During an appearance on today's episode of SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk", guitarist Joe Bonamassa spoke about the status of BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION, his supergroup with legendary vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes (DEEP PURPLE, BLACK SABBATH),drummer Jason Bonham (LED ZEPPELIN) and keyboardist Derek Sherinian (DREAM THEATER, ALICE COOPER, BILLY IDOL). Asked if the band's fifth album has already been completed, Joe said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "It is not done. I'm actually, after I see you today, I'm gonna go to Sunset Sound [studios in Hollywood] and see Glenn. And I've gotta sing a little bit on it and redo one guitar part for [the record]. And he's over there cutting vocals now. So we're, I would say, 90% done, but the music's done."
He continued: "The thing about BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION, whether you like the way we sound or not, when we all get together, it has a very specific thing that it does. Everybody brings a very specific thing to the table, and it's a special band."
According to Joe, he brought the BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION members back together to make the follow-up to "BCCIV", which was released in September 2017 and marked BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION's first studio effort since 2013's "Afterglow". "I was the one that kind of initiated the text, be, like, 'Hey, is there anybody interested in doing a fifth one?'" he said. "And Derek got back to me. Jason got back to me pretty quickly. And Glenn called me and said, 'I can't do anything until this DEAD DAISIES situation goes one way or the next.' And I said, 'Fair enough.' So when Glenn left THE DEAD DAISIES last year, that was kind of the green light for us to get back together."
Regarding the songwriting process for BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION's fifth album and how it compared to that on the band's previous efforts, Joe said: "This was the same. I went over to Glenn's house about six times and we hashed out some ideas — pretty rough, loose ideas. Nothing in stone. And so I had a playlist on my phone, voice memos, BCC 1 through 10. And that was it. So, so day one, we just [said], 'Okay, let's start with BCC 1.' And we sat in the courtyard at Sunset Sound — they have this really nice courtyard with a bunch of chairs — and we sat out there with an acoustic guitar and a couple of things and we just bashed out the arrangement. We were, like, 'Okay, that's cool.' We went in, played it three or four times and that was it. Nobody charted anything; we just kind of memorized it and did it. And we would go into the control room, listen a little bit, maybe tweak something, but once it fired up and after the second day, we really hit our stride, going, 'Okay, the band's back.' 'Cause we hadn't played together in six years."
As for the recording process for the new BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION disc, Joe said: "There's not a lot of overdubs. I rarely double the guitars, 'cause Glenn's bass sound is so big and distorted, you know what I mean? It's, like, why do I need to double the guitar? Same thing with Derek. It's almost like playing in the band FREE. All of the sound comes from the four of us. And Jason takes up a huge amount of bandwidth; he's such a big drummer."
Bonamassa went on to say that he is looking forward to performing with BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION again. "I'd like to do some live shows with 'em next year," he said. "I think it would be really fun… Scheduling is the hardest thing, because of what everybody's got [coming up]… [My solo band is] booked almost two years out. But next year, I really wanna at least set aside a week, maybe two weeks, where we can go out and do selected shows, do a couple here in the U.S., go to Europe, do a couple there. 'Cause it is fun."
The news of BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION's recording activity came less than three months after it was announced that the band will perform on next year's Keeping The Blues Alive At Sea IX cruise, sailing from Miami, Florida to Cozumel, Mexico on March 18-22, 2024.
BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION's most recent performance took place in February 2018 at the fourth edition of the Keeping The Blues Alive At Sea, which benefits the Keeping The Blues Alive Foundation, Bonamassa's non-profit organization dedicated to providing students, teachers, and musicians with the resources and tools needed to further their music education.
In a September 2022 interview with Andy Hall of the Des Moines, Iowa radio station Lazer 103.3, Bonamassa stated about what it is about a "band situation" that appeals to him, considering he has spent most of his career as a solo artist: "I like nothing more than to be a member of a band and playing guitar. I don't have to front it; I don't have to sing all the time. And it's a lot less pressure than being the front person. Being the person in front is a special skillset. You have to be an entertainer. You can't just sit up there and stare at your guitar and go, 'Wow. Look, I can play guitar pretty good.' That's not gonna fill the theater. You have to put on a show. And to put on a show requires being an entertainer. So being in a band, the sum of the parts is greater than the single entity. So this thing where Glenn co-fronts BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION, I can just sit back and play rhythm guitar and watch him do his thing. He's a legend. And then conversely, Glenn doesn't have to sing all night; I'll sing three or four [songs]. So we kind of spread out the whole workload a little bit."
Just like its four predecessors, BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION's new album is being overseen by producer Kevin Shirley, who originally had the idea of putting Hughes and Bonamassa in a band after seeing them jamming together onstage in Los Angeles back in November 2009.
BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION's inception took place when Hughes and Bonamassa fused their styles on stage in Los Angeles for an explosive performance at Guitar Center's King Of The Blues event. With the help and guidance of Shirley, they further added to their rock lineage by recruiting Bonham and Sherinian.
In a 2017 interview, Hughes talked about the chemistry between the BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION members, especially since all the musicians have had successful careers prior to launching the group.
"This band was meant to be," Glenn said. "It was formed out of a friendship with Joe and I. We got the [other] guys to come in, and it's always been a strong brotherhood. And we're just very lucky and fortunate to have met. I've known Jason since he was [a kid]. I just think that these four guys in this band are the right guys to play in the band."
Photo credit: Neil Zlozower