Foghat Exclusive: In Depth with Charlie Huhn

Charlie Hunn-01-01.jpgCharlie Huhn has worn a lot of different hats as a musician.

He started piano lessons at age 4. By 18, he was fronting his own project, covering songs by Led Zeppelin, Johnny Winter, Rory Gallagher and Savoy Brown.

He paid his dues in a bar band for two years after graduating from Michigan State, then landed his big break in 1978, when he signed with Ted Nugent and Epic Records. He toured with Nugent for four years before moving on to new roles with Victory, Deadringer and Humble Pie, according to his biography on www.foghat.net.

In August 2001 the powerhouse vocalist donned his current hat ? his Foghat, if you will ? when he stepped into the shoes left empty by the death of Foghat vocalist/guitarist Lonesome Dave Peverett.

GM: Let’s talk about Foghat Live II. Even with newer members, Foghat still sounds very much like the band that started it all in 1971, with those powerful rhythmic grooves and strong riffs that really grab you somewhere south of the belt. What is about the band dynamics that creates such a gripping live sound?

Charlie Huhn: The Foghat sound is basically good old rock n’roll just heavied up a bit with a dose of blues riffs, which complement the music intensely! A very strong recipe of gripping, blues-influenced, vocal melodies, and some heavy minor to major chording which was so popular with the British Blues Invasion … that even thinking about changing that dynamic would be off the wall. So we put on the “Fogthinkinghat” when we go to work playing the old songs and let this mood influence our new ideas, never losing sight of the path laid out in the bands history. We all love this stuff and we’re NOT gonna change. So there!


GM:
How did the idea to put out another live album come about? Was it a spur of the moment kind of thing?


CH:
I think Roger figured that now that Mac (Craig MacGregor) was back in the band, we could really showcase his prowess at bass and vocals and let the public identify with the new lineup. It really is a different sound with Mac playing in his thunderous and technically flamboyant style.

So the idea hatched at a marvelous casino in El Cajon, Calif., that had plenty of in-house recording equipment complemented by some of our own, and thankfully, we played really well that night, and no overdubs were needed! Hats off to the ‘Hat. But that’s normal for us to bring the magic out every night!

GM: Listening to Foghat Live II and forgetting for a moment the actual songs included on both, what do you hear in it that reminds you of Foghat Live and what’s different about it?

CH: Obviously the quality of the recording on Live II is technically better, through the progress of technology, but the energy of the material and the “show” comes out on Live II, rivaling that of Live I, which is what Foghat is all about. The emotion of the Live II set displays the dynamic of the set, from the beginning, “grab em by the nads and hold em,” even through the slightly more mellow but still heavy “Terraplane Blues,” followed by the boogie that sets up the final “in your face, rock ’til you drop” songs, until those “you have to keep the crowd off the stage participation songs” everybody loves.

To me, it’s amazing when you play these two recordings back to back to hear the sonic difference, but even though Live II sounds incredibly awesome, you can still get the energy listening to Live I of the original bands hard-charging performance.

GM: What gets you excited about playing live?

CH: I just love playing live. It’s an opportunity for me to light up the stage

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