Think of California and you think of brilliant color and bright sunlight. Think of a breed and it’s all about bloodlines and brotherhood. Put the two together as CALIFORNIA BREED, and you have the most exciting new band of 2014, built around the foundation of legendary vocalist-bassist Glenn Hughes, drummer extraordinaire Jason Bonham and 23-year-old newcomer guitarist-singer-songwriter Andrew Watt. Mixing massive riffs, gutsy vocals and gale force rhythms, this powerful three-piece band will release their self-titled debut album May 20 on Frontiers Records. It was produced by Dave Cobb (JAMEY JOHNSON, RIVAL SONS, SHOOTER JENNINGS).
“California Breed” was recorded at Cobb‘s Nashville studio and features equal co-writing credits among the three-man lineup. “It’s proper rock,” Hughes told Classic Rock magazine, “but at the same time it’s very now. Andrew is as influenced by Mick Ronson as he is Jimmy Page.” “This kid is amazing,” says Bonham. “The first time we met I thought he looked like the white Jimi Hendrix. And he plays in the studio like he’s on stage!”
Glenn Hughes, ‘The Voice Of Rock’, is a true original, a legendary icon whose credits include DEEP PURPLE and guesting with everyone from BLACK SABBATH to EARTH, WIND & FIRE — up to his most recent collaboration in rock supergroup BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION. No other rock musician has carved such a distinctive style blending the finest elements of hard rock, soul and funk. That astonishing voice is Hughes‘ calling card.
The legacy of LED ZEPPELIN lives on in Jason Bonham, British drummer and son of ZEP‘s legendary John Bonham. He has inherited the best of his father’s skills while mastering his own distinctive and dynamic technique. Jason has followed his own distinctive path over the years, fronting his own successful outfits like BONHAM, and playing with LED ZEPPELIN, FOREIGNER, HEART and, most recently, movie composer Hans Zimmer.
Andrew Watt is a soulful singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose high-energy aggressive style and creative spirit are synonymous with New York City.
Hughes says: “I live in the moment, it’s all about NOW. CALIFORNIA BREED is exactly where I live, breathe and where my freak flag flies.”
“California Breed” track listing:
01. The Way
02. Sweet Tea
03. Chemical Rain
04. Midnight Oil
05. All Falls Down
06. The Grey
07. Days They Come
08. Spit You Out
* Deluxe Edition includes “Solo” bonus track and a DVD including 2 video clips (“The Way” and “Sweet Tea”), plus documentary
When BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION disbanded, Hughes and Bonham had a strong desire to keep playing together. Their only challenge was finding a new guitarist worthy of their musicality. Easier said than done for these stars who between them have worked with some of the greatest guitarists in history — including Ritchie Blackmore, Tony Iommi, Jimmy Page and Joe Bonamassa, to name just a few.
Then fate took a hand in things when Glenn‘s friend Julian Lennon introduced him to the astounding talents of a New York City hotshot guitarist named Andrew Watt.
“Literally, the first day me and Andrew got together we wrote two songs,” recalls Glenn. “One was ‘Chemical Rain’ and the other was ‘Solo’, both of which are now on the finished album. I was so moved by the music, I said, ‘We’ve got to record this!’ That’s when I called Jason.”
“I was excited from the start,” says Jason, “because apart from locking in as a rhythm section, Glenn and I had started writing together in BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION, and we wanted to continue that.”
“There was such energy in the room the first time we all played together, me and Glenn didn’t even have to talk about it,” says Jason. “He was so exited to be playing, though, it was infectious! He was just on stage! No going through the motions, kicking the chair over, everything! I was like, you know what, this kid is a free spirit. It was cool, we all just clicked straight away.”
“Nothing though has gotten into my blood like CALIFORNIA BREED,” says Glenn. “I feel the same way,” says Jason. “I feel like a kid again starting out.”
Recording with Dave Cobb at the producer’s own studio in Nashville, added all the finishing touches, says Glenn.
“I’d gotten into Dave‘s work via the RIVAL SONS, who I know and really love. But Dave has done a lot of great stuff. That whole Nashville trip which Dave is a part of. Well, me and Jason don’t want to sound like anyone else, we already sound like ourselves, but we felt we needed some fresh energy — and Dave absolutely brought it.”
At Cobb‘s insistence, every vocal was recorded live as the band was playing. “Totally the reverse of what I’m used to,” says Glenn. “But I went into that aggressive rock soulfulness and everything down to the whispers, it was all done live! I enjoyed myself so much, just going for it.”
For what is on paper a three-piece, the sheer range of sounds and melodies you get from CALIFORNIA BREED are breathtaking.
“I’m the oddball of the group but I’m the thing that makes us different from any other classic rock band. I grew up loving grunge music,” explains Andrew. “But my father always played me THE WHO and THE BEATLES and LED ZEPPELIN. I always felt like I was in the wrong generation. I used to make rock music on my own and I’d play all the instruments because I could never find anyone my age that really got it the way I heard it. Then I got to play with Jason and Glenn and I haven’t picked up anything but a guitar since!”
“What we’ve got here is a kid who isn’t a hammer-on, virtuoso,” says Glenn, “but a whole new entity. This kid grew up listening to Mick Ronson on Bowie‘s records, as well as Jimmy Page in LED ZEPPELIN. He has a completely different take. And it’s fresh and bold and so exciting. It just gets into your blood.”