Glenn Hughes is no stranger to touring North America. The newly minted Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has done so as part of Deep Purple as well as with Trapeze and the short-lived Hughes/Thrall project. But hard as it is to believe, the singer-bassist’s upcoming trek -- kicking off Tuesday in Annapolis, Maryland, and wrapping Sept. 3 in Los Angeles -- is Hughes’ first ever under his own name on these shores.
“Let’s just say I was under the radar for a while,” Hughes tells Billboard. “When I came back in the early ’90s, I wasn’t represented appropriately. I always had a career in Europe. I just think when I got sober, I pretty much focused on the United Kingdom or Europe in general and the Far East. But it’s very clear to me that the door is open in America. I love this country. I want to go back to where it all started for me, which is playing in clubs, a lot of people coming into this tiny little place, crammed to the hilt. I just want to go back and get that vibe.”
Hughes will be playing as a trio for the tour, with guitarist Soren Andersen and drummer Pontus Engborg; a keyboard player will be added to the group after Hughes’ new solo album comes out in November through Frontiers Records. But Hughes promises that the trio can handle the repertoire he plans to present during the U.S. dates.
“We can play anything,” he says. “I played [Deep Purple’s] ‘Burn’ with Slash as a trio. If you have the right players, you can do anything. We’ll do 12, 13 songs, and there’ll be some interplay. I’m a jammer; you won’t see the drummer wearing headphones or hear any instruments accompanying us on tape. I jam, and I enforce that in all my songs. It’ll be slightly different each time we play. It’s been like that from Trapeze up till this moment, so I’m not going to change now.”
The tour is certainly fortified by the residual buzz from Hughes’ Rock Hall induction in April with Deep Purple. Though he and his Mark III lineup bandmate David Coverdale did not play with Purple that night, they did take part in the Cheap Trick-hosted finale of Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame.” But Hughes is still glowing from the experience despite the interpersonal politics of the night.
“I had a great time. It was a nice evening. We met some lovely people, and the Hall of Fame is not a bad place to be in,” says Hughes, whose father sadly died back in England the day of the ceremony. As far as the dynamics within Deep Purple go, he notes, “Let’s just say I think you could see the line between the Mark II and the Mark III. It’s probably the last time you’ll see all of us together at a table. It was just bloody weird. I’m not saying anything disrespectful to anybody about anything. I’m a Deep Purple family member, but there’s no friendship outside of anybody except me and David. It is what it is.”
Hughes is also turning his attention to projects beyond the upcoming tour, which includes a South American swing in September and the United Kingdom and Europe starting in November. He recorded a yet-untitled new album -- the follow-up to 2008’s First Underground Nuclear Kitchen, with Andersen co-producing -- in Copenhagen while playing festivals in Europe during the summer, and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, a regular Hughes collaborator, was able to lay down some tracks while his band was over there as well.
“It’s possibly the heaviest record I’ve ever made,” says Hughes. “I don’t want to confuse it with horns-up heavy; it’s not metal. But it’s definitely f---ing heavy. It’s dense. It’s dark. There’s some aggression on this record. Every bloody track is begging to be played live.”
Meanwhile, Hughes and guitarist Joe Bonamassa have regrouped to start working on material for a fourth Black Country Communion album with drummer Jason Bonham and keyboardist Derek Sherinian. The group had a bit of a falling-out when a tour to promote 2012’s Afterglow didn’t materialize, and while there’s a commitment to make a new album, it’s unclear what the band will do to support it this time around.
“Black Country will be playing, but what I can’t say is how many shows, and where,” says Hughes. “I would think that’ll happen next summer. We all know Joe books a year ahead, and he’s been doing it for 30 bloody years. And I’m doing it on my own now, and I’m in love with playing on my own and going about my own business with my own band and own team. So I totally get what Joe’s doing. But we’ve spoken about doing the record and then we spoke about doing shows, and I would think we’d do some [shows] even if it’s not any kind of big tour.”
For more information about Hughes' tour dates, visit GlennHughes.com.