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Interview: Glenn Hughes Discusses Deep Purple, Gary Moore, Bill Nash Basses and Writing with Black Country Communion

Interview: Glenn Hughes Discusses Deep Purple, Gary Moore, Bill Nash Basses and Writing with Black Country Communion

Did you start out on bass?

No, it was the trombone at first. I was in the school orchestra and they were choosing boys and girls to play instruments. They chose me because apparently my lips were "perfect for the trombone," which is a bloody stupid thing to say. I was named after [American bandleader] Glenn Miller, so it was a coincidence that here I was playing the trombone, named Glenn.

Then I started piano, then my mum bought me a plastic Elvis Presley guitar when I was about 12, which was unplayable. But I did like the feel of a guitar. It was around the time of “Love Me Do,” 1962 or ’63. Then Mom went and bought me an acoustic guitar -- and the rest is history.

By default, I became a bass player to play in a band with guitarist Mel Galley, who was in Whitesnake and in my first band, Trapeze. I played bass just so I could play in a band with him. He's deceased now, of course. I was never supposed to be a lead singer, either. I was a background singer for a long time. Then one day, I was in the original Trapeze, and they just said, “We’ve come to a decision; you’re a better singer than the frontman.” So I was nicely forced into being the lead singer.

On the second Trapeze album, You Are the Music ... We're Just the Band from 1972, that’s when I realized I had a voice. If you listen to the first album, Medusa, then the second album, you’ll notice I’d found my voice -- the Glenn Hughes sound we know today.

Tell me about your basses. I know you're heavily into Bill Nash instruments at the moment.

The one I’m playing now is a Bill Nash replica. My friend Bill Nash from Washington state, he’s amazing. I own a lot of old Fenders, which I don’t take on the road, and I wanted something that could replicate the old ones. I know Slash does that with his Gibsons; he has them made, stuff that looks like the originals. I wanted something that would look and sound great. I had tried many different replica-type basses, all distressed and road-worn variations.

Bill had sent Joe Bonamassa a really messed-up looking Tele, the same Tele that was designed after Eric Clapton’s Hyde Park Blind Faith Tele -- the one with a Strat neck. I played this amazing Tele, which Joe played on the first Black Country Communion album on a song called “Beggarman.” I said, “Oh my god, I wonder if a Bill Nash bass would sound and look this good." Bill sent me a bass -- the red one you see me playing in the videos and the new Black Country Communion DVD. It’s a ’57 replica, a relic. It’s just insane. I’ve got some old P basses and Jazz basses, and you can’t really tell the difference.

What are you playing them through?

I’ve been playing through Laney. Funnily enough, they are made in the Black Country [an industrial area in the English West Midlands, to the north and west of Birmingham and to the south and east of Wolverhampton]. Tony Iommi has been with Laney since 1969. Because I’m from that area in England, I started out with Laney too. In fact, Trapeze were a Laney act. With Deep Purple, I moved to Hiwatt. All these years later, I’d been looking for something for 10 years -- something with that really British, early Trapeze, Deep Purple, John Entwistle sound, the wiry, piano-string bass sound. So Laney put something together for me. It’s called a Laney Nexus Tube amp. I have two of them, 400 watts each. They rock.

So you were searching for gear that provides a vintage sound, and Black Country Communion have a vintage sound. Was the throwback aspect part of the plan when forming the group?

I never went out to make it sound like 1974, but when you put Jason Bonham on the drums and you’ve got Joe, who’s really influenced by all the ‘70s guitar players, from Pete Townshend to B.B. King to Clapton, then you throw in what I’ve done, and I’m a ‘70s guy anyway, it kind of makes sense.

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