Fireworks Magazine Online 54 - Interview with Black Country Communion

BASKING IN THE AFTERGLOW

Since their explosion onto the scene in 2010, supergroup Black Country Communion have worked at breakneck speed. A quartet of considerable pedigree, the band, featuring ex-Deep Purple vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes, blues guitar hero Joe Bonamassa, Dream Theater keyboard player Derek Sherinian and son of Led Zeppelin legend (and famed drummer in his own right) Jason Bonham, carried high expectations. They didn’t disappoint, their self titled debut album charting worldwide and hitting number 1 on the UK rock charts, and number 13 on the mainstream charts. Less than a year later, they followed up with the simply titled ‘2’, another superb offering which again enjoyed considerable chart success. Most bands would be happy with that for the time being, especially with each of them having so many other projects on the go, but here we are with their third album ‘Afterglow’. Rumours have been swirling around the internet about how there might be tension between Hughes and Bonamassa regarding the former’s vision for the band being impaired by the latter’s packed solo schedule. Never one to listen to rumour too much, James Gaden met up once again with Glenn Hughes to see what the singer had to say...

I love the new album, I think it’s fantastic. When I interviewed you when ‘2’ came out (in Fireworks #46), you referred to the third album as a chance to make your masterpiece. I certainly think this is the best Black Country Communion album to date. How do you feel about it?

I knew about the “difficult third album” thing, and when we last spoke I told you I was going to make a solo album, planned for February. Well, this album was going to be that solo album. Half the songs here were going to be on my record. Kevin convinced me to do the third Black Country Communion album, and I said I’d do it under one condition - that was that I would be able to give it a title. I had written ‘Afterglow’ at that point but I hadn’t told him about it. I just said “I have a song that would be significantly the right title for it.” And the song is also brilliant, I thought! The guys in the band never heard it until our last day of recording, so it was a special moment when I played it to them.

That is a standout track, it has a Zeppelin vibe with the keyboards, it builds into a real epic… I thought the whole album has far more parts, more light and shade and texture than the other two. Did you want to take BCC in that direction purposely, or did those elements stem from the fact you were writing for yourself originally?

No, it’s absolutely what I wanted to do with this band. I wanted more drama, more keyboards, more acoustic playing… you know me well James, I don’t repeat myself on my albums. I also want to remind you I tend to do things in threes. Trapeze was three albums. Deep Purple was three albums. Black Country Communion - three albums. People are putting two and two together on the internet, saying that this is our last album. I never said that. I just said I tend to work in trilogies. This album for me, completing the trilogy, I called it “my beautiful challenge”. I said to myself “Let’s see what you can do Mr Hughes, are you capable of delivering the most important album to date?” It could have been on a level plane with what went before, I could have taken it up a level, or it could have gone down a level. I believe we went up a level. The album is definitely a grower, you have to listen to it a few times - as you do with all the best albums.

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I agree - it did take me longer to connect with it than the other two, but there’s so much more to explore. Now I know it well, I think it’s easily the best of the three. I thought it had a real “band” feel about it now, you’ve all gelled into a unit rather than being four great individuals playing together. Derek and Jason have more prominence in the sound and it’s a much more even spread. I also think this is Kevin Shirley’s best production job yet, everything sounds so good! I know how busy you all are, so how long did you actually spend together making this? Did you have to rely on sending files to one another?

No, we cut it together, no pre-production, no rehearsal. The album was made in five days. As simple as that. However, I’ll say this to you as my friend… it was really fucking hard to get the consciousness of each member to understand how important this was. Five days to make an album is stupid. Don’t ask me how we did it. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure we had it until I listened to the playbacks when we were done. I heard it through, realised we had it. While we were recording, I wasn’t sure at all. I was very self conscious about the album. There’s more Glenn on this album than the other two and I stood my ground more with the songs and arrangements this time. I kind of butted heads with Kevin on the other two records. On this album, we became best friends.

Considering you were planning a solo album, and now you’ve done this instead, that means BCC have done three very high quality albums in the space of about two years. What’s next? Are you actually going to take a break?

No, I’m working on another band. (laughs) Something I can’t tell you about yet, but like Joe has Beth Hart and his solo career alongside BCC, and Mike Portnoy is in like four bands, what you will see from me next year is me doing Kings Of Chaos with Matt Sorum, Duff MacKagan and Joe Elliot. That’s one band, we plan to tour the world, private jet, it’ll be rock stars go wild! Just fantastic. I’m also forming another band. Something so wonderful… when you, as one of my long term fans, when you hear about it, you’ll think “I’m so happy for him.” I can’t say more than that now, I don’t want to take the gloss out of the interview or the spotlight off ‘Afterglow’, but just know this - your brother Glenn is hard at work on other projects!

Update: Shortly after this interview, a Black Country Communion gig was announced for 2013 in Wolverhampton. A few days later, the gig was pulled due to “unforseen circumstances”. Speculation was rife about what this meant, but a comment from Glenn’s management stated that in Glenn’s mind, BCC were still together. Glenn himself also commented on Twitter: “BCC is not splitting up - we have a new album comin’ - hey I get a lil’ sensitive with the media...and controversy makes for good copy.” With each member very busy throughout 2013, hopefully we’ll see them reconvene for album number four further down the line...

To read the full double page interview with Glenn, where he discusses in more detail the making of 'Afterglow' and his lyrical inspirations, purchase the new issue of Fireworks.

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