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Gary Hughes 


Interview by Salvo Russo





No songwriter likes to repeat himself.

Gary, it is a pleasure to have this interview with you, seeing that I am an old Ten fan.
Here we are after 18 years. It is difficult to describe in short your long carrier as you have worked both as a singer and a songwriter for several years before your Ten period. What are your feelings about doing music after all these years?

Well, to be entirely honest with you, when we originally started out about 20 years ago I had no idea as to how long we’d be doing this. We’ve certainly had our ups and downs as any band who’s been around for such a long time, but you could say we are quite persistent. As I always say, we came ten years too late, since if we had emerged during the 80s I’m sure things would have been quite different for us. Having said that, I feel very blessed to be able to keep doing this, since I can’t really think of many other bands that are able to say the same thing. So… Here’s to the next twenty years!


The new album sounds like a throwback to your roots in some sense, What could you tell me about this new album? Do you actually feel something has changed?

I would say that the music on “Albion” is just a return to the pure essences of the classic TEN sound, so your observation is quite accurate. In regards to the tracks themselves, I have listened to our fans a great deal over the last couple of years, since they are quite vocal about what they like hearing from us, so when I started writing the songs I’ve really tried to cater for their wishes. Funnily enough though, I found myself in a similar situation as I found myself back in the early days, where 24 songs became our 'X' and 'The Name Of The Rose' albums, so coincidentally we ended up recording 22 tracks, out of which we simply decided (as we did back then) to divide them into 2 separate releases. The result of these recordings is of course “Albion”, with a second studio album to follow next Spring. It is very exciting to be able to repeat history as we did about 20 years ago!


I noticed that Ten music went through different influences and musical moods over the years, like epic, folk, classic hard. Do you think that was due to the different changes involved in the line-up over the years?

Not really, I would say that it’s just the way I write, since no songwriter likes to repeat himself. I am an almost compulsive songwriter, writing constantly, so there’s bound to be a variety of sounds and influences in our music anyway. Some of this material ends up in our albums, but I can’t deny the fact that I like experimenting with different styles. So, as it’s easily understandable, I have a large number of tracks that do not really fit to what we’ve established as the TEN sound. Having said that though, I must admit that every new musician who ever came aboard in TEN brought with him something different to the table, which is quite invigorating really. I think that’s quite evident on “Albion” too, since our new album just so happens to be our first album featuring our latest additions, lead guitarists Dann Rosingana and Steve Grocott, who have done a brilliant job playing on the album.


What do you think about the musical scene today? Too many bands, widespread on the internet that offer free music and the like. We can say that many things have changed. Do you have a personal recipe to stand out?

Internet and social media in particular are very useful tools when it comes to promoting your music, but this by itself does not actually guarantee success. I would say that it doesn’t even guarantee record sales. What’s worse, as soon as the record is out (sometimes even before) it’s pirated and available for free and it’s so frustrating to see something that you’ve literally sweated blood and tears over being stolen before your eyes.

When it comes to TEN though, there are no personal recipes really. Every time we’re releasing an album we’re just trying to offer our fans the best product possible so as to justify the fans’ trust in us by putting their hands in their pocket to buy our albums. One of the things that seems to work quite well though is offering a quality package. For example with Albion, and thanks to Rocktopia Records, we’ve released for the first time a double 12’’ vinyl collector’s edition which is actually selling really well, so maybe that’s the format bands need to lean towards today in order to make people want to buy their product. By offering something very special and highly collectable.


Which leads me to the next question. Have you ever had a moment of discouragement looking at the current musical situation during your carrier? Did you ever think to quit doing music?

As I mentioned previously, we’ve had our ups and downs like many other bands that have been around for as long as we have. The longest time we’ve been off the radar was during our sabbatical years really and that would be between 2006-2011, when most of us went through some very difficult periods in our personal lives. I’m just happy that “Stormwarning” signified a very strong return for us back to the scene and I sincerely hope that we’ll be able to keep doing this for many more years to come.


The new album features a very special ballad called “Gioco d’amore”. Why did you decide to sing some parts in Italian?

Thank you for your kind words! “Gioco D’Amore” in fact is my attempt to do a song with a universal chorus sung in a different language. It also signifies a first for TEN, since we’ve never done something like that before. The inspiration came from a Boccelli concert I caught on TV and I remember thinking how well the Italian language rolls of the tongue. I really enjoyed writing and recording this track and I certainly hope I've done it justice. 


Let me mention the winning couple “Vinny Burns-Gary Hughes”. Any chance you will be playing together again in the future?

I actually had the opportunity to reunite with Vinny about a month ago during our FireFest performance and we spent some quality time together. It was great seeing him again after all these years and to be honest it was quite hard to believe that so much time has passed since we formed TEN back in 1995. I’m sure that we’ll get to work together again in the not too distant future, but I can’t foretell in which form and for what project. It would be a pleasure though!


Now let me ask you about the production. Modern rock bands are used to blend electronic stuff, loops, guitars together. I notice that your new album still keeps the old Ten mark which is, I would say, faithful to the classic hard-rock sounds and mood. Did you ever think to approach the modern musical trend?

Honestly, if any of these elements would actually benefit to one of our tracks, we would be obliged to include them, but only to a certain degree, since, as I mentioned before, our fans are an integral part to what we do musically and we certainly wouldn’t want to estrange them through an unnecessary shift in our sound. At the end of the day, for a song to end up on a TEN album it has to be of that certain ilk that qualifies it as a TEN song. Hard Rock and AOR have always been our two main musical genres if you like, so we’re always going to be leaning towards them one way or another, even though we are always happy to include a few twists and turns in the final mix.


One question on the lyrics of this album: what can you tell us about them?

“Albion” as an album is not a collection of tracks that’s woven around a single concept really. Despite its title, which is the poetic Celtic name for Great Britain, the tracks are recounting different stories and concepts. For example the album’s opening track “Alone In The Dark Tonight” is based on Emily Bronte's book 'Wuthering Heights' and revolves around the idea that a Heathcliff style character is roaming the cemetery garden of the undead for centuries, mourning his long lost love, while “A Smuggler's Tale” is exactly what the title itself suggests. It is based on Daphne Du Maurier's book “Jamaica Inn” and tells the tale of a ship which was wrecked on the rocks during a storm. Granted the opportunity, the smugglers were claiming their bounty by bludgeoning any survivors in the shallows. It’s a gruesome tale really.


If you could write a song for an artist, who would be the lucky one?

There are many artists that I would like to write for but if I really had to go for just one, I’d say David Coverdale. Whitesnake was one of the first bands I ever saw live by the way!


Let’s talk about the tour. Any anticipation about upcoming dates?

We've already got two shows booked for Athens in May 2015, but we’re planning on putting together more tour dates after we’ve finished working on the successor to “Albion”, which, as I mentioned previously, will be released next Spring. I have to say we’re all very excited about this and we’re very much looking forward to bringing the band out and tour for both our new albums. We’re definitely hoping to see you all there!


The game of the tower is our closing question. You are on top of a very high tower and 3 other bands are up there with you. You have to push down 2 of them, saving the third one among:


Haha, that’s a very difficult question seeing as both Dare and Magnum are very good friends of ours. I would have to go with Bon Jovi though since their name is made out of two words and it’s taking more space!


Thank you Gary!

Interview by Salvo Russo - November 2014


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