Pickin' Up The Pieces
Interview from UK magazine, RAW in 1994.
Slaves And Masters!
Despite the downturn in a previously stellar career and a long battle with drug and alcohol addiction, Glenn Hughes is still a metal legend who influenced a generation of frontmen, one of whom is Sebastian Bach, who leapt at the chance to interview his hero!
At the age of 26, Skid Row's Sebastian Bach has the world at his feet. Young, skinny, rich, and crazy, the Canadian-born frontman has already become as notorious for his hedonistic streak as he is for his musical prowess.
Turning the clock back a couple of decades, we find one of Bach's biggest heros, Glenn Hughes (aka The Voice Of Rock). Hughes first found fame with Trapeze, a hard-hitting blues act, before being offered the gig of a lifetime in 1974 as bassist and part-time vocalist in the then David Coverdale-fronted Deep Purple. All the same temptations that Sebastian is now facing were once at Hughes' feet; and he accepted them all. Drink and drugs became a way of life. After Purple's demise, Glenn stumbled through various projects, briefly fronted Black Sabbath, and saw his fortunes revived with a guest slot on The KLF's What Time Is Love.
Since Christmas Day 1991, when he realized it was kill-or-cure time, Glenn has gradually been rebuilding his career. The culmination of his efforts is From Now On..., an album which finds Hughes in devastating vocal form and hungry to live up to his potential.
Now, Slave To The Grind, Sebastian Bach, finds out what makes the master tick...
SB: After 25 years in the music industry, what is your secret in putting up with all the bull****?
GH: It was realizing that 90% of A&R guys are frustrated artists who don't know **** about music. Now I just let my voice do the talking.
SB: Over the years, your voice seems to have acquired more strength and prowess. What's the explanation for this?
GH: Taking good care of myself. There's a strict rule of no chemicals and no alcohol, and I always try to get plenty of sleep. Lots of hot showers can help, too; it really opens the sinuses.
SB: What do you do to warm up your pipes for each show?
GH: I listen to Sly & The Family Stone's There's A Riot Going On and a few James Brown CDs. I also do a lot of Glenn Hughes-isms, my own scales, and find a place where I can meditate before I go on.
SB: Tell us about the wildest party you ever had with The Man In Black, Ritchie Blackmore.
GH: It was when we were in rehearsals for the Burn album at Clearwell Castle, which is 700 years old. Anyway, Ritchie, myself, and my roadie, Bas Marshall, were getting ****faced down the pub in the Forest Of Dean when Ritchie decided he wanted to have a seance. So we all went back to the castle, and the three of us sat cross-legged in the great hall and began. Little did I know, but Ritchie had rigged some speakers inside one of the walls, and they played some eerie, ghost-like noises and footsteps. **** began to happen - or so I thought - but Ritchie had also rigged the same sort of device in my quarters, so the same bloody fracas continued all night long! Of course, he sat up all night outside my door laughing like the deranged bloke he is. I was not amused!
SB: Switching to your new album, From Now On, what do the lyrics to Pickin' Up The Pieces refer to?
GH: Well, do you remember last summer when Yngwie Malmsteen got busted for allegedly kidnapping his girlfriend and pulling a gun on her? I felt so bad for him and the problems that had overcome him. It was my little message to him, telling him to wake up. But I'm not laughing at Yngwie; I only want the best for him.
SB: What advice would you give to a vocalist concerning alcohol and/or cocaine? What effects do these things have on the voice?
GH: Well, to those of you reading this who have never drank or used cocaine, just don't start now! To those who have indulged, try to love yourself a little more. You not only damage your voice, you damage your body, too, especially your nervous system. It becomes impossible to control your true emotions while under the influence. When I was using drugs, I somehow managed to make guest appearances on albums. I don't know how I got through it, but somehow I did. I always delivered the goods, sort of like Billie Holiday (1930s chanteuse) did, but I was in so much pain. Now that I'm clean, I cannot believe the timbre of my voice. I sing higher, with more confidence, and much, much more soul.
SB: What do you remember about your first touring experience, and did you ever open for any other famous bands?
GH: My first tour was with Trapeze in 1970 in the States. I was extremely pissed off, because I was too young to get served a drink, while Mel (Galley) and Dave (Holland) were doing Harvey Wallbangers in Holiday Inns across the USA. We opened for the Moody Blues in the States. Once we also opened for the James Gang, and, on the second night, they were too afraid to let us go on!
SB: What are your definitive vocal performances in the studio, and which song has been your personal favorite?
GH: The Play Me Out (solo) album in 1977, Purple's Burn (1974), Stormbringer (1974), and Come Taste The Band (1975), Hughes/Thrall (1982), and, of course, my hot new album, From Now On... My all-time fave is Walkin' On The Water, from the new album.
SB: Is it true that you and the Metal God, Rob Halford, once had a screaming match at 5:00 am on a boat somewhere in the Pacific Ocean?
GH: Oh, my God, he told you that story! Priest were playing Long Beach in 1981. They were and still are big buddies of mine. Rob and I were famous for these singoffs, and they had just come off stage. Rob and I took off into the shower. I was dressed, he wasn't; and, yes, he does have a rather large willy! We were both really out of it. Off we went, howling at all and sundry, totally ignoring anyone, including record company executives and whoever. This sort of behavior went on for half the 1980s, but Rob is also clean and sober now.
SB: We were supposed to perform together at a New York tribute gig for Ray Gillen (RIP) until bad weather forced me to cancel. What is your most vivid memory of our mutual friend?
GH: It's quite a personal one. The day before I entered the Betty Ford Clinic, Ray was the last person I visited before my recovery. Ray was very spiritual, as I am. When I got out of Betty, I saw him again, and we both cried. I had overcome my life in hell, my battle with drugs, but little did I know that Ray was dying. We'd always been close, but for the last two years of his life, we were inseparable. I miss him a lot. That tribute gig I did for Ray was a tremendous success. We reformed Trapeze and were slammin', and Big G (a reference to God) was jammin'! I want to thank you, Sebastian. You are a killer singer and one of the best frontmen ever!