By: Tony Conley of Rock Guitar Daily
“Joe and I were looking at each other going, what in the world is going on? Joe and I have NEVER had a problem.”
Black Country Communion were almost relegated to the scrap heap before the echoes of recording had ended in Kevin Shirley’s home studio, The Cave, in Malibu, California. Rumors had managers, and lawyers killing off the band before they ever had a chance to even consider logos, album covers, press junkets and tours.
“We’re getting on famously,” says the legendary Glenn Hughes, speaking from his Southern California home, waiting to begin a two month extended press tour that will see the singer/bassist chatting up journalists across the globe in expectation of the September 21st release of Black Country Communion, the new super-group’s first record. Black Country Communion is comprised of Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa, Jason Bonham, and Derek Sherinian.
Hughes continues, “All that crap you saw on the internet about two months ago was something so silly. And let me tell you, it smacks of very early Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, or The Black Crowes, what with all the in-fighting. ‘They’re fighting!’ Well, that sells magazines….I’ve gone through that my whole career, ‘Is he too heavy, is he on crack, is he gonna jump off the building naked?’ It’s all the controversial stuff, I’m not mad that they put that out, it does sell magazines – rock and roll is not always pretty and sweet. Let’s just say that at the time there were too many cooks in the kitchen. Look….J and R Adventures [Bonamassa's management company] is gonna run this, and I certainly don’t mind, they’ve done a great job for Joe. J and R, my manager, and I, we’re all on the same page.”
Glenn goes on, “You need to know this, Tony. Everybody’s great pals, everybody loves each other, and we’re just dying for the next thing. I’m going to be everywhere, talking up a storm, and the most important thing is that on September 21 this thing is gonna jump out.”
Hughes is the point man for BCC press campaign, and it’s hard to imagine a better man for the job. The singer explains, “I’ve been kind of the unofficial spokesman for the band, for the obvious reason that I’m the one who’s available to do it. I’m from the rock side, and I’m naturally a media person. I keep saying that there’s no mistakes in God’s world, but there’s no mistake why I’m doing this.”
Hughes’s enthusiasm for the project has been typical of the great passion and energy he exudes. In our first discussion of the band in February, he spent almost two hours discussing the group’s potential, when only a few backing tracks had been laid down. His desire to return to his rock and roll roots was undeniable, roots which were born in the Black Country of England, home to himself and an old friend named John Bonham, the late drummer of Led Zeppelin, whose son Jason mans the drum throne for this super-group. Hughes was adamant that this was a calling, a place in time in which his mission seemed clear.
Hughes goes on, “There was no doubt about it when Kevin Shirley suggested Jason Bonham, y’know? I’m supposed to be playing with Jason Bonham. His dad was a great mate of mine, and Jason all these years later has become a huge fan of that music. There’s this big connection between the Bonhams and the Hugheses, and I’m privileged and honored to be part now because Jason has become a close, close friend to me. We get along famously.”
Almost eerily, at this point in our discussion the phone rings. It’s Bonham. “Oh hang on….It’s Jason, now. Jason, hey, let me call you right back, I’m talking to a friend but I need to talk to you – yeah, I’m doing the interview. I’ll me call you back in 15 minutes, all right?
“Jason is just amazing on this record, Tony. I’ve waited for him to make a great record, and he has too, mate, he has too. I’ll say it ten times over that this is by far the best playing he has done. One of his best friends told him, when he heard the tracks a few months ago, ‘This is what waiting for 25 years for the great drum track has amounted to’.
“Y’know, I told him right after we cut the tracks, I said, ‘Jason, this is the best you’ve played, mate. Yeah….really man, this is the shit!”
Truer words were never spoken, indeed, Bonham’s playing on Black Country Communion is spectacular, elevating his playing to the levels of the Moons and elder Bonhams of the world. He plays brilliantly throughout the record, driving the band like a tank commander.
I asked Glenn about touring, given that he was about to embark on a long press junket that would seem to indicate more than just a one-off vanity record project. Instead of stating with any sense of certainty whether Black Country Communion would or wouldn’t be going out on the road (though some web sites are stating this as fact, I have yet to hear it from any BCC insider), he spoke of touring America in a more general sense.
“It’s a little embarrassing to say this, but I haven’t really toured in America since ’94 when I did 15 dates with Trapeze. America’s a big, big animal. America is a place where I want to do it right, I want to play America appropriately. The right album, the right band, the right agent, and organization. It’s too big an animal otherwise. I have an amazing hunger for playing live and always reinventing myself. I was never the guy to get comfortable, just kicking back and making albums. I’m the guy to be totally ensconced in working on brand new material.
“My manager gets it, and I’m sure that Joe does too, ‘Can Glenn come play a session, can Joe do a session? – and it’s great to know that I can do a session any day of the week, but I don’t want to do that now. I want to be investing my time in this band.”
I asked Glenn about the sensational title track, “Black Country“. The song is an instant classic, the kind of song people will know from now until the end of rock.
He laughed a bit, then said, “That track….and when you hear that track in it’s entirety – and this is difficult to tell you until you hear it – that’s the best rock track I have ever written. It’s a Glenn and Joe track, but it is the best thing I have ever been involved with. That’s our Immigrant Song, that’s our Burn, our Highway Star, that’s our Start Me Up, it’s our, ‘Hello. This is a rock band.’
“Tony, we’re all super happy, we’re all very excited. This is difficult because you two haven’t heard it (I was assisted in this interview by Libby Sokolowski), but you’ve gotta get it tonight if possible, contact Rachael now and see if you can still get it this evening. You’ve gotta hear this to get what I’m saying.”
Glenn’s final thoughts. “It’s awesome. There are certain things in life that are givens. I was telling Joe. I told Joe Bonamassa, I said, ‘Joe, let me tell ya, buddy – this is a sure fucking thing. Trust me when I tell you this – you’re young. This is a sure thing.”
He wasn’t lying.
Visit Rock Guitar Daily for the full chat with Hughes.