FUSED INTERVIEW 2005 WITH TONY IOMMI & GLENN HUGHES

Tony Iommi and Glenn Hughes are two legends in rock music. For both Midlands boys the late sixties marked the take-off of an impressive musical career, when both Black Sabbath and Trapeze where formed. Black Sabbath and Deep Purple where the superbands on the California Jam bill in 1974. In the mid-eighties Hughes shortly flirted with Black Sabbath resulting in the Seventh Star album, and in 1996 they did some sessions together which was released in 2004. While Iommi still is Black Sabbath's guitarplayer and Hughes still operates under his own name, the musical click between the two resulted in a new collaboration. Together with Kenny Aronoff on drums the trio recorded a massive powerhouse of a rockalbum called Fused. Just a few weeks before Black Sabbath's European summer tour would take off, Iommi and Hughes exclusively talked to www.glennhughes.com.


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“Fused” is your third album together, and the first one maybe to come out on your own terms: "Seventh Star" was going to be a solo album, but it was released it as a Sabbath album. The "DEP Sessions" which was released last year was bootlegged shortly after recording in 1996, before it was even ready for release… What’s the main difference with “The DEP Sessions”?

Tony: When we did the DEP sessions we were just in the studio with the intention of seeing what we would come up with. It wasn’t particulary for an album to be released at the time. We were writing stuff that could have been for somebody else you know. We didn’t quite know what to do with it. So Fused is quite difference because we had a purpose on this album; we had an aim where we were going. We wanted a powerful album and a live album, an album that we could go out and play live.

Glenn: Songs from The DEP Sessions like Fine, Don’t Drag the River and Falls Through Me were sort of more lighther. I guess that when we had the same goal in 1996 as we had now, we would have been more focused on rock and would have written more heavier stuff like Gone, you know. At this point -knowing we were gonna write what is now called Fused- we were more focused on what we wanted to do really.

Fused sounds really powerful yet ‘airplay friendly’ if I may say so. It is easy to imagine hearing songs from “Fused” on the same channel as we can hear bands like Velvet Revolver or Audioslave.

Tony: Yeah I think so.

Glenn: I feel the same way. Although we’ll we never use the word ‘radio’, do we Tony, ‘cause we don’t want to jinx ourselves. But you now we don’t write for radio and we don’t write for MTV, but I just think we wrote a record that is an honest record. It’s a very honest album for Tony and I to come together and write something powerful like that.

If someone was to listen to a Glenn Hughes record, and then listen to a Black Sabbath record, as far as styles the two sound not really alike. Ultimately, “Fused” is a representation of both of you. To what extent is your cooperation a way of exploring new musical horizons?

Tony: It’s just a great combination you know. The two of us just create a certain sound and we got a good way of writing together…

Glenn: And I get to wear a more heavier rock hat than I wear on my other stuff. Which isn’t that far away really. I mean my solo work is funkier because that’s a way I like to write, but I love to work with Tony because he’s a great songwriter of hardrock songs. I love wearing two hats like this.

Have there been song ideas that were either too funky for you Tony or too heavy for you Glenn, and… (here the question gets interrupted by the two shaking their heads simultaneously)

Glenn: No, not at all. A very good question. I don’t bring the funky element into the Iommi – Hughes thing at all because its inapropriate. Tony is the master of his universe, if you’d excuse the pun. With Fused we might even show more of his domain that he masters so well. With the sensitivity, the drama, the light & shade… when Fused gets very heavy its heavier than bloody hell, and then when its light its extremely powerful as well.

Tony: You know in the past for me, working with other people, there has always been a sort of limitation of how far you can go with someone. Some singers won’t sing on riffs and some won’t sing on chords. But Glenn will sing on everything so you’re not limited on what you’re gonna play. You can sort of play whatever you like. There’s no restrictions there which really opens up a whole new world.

Glenn: Well I guess it must be interesting then to have me sing for Tony, because he hasn’t got a clue what I’m gonna sing because you know, I just started to realise today what he means that when I sing he’s thinking “now what the hell is he gonna sing here?”

Tony (laughing): ‘Cause I can never put me finger on what he’s gonna do. With most other singers you get an idea on where they are gonna go…

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Where you involved in the lyrical part of “Fused” Tony?

Tony: No, I am never involved in the lyrics at all. I can probably come up with riffs ‘til forever and a day, but lyrics I’m not good at. And I don’t profes to be, I’d rather leave that to Glenn.

Glenn: We wrote some stuff together musically but the majority I insisted that Tony did come up with a book of what the music is because it has to be identifiable. I just want to separate my solo career from this because it’s entirely different. Well they’re quite similar but they’re not. There are moments in the music were I will come up with some chords that Tony might haven’t used before, or some last chords, or some bridges or something, but we really wanted to create the Iommi-ism, you know, like there is the Hughes-ism. A good example would be that what Tony’s done on I Go Insane. That’s four movements of riffs there that are pretty…awesome. There is nothing like that. (Glenn bows his head respectful to Tony)

It’s an exciting, nine-minute…

Glenn: It’s an epic, isn’t it?

Tony: Well, and it was twelve minutes! (laughs) We cut it down, but you know…

So it originally had more different movements?

Glenn: Six! There was six. And we cut it down to four. I always like to finish every record I make with an epic, you know that. And there’s no bigger epic than this. It’s the epic of epics.

Well, there is something about “Fused” which maybe you can help me figure out. Having only heard it once, it grabbed me instantly in some way, from the beginning to the end. I mean not that it’s a concept album or something, but…

Glenn: It is a life album. The album contains moments that people go through in the course of their lives. Whether they are in faith, or extreme fear… There is a lot of extreme fear on this record. And there is a lot of acceptance. There is a song about being totally lost, there is a song about child abuse, there is a song about insanity… So, there nothing really fictional here, it’s all about facts, about things that happen to us as humans. And that’s what I sing about.

Tony, how is Glenn is in the studio?

Tony: Well, he’s very very quick actually. And like he talked about before, he can go to certain levels that I wouldn’t think he’s gonna do. You gotta catch him there and then you know, ‘cause he will do something one time and maybe he won’t do it the next time. And I like that, because it’s spontaneous and not worked out and stuff…

Same question for you Glenn… How about Tony in the studio?

Glenn: I’ll say two words: “Loud” and “Genius”. I never worked with anybody ever in the studio that plays that loud. I didn’t even think to be able to make a record that loud… but we did. (Tony laughs) The album was recorded in Monnow Valley Studios in Wales in December 2004 and -like on Soul Mover- we were all together in the room. There was no need for any headphones!

You have a name for being loud as well…

Glenn: Oh yeah I can be loud. But you can’t hear me when Tony’s playing. (Tony laughs) And I am not being funny. You know, Tony might be a loud guitar player, but you can still hear every nuance of what he is playing. It’s just amazing.

Tony: Well I think there is an art in playing loud. You can have loud as in horribly loud, or loud that’s comfortable loud you know, that musically comes over.

So producer Bob Marlette even plays some keys on the album. Was he important to have around?

Glenn: Bob Marlette had a major role on Fused. You know, in fact he co-wrote some of the songs. Some of the music was written already before I got involved; the music for Grace and Resolution Song for instance. Most of the other songs where written toe to toe by Tony and myself.

Are the ten songs on the album all that you recorded or is there more?

Glenn: Oh yes, we wrote and recorded more than the ten songs that are on the album! In fact there are four more songs, of which I can give you the titles: The Innocense, Let It Down Easy, Slip Away and Souls in the Sky. Actually we didn't complete Souls in the Sky yet. These are all really great songs, and could have easily been put on Fused. The Innocense is a megatrack. I do a special vocal thingy on that one... something I'd do live, but then more orchestrated... well, just wait and see what happens. I believe that some of these songs are being kept for bonustrack or iTunes purposes.

How should your work on Fused be seen in perspective to any new Sabbath material?

Tony: Well we actually wrote some songs for Sabbath…we probably got seven songs right now, of which four I think are very very good. So we have some Sabbath songs that will probably never see the light of day. For Fused I had a bunch of riffs and tunes, and when Glenn and I got together I we started of fresh. I think Wasted Again was one of the first ideas we worked on. As we went on I played Glenn one of the other ideas that we cut and Glenn liked it. So we worked on that and used that for the album.

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Glenn, I think that you have known Sabbath from the early days. As a matter of fact Black Sabbath was formed around the same time as Trapeze. Does your friendship goes back that long?

Glenn: Well, my connection with Ozzy was probably maybe more chemical than mine with Tony… well maybe not… Tony and I became friends around the Cal Jam period. It was all built on the fast and furious period, we were all mad back then. I’ve known Geezer and Bill for the same amount of time. Basically because we’re all Midlands boys. We’re all blue collar, straight up guys from the Midlands.

Are you gonna tour Fused?

Glenn: Yes we intend to. First I hope to tour South America in August, and maybe Russia in September. Tony finishes with Sabbath on September 4 and he’s gonna take a month off. After that Tony, Kenny and myself are gonna meet. So hopefully this summer we will be able to announce the tourdates for America and Europe on our websites.

Playing with a power trio is something you have done many times Glenn. Any Trapeze riffs or other songs that will be dusted off for the tour?

Glenn: No I don’t think so. We are a brand new outfit. I do not want to play my old songs. We I might rather be interested in, is in doing some very early classic stuff that Sabbath did with Ozzy. Of course Tony must feel like playing it too. I think a large group of Sabbath fans might appreciate that.

Tony: Well maybe just a couple but the main thing of course is to go out and tour this album. It was written live, so we’ll go out and play it. There’s talk that maybe Geezer’s coming with his band to tour with us. That will be kind of interesting!

Glenn: Tony and I have unfinished business. We have a history from writing together and people can draw from that. It's the coming together of both of us, musically.

Thanks guys, it was great talking to you. Good luck on your upcoming Sabbath tour Tony, and good luck to you with your upcoming shows Glenn, especially the ones in Holland in June.

Tony: Holland? We cancelled the Dutch show man.

Err...?

Glenn: Nevermind Fedor, he does that all the time. (everybody laughing) Anyway thank you too and see you in a few weeks in Holland! I'm really looking forward to these shows.


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GRAPHIC ARTIST HUGH GILMOUR ABOUT THE FUSED ALBUM ARTWORK

It is obvious you have a respectable history in album coverart, in metal most known for artwork for Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. How did you get to do this album?

I was offered this commission through Sanctuary Records, with whom I have had a good working relationship for more than 10 years, working for Bruce and Maiden, Black Sabbath and Motorhead. I've also done a lot of work on Deep Purple's catalogue through EMI in the UK, but I can't deny that I have worshipped Sabbath for around 25 years.

Did you know the music of Glenn Hughes before working on the album artwork?

I have a tremendous amount of respect for Glenn. I've always loved Trapeze, and Come Taste The Band is my favourite
Purple record of all time. I genuinely think that's one of the most underrated albums of all time. My school band even used to cover 'Gettin' Tighter', which was back in the mid 1980's, so I've been a fan of Glenn's for around 20 years. It would be fantastic to see Glenn record with David Coverdale, though I can't see the Mk 3 Purple ever reforming. At the same time, I'm glad that Glenn and Tony have forged a strong professional relationship, which I hope will continue. I saw Glenn play recently in London, and the big rumour was that Tony would join him for an encore, which didn't take place. It was disappointing, but it did not spoil what was a fantastic show.


Did you get a briefing from the musicians on Fused or was it the record company that had specific wishes?

I was dealing with record label and with the group's management, both of whom had gave a lot of input. Some musicians
are happy to get on with their main job of making music, and allowing other people, be it a designer, their label or their
manager, to develop how best to present that music. I just hope Tony and Glenn are pleased with the results.


Hugh also plays in a band, called Pig Iron

The Fused album to me has a classic feel to it.

There can't be a great compliment than "classic". I still listen to the same bands now that I did 20 years ago (Rush, UFO, Rainbow etc...), which you would have then found in the heavy metal section of your local record shop. Now this kind of music is called "classic rock". I'm very, very happy you think it looks classic, but part of my brief was to produce something that was simple and uncomplicated. Take a look at the latest Rammstein album, which is just an orange cover with two white stripes. I'm not particularly a fan of that group, but I can't deny that that image just jumps off the shelves, so I was trying to develop a cover that had a similar degree of impact. The 5 inch square of paper for your CD cover is such a limiting amount of space to make an impact in comparison to a 12 inch piece of card on the front of an LP.

Go Back

What is the background actually?

The background is a piece of tarnished, scratched metal. Tony was very keen that there'd be at least some colour on one of his sleeves one day, hence the blue hue.

Where there more options for this album or was this a relatively easy birth?

When I first get a commission, my enthusiasm drives me to be quite prolific. On this particular release, I've possibly done anything up to 100 different designs or more, then even more slight variations on those. That is far from usual, but I was very keen to develop the strongest visual possible. Once the basic concept had been decided, there was still quite a few different versions created with quite subtle changes until the total balance between the logo and lettering was considered right. the bottom line is that this was a very important release for me to be involved with.

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