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Black Country Communion’s Joe Bonamassa on Their Recent Controversy, John Petrucci + More

Richard A. Brooks, Getty Images

Black Country Communion, the English-American supergroup named “Best New Band of the Last 10 Years” by VH1 Classic’s That Metal Show, will release their third studio album Afterglow on Oct. 30. The group features the talents of blues-rock guitarist/vocalist Joe Bonamassa, bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Trapeze, Black Sabbath), drummer Jason Bonham (Led Zeppelin), and keyboardist Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater).

Noisecreep had the pleasure of an early listen and we think the album is another home run for the quintet. The record is packed with plenty of classic riffs and gargantuan grooves, brought to us by some of the most proficient and seasoned talent on either side of the pond. Just home from a solo tour, Noisecreep had the opportunity to speak with Bonamassa about Afterglow and in light of a recent controversy, Black Country Communion’s future.

Joe, you must be excited for people to finally hear what you guys did on Afterglow.

I am. It’s a really fun record and this is a really great band when it all gets going – kind of like a freight train, you just have to get the thing going [laughs].

We have to ask – can you comment on the recent dust up in the press concerning you and Glenn about traveling to Europe to play a one-off show?

I enjoy straddling a lot of different things; lots of projects and styles. The first thing I have to say as a ‘responsible straddler’ is that I have to clarify what my day job is: I put out solo records and tour globally. The UK, Russia, Asia, two tours of America – and that was just 2012. I can’t just drop what I’m doing. I never would have agreed to this band without being upfront about the other things I do. But I do have a lot of love for Glenn Hughes and this will all be okay. But I made my career from a very strong work ethic and I’m not about to change that. I’m not the Grinch – I’m just being honest.

You’re part of a group of exceptional guitar players today – along with John Petrucci, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani – how tight are all of you guys?

Well, I do think those guys are in a different strata than me but thank you. First of all let’s say that I think all of us Italians have to stick together [laughs]. But I’m just very fortunate, especially in the last six or seven years, to get to know those guys. See, I’m just a guitar geek like any other geek. I pick up the magazines because I’m a fan. When John Petrucci and his wife came to our Beacon Theater show in New York, I was totally honored. Could not believe it.

What did you listen to growing up?

The Eric Clapton live album, One Night Only. Man, I love that record. I also loved Jeff Beck’s Truth and Rory Gallagher’s Irish tour ’74. As for technical proficiency, I think Eric Johnson’s Cliffs of Dover is what really did me in. There was a floppy disk copy of it, a record, in the middle of a guitar magazine in the mid-’80s. That record changed me. The tone, phrasing, it was amazing. Then I got into my hybrid-bluesy thing, and also listened to a lot of Satriani and Eddie Van Halen, like everyone else.

Was there an early live show that made you sit up and take notice?

For sure. My very first live show. My father, a guitar player, snuck me into a place called Coleman’s in Rome, New York, near our home. The Dickey Betts Band was playing, with a young Warren Haynes on guitar. Opening up for Dickey was the Gregg Allman Band – just tons of talent in a 300-seat club. They all came together at the end to play Allman Brothers classics and all those Les Pauls humming in the amps was like magic to my six-year-old ears. That night I saw and heard guitars really being used to communicate.

You must have a lot of young players coming to you for advice.

I do and it’s one of the coolest things about what I do. For a kid to show up with a Les Paul or a any guitar – and they will ask – how did you do it” So I say, here’s what you do: – play for the sheer joy of it, make the music that you enjoy first, not for anyone else or anything else. Start playing to 15 people – however many show up. Shake their hand and thank them for coming – and mean it! Repeat 2000 times and you will what you want to achieve, I can almost promise you.

Watch Afterglow Webisode

Black Country Communion’s Afterglow will hit stores on Oct. 30. Pre-order your copy here!

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