, I wanna come out to Australia with a brand new thing. Yeah I don't want to sound like anybody, but my record sounds more like Jamiroquai than anything. But its not got any horns yet
it's more the psychedelic trippy thing.
Just before we finnish what about the Tony Iommi record?
Your gonna trip when you hear it cause I cut 6 or 7 songs with Tony and we're not done yet. Tony wanted me to write music with him and play bass so what you get here is you get the Iommi guitar and you get like Tony's music with my music combined in to it and yes folks it is kind of funky.
Dave Holland's playing drums so you've got that understanding
it' s as heavy as 'Seventh Star' but it's as melodic
and sorta soulful. People must understand this isn't Black Sabbath it's Tony Iommi So he gave me the keys to the car so I basically produced it, he let me produce it. And its very fucking cool man. And there's a very trippy type Beatles song on there
like a Sgt Pepper type thing that we did. There's a couple of really cool ballads, a mid tempo one, an intense rocker. It's a variety. More variety than 'Seventh Star'. Tony wanted to stretch himself so there's a snatch of jazz on it, because Tony is a jazz player whether you know it or not. so when I say jazz it frightens people, but its just different.|
Little bit sort of Kings X-ish?
Yes, it's just adventurous. I sat with Tony in his house for about 2 months
and I gotta tell you Tony, I gotta tell you I love him like a brother, he is a super guy.
When's that coming out?
After Sabbath has died down. When I say died down, there will be a live record coming out, I've heard that it's pretty good. I say by the end of 1999.
Tony and I are very close, we talk all the time. It will happen and Tony is trying to twist my arm to going on the road with him and I'm sure I probably will. But you remember this - I have said goodbye to rock in my solo thing, but it doesn't mean I have to say goodbye totally to it. Unless I have some mega mega mega hits from it in 1999. If I do work with Tony it's gotta be more than for friendship cause Tony and I are so tight. I would like to go on the record to say that I owe
it's an unfinished business project
because in the Sabbath thing when I fell ill on the road and I couldn't fulfil my comittment and people never got to see me sing wth Tony and I think I owe him. It's unfinised business for me to go out and show how great it could be.
I had tickets for the Dallas show.
And you didn't make it.
I was a bit
really under the influence and God said to me in a dream on one of the shows 'You don't need to do this anymore'. I lost it and all the life had gone out of me and I just couldn't sing. Now I can sing anything.
I couldn't sing a note. My throat just went off. Like someone had just turned the motor off.
You've got to believe what you're singing too don't you?
I can't sing devil music
I can't sing it. I can sing rap, soul and stuff but I can't sing white peoples music unless its my own.
Well Gillan had the same problem on the road, he just couldn't get in to the stuff. you gotta be a da you know, let's face it.
I'm a chameleon in my own world
but I don't do this for money guys. My primary purpose is to do this and be sober and healthy. If I start doing shit for money or singing Devil stuff I'll be drinking again. And that aint a pretty sight.
No so I've heard.
7 years without a drink and a drug is a good foundation for the rest of my life
to stay in this program.
I don't ever have to think about doing that again. You know I'm now a very healthy, fit guy that prides himself on maintaining a life of sobriety. You know that's the way it is for me. And I'm crazy about soccer
I get up at 5 am.
And what about your crazy mates over there, the English supporters?
Hey I have nothing to do with those guys. We have a thug element they're not a bunch of soccer fans
and they should be fucking hung, drawn and quartered. They are idiots.
Well Glenn thank you for your time, it's been a great chat.
Once again guys there will be a time when you know I would like to come out there, but its got to be financially feasible. Like ten years ago maybe longer there was a chance of an all star band coming to play there, I was going to be involved with it, but I didn't do it. I think I just want to come to Australia and just be on the cabaret circuit.
Ah, you'll know what they'll do. they'll promote you as the voice of Deep Purple, they will. They've done it for the 3 last solo Gillan tours.
Yeah, but when I come to play in towns the hardcore fans come and their jaws drop. Cause I've changed the arrangements, changed a lot of the stuff around. they are coming to hear the heavy stuff, what they get is a funky super charged group. And even the hard core fans of Glenn Hughes, the metal freaks still dig it. You can't knock it.
We come for the voice Glenn.
Yeah well thank you bro. Well its in good shape.
All right chaps.
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