Since the passing of Foghat's legendary founding frontman and main writer 'Lonesome' Dave Peverett in 2000 American born singer/guitarist Charlie Huhn [ex Ted Nigent, Victory] has been at the mic for the legendary heavy blues based rock band. Originally from England, now based in the US, with founding member Roger Earl on drums being the lone Brit left.
A while back I had the pleasure to talk to Charlie Huhn about Foghat's more recent releases, his time with the band, and other parts of his career.
Where about are you guys located?
CH- the drummer's in New York, I'm in Florida and so is the guitar player and the bass player's in Pennsylvania.
You've been in Foghat for a good few years now, how did that all come about and how familiar were you with them before hand?
CH- I was really familiar with them, ever since before they were Foghat. I followed Dave and Tony and Roger when they were in Savoy Brown. And then in '71 when Foghat 1 came out I was in college and that was one of the most rockin' albums of the year! And then when Dave passed away he told Roger, before he died - that he should keep the band going and he suggested that he should get the guy that was singing in Humble Pie, me.
Was it an easy transition for you?
CH - well i had to learn about 25 songs, and I'm used to doing that. So it was a pretty easy transition but i wanted to get it dead-on, so i picked up a lot of Dave's vocal nuances and made sure i had all the guitar parts better than excellent. And that drives us - having the solid rhythm section and backing track music, with the vocals on top.
Out of the back catalogue you've obviously got a lot of 70s classics like Fool For The City and Slow Ride and all those great tracks. What have been some of the favorites for you personally, and songs you enjoy doing the most?
CH- I enjoy doing the Chateau Le Fitte '59 Boogie a lot because we put a Savoy Brown boogie in the middle of it, and it really cooks, and also I like doing Ride Ride Ride, which is a new addition to the set. We start our set with it this year, and it just really sets up the whole evening with a great kind of regal intro to it and then a driving A rocker, if you know what I mean.
Do you guys alternate the set a lot and is there anything in the catalogue that you still want to add in?
CH- Well, we've touched on almost everything from Terraplane Blues to Third Time Lucky, and it was the first time we've ever played that live, so... We keep adding new material every year. Last year we did a new version of Road Fever, which was like the 'Live' version, and we started the set with that. And we've done Trouble Trouble, we've done Home In My Hand, and we always do the ones like Stone Blue and Drivin Wheel and Fool For The City, Slow Ride, and I Just Wanna Make Love To You -- those are kind of like the 'standards', but we end up changing around the rest of the set. We used to do a bunch of stuff from the Family Joules CD that we put out in 2003.
How much of that do you guys still keep in the live set?
CH- Well it's kinda of taken it's run and a couple of years ago we finally stopped playing Mumbo Jumbo. We were playing Mumbo Jumbo a lot, and in the early days, along with 3 or 4 others.
There was a lot of good rockin' stuff on there. How was the reaction to that album?
CH- Well, it was a little mild, but the problem is getting it out to the people and letting them know it's available, which is kind of difficult these days. But we got a pretty good fan base left, and we were selling a lot of them at the live shows and we had it on Amazon, CD Baby ... to name a few of the places where it was available. Getting the word out is so tough these days, but for an older classic rock band....
It was a good 'band' album in the sense that you guys all wrote stuff for it. Like i said there's a lot of good rock stuff. I notice you guys get in to the more 'party' type - straight ahead rockers.....
CH- That's kind of the Foghat attitude anyway, kinda 'happy go lucky' and positive attitude stuff.
Yeah, I almost get, on a couple of songs - with your vocals, it's almost like an AC/DC vibe.
CH- Yeah, it's interesting, my higher range tends to have that timber in it, it's not a bad thing, but when it sounds a little too much like Bon Scott, you kind of wonder what's going on. I'm kind of surprised to hear that result, but it's all good. It's all high energy positive rock n roll - and that's what we're all about, so...
Now you guys have done the Live album at the Warehouse...
CH- Yeah, Live At The Blues Warehouse is a single CD, and that we put out earlier this year because it turned out really well. It was a live radio broadcast that we played in Long Island. We played with little amps in kind of this large studio. But it turned out great sounding, so we decided to release it. We were happy with it. And there were a couple of never-before heard tracks that Foghat has never recorded, like Shake Yer Money Maker and ...I can't remember the other one. But we really liked the results for that one.
Now there was no audience for that one - just the radio guys?
CH- Yep, exactly.
Is that a different feeling for you guys to play..
CH- well, a little bit. We had 4 people there listening to us; friends that kind of hang out. But we can have fun in a box, it's more like we're just really enjoy playing and we're all players anyway. So once the red light goes on, everybody kinda puts their nose to the grindstone and everybody puts on a 110% - no matter if it's in a box or if it's in front of 100 thousand people!
Well it's a great sounding CD and i think compared to the Live 2 album - which I like as well, that maybe because of the sound, it's a little 'gelled' sounding, I guess. How happy were you with the Live 2 album?
CH- Oh, I was real happy with that. That was one of our 'welcome back Craig MacGregor' double live CD because that showed the new line-up after Tony left and it was great to get Mac back in the fold. We were just going to put out one CD, but it turned out that we played so well that night and there was extra material that we decided to put out a double live CD.
It's a great set, because it not only covers just the classics, but it also touches on different Foghat tunes, because you know - the band kind of gets pigeon-holed for a couple of songs and this shows there's much more in the catalogue.
CH - well, thanks!
What can you tell me about the guys you're playing with?
CH- Bryan Bassett is lead guitar player, plays slide and background vocals - and he's an engineer as well. A really blow your mind - great player. I keep threatening him to collect $5 every time i hear a mistake and I've never collected any money yet. So, it's something i can count on from him and that's really a confidence builder because when you have someone who's that consistent it just helps you relax and allows you to concentrate more instead of having to worry if somebody's going to remember their parts or do a good job. And Bryan came from Molly Hatchet, and back in the 70s he was in Pittsburgh's finest disco-rock band - Wild Cherry. And on bass - Craig MacGregor. He's just a real A plus plus bass player, and just a wonderful human being and just wonderful to work with. And it's an honor to be playing with him because he's legendary Foghat. And Roger, there's not much more I can say other than he's a British percussion legend and it's wonderful to be around him with his sense of humour and his generosity. It's just a tremendous organization - the whole thing.
I gather, and Roger being the founding member that you guys really gelled as a band!? It's not a one-man show or anything.
CH- No, that was the idea going in. And not one of us can do it by themselves, so the name of the band is Foghat, so it was decided it would be projected in that direction. And that's the way to get the best out of everyone, i think. And it helps us continue to support the tradition of the band and not being a solo act or something like that.
Now you, yourself have done quite a bit of stuff prior to Foghat. Ted Nugent for one, a band called Deadringer...
CH- That was just one CD. we never did a tour, but i did 4 albums with Victory over in Europe, and 2 of those were released in the States, and I did an album with Gary Moore back in '83, and Tommy Aldridge was on drums and Jimmy Bain was on bass, and then I played with Humble Pie - Jerry Shirley for 12 years from '88 to 2000. We put out one live CD, "Rockin' The Agora".
That's interesting because I hear a bit of a Steve Marriott influence in your voice!?
CH - I really enjoyed Steve Marriott; he was one of my first vocal heroes, you know way back in the Small Faces days. And we worked together when I was with Ted Nugent, so I got to meet him and it really was a tremendous experience. Having the opportunity to work with Jerry and do Humble Pie, I had the chance to perform the Steve Marriott vocals - which was fun. And it taught me a lot. It worked out pretty well. It's just one of those things that happens when you're lucky in life, you can meet some of your goals, you know.
Who else was in that version of Humble Pie?
CH- When we first started out in '88 Wally Socker from The Babys was on guitar, he'd played with Rod Stewart and Air Supply. On bass was Anthony Jones, he was from New York - The Planets, and he was on the last 2 Humble Pie studio albums with Steve Marriott - "Go For The Throat" and [I can't remember the other] - it has the airplane on the cover, a cartoon drawing.
And why did that version of Humble Pie end?
CH- Well, after 12 years Jerry decided that he wanted to quit playing, so he went back to England and everybody kind of went their own way.
I had read that there was some dispute over the use of the name at one point!?
CH - Oh no. In fact Steve Marriott allowed Jerry to use the name because Steve was all finished doing Humble Pie, and he'd done some solo albums after that and Jerry wanted to continue. So there was never any problem. In Fact Jerry put an album out back in '02 or '03 with the original bass player - Greg Ridley, and he had Bobby Tench on vocals and guitar and another guy from England who used to be in Bad Company, a real good player and songwriter. That came out in about '03 and was distributed over in England.
Do you have any favorite Humble Pie stuff?
CH- I like anything Steve Marriott did vocally, but I think some of my favorite Humble Pie stuff was on "Town And Country" and then [of course] everything from "Smokin" and "Eat It" had a bunch of stuff that was great, and even some of the later stuff like "Fool For A Pretty Face". We performed most of those songs that we really liked - "Natural Born Bugie", even "Sweet Peace And Time" and of course, "30 Days In The Hole" and "I Don't Need No Doctor", "Hot 'N Nasty".. there's just so many great ones that you could keep going on and on.
The other thing you did was work with Ted Nugent. What was Ted like to work with?
CH- Ted was wonderful; funny as hell! always on stage. But when you got him when you were the only ones around and he was normal - he's a real intelligent guy, real generous. In fact he and I get along great, we have a lot in common, so we had a great time together. I did 4 albums with him; 2 of them went Platinum, 3 of them went Gold, and that was my introduction to the 'big time', you know!? I was on "Weekend Warriors", "State Of Shock", "Scream Dream" and "Intensities In Ten Cities".
So you were there for his peak?
CH- Oh yeah, that was at his peak in popularity. In fact we were headlining all the major stadium rock festivals, and co-headlining with Aerosmith and AC/DC, Journey, and I remember when Van Halen broke and they were opening for us. It was just amazing! It was just a tremendous era to be in the big time.
Would you recall in the late '70s doing any shows with Ted that included Uriah Heep on the bill?
CH- I vaguely do remember the openers, but we usually weren't there for openers, we'd show up a half hour before show-time. But I did some work with Uriah Heep in the '80s when I was with Victory. That was a lot of fun because they had the bass player from Spiders From Mars, David Bowie's band - Trevor Bolder. And it was just such an honor meeting him and of course, the original guys from the band. They were another one of those great bands from early 70s, from England.
So, your influences in the early days would've been more from the British scene than the American scene then?
CH- Yes. My early 70s influences were bands like, well - Rory Gallagher was one of my influences, and I really liked Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix of course. I was just learning how to play and sing, so I kind of modeled my style after the singing-guitar players. I liked Johnny Winter a lot, and of course - earlier influences like Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley. But the English bands that I liked a lot were Ten Years After, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Spooky Tooth...
Are you amazed to see that there are still so many bands still out there from that era?
CH- Oh yeah, sure. Any of them that are able to keep playing are just a pleasure to see. I even went to see Page and Plant a few years ago, and they were just awesome. I remember seeing them back in 1969 in Chicago. You know, there aren't really too many of those late 60s, early 70s English bands out there any more.
One album you did that I wanted to mention was the Deadringer album, because I went out and saw Joe Bouchard and Dennis Dunaway a few months ago.
CH- Oh good. In fact, I talked to Jay Johnson today and he's going to sit in with us on Saturday in Ohio. He's a great friend of mine. Jay's awesome. Dennis Dunaway - tremendous bass player; it's great to see him out playing again, and Neal Smith, of course was the heart of the rhythm section of the Alice Cooper's original band, and he's quite a character himself.
And then Joe, himself. That [Deadringer] was a bit of a 'supergroup' really.
CH - Yeah, and it's fun to be involved in something like that. I wish we could've had better sales, but I don't know what happened, but there was a lot of good music on that CD. It could've been mixed a little better, I think. But, sometimes that happens. We even covered a song written by Buck Dharma from Blue Oyster Cult "Summa Cum Loud". And that was a fun song. I play a lot with BOC, because we're touring together on quite a few stages. We played together up in BC [British Columbia], actually in Kelowna, about a month ago.
I just interviewed Joe a couple of months ago and it's up at my site.
CH - Joe Bouchard!? That's awesome!
He's got a new solo album out, which is really good.
CH - Oh, that's great!
What else do you guys got going in the works, aside from touring. Any plans for a future studio album?
CH - Well, we're going to be recording a Foghat blues album. And it's going to have a couple of tracks that we already recorded, that are new Foghat tunes. Actually, we covered a Savoy Brown blues song called "Needle And Spoon", and a song that John Mayall made famous - "So Many Roads". Those 2 are going to be included, and some of the old Foghat blues staples like "Sweet Home Chicago" and the old Elmore James song "Hurts Me Too", things like that, that are some of the major blues influences from Foghat. So that's coming out next year.
Do you have anything going outside of the band? Or are you guys primarily just focused on the Foghat stuff?
CH - Well, I've got my name in the yellow pages, but nobody calls. Just kidding! I've got a side project going on with a German guitar player, who's living in Uraguay, South America. And he works with my schedule, which is nice, and it's fun to do different material. His name is Matt Rorehr, and he's from the hard-metal band called Bohse Onkelze over in Germany, who broke up in '05. And we just recorded his second solo CD in April, and it'll come out in October.
Have you ever considered a solo album?
CH - Yeah, I've given that some thought because I've met a bunch of people in my career and it'd be fun to invite them all to perform on something. It'd be great to put it all down. I've got a bunch of ideas rolling through my brain and I'll probably just sit down and put it all on paper sometime. As for 2010, I don't think it will be in that year, but maybe 2011.
What have been some of the highlights during your time with Foghat - the biggest moments and biggest shows for you?
CH - Some of these city festivals have been just amazing! Everywhere from Aurora, Illinois to Ashville, North Carolina -- you have a city festival and you have Foghat on the bill and the streets just fill up with people. So we've played quite a few shows and it never fails, people just come out of the woodworks. So every show has been exciting for us. There's very few that were poorly attended or mismanaged to the point of there isn't an audience. So, all in all I've just had nothing but the highest kudos for this band because of the results of every show. It's been fantastic!
Well, one thing I've got to say, and wrote in my review is I don't think the band could've found a more suitable replacement for Dave. [CH - Thank you] ... I know the songs, a lot of them are Dave's songs, but they also suit you.
CH - Thank you very much! It's an honor to carry the tradition on. And like I said before, we're kind of all from the same bolt of cloth - we all love to play, and nobody would even think about giving %110 when it's time to play. So from that standpoint, I'm in with the right guys.
I think it's great that the band is still going and probably as strong as ever. There was a lot of years there where they were fighting over the name and everything else.
CH - Exactly, and there was other issues - like Rod was diagnosed with bi-polar. He was was critically depressed and had to take medication, and when he wouldn't take his medication he was just miserable and he made everybody else miserable. And that's really unfortunate. He was such a great player, so to see the demise like that was really tough for those guys to endure. Other than that, the band did really well together, the core stayed together. Tony left in 1975, but he had a different vision and it wasn't what the other guys wanted, so he got bought out in 1975. And then it was great for him to get back in the band in '94 when Rick Rubin got the reunion together with the original line-up.
That was a great album!
CH - Yeah, they put out great stuff and it was great to see the original band together. And that's when I first saw Foghat was in '97. I'd heard about them for decades but had never seen them.
Tony left again. Is there any legal issues still, as far as the name goes?
CH - No, that was all resolved, and Tony went to do his own thing. He left in '05 and that's when Craig MacGregor came back. Tony's kind of set in his ways and he wants to do things his way, so it's understandable. Musicians kind of have their own way of doing things, so that's why it's tough sometimes to get 4 people to sit down and agree about everything, you know.
Well, it's kind of neat that the 2 new guys have been in the Foghat family previously, so it's not like it's a new band centered around 1 guy; it's a very legitimate and energetic band.
CH - Exactly!
Before I let you go, anything you listen to and are listening to currently?
CH - Well, I'm enjoying listening to a lot of younger bands. There's a band out of Detroit called The Mugs and I like Jet and Airbourne, bands like that. I also like old industrial bands like Nine Inch Nails and other bands from that era, Stone Temple Pilots, things like that. But, I'm all ears I like to listen to everything from Jazz to classical to contemporary rock n roll and all that. So, I'm just kinda like a Heinz 57. Ha ha...
Review: © Kevin J. Julie / Universal Wheels: August, 2009