Gary Hughes: Return To Intensity.
Gary Hughes talks about the new album and the chosen path of an indie artist, plus his now open to the public studio.
G'Day Gary, thanks for taking the time out to chat today. The new Ten album Return To Evermore is out now, having just been released.
How would you compare this Ten album to any other in your career?
This album was probably the most pleasurable of my career.
There's a real sense of desire and purpose in the Ten camp again and it has been a pleasure to work on the album with a air of freshness and hunger in the ranks again.
The general moral in the band is better than at anytime I can remember.
I said in my review that you are always busy and it didn't occur to me that it had been 2 years since the last Ten album!
We all know how you have spent this time - has it been satisfying for yourself?
Yes, very much so.
I was very pleased with the outcome of the Arthurian albums. They were a mammoth task and all in all I feel that they are very complete in the global sense of the phrase.
It would have been easy to make the project 6 albums long given the amount of material involved but as a condensed effort I felt it was as complete as I could make it.
To the new album first of all - Intensity Records - why your own label, and why now?
We felt it was finally time to go it alone.
We have made a considerable amount of money for Frontiers and other labels over the years, and we felt that it was long since time we made that money for ourselves.
Considering the scale of the albums we have sold we have never seen any royalty down the line after initial advance scenarios.
Also, input from the label, such as tour support, advances and development money had completely dried up in recent years as was proved when we self financed every single live date after releasing the last album Far Beyond The World.
There was no real reason to stay with a label that wasn't bringing anything to the table that we couldn't do ourselves.
We will probably sell less CDs in this way but in the end at least we'll see the money.
It felt like, in 6 albums, all we did was make the labels money.
We just thought it was about time we took control ourselves.
Musically the album heralds back to the sound of the debut and the earlier Ten records after the heavier feel of the last couple of albums. Was this a conscious decision?
Not really. I just try to make an album of the strongest songs we have at any one given time. This was simply the new batch and we are very pleased with the result.
Was it important fans were delivered an album that touched on the original aspects of the band's sound - the lush AOR textures and the epic styled rock tracks?
I think it was more important that Ten made an album that sounded like Ten.
Sure, we've tried different tones and textures over the years but have remained quintessentially Ten.
Once again we have made an album of songs we like and we are very pleased with the reaction to the album so far.
Tearing My Heart Out is an interesting track - it's the first time I have heard Ten really divert from the classic rock sound to a more modern feel. Is that something you were just playing with, or a hint of the future to come?
We are always looking to expand and experiment with themes.
We did set out to go for a more modern guitar sound on that track but again, it was just a song that felt different, but might widen the base of Ten's sound. In the same way that we have played around with eastern styles and Celtic styles in the past.
Tell us a little about the recording process - what goes first for you traditionally and what gets added last etc?
First comes the guide tracks. Usually acoustic guitar and vocals, sometimes piano and voice. We lay that to click track and beyond this point it's a multi-layering process musically and vocally.
Beyond that, the order at which things are recorded is usually down to availability.
Although surprisingly, drums have, on more than one occasion, been the last thing to be recorded on a Ten album.
I'm a big fan of the layering effect used throughout this and other records you have worked on - the guitars and especially the vocals too. How hard is that to get right?
Very. I owe a lot to the time I spent watching the late great Mike Stone on this.
I would say that the times I spent recording vocals and backing voices with him, rate amongst the most enjoyable times in my career. Balancing such things is a real art form. It has as much to do with shared frequencies as it does with a simple technical balance. I'm still learning even now.
I've asked this of other artists, but I'm interesting in your take on it - how hard is it to act as the producer as well as the artist/writer? How do you balance the two?
It's easy because at the end of the day, as the writer you already know how you see the track. It's just a case of creating audibly what you already hear in your head.
Ever considered being produced by someone else? (Not that you need to be, just curious!)
Definitely. The problem has always been having the money to do it. I guess I'm the cheapest option around at the moment.
It's amazing to look at, but you now have a considerable catalogue of music to your name. Considering the time between the debut Ten album and today - that's quite a feat - even more so looking at the quality of the output. What do you put your abilities, or knack of being able to work so quickly down to?
I think that having a musical education has certainly helped me.
The clarity of thought on a musical level definitely helps speed things up.
Also, once I start something I can't rest till it's finished.
The rest is down to a small amount of natural ability and greater degree of virtual insanity ;-)
Why don't some other artists - some with far more money and resources - have as good a work ethic? As I type now, some bands have recorded 2 albums in the time you have been a part of 10!
Thankyou for your kind words.
I think everyone works at their own speed. Some people just need or desire it more than others and like myself; I still do it for the creative buzz.
It's the best reason of all for it sure as hell isn't making me a millionaire.
Touching on the producer thing again - you have worked with a couple of artists before and created some definite highlights of the genre in the process. You have now opened your studio to the public with the aim of working as a producer for others. Anyone come to mind that you'd like to work with, or are there already some plans in place you can tell us about?
Yes. Arena Studios is now open to the public.
I really enjoy writing for other voices.
I would quite like to get involved with another Bob Catley type project.
One that can begin at grass roots level and see how far it can climb.
I loved writing for Bob and the artists on my concept so a writing project for someone else would be good.
The Once And Future King project was hugely ambitious - are you happy (looking back now) with the outcome and the overall result?
Very happy. There are always going to be things, in retrospect, that could have been different, but on the whole I'm more than happy with the result.
I was particularity impressed with the Danny Vaughn track - I'd like to see you two working together again - any chance?
I'd love to work with Danny again. He was certainly one of the most professional singers on the Aurturian concept, in the way that he communicates and conducts himself. I think there was some talk of a Tyketto reunion thing but I'd work with him again at the drop of a hat.
And the heavier more intense tracks also came out great - DC Cooper and Doogie White...not to mention Sean Harris. Do you see yourself dabbling in the heavier end of the scale again?
Yeah. Why not. DC's track on the Arthurian concept is one of my favourites.
Sean Harris sang out of his skin for me and I think he surprised a few people who had kind of written him off.
He's a great guy and a totally unique vocalist.
In actual fact, Doogie is the only vocalist on the concept not to have received his copies of it from me.
So if you're reading this `Doog', I need your address and your new phone number!
And from heavy to soft - I remain a huge fan of the Precious Ones album - any chance of a sequel to that Gary?
I'd love to do another album of that style. I have amassed plenty of strong material for it too. It's really just a matter of time and scheduling.
Are there any live Ten dates planned in support of this album at this stage?
Our tour manager is talking to promoters in Europe at the moment about a possible new year outing that should include the UK and Japan also.
Anything else you have in mind that you would like to tackle in the future?
I have two concept ideas in the pipeline at the moment.
I don't know which one will go ahead but I should begin production on one of them early in the new year.
Anything you would care to add, or say to the fans reading?
Just a big thank you to you and melodicrock.com for your continued support of Ten.
Also a big thank you must go to the Ten fans around the world who have stuck with us over the years.
We hope you enjoy the new album and we look forward to seeing you all on tour in the new year.
Thanks Gary, all the best.
Purchase the new Ten album via www.tenofthebest.com or at your favourite online retailer now.