By Thomas S. Orwat, Jr.
The classic rock band Foghat has just released a hard rockin’ blues style record entitled “Last Train Home.” This Cd is simply brilliant and should help re-establish Foghat as one of the most electrifying bands on the planet. Foghat currently consists of classic line-up members Roger Earl-drums and bassist Craig MacGregor, with Charlie Huhn –vocals/guitar and Bryan Bassett-guitar replacing the late Lonesome Dave Perevett and Rod Price respectively. The band is currently on tour playing a great set of classics to faithful fans all across North America.
Before the band hit the road for a series of shows in Canada, we called Charlie Huhn for an exclusive RockMusicStar interview. We discussed the new record and much more. Here’s what Charlie had to say.
RockMusicStar: The new Foghat release “Last Train Home” is a very blues based recording. And even though I not a huge fan of traditional blues, I think it’s really quite amazing.
Charlie Huhn: Wow, thank you very much, it’s really great to hear that.
RMS: It sounds like the band had a great time making it. Is that are accurate assessment?
CH: Yeah, definitely! When we were thinking about making the CD, we decided to do a Blues album. And then we thought what can we do so we would really enjoy ourselves. So we thought, let’s play songs that we really like. And let’s write a couple of original Blues songs. And let’s get a special guest. So we covered all those bases and it turned out to be something that we are really proud of. It was our roots anyways and then the magic just kind of happened.
RMS: In the linear notes it stated that you brought “a boatload of enthusiasm” to the project. What made you so excited about doing this CD?
CH: It was my first time doing a blues album. I’m a pretty much a purebred rocker. But, I was raised on the British blues based invasion of the late 60’s and early 70’s. So for me it was kind of like coming full circle. I ended up contributing quite a lot to the arranging and writing of the original material. It was fun and everyone really contributed a lot. We had a couple of other special guest Colin Earl (Roger’s brother) on keyboards and “Lefty” Lefkowitz on harmonica. So we all had to hang together and work out parts and I guess my excitement and enthusiasm were noticed.
RMS: The blues guitar legend Eddie Kirkland also played on a few tracks. What was it like working with him?
CH: That was fantastic! He just got back from Europe and he’s 86 years old. He drove down to the Orlando, FL area from Macon, GA in a car that needed an alternator and he had to get up a 4am to fix it and drove all the way down. It was fantastic because he sang and played so beautifully. The guitars he used were handmade, but they were really rustic, but yet he could make them sing. We were all completely captivated. We recorded five songs with him and used two for the album.
He was wonderful to be around. He was the whole 9 yards, mismatched clothing, and polyester sport coat, just like a total blues. You just knew you were looking at a legend.
I just saw this video of him, that Roger’s wife had showed me, that just was released last year and it was filmed in 1977 with Foghat in NYC. It was a blues show in which they were playing with all of these blues all-stars on stage. Eddie Kirkland was one of them. And he did this guitar solo laying on his back, just wailing away. So, I’m looking at him at 86 and I’m flashing back to the video and thinking wow, that’s a character.
RMS: Yeah, those old time blues artist really live hard and to the fullest. Now you’re played in some rather high profile bands over your career, including the Ted Nugent band and Humble Pie. But is this really the most comfortable that you’re ever felt in a band as far as chemistry and your role?
CH: Yes, the other bands I was in were kind of like stepping stones in my career and I learned a lot from them. And I have a lot of respect toward those musicians. Foghat has been more of a family type situation and that’s so important for good camaraderie. The music actually came second. We got along first and then we had the same vision and that was important. We are all on the same page and we all enjoy playing. It was just so natural how it all comes into place. I’m honored to be in the band because it fits perfectly.
With Ted Nugent, it was a great way to get myself in the limelight. But I was still a sideman. And then I worked with Gary Moore and he was just a fantastic guitar player. He was on a different path. And then Humble Pie, but there were some problems with that line-up. When I was fortunate enough to get the call with Foghat, it was a big relief.
RMS: I was a bit surprised that after you left the Ted Nugent band, you didn’t do a solo project. Was that ever a consideration?
CH: I tried writing some things, but at the time I wasn’t much of a writer. But it was my beginning at being creative. I was fortunate enough to do an album with Gary Moore, right after Nugent and Gary was so prolific and it came so easy for him, and just by hanging out with him and watching him work, it kind of cosmically came through to me. It really took me up a couple of levels. But he went his way and I went my way and then I hooked up with a hard rock band from Germany called Victory. I ended up doing a lot more writing with them. My vocals were still blues based, so there’s that connection. I worked with them for four years, and then I moved on. Then the Humble Pie gig came up and I always liked Humble Pie. So I did that for 11 years and then Foghat called.
RMS: Where you a fan of Foghat before you joined the band?
CH: Yes, I was a fan of the band back in 1971 when they released their first album with “I just Want to Make Love to You” and all the other great blues covers they did. In fact, a lot of those songs are in our current setlist . But then I kind of lost track of them because I was listening to other things, but mostly British stuff and then I noticed how big they were becoming . But I never seem them live. I did see Lonesome Dave, Roger and Tony back in Savoy Brown and that was a really privilege. That was the real cool stuff.
This may seem a bit strange, but I had a dream once that I was at a Foghat show and I walked up to the stage while the band was wailing away. And then I just looked up and they looked at me. It was just a nothing dream out of nowhere. And then years later , when I worked at FORD while I was in Humble Pie , a co-worker came up to me and asked if I heard that Lonesome Dave had passed away. I said no, you must be kidding. And he said no, I’m sorry he did. But then he pointed at me and said you should be the one to replace him. So he called that before I even got the call from Roger Earl. It was just real freaky.
RMS: Well, you do have the perfect voice for it.
CH: Well, thank you. I may not be Paul Rogers, but I worked hard very hard to get it right.
RMS: Well, you did. I want to get back to the CD and discuss the three original tracks from the CD. Let’s start with “Born for the Road.” That song is a hard driving, kick ass song. The band really delivers on this one.
CH: With that one, we thought ok we are a blues based rock band and we can write our own blues song. So Roger came to me with some comedy type lyrics and a different title. I re-wrote some of the lyrics and got the backing track going then used Roger’s alternative title. The song ended up being a real good rocker. I wanted to take the vocals somewhere, so I just pushed it. I gave it a higher energy approach and that’s what came out.
RMS: I love the line in the song that goes “Another county fair, stick around long enough, someone must care.”
CH: Roger and I collaborated on that section, I had ‘This never ending tour, another County Fair, and Roger had the comical “Stick around long enough, someone must care?”
RMS: Ok now “Last Train Home.”
CH: That’s a song I wrote from a jam that we had a few years before. I was a cool riff and I though, yeah that would make a great song. I wrote the music to be kind of busy and have the melody kind of slow and have a story in the lyrics.
RMS: And the track “495 Boogie.”
CH: That’s a song that Colin Earl wrote. He’s a brilliant piano player and he has been working with Foghat since the beginning. He is the guest star on the album. This song is a honky tonk boogie and everybody took a solo on it. It turned out great.
RMS: Yes, it is awesome. I give you a lot of credit. You could take the easy road and just go out play your hits and collect your money. But, Foghat continues to work hard and produces great new music.
CH: Well, thank you. We do love to play. We are very fortunate that in this economy we can get shows booked and make good money and we can afford to do what we are doing and not have to scale down. So we can make a Cd if we want to. We have a great package. A bunch of guys that are great players that click live. We also have the classic material which is crowd pleasing.
for more on Foghat check out www.foghat.net