Interview with Bass Legend Glenn Hughes…
Think of California and you think of brilliant color and bright sunlight. Think of a breed and it’s all about bloodlines and brotherhood. Put the two together as California Breed and you have the most exciting new band of 2014.
Built around the foundation of legendary vocalist-bassist Glenn Hughes and drummer extraordinaire Jason Bonham, with the addition of the 23-year-old newcomer guitarist-singer Andrew Watt, as Hughes says: “California Breed is real Rock’n’roll – but made for right now.”
Hi Glenn. Let’s talk about your latest project, California Breed. Firstly I would like to ask, where did the name come from?
When we were trying to come up with a name we decided to look at the lyrics of our songs and maybe there’s a word there that will trigger something. So I went through it and there was interesting stuff, but then I came across “Solo”, which is a bonus track, the line “California breed acceleration,” kind of a fast-moving California dude, which kind of I am, been living here for so many years. It is about the sun, the energy and this collaboration that happened in California,
How did Andrew Watts come along for the ride?
At the Grammy’s in February of 2013, my dear friend Julian Lennon was having a party, and he introduced me to this young guitar player named Andrew Watt. I meet many people in the industry, and I hear a lot of demos, but there was something about this kid that struck me. I called him and asked, “Can you come to my house next week for a jam?” He came to my house, and in that one day, we wrote two songs, “Chemical Rain” and “Solo.” The following day Jason was in town, so we went to a studio, and we recorded some material. They were great, but they were not complete songs or ideas. We realized then that there was something good there and maybe we should get together once a month in LA
What were you thinking about as far as a particular sound for this new group called California Breed?
Black Country Communion broke up in late 2012; Jason (Bonham) and I decided we would continue. We actually decided that we want to do something together while Black Country Communion was still going on. We wanted to form a new breathtaking new band. First, we decided that we want to keep it organic. What I mean by that— NO SYNTH!!!
What was the song writing process for the album – is it a collaborative thing? Are you the main songwriter, or are there one or two main songwriters?
Everything started during my first meeting with Andrew. We wrote the first two songs together. When you complete two songs in one afternoon and it sounds so cool then it means that there is something there. After that it was mostly collaboration. I will come up with an idea that I will introduce to the band and then everyone will add something until it is complete.
Is there someone you would consider a mentor?
My mentor has always been my dear friend Stevie Wonder. I’ve been a big Stevie Wonder fan since the late 60s. I met Stevie in the early 70s, and he took me in the studio. Stevie was really helpful to me. I thought it would be a really important lesson to see in what way he was interacting with people.
Let’s talk a bit about bass. How did you come to play the bass guitar?
I was at school with Mel Galley, Trapeze and Whitesnake Guitar Player. He joined a band, so when their bassist left in ’68, he asked me if I would be interested in switching from guitar – my first instrument to bass. I really wanted to play with him, so I bought a bass from the bass player of that group and I started to play. So my first bass was a ’62 Fender J bass.”
What recording represents your best work – as a bass player?
There are so many songs Andreas. I keep re-inventing myself.
What gear do you use on tour and in studio?
I use an Orange AD200 Bass MK III. I always like that vintage bass sound I had in the early Trapeze days and it is such a comforting feeling to hear those tones coming out of this amp. For cabinets I use a 1 x 18 or a 1×15 with a 4×10.
What are your main effects?
I also love effects. I have this DigiTech bass synth wah bass envelope filter. I use two of them – one for that left-handed Mini Moog sound, that low-end bass Moog – and then I use one that’s more of a neutral wah, very sort of groovy. I also use an octave bass with a light distortion.
What about your bass guitars? What is your favorite bass?
Andreas, I own hundreds of basses, however my favorite one is a 65 p Bass sunburst. This is the bass I used in most of my recordings as well as live performances.
Any tips or advice for other musicians?
Love everything you do and always do everything you love to do. This always produces great results.
I know you recorded a lot… Any studio recording advice?
Always listen to the music. Do not just start playing. Make sure you take into consideration the way you will play each note, the length of the note and the dynamics of each note. How soft or how loud will it be performed. I do not like many hammer-ons. I like clean and clear Long Notes. Also, everything should be an enjoyable experience.
What would you consider the highlight of your career thus far?
I always like to push the limit. And the most important performance of my career is the one I am about to do.
We are running out of time. So, anything else you want to add?
I would like to close this by saying that bass is a true art form. It blends the rhythmical groove with the actual harmony. Things you should consider are where are you going to play the note on the neck. Then, how are you going to play the note. Pay attention into the articulation, the duration, the tone as well as the space between each note.
Thank you for the interview Glenn. See you at the California Breed Show.
See you at the show Andreas.