Fireworks

Fireworks Magazine Online 46 - Black Country Communion

BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION

"I don’t want to die for my art. I don’t want to play jazz cafes. I could sell out a jazz cafe every night - to a hundred people. I’m still rock and roll too, and I want to play to a LOT of people"
(GLENN HUGHES)


Back in Fireworks #41, I sat down with Glenn Hughes in a hotel in London to talk about his new band, Black Country Communion, and their self titled debut album. The group drew a lot of attention, featuring the talents of Hughes on bass and vocals, guitar hero Joe Bonamassa, powerhouse percussionist Jason Bonham and keyboard wizard Derek Sherinian. The album did rather well as it happened, rearing it’s head at 13 in the UK mainstream album charts, and 54 in the American Billboard 200. It also marked Glenn Hughes returning to rock - and never one to rest on his laurels, a mere eight months since our last chat, I find myself sat in the same hotel with Glenn and his manager Carl, to talk about the new Black Country Communion album ‘2’ (click here to read the review on Rocktopia) - which, if anything, rocks harder than the first...

I kick things off by explaining to Glenn that I love the new record and I can’t quite put into words just how much better I think this one is to the debut. It’s not like I disliked the first one, I just think this is a step up, I like the rockier feel it has. I noticed on his Facebook updates he kept telling us it was a rocker and he wasn’t kidding!

“When I got a call from (Kevin) Shirley in the summer about making a new album, he asked us all to write songs,” Hughes explains. “So I just went about my business - what I do, year in, year out, day in, day out, is write songs. All the time - every single day. So I come in with about twelve, fifteen songs and I wrote one with Derek which didn’t make the album. Joe came in with two. What you hear is the backbone of the album, that’s what I brought in, and then I meshed in with Joe and Kevin’s writing. This album was pretty much written in my studio. I took it to Kevin to give me a thumbs up or thumbs down, as he felt appropriate. I wrote ‘Faithless’ first, ‘Man In The Middle’, then ‘Smokestack Woman’ and they started stacking up. I looked at them and like the first album, I thought we needed an introduction, an opener. For that I wrote ‘The Outsider’. While I was doing this, I didn’t know that nobody else was really writing a lot. I thought there would probably be about forty songs to choose from when we all came in, but there wasn’t! Joe wasn’t really writing because he was on the road and didn’t have a lot of time. Plus he often writes with me and being on the road he couldn’t. This is a band, it’s not a Glenn Hughes album, but I’m glad I did write the majority of the songs.”

When I was looking at the writing credits I saw the name Hughes all over them as I expected, but I saw there was a lot more band involvement - Jason has his name in there, as does Derek, which wasn’t so much the case on the first album. More than that though, Kevin Shirley’s name is quite prominent on the writing credits. I inquire if that is because he’s a hands on producer, or does he actually sit down with the band when the writing is going on?

“He wrote a piece of the songs more often than not, maybe an interlude or a section,” clarifies Glenn. “I hate blowing my own trumpet, but I had the backbone of all but two of the songs I think. If you talked to Joe or Jason, they’d probably say ‘oh, Glenn wrote the songs’, but I think it doesn’t matter who writes the songs, as long as we have ‘the songs’ y’know? I took it upon myself to write a lot. What I didn’t want James, was this band to go into the studio and find nobody had anything to work up. Everyone in the band knew that I’d bring some stuff in.”

I saw that Glenn mentioned on Facebook that his lyrics for this one were the darkest since ‘Addiction’. I ask if that was because of the work he had been doing on his autobiography, writing about the dark times in his life?

“That’s exactly right,” he nods. “As I was working on that book, I have been reading sections of it back lately and I realised I had to get some of that into this album. I think it’s a dark album.”

I could tell from the start it was quite aggressive and themes like ‘The Outsider’ tell that story - but I loved the energy the album starts with. I think this keeps up the pace for longer. Glenn agrees.

“Kevin and I were tracklising the album and we both went into separate rooms, wrote our lists and then brought them back. We were only one song different on our lists! The first six we actually matched on. We both wanted to load the album with rockers - it’s a rock album, this isn’t a funk record. There has to be light and shade so we have ‘Hadrian’s Wall’, ‘Little Secret’, ‘Cold’... you have epic songs, ‘Save Me’ with the orchestra... it’s a deep, dark album. When you make a second album as a band, it either goes down, or you take it right up. Kevin said to me that it puts us in a position to go on and create a masterpiece. He gave me so much encouragement, it’s great. I’ve grown to love this guy.
“You know, I said to you last year James, that this wouldn’t have happened five or ten years ago. It just so happens that this return to rock... it was pointless me returning to rock if I didn’t have a rock band to do it with. It would probably have happened with ‘Fused’ with Tony Iommi, but Sanctuary went belly up. If that hadn’t happened, Tony and I would probably have toured the world with a big album. That would have put me back in rock six years ago, but it didn’t work because Sanctuary went bust. Then for me to get into a band with Joe and realise we were going to make pure rock music, I’m firmly back there, I’ve planted the flag. Y’know, if I do a Glenn Hughes solo album, it won’t be funk, like ‘First Underground Nuclear Kitchen’ part II. It’ll be dark and intense. My fans, I’ll be honest - the funkier I get, the lower the sales. I was proud of ‘First Underground Nuclear Kitchen’, but I don’t want to die for my art. I don’t want to play jazz cafes. I could sell out a jazz cafe every night - to a hundred people. I’m still rock and roll too, and I want to play to a lot of people. It would have worked with Tony, but ‘Fused’ wasn’t accepted because it wasn’t promoted. Now, BCC has been accepted, it’s rock and I must say, it’s good to be back.
“Sometimes people have said I hated rock,” Glenn continues. “I never did say that. I don’t hate it. I don’t like death metal, because I don’t understand it, but I’m sure death metal fans don’t like my stuff! But I don’t knock anybody, you know that. I have to have a thick skin, because the more famous I become, the more... something happened at Planet Rock this morning, some dissenting. The more famous you become, the more people have a go. I have to thicken my skin because BCC is doing well and people want to have a pop. ‘Who the fuck does he think he is, that fucking poof - he looks like a lesbian!’” he says in a highly amusing voice.

Some of the less than informed critiquing obviously bothers Glenn, but I point out that criticism is only valid if it comes from somebody who has done it better than you, and with Glenn, that’s seldom going to be the case.

“You know what the internet has done?” he says. “There’s about seven guys on the net who say things like ‘Ooh, look at that fucking faggot’ and Kevin Shirley said that I shouldn’t read any of that shit. I’m trying to... it’s not my business what those people think of me.”

Getting back to the music, I ask when I attend one of the solo shows, am I going to see this persona there?

“Yeah man!” Hughes responds eagerly. “There’s not two different Glenn’s, who play with different amps and different sounds and wear different clothes, depending on whether I’m solo or not. I’m fully into the majestic period, the big character. I’ve never been a shrinking violet, you know that, I like to engage people and I just need to thicken my skin a bit. I’m sensitive, you know what I’m saying? I used to hide behind the drugs and the drink. That anesthetized me, I pretended I didn’t care. But I do care.”

Read the full three page spread where Glenn discusses the new album, live shows, solo ideas and a planned DVD in Fireworks #46. Available from:

• Participating WHSmith and McColls Group stores (see Store Finder for participating stockists)
• Here in the Rocktopia Shop  (registration required)
• Here in the Fireworks Magazine Mini Store (no registration required) 
• Direct from Fireworks HQ by emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , paying via Paypal. Send £6 (Inc P&P)

Black Country Communion Interview


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