The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
TEN GARY HUGHES INTERVIEW OCTOBER 2014

HARD ROCK INTERVIEWS 2014 - TEN'S GARY HUGHES

GARY HUGHES

OF TEN

TALKS TO THE ROCKPIT

ABOUT THE STUNNING NEW ALBUM 'ALBION', PLANS FOR TEN IN 2015 AND SO MUCH MORE...

OCTOBER 2014

Ten has always been one of those bands that elicited a huge response from fans, with their massive Melodic Rock sound and epic storytelling there was always something mystical about them, and coupled with a huge catalogue of great songs full of huge hooks and melodies they quickly became a favourite of those with a love of the genre. At the same time there was also huge lyrical depth behind the music and the fine voice of Gary Hughes. Today Ten is still making great music and their latest release 'Albion' is surely one of their best offerings to date.... but there's so much more on the way...


Hi Gary, Thank you for taking time to talk to The Rockpit about the NEW ALBUM ‘ALBION’ which is out on November 21st and like its predecessor ‘Heresy and Creed’ and 2009’s ‘Stormwarning’ it is pretty much end to end essential listening. Are you pleased first of all with the new records, but also the trio of releases since the hiatus?

 

I’m very pleased with it. I had a very definite idea as to the flow of things this time around. We began developing a huge collection of songs this time and in a much more relaxed and unhindered way than in recent years. On the new material I have been allowed the kind of freedom of artistic expression that I was afforded in my early Now And Then Records days and it has been exhilarating to allow the songs to develop naturally again. Albion feels like the natural successor to Heresy And Creed and Stormwarning. The band is constantly evolving. Even now we are growing musically. We did take a 4 year hiatus some time ago now. During that time we listen very closely to the fans. To their opinions and impressions. It was obvious to me that our true fanbase yearned for an album that would give a nod back to the first releases, and with this in mind I began to analyse exactly what it was that made those albums endure in the hearts of the fans. With Albion I have tried to bring together a collections of songs that, whilst remaining current, also gives a respectful nod back to albums such as The Name Of The Rose, Ten, The Robe and Spellbound.  In many way we have rediscovered ourselves with Albion and it is a much more natural expression of where the band is at this moment in time.


You seem to be mining a very rich vein of writing at the moment, are you the kind of musician who actively sets aside time to write, or is it a constant part of your life that takes you when it strikes?

 

It’s a constant part of my life. I carry a small digital recorder everywhere. It’s amazing when and where inspiration can hit me. It even wakes me up from deep sleeps sometimes and I’m scrambling around for my recorder.

 

The latest album gets a pre-release at this year’s Firefest, sadly the last event at the venue I spent most of my teenage years. What does it feel to be playing the last Firefest and what does that say about Melodic Rock in the UK?

 

British bands generally get a hard time in the UK. I find British fans are more interested in American, Swedish bands than supporting their own which is a shame for the British scene in general. You never hear an American slagging off an American act, or a German bad mouthing a German band. But unfortunately in the UK this is all too often the case. Firefest is really the last bastion of melodic hard rock here in the UK.

The album is also available on double gatefold vinyl too – a first for the band? Just the way to show off the always stunning artwork?

 

It was a great idea by Rocktopia actually. The guys noticed a change in trend towards vinyl again and we all figured that the artworks involved in our genre deserved to be appreciated and enjoyed in a larger format. Vinyl is becoming very collectible again and appears to increase in value over the years. Albion will only be pressed in a very limited number and so I would urge any collector to order early. The guy behind this new artwork is a young artist called Gaetano Di Falco. He’s an exceptionally talented individual. Ten has a history of using artworks by the likes of Chris Achilleos and Luis Royo.  Gaetano brings a modern edge to this piece depicting Queen Boadicia routing the Romans in the name of Albion.  It is beautifully crafted with many hidden Ten insignia present.


‘Albion’ offers rather more variety than the last two releases which were solidly Melodic Rock did the addition of two lead guitarists affect the way you approached writing?

 

Not really. The writing has remained the same. It’s nice however, to bring in another facet to the band sound. I have always endeavoured to bring new talent to the fore. Dann Rosingana and Steve Grocott had been on my radar for some time, and had never been acknowledged for the rare technical talent that they possess. They are two very different but equally gifted individuals and it has been a pleasure to be able to invite them into the band and see them both work together in such a remarkable way.  They’ve obviously fitted in very well as their work on Albion will prove. Deciding who plays where and when on a song was remarkably easy, and their lead work is, as always, underpinned by the formidable John Halliwell which allows them both freedom of expression both individually, and with twin lead solos. All solos are divided equally and usually by agreement between the two. The additional guitars will allow us to explore more layers in the Ten studio sound and also bring these layers into our live show.

Do you have a particular track or two that you would urge the curious to listen to?  Our reviewer favoured the wonderful ballad ‘Sometimes Love Takes the Long Way Home’  

 

Alone In The Dark Tonight which is a song based on Emily Bronte's book 'Wuthering Heights'. The idea that it's Heathcliff style character  is roaming the cemetery garden of the undead. For centuries mourning his lost love.


Also, A Smuggler's Tale . Based on Daphne Du Maurier's book 'Jamaica Inn'. It tells the tale of a ship wrecked on the rocks during a storm. The smugglers claiming their bounty and bludgeoning any survivors in the shallows.

 

How do you approach the creation process today and has it changed over the years?

 

Not really. It really just a return to the pure escences of Ten. We have simply just developed each song as its own animal without pre conception or style or depth. This collection of songs stands up on just an acoustic guitar and voice. This to me is the true mark of a good song whoever records it. 

What piece of music you have created most defines ‘Ten’ as a band?


Valentine off Ten’s Babylon album. For me this song has all the required elements. A melancholic melody, power and delicacy. Haunting. Good vocal lines, strong lyrics and great guitar solos. 

 

What is your greatest fear for the world?

 

That we will destroy ourselves. I see tragic events on a daily basis and I can’t believe how we torture each other as human beings, especially in the name of Religion.

 

In a world where technology and fast food has led people down a path to instant gratification at the expense of quality and larger more fulfilling experience do you see a way back for music that seeks to engage the intellect and the dulled senses

 

I hope so. Music has to become more thought provoking. The X-factor/Pop Idol trend in recent years has rendered most of the public brain-dead and unable to develop a thought of their own that hasn’t be put there by the media machines. Real Music needs to breakout. Surface from the corporate mire and shed its skin like a snake. Only then will something worthwhile emerge.

 

If you could turn the clock backwards what time would you feel most comfortable?

 

I should like to have lived as a medieval Pagan. A druid at one with the earth and at a time unspoilt by technology. A time before the earth became stained and before the theft of its natural resources. I could be comfortable in a mountain cave or a forest. Walking a pathway until then untouched by the footsteps of man.

 

Who is your most enduring influence as a musician?

 

Three storyteller song-smiths. Ian Anderson. David Coverdale. Alan Parsons.

 

Do you listen to contemporary music?

 

Sometimes, but I tend to gravitate back to my old faithful albums. As far as modern bands are concerned I’ve been listening to Fall Out Boy recently. And for having fun I like Pop punk bands such as Blink 182, Bowling For Soup and Greenday.

Do you still have you any unfulfilled musical ambitions?

 

I’d like to play The Budokan in Japan and I’d like to do another Once And Future King style concept album. This time with different invited vocalists.

 

If you could compose with anyone living or dead who would it be?

 

David Coverdale or the trio of Andy Sturmer, Roger Joseph Manning Jnr and Jason Falkner.

 

Can music still have the power to change the world in 2014?

 

No. The Live Aid spectacle proved that although music can provide a quick fix it is only temporary and the lasting effect only worsens matters. Only honesty in politics can change the world, and sadly that’s a commodity that’s as rare as rocking horse s**t.

 

Have you thought about how you would like to be remembered when you stop making music?

 

Hopefully as an honest man. A storyteller tune-smith with a modicum of lyrical ability.

 

What are your plans for the rest of 2014 and beyond? Is there any chance of an overseas tour in the New Year with the new line-up?

 

We plan to do a great many live shows in support of Albion. If we are asked we will come. In fact there will also be a second release in March 2015. Last year I found myself in a situation not unlike I found myself in at the beginning of TEN where 24 songs became the 'Ten' and 'Name Of The Rose' albums.


This time around we actually recorded 22 tracks. Unable to pick from them  we simply decided (as we did back then) to divide them into 2 releases. The songs on Albion were chosen, not because they were stronger than the others, but because they sat together well as a collection. The second half of this particular batch is equally as strong and promises to be a worthy follow up to Albion.


Therefore with 2 new albums to promote by March 2015, we are hoping to play as many countries as possible. Next year also marks the 20th Anniversary of Ten and so a collection of Anniversary shows is currently being put together as well.

 

Thinking back to your early memories of music, what was it that first made you decide you needed to be in a Rock and Roll band?


Just the desire for self-expression really, and the teenage dream of taking my music out of the bedroom and onto a stage. Any stage. Anywhere in the world that will listen.


From what you’ve learned so far what is the most valuable advice you’ve been given so far as a musician?


Mike Stone the late great producer and mix engineer once said to me “Decide on the most natural style of music for you and stick to it. Reach deep into your core. To deviate from this toward anything that is not natural is simply not being true to yourself. If you do this and remain true, then win , lose or draw, the time you spend creating music will not have been wasted.”


If you could have been a ‘Fly on the wall’ for the creation of any great album from any period, just to see how the magic happened and it all came together, what would it have been for you any why?


Jellyfish – ‘Spilt Milk’. Just to see the creation process. The character interaction. The recording process. The song writing craftsmanship.


What is the meaning of life?

 

Family pure and simple. My children are my reason for everything.

 

 

Gary spoke to Mark Diggins October 2014

 

 

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