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Author: Subject: My 2010 Joe Bonamassa Black Country Communion Interview

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  posted on 1/5/2017 at 07:44 PM
Awesome news hearing that Black Country Communion is recording their 4th album!! Very much looking forward to Joe Bonamassa, Glenn Hughes, and company getting back together for this 4th record!

I interviewed Joe Bonamassa in September 2010, about Black Country Communion's debut album and how the band originally got together. Here is an Archive of My Interview with Joe Bonamassa discussing Black Country Communion and their Debut album from September 2010 followed by my 2010 Review of BCC's debut album.

*******I had previously posted back in November 2015, on the ABB Forum, the EDITED text of my AT THE TIME, IN PRINT published interview which was in Guitar International which is NOW out of business. So since my interview is NOW out of print (and I own my copyrights) I am now posting my COMPLETE, UNEDITED INTERVIEW with Joe Bonamassa discussing Black Country Communion and their Debut Album.*****

“Joe Bonamassa Charting The Wicked & Wonderful Musical Waters Of “Black Country Communion””

By Arlene R. Weiss
© Copyright September 1, 2010-2050 And In Perpetuity By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

Last November 2009, guitar wizard and virtuoso, Joe Bonamassa joined forces with vocal icon, Glenn Hughes for a blistering jam at Guitar Center’s King Of The Blues Show in Los Angeles, and out of the creative fires of that tremendous performance, would be born, the supergroup band, Black Country Communion, and their very first, studio album.

Black Country Communion, boasts four amazing music titans, five if you count Producer Kevin Shirley, who put together this dynamic, dream team band, that aligns the multi-talents of six string guitar slinger Bonamassa (who first gained acclaim for being part of the 1990’s supergroup Bloodline), Hughes (of Deep Purple and Black Sabbath fame), drummer Jason Bonham (also of Led Zeppelin, making his father John proud), and Dream Theater’s Derek Sherinian on keys.

The band’s name comes from the industrial region in the British Midlands that both Hughes and Bonham originally hail from.

For Bonamassa, Black Country Communion is a true artistic labor of love, where the guitar maestro also had the opportunity to shine in many creative areas. He co-wrote nine of the twelve tracks, shares lead vocals with Hughes on “Sista Jane” and “Too Late For The Sun”, and Bonamassa sings lead vocals on both “The Revolution In Me” and on the epic, phenomenal, “Song Of Yesterday”, where Bonamassa’s singing, writing, and guitar playing just soars, as he does throughout this band’s striking debut album.

Bonamassa’s extraordinary musicianship and influences indeed bring much to the colorful palette of this incendiary, incredible, band. Lauded as a blues prodigy who has shared the stage with Eric Clapton and B.B. King, his vast and varied musical tastes and styles ranging from Iron Maiden to Mindy Smith, are all over the map of Black Country Communion, and their debut album’s scorching collage of songs.

With Black Country Communion gearing up for their album’s worldwide release on September 20, 2010, and multiple live performances to promote their new album, as well as Joe readying the release, after just completing, his own, upcoming, new solo studio album, Joe Bonamassa graciously sat down to discuss the heart, art, and soul, that is..Black Country Communion.

Arlene R. Weiss: “Black Country Communion” is such an explosive and dynamic fusion of music influences and talent, being this incredible Supergroup featuring, you, Glenn Hughes, Jason Bonham, and Derek Sherinian, whose music synthesis was generated by Producer Kevin Shirley. What was the impetus in, and the story behind, how this band, and your Debut Album, first came about?

Joe Bonamassa: It’s simpler than you might think. Kevin and I have been making records together for five years. I have known Glenn for three years. He and I always talked about doing something together. At a show I was doing for Guitar Center’s King Of The Blues competition last year, Kevin came to see the show and saw Glenn guest during my set. The whole idea was hatched in the foundation room that night. Jason’s name came up who played on my album “You & Me”, along with Derek Sherinian. I was like, if we can pull this off, it could be something very cool and fun. So here we are 10 months later with an album. Pretty extraordinary. Kevin deserves the bulk of the credit for organizing this.

Arlene R. Weiss: You bring so many artistic elements to Black Country Communion, and you really spread your own, evolving, musical wings here. You have quite a prominent role in this band and in the making of this record. You sing lead vocals on several songs, you co-wrote most of the material, and of course you play lead guitar. With four heavyweight artists involved, how did the four of you decide how much of a creative role and voice, each of you would bring to the table….in particular…for you?

Joe Bonamassa: Well, I really look at the group as a five member ensemble. Glenn, Jason, Derek, Kevin, and I. We all threw in, our bits and bobs. It really was a collaborative through and through. I am proud of my role in this sort of thing. I really had a blast recording this album.

Arlene R. Weiss: Did egos ever hint at hindering this creative process, or did things stay more of a supportive camaraderie and creative ensemble, where each of you sort of improvised and stepped back and forward for one another, letting one another’s individual creative voices shine??......kind of in the way that an impromptu live jam does among major artists, onstage?

Joe Bonamassa: Every artist and musician has an ego. Every person, doctor, lawyer, and pet shop owner, bread baker, etc., has an ego. It is a human trait. Now, whether it gets the best of you to the detriment of the music or it drives the music to a better place…that is the fundamental question. We have five strong personalities and accomplished musicians here. It was a healthy back and forth. It happened really fast. The way I suspect bands like Zeppelin and The Faces worked back in the day.

Arlene R. Weiss: You and Glenn trade verses on lead vocals on “Sista Jane”, and the two of you pair up and take the top melody and the bottom harmony lead vocals on “Too Late For The Sun”, ..Both songs…of which you, personally, also, co-wrote the music for. How did those songs come about and why did you arrange them with the two of you sharing vocals?

Joe Bonamassa: I truthfully, at first, wasn’t interested in singing anything on this album. I mean it’s Glenn Hughes we are talking about here! But with Kevin and Glenn’s urging, I ended up singing two songs and traded with Glenn on two songs. Again, I had a blast doing it!

Arlene R. Weiss: Was that fun for you, collaborating with Glenn, who is such a vocal powerhouse and icon?

Joe Bonamassa: Yes it was. It was two friends singing songs that we wrote together.

Arlene R. Weiss: “Sista Jane” reminds me a lot of and has somewhat of the same vocal arrangement and funky blues vibe of The Arc Angels, who I adore. Was that intentional?

Joe Bonamassa: No…I know Chris Layton a little through touring and also through my tour manager, Warren. The Arc Angels are an awesome band and Chris is such a wonderful player and an even nicer person. We really thought through and brought more of the UK, other side of the pond influences on this record. More Earl Grey than Shiner Boch.

Arlene R. Weiss: “Down Again” seems influenced by one of Glenn’s great bands, Deep Purple. I definitely hear their sound and influence all over that, especially in your guitar playing….Were you going for that feel with that song?

Joe Bonamassa: That was a really cool writing session with Derek, Glenn, and I, at my rehearsal room in Burbank. I took the 12-6pm shift to rehearse my solo band for the tour and I did the late shift with Glenn and Derek. The end result was “Down Again”. One of my favorites.

Arlene R. Weiss: You began your musical career, as a gifted guitar player, but in recent years, you have become a premier vocalist on your own, critically acclaimed, solo records, and now on this album with Black Country Communion, where your singing is wonderfully at the forefront.

Joe Bonamassa: Well, you are too kind. I am a guitarist. I have worked hard on my singing in the last five years. It’s a daily grind.

Arlene R. Weiss: Collaborating with and observing Glenn on the songs that he sings lead vocals on, on this album, what did you learn from him in creatively developing your singing style, range, and abilities?

Joe Bonamassa: Well, you honestly can’t be around a singer like Glenn and not learn a few things. I definitely had my ears opened.

Arlene R. Weiss: You sing lead vocals on the amazing, “Song Of Yesterday” and on “The Revolution In Me”, and you co-wrote both music and lyrics for…both…of these songs. Being so heavily involved in the crafting and creation of these two songs, did you feel that they were much more connected to you as an artist?

Joe Bonamassa: I think those songs came out really well. Again, I was reluctant to sing at all here. But in particular, on “Song Of Yesterday”. I’m proud of our work on that.

Arlene R. Weiss: How are these two songs, and the entire album, for that matter, a personal artistic statement for you?

Joe Bonamassa: I was asked to bring in ideas. They were the start of a rock opera I had planned.

Arlene R. Weiss: Your songwriting on this album is just incredible, and you incorporate so many music styles. The funky flavor of “One Last Soul”, the industrial metal of “Black Country”, tasty blues on “Sista Jane”, and classic rock on “Song Of Yesterday”. What inspired your songwriting on this album?...

Joe Bonamassa: Again, it’s not just me. It’s a group effort. Not one of us could have done it on our own.

Arlene R. Weiss: Who are your influences as songwriters?..and as Artists?

Joe Bonamassa: I love the way Warren Haynes writes a song. I love the way Free wrote songs, and the way Jimmy Page took old blues and made it his own in the context of Led Zeppelin.

Arlene R. Weiss: Which do you usually write first, music or lyrics?

Joe Bonamassa: I usually write lyrics first…Or at least a chorus and a title.

Arlene R. Weiss: Do you compose on guitar..or on other instruments?

Joe Bonamassa: For Black Country Communion, I used a Gibson Les Paul to write.

Arlene R. Weiss: What other instruments do you play, besides guitar, and what is your favorite?

Joe Bonamassa: I play guitar and I’m happy with that. Stevie Wonder or Dave Grohl, I am not.

Arlene R. Weiss: My favorite song on BCC, is the mindblowing, “Song Of Yesterday”. ” You can tell that I’m quite taken with your song!…The song starts out with both your singing and your guitar playing…soft, understated, and lyrical..and then builds and crescendos into a powerful rocker. You also incorporated a string section. How did you conceive and write this song, as well as conceive and develop, the beautiful arrangement and orchestration of such an epic, multi-layered piece?

Joe Bonamassa: I came up with the riff and the pre-chorus. Kevin Shirley did the rest, complete with the string arrangement and some of the lyrics as well. It came out really good. I’m very happy with my singing on that song as well.

Arlene R. Weiss: Kevin co-wrote “Song Of Yesterday” as well as “Too Late For The Sun”. How did everyone in the band coordinate and creatively deal with Kevin who is your Producer and Mixer, changing artistic hats…and at times…becoming a Fifth band member of sorts?

Joe Bonamassa: Kevin IS the fifth member! We live in a new music business. Everything is intertwined. Kev and I just wrote a great song for my next solo record! Everybody was cool. This isn’t a new concept. Marty Frederiksen and Glen Ballard have been doing this for years among others.

Arlene R. Weiss: How influential was Kevin in shaping up and fleshing out, the songs to their fullest potential?

Joe Bonamassa: Big! He really focused the ideas. There were a ton flying around. He was the Ritalin to our collective ADD.

Arlene R. Weiss: How did you achieve the wonderfully wicked wah wah effects on “Beggarman”? What pedals and effects did you use?

Joe Bonamassa: Jeorge Tripps from both Dunlop Manufacturing and Way Huge Electronics, builds my wahs and FuzzFaces, and I use his Pork Loin and Aqua Puss as well. You can tell I’m a fan!

Arlene R. Weiss: The title track, “Black Country”, is something new that I haven’t ever heard from you, with you being more of a blues player. On “Black Country”, you really go for the heavy, speed metal sound. How did your playing on that materialize?

Joe Bonamassa: I’m a man of much mystery and musical intrigue! Thanks! I love Iron Maiden. So I summoned my best Dave Murray and Adrian Smith impression for that solo and song.

Arlene R. Weiss: What guitars and gear did you use in the studio on this album?

Joe Bonamassa: Mostly my Gibson Joe Bonamassa Les Paul, a Steve Morse Y2K MusicMan, and two Marshall half stacks. A Silver Jubilee Marshall and a 1968 Marshall Super Bass. I kept it pretty basic.

Arlene R. Weiss: What strings do you use and their gauge?

Joe Bonamassa: I use Ernie Ball 11-52 Super Slinkys. I love the Ernie Ball MusicMan people. They are fantastic to me. And Sterling builds a hell of a smoker. Check out Big Poppa smokers. Killer!

Arlene R. Weiss: Do you remember what first inspired you to become a guitar player?

Joe Bonamassa: I heard Eric Clapton play “Further On Up The Road”. I was hooked!

Arlene R. Weiss: What was your very first guitar?

Joe Bonamassa: My first guitar was a Chiquita, Dan Erlewine, Short Scale Electric, and I also had a Yamaha Classical.

Arlene R. Weiss: What guitar players most influenced you?

Joe Bonamassa: Eric Clapton and Paul Kossoff, Eric Johnson, Jeff Beck, Ry Cooder, and Rory Gallagher. Those were the biggest guys.

Arlene R. Weiss: What current music artists inspire you and would you like to collaborate with, live, and in the studio?

Joe Bonamassa: I love what Josh Homme does. I love System Of A Down. I really like artists like Mindy Smith, Opeth, Brad Paisley, and Iron Maiden. You can see that my iPod is eclectic, as it is with everybody.

Arlene R. Weiss: Do you see a second “Black Country Communion” album in your future?

Joe Bonamassa: I would gladly do ten more albums with Black Country Communion, if the songs are good!

Arlene R. Weiss: What other creative projects and ventures as a solo artist, guitarist, singer, and songwriter, do you hope to explore on your adventurous artistic path?

Joe Bonamassa: Well, I only have about 45 days off this year. My plate is full as you can see. I just made a new, solo album! So I am pretty creatively explored at the moment!

© Copyright September 1, 2010-2050 And In Perpetuity By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved


Here's my August 2010 album review of Black Country Communion's debut self titled incredible album.

Black Country Communion Album Review

© Copyright August 23, 2010-2050 And In Perpetuity-All Rights Reserved By Arlene R. Weiss
By: Arlene R. Weiss

Remarkable virtuosity intertwines with a firestorm of ferocity in this astounding self titled debut album from four rock titans, blues guitar virtuoso and wizard Joe Bonamassa, the iconic Glenn Hughes who lended his searing vocals and thundering bass to the likes of Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, Jason Bonham, Led Zeppelin’s drumming heir apparent to his legendary father John, and Dream Theater keyboardist Derek Sherinian.

The maelstrom kicks off furiously with the first track, “Black Country” a dark and heavy industrial metal infused workout with Bonamassa speed shredding away. “One Last Soul” boasts a funky flavor with Hughes strutting a more streamlined phrasing and economy to his dynamic vocals stepping up to Bonamassa’s tasty, soulful guitar backbeat. Hughes’s vocal range is like lightening in a bottle, a belting force to be reckoned with. But on the title track where he tends to run bombastically rampant, here he reigns in the fireworks to great effect, with straight ahead direction and focus, and sings oh, so wicked and delectably nasty.

Joe and Glenn trade lead vocal verses, dueting quite nicely on “Too Late For The Sun” and especially on the bluesy number, “Sista Jane”, which evokes the feel of another supergroup, The Arc Angels.

“Beggarman” oozes playful wah wah effects galore from Bonamassa, and on “Down Again” Hughes and Bonamassa go for a definite nod to Deep Purple.

“One Last Soul” at 3:52 timing, has it set for the first single release to radio. But the surprise stellar track, “Song Of Yesterday”, literally makes this album and should go to radio where it could captivate an appreciative audience. Clocking in at 8:33, this outstanding song harkens back to the 70’s, when classics such as “Stairway To Heaven” proved that great songwriting and musicianship, as is certainly the case here, shouldn’t be edited down and confined to a time slot. Bonamassa sings lead and plays incredibly on this surreal, amazing odyssey. Beginning lyrically and understated on vocals and guitar, underscored by a beautifully orchestrated arrangement overlaying strings, Bonamassa slowly builds, then segues into a powerhouse rocker. Lush and anthemic, a Herculean guitar solo, and bluesy, emotive singing from Bonamassa, make for what should prove to be the climatic signature song of this band when performing live in concert.

Producer Kevin Shirley masterminded this eponymus supergroup after catching Hughes and Bonamassa jamming and burning up the stage at November 2009’s, Guitar Center King Of The Blues show in Los Angeles and set about recording and capturing this tornadic force of musical nature. Supergroups often burn hot, bright, and burn out fast, much like a supernova, but for however long it lasts…what an amazing, incendiary star. Catch Black Country Communion, as it shoots through the sky.

© Copyright August 23, 2010-2050 And In Perpetuity-All Rights Reserved By Arlene R. Weiss

[Edited on 1/6/2017 by ArleneWeiss]

 

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