A couple of weeks ago, I emailed Glenn’s record company to request an advance download of his new album “Resonate” in order to have a review out on or close to its street date, November 4th. When Kevin Chiaramonte at PFA in New York replied, he also mentioned that Glenn would be doing phone interviews and asked if I was interested. Of COURSE I was, and it was set up for October 28th– but thanks to some missed communications between Kevin and myself, it didn’t come off. We rescheduled for November 4th, the release date for “Resonate”. The result was one of the most enjoyable interviews in the 26 years I’ve been doing them.
HUGE thanks to Kevin for his patience in putting this together, and to Glenn for his time and for being so open.
I’ve been a fan of yours since I first heard Burn in ’74, I was a 16 year old high school kid. Now before get into the new album which came out today, and it’s terrific by the way- can we do just a little bit of history?
We can do anything you want.
Okay! My first question is, who inspired you to pick up the bass, and who are some of your favourite singers that made you think “hey, I want to do that”?
Well… just so you know, in ’67 I was playing guitar and I joined my friend Mel Galley’s band just to simply play with him but the slot was to play bass. So on a Friday night I was playing guitar in one band, on Saturday I was playing bass. I had no knowledge of bass technique or anything to do with it, so at that time Sgt. Pepper was the #1 record and McCartney, for me, as a guitar player listening to him as a bass player, I just loved his bass playing. For me, my earliest influence was Paul- but as I got into the bass, after a couple of years, I went to Detroit and it was James Jameson, so those two guys were my influences.
I can certainly hear that kind of soul in your playing, that’s for sure.
Oh thank you! I mean, I’ve learned from, I mean listen… I’m always going to be a student until the day I disappear.
Well that’s the best way to be, I think. Now… how do you feel now, looking back on your days with Deep Purple? How does it appear now to you in hindsight?
I learned what to do, what not to do. I learned to let go, take the good with the bad. The musicianship was high quality, there were ego problems within the band, as there were with many stadium bands of the 70’s.
It wasn’t… it wasn’t as spectacular as you might imagine. Yes it was spectacular to look at in a soccer stadium or something, but it really wasn’t a family. It wasn’t a real tight group of men, it really wasn’t that way.
Well that’s too bad because you guys made some good music together.
We did, but I could name a few other bands who I adored and who were friends of mine, and they… it was like, I don’t know how people could be in a band and not have relationships with one another- it was very strange, you know.
It’s kind of like a 4 way marriage or a 5 way marriage, isn’t it?
Yeah. I’m an only child and I was longing for a brother, for companionship, and I did find it in Deep Purple with David Coverdale.
…as we were the two new guys, if you will. And we still have that firm relationship 43 years later. I did have a very strong relationship with Jon (Lord, keyboards), and especially right before he passed. (We) rekindled a long… we hadn’t spoken in some time, and we rekindled our friendship… it was so very, very sad to see him pass away.
Oh it sure was.
We were proud of the work we did with Deep Purple, and it was a bit of a thing to replace Gillan and Glover, but David and I came in and we did pretty well.
I think you did. I’ve got a DVD and a CD of the band’s performance at California Jam in ’74…
Now when I watch concert DVD’s, I’ll usually watch them a couple of times and go “Oh, okay, I’m good…” but I’ve watched that show, probably about a dozen times at LEAST.
Oh thank you!
The energy was just great!
The feeling behind that one, John… very quickly, I don’t want to take up too much of your time here… that was the first festival since Woodstock (1969). It was actually- you’re gonna love this- one hour ahead of schedule. Our contract said very clearly that the band would go on at 7:18 in the evening, which was sunset in LA in April of ’74.
6 o’clock, they wanted us to go on because everything was running… everybody came off early, and of course our contract said, and Ritchie Blackmore just wouldn’t go on. So it’s now 6:30, he barricades himself in his trailer, and they’re breaking the doors down and the marshals are going to arrest him. So we went on the stage that night, I had that white suit on and he was dressed in black and everything, and there was a lot of resentment and anger. Ritchie was just FURIOUS, hence the blowing up of the amps, Ian Paice’s glasses being blown off- it was a bit of a spectacle, wasn’t it?
Oh it sure was- exciting to watch, I must say!
Yeah and let’s be clear, there was some out of tune guitars, because you saw them being thrown around and thrown up but that, you can’t fix that stuff. There was no fixing vocals or fixing… there was no fixing back in the 70’s, you know? I don’t believe in fixing live recordings by the way, never been a big fan of that.
Well that makes two of us. If Wikipedia is right about your birth date I’m about 7 years younger than you, so I kind of come from the same generation and the same philosophy that way, and I completely agree with you.
Were you born in ’58?
Yes I was.
There you go, kiddo!
Exactly! (laughs) Just a couple of things I want mention quickly in passing, we have a mutual friend, a guy named Mike Exeter.
Oh yeah I love Mike, a good man.
Yeah, he’s a good kid! And also I have something that you may not even remember from your past, ‘cuz this was from I’m guessing a fairly troubled time for you… I have a 45, on MCA Records with you, and Pat Thrall, and Dan Akroyd and Tom Hanks, a song called “City Of Crime”. Do you remember that at all?
Yeah! I do, I do remember it very well! We actually did an MTV video that was, like, #1 for 9 weeks.
Dan and Tom are still friends of mine, and actually Pat played with me a few months ago in Vegas.
How’s he doing these days?
He’s… you know, Pat’s been really busy doing editing for Billy Joel, Madonna and George Michael, he’s been editing. But now I think he wants to get back to playing and now he wants to do something with me. We’re trying to get a window to do another album… I can’t say if we’re going to do it or not because what I don’t want to do today is talk about something that may not happen, but we have a desire to do another album if it’s possible.
That would be VERY interesting.
It WOULD be very interesting!
Now speaking of people you’ve worked with before, I’d like to briefly talk about Tony Iommi. I will say at the outset here that Black Sabbath is my favourite band of all time, and I won’t call Tony the best guitarists ever but I WILL say that he IS my favourite. Can you talk quickly about your involvement in Seventh Star and then up to The Dep Sessions and Fused?
I can. Seventh Star was an album that, and I’ve known Tony since California Jam. So when he called me to do Seventh Star, his idea was to have me, Halford and Ronnie be 3 singers on the album. But at that period of time I was in LA, I was down at the studio a lot. We cut 4 songs in a couple of days and Tony said “Just come with us to Atlanta, we’re going to do some more songs” and I ended up singing the whole album. And then John I think you should know this, the album was supposed to be called ‘Tony Iommi’ then Warner got involved and Don Arden, Sharon’s father and they wanted to call it Sabbath. When you listen to Seventh Star it really wasn’t a Black Sabbath record- I mean I’m not singing about war pigs and witches, I’m singing about life, you know.
I still think it’s an interesting record, but it should’ve been called a Tony album.
That’s what I’ve always felt too. I’ve listened to every album that HE’S been a part of and that… with the possible exception of the two songs that end side two, “Angry Heart” and “In Memory” , there’s nothing on there that really sounds like Sabbath to me.
No. And you know, I wasn’t the man I am today back in that period, and Tony & I have always been the closest friends, so that was Seventh Star. Dep Sessions- crazy story here; Dep Sessions, I was actually living in Europe, in Stockholm, 2005. No, no, ninety…
That was ’94 those sessions were, weren’t they?
Yeah- ’94, ’95. I was living in Stockholm and I’d fly to Birmingham every weekend for like a month, and we recorded some ideas. Those songs on Dep were simple ideas. They were like aperitifs.
And what happened… we were thinking about making an album and these were just some ideas. What happened was that somebody… SOMEBODY… got in the studio and got the tapes and bootlegged The Dep Sessions ‘cuz those songs weren’t finished, they were rough.
I will attest to that because I’m ashamed to say I did buy the bootleg.
It’s okay. In fact what Tony decided, and this is without me knowing, he told me he was going to go in and re-mix them and take… Let’s address the Dave Holland scenario. Dave Holland is on the original bootleg that you have, Tony felt he’d come forward with Dave Holland being on the…
With his legal troubles…
Yes. We won’t go into why, we know what happened.
So Dep really, and this is the real story- the Dep Sessions album was released as an hors d’oeuvre for “Fused”. I don’t know if you remember but Dep came out RIGHT before Fused did.
That’s right, it did!
And it was Ralph, Tony’s manager… Ralph said “let’s put it out as a bit of an appetizer”, you know? A bit of an appetizer- I mean it was a nice appetizer. 10,000 copies went out and sold immediately.
Yea,h and I have one of them!
Now “Fused”- seriously, that was a contender of the year, and let me tell you why it didn’t make the top ten list. You gotta go back- if you’re a Sabbath nut, you gotta know that in 2005 Sharon put the big reunion together.
And it just so happened that Geezer had made a record, me and Tony had made a record in Wales with Bob (Marlette) and Kenny Aronoff, and it just so happened that we were getting ready to announce an American run when Sharon put the first big reunion shows together.
(laughs) That’s SO Sharon!
Yeah, yeah… you know, all’s well in family with Sabbath fans, right? But Tony and I were gutted, and Kenny Aronoff, ‘cuz we’re still good friends- who were gutted, because WE thought… what a lot of people are reading, or hearing though, who don’t know about Fused, would’ve known about Fused because we would have toured the world on that record. We were promoting Fused, we did a European tour, Tony and I, of just promoting the album, and not knowing that Sharon was going to come in with the offer, which was obviously substantial.
I’m all about business models, John, I will never get in the way of business, but my God… I was telling people this is the greatest new record, you know? There was another big record that year, a great album that had come out… I think we’re going to have a record- it might’ve been a Soundgarden record, something that came out…
…going this is gonna be huge, you know? So… hey, I think it was a Velvet Revolver album! I’m going, “we’re gonna have a big record here.”
Yeah, that sounds right. Yeah it’s a good record, and sorry to see it fall between the cracks the way it did, but…
Yeah. You’re probably going to ask me about me and Tony, because we’re such good friends…
Yes, exactly! I am, as a fan, hoping that you find the time to work together again.
We have spoken about it, but what I want to do today, is I’m not gonna lead people down a path to any scenario. Tony and I are such good friends, and our wives are good friends… I mean we’re family, people. But every time we get together, if we spend more than 18 hours together, we’re making a record.
And I want to be clear, to everybody that knows Tony… Tony is a musician who loves to write. Will Tony tour extensively again? I doubt it- but will he play some shows? Maybe. Will Tony record again? ABSOLUTELY. Will Glenn and Tony record again? We hope so, but that’s up to- whoever. I’m busy as all hell as you know- I’ve got this to do (promoting “Resonate”), I’ve got Black Country coming up, I’ve got Kings Of Chaos next year, never been this busy, but I would love to do another record with Tony, and I’m sure a lot of people would like that.
Very, very much so! For people that haven’t heard the “Fused” album or aren’t familiar with it, there are 10 tracks on it and I think there are 4 extra songs out there somewhere, some of which that have surfaced.
Let’s talk about those tracks too. There’s one called… (pauses, sings a bit of a lyric)
There’s one called “Let It Down Easy”…
Oh man it’s driving me insane! It’s kind of AC/DC-ish (both laugh) There’s another one too that’s called “The Innocence”. Oh my God! I mean how come these tracks never made it? May I suggest to everyone hearing or reading this, that… and thank you, by the way, for getting my album “Resonate”, it means so much to me that… you’ve heard this record or you’re going to get this record?
I have heard the record.
So do me a favour for the sake of Tony and Glenn; just go on You Tube and check out any track, any track you wish. For instance, google “The Innocence” or “Let It Down Easy”- these are bonus tracks. If you don’t get that album something’s wrong, because that album was the sleeper of 2005. That album, for me, even if I wasn’t on the album I’d have said “Oh my God, what’s this?!?” If Tony had done that with another singer I’d still have gone “Oh my God, I gotta get this album!” you know.
Because the album is such an incredible piece of work. I would leave his home every night and he’d say to me “I’ll have some riffs tomorrow” and I’d come back in the morning and he’d have 3 riffs (and) they were songs we’d have to finish. And I’d have to go (amazed) “Which one of these am I gonna have to finish?!? (John laughs) He wrote a good 20 riffs for that record!
He’s insane! Tony is, like you say… he writes at the speed of light. Absolutely that half step thing he does, going from an E to a B-flat, it’s like a Sabbath (thing), he created that. (sings the opening riff to “Black Sabbath”)
That is Sabbath, it’s so ‘him’, I mean it’s so Tony, Oh it sure is, it sure is.
Now before we get into the new album, I’d just like to have you briefly address Black Country Communion- what happened, and what’s coming up.
What happened was, 2010 we made the first one, we said- well we all said- we can’t really tour on one album, let’s do another one, in early 2011. We brought the 2nd one out on June the 11th, and we toured… 9 shows in the US and we did, like, 27 shows in Europe.
We were off to a start. We were off to, like, a considerable start. 33 shows (or so) in a summer wasn’t bad. Then we did, I wrote an album called “Afterglow” for Glenn Hughes. And then Kevin (Shirley, producer) asked me “why can’t we just finish it as BCC?” There may be a selection of shows to go behind it. And then I said… I’m giving you kind of the real deal here, John…I said I gotta make a record and I gotta promote because Joe (Bonamassa) is going out solo and it’s, like, incredible what he’s doing, it’s wonderful, I love Joe, never had a falling out with Joe. So, Kevin kindly convinced me to make “After Glow” for BCC, which we did, and Jason (Bonham) came in with a couple of ideas to the group and they were great.
So I wrote the lyrics and we got it done you know, and we went to record it in early 0’12. And then I’m doing the promotion in September of 0 ’12, I was the only one that did any press. And as we’re doing press I was asked about a tour… I got word from the management in BCC that there’s gonna be no tour but there’s gonna be one show, only one show. And that’s when I backed away from it, John. My management very kindly said that Glenn is… I could not, and Joe and I have spoken about this, by the way… it was impossible for me to wrap my legs around anything that wasn’t going to be workable.
Especially today, an artist cannot survive on record sales, an artist only survives, obviously, on merch, on ticket sales, on VIP meet and greets and what have you, which is what everybody does. So I said “I gotta break away”. There was no nasty falling out, and I broke away, and I started to get California Breed together. No falling out, Joe and I spoke every year, and so did I and Kevin, and Jason and Derek. And this year, Joe came back to me after The (Rock & Roll) Hall Of Fame, he had a congratulatory dinner for me, and he asked me “How do you feel about making BCC 4?” Came right out of the blue.
I’m so glad to hear that you guys are doing another record because I love the first 3, and I actually have them in front of me right now.
For all the BCC fans, listening again or reading this, Joe has spent more time at my house, writing BCC 4, than 1, 2, and Afterglow. Joe has been at my house… absolutely the most refreshing, beautiful thing you have ever seen, and he’s here on time, and we’ve been working. We’ve got the music ready and I’ve been writing the lyrics… again Jason will probably bring something in and Derek may, but I’ve got a lot of work to do. Joe is in Nashville right now… he’s actually in Toronto right now starting that run…
…and I’ve got my fingers full ‘til Christmas. I’ve got another project I’m doing after Black Country. We (BCC) go in January 3rd and will be doing the record in a week. Then I go back to Europe to do another run of shows.
So the record will be out by next summer, do you think?
The album will be out May 20th, John…
… on Mascot in Europe, I’m not sure what the label will be in America, but it’s the same one Joe’s got in Europe, Mascot, you know.
Right. Well there’s an HMV store about 3 blocks from where I’m sitting right now, and come May 20th I’m gonna be first in line when the doors open.
Well I can say this to you, and this is obviously what anybody would relate to… Joe and I were on Eddie Trunk on Tuesday night, on his Sirius show, on air live and we said “We won’t talk about a tour until we’ve done the album” because the album has got to be as good as we want it to be to tour. I think every album we’ve done with BCC has been tour-able, you know. I think 1 and 2 were tour-able, Afterglow would’ve been tour-able. I think with 4… Joe and I have written some dense riffs on this one, there’s maybe some heavier stuff on this record. We think the album is going to be all killer, you know? It’s gotta be all killer.
It’s gotta be, yeah…
And again, Joe and I have spoken- I mean we love Jason and Derek but they don’t live in Los Angeles, I mean they don’t live where we are, so… but we’ve got our eyes on getting this done, and getting it really done properly.
That’s awesome to hear and I’m very much looking forward to it. Now our time is running short here, so I need you to tell me about the new album “Resonate” which dropped today. It’s got some great stuff on it, and before I forget I wanted to mention the song “Steady” (and) that Hammond B3 intro. The hair on my arms stood up as I was thinking about Jon Lord when I heard that song.
I deliberately had Lach, my keyboard player… I wanted a song to have a keyboard intro, a big open D octave chord on the left hand, and I wanted Lachlan to do a Jon Lord-ish intro.
And he very well succeeded too.
Yeah, I have an amazing keyboard player, Lachlan, he’s incredible. And the song is an epic song- it was gonna start the album, but I thought “Heavy” was probably the better start. “Steady” is a big song for me, it was the first song I wrote for the album. And the lyric is so important; “I’m ready, I’m spinning the dial” you know, because I had my knee surgery so I’m talking about “I’m ready, let’s go!”
So it was a big song for me and I’m glad you like it.
Very much so. One of my favourite songs on the album is “My town”- can you talk about that a little bit…
I love the lyrics to that…
I’ve been living in Los Angeles for 43 years, “My Town” is about the city I’ve been loving in and living in for 43 years, and it almost damn killed me- the city that I’ve got a lot of love for. When I got off the plane in 1970 from England… I got off the plane and said “I could live here, I could live here” and I did. It has been my home for 4 decades, and when I sing about Los Angeles, when I do this song live, I want people to understand that this is about the Chicago Cubs, this is about… you know, anybody. It’s about people in New York, it’s about people in Denver, it’s for everybody- it’s your song about your city. I wanted to write a song for you, so you could relate to it.
I’ve heard recently that Living Colour backed out and the European tour is cancelled, but beyond that do you have any plans to hit the road with this?
Oh absolutely, an announcement will be made within 10 days. You need to know that that was a tremendous debacle which I really can’t go into, because it’s really unsettling.
What we Canadians refer to as a “cluster-fuck”…
It was… all I can say, John, is it was “Wow- what the fuck happened?!? Can you say that again?!?” (John laughs) So you can’t go on sale in April and pull out with two weeks to go, you just can’t do that.
We had no choice. It was a contractual partnership which had a real difficult time getting over the finish line. My apologies, my apologies to anyone who bought tickets. I will be back, I will be absolutely back to promote the album in full force both sides of the pond, in the USA and Europe, and South America and Malaysia. So that’s going to happen, absolutely, 100%.