Black Country Communion will release its highly anticipated fourth studio album, BCC IV, on September 22nd. A fourth Black Country Communion album is one many thought would never happen after the band broke up in 2012. Blues Rock Review spoke with BCC frontman Glenn Hughes about how the band came back together, the new album, and the potential for more new music in the future.
How did Black Country Communion get back together?
I just got inducted to the Hall of Fame as you know, I was in New York and Joe (Bonamassa) calls my hotel room and congratulates me and he asks me when I’m coming home to L.A. and I said I’ll be back on Tuesday and he says, “can we get together for dinner?” I said have of course we can, so we get together for dinner and Joe wants to talk about making a new record. He apparently had been listening to the catalog and I think he was overwhelmed with the work we’d done and he just sensed that we needed to do some more work. He was coming from a place of love. It seems to me we had to finish what we started and I said I’m all about making some new music, so we set some time and we got together in October of last year. We’ll come together at my house and we’ll write the whole record in my music room and Joe showed up every day at 11 o clock and each day we wrote a new track and we decided by day three that we were on the right path. We decided we weren’t going to make a record that wasn’t gonna be worthy of making the album to be called number 4. “Collide” was the first song, “Cove” was second, “Wanderlust” was third, “Love Remains” was fourth and by the time we did “Love Remains” we knew we were gonna make an album. We went in the studio as you know January the 2nd.
When you know you’re going to write an album for BCC is there a certain type of environment you like to be in?
My music is written in my home, in my music room. Joe and I wrote three or four songs from Black Country 1 in what he calls the “magic room.” I think that’s where I feel more comfortable. That’s where I’ve been writing my music for 20 years now. I write everywhere by the way. It’s something I do daily, but Joe had this thing about doing the entire writing in my place and I said sure, why not, and he drove down every day.
What’s the biggest difference writing for Black Country Communion and your solo work?
With Black Country we know who’s going to produce it. Kevin (Shirley) for our band is the appropriate producer. So, we’re writing songs that he’s going to get involved with and there’s certain chords that he doesn’t like which I do, so I stay away from those chords. But I write with each member involved and I know pretty much where we’re going with Black Country. From the first song Joe and I wrote, which was “Black Country” itself and the last song that was written on Afterglow we knew where we were going, so for me, writing Resonate or writing Black Country really doesn’t mean a whole lot of difference. There’s just certain chords that I can’t use on Black Country that I can use on my albums, they’re minor nines and major sevens, and those chords are jazz chords as you may know, but if you play them in a loud way they become something other than folk/jazz chords and I like to do that in my work. My songs are all over the place with major sevens and minor nines, but I play them in a rock way. The only other band I know that do that is Stone Temple Pilots.
When you and Joe were writing together how much of it was you coming up with songs together when you’re meeting up or did you guys both come in with different ideas or songs that were partially complete?
Eight of those songs were written toe to toe in my writing room, “Collide” being the first. One of us would come up with a riff and one of us would come up with this, and one of us would come up with the chorus and we’d really not take turns, but whoever came up with something we jam all the time, we leave the tape running, we record everything, so we know when we’re onto it. If we’re not onto it one of us will say very sheepishly I don’t think this is right, maybe we should go another way, so that’s what we did. But in reality this whole thing started when Joe was coming into my home I had a riff, which turned into “Collide.” That’s how we started the album with this one riff. It just developed from that point.
“Over My Head” was the song that I’d brought in and Joe had finished it for me and he brought in “(The Last Song For My) Resting Place” and I finished it with him, so those are the only two songs that we came in with that were kind of a Glenn song and a Joe Song, and the rest were written face to face.
After the songs are written by Joe and yourself did any of the songs evolve into something else once Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinian joined in at the studio?
The demos of these songs which I have on my iPhone, the album is copied exactly from the demos. We only had three or four days in the studio. What we did is we just basically copied the same arrangement from the iPhone demos to track on the 24 track. We could have edited them down to radio. We could have taken a 7 minute song to a 4:25 or we could have made them longer, but we kept the same arrangement on this record. Kevin was involved as he always is, but he was more involved in directing the traffic in the band rather than him being in the control room on this album. He was in the room with us while we were recording.
“Wanderlust” is a really neat standout track on the album. How did that come together?
We’re always jamming Joe and I and I may have been tuning my bass up and he starts playing (hums riff) and I’m going, don’t stop! Carry on, what key is this? I found out we were in B and I’m, like, this is great and then I started to sing, “Oh, when I come around.” I know what’s coming. I know when there’s going to be a pre-chorus and when the chorus hit I started to play these Beatle kind of chords in a rock version and we just knew this was a song. Of course the Fleetwood Mac part is Joe being Joe, but as you know, Joe will say to you he’s just borrowing from somebody else as I borrow from X, Y or Z. Trust me, we all borrow from each other.
Do you have a favorite track from the album?
I think they all change. One day it will be “Sway,” one day it will be “Wanderlust,” the next day it might be “Collide.” I wanted “Sway” to open the album, but Kevin was insistent on having “Collide” open the album and I understand why now because let’s be clear here, we’re not trying to create a new rock genre. We are a classic rock band. Let’s not be all hip and call us something we’re not. We felt like the riff and the chorus on “Collide” was exactly where we needed to start.
BCC has a few tour dates coming up. Obviously a lot of people want to see this band live. How excited are you for the opportunity to perform?
We’re very excited, more excited than people can imagine. We want to play as many shows as we possibly can with the commitments all of us have. I’m gonna be extremely busy next year and Joe as you know is always busy, and Led Zeppelin Experience for Jason is really taking off here in America. I want to say this to you from the bottom of my heart, if I had a wish and I had a dream and I had a fulfillment it would be to do as much work as I can with these guys. I famously said this will be the last band I’m in. I don’t see myself being in another band because it’s not easy being in a band when you’ve got four characters, and four schedules. It’s difficult, but I think Joe’s commitment to this album is very strong as mine is. We spent a lot of time making this record together.
With this being the first BCC album in five years, forth overall, do you think there will be more BCC albums in the future?
When we were making IV, Joe and I were having some lunch he said I wanna do five. He said he’d love to do another album and I said I would too. Here’s the difference from the first three albums. There’s not a lot pressure. The newsworthy thing is that we all understand that Joe is a very busy solo artist. Let’s be clear about that. Let me tell the world that we know that and I’m going to be very busy next year, too, but we want to leave a certain window open next year that we can play to as many people as humanly possible because we live in a time now where if you don’t play live you’re not going to get the coverage that you should get. This is not 1986. This is a different era now, so you gotta play live. If you don’t play live you’re not gonna get what you deserve, so I’m really happy with this album. We’re very excited about this album. I think the album will come out of the gate and do very strong. I think it will do very well, but what I can’t do is promise you something I don’t know the answer to.
Any final thoughts about the album?
I want to thank all Black County Communion fans and more importantly all fans of rock music who are willing and ready for the next record of the four of us. Black Country Communion is four fellows; album was written by two guys, and I don’t think there’s a more grateful band than us this year, four very happy young men and long may I continue!
Interview by Pete Francis